Hi, I’m Jamie and I’m going into my second year of BSc Politics and International Relations at the University of Southampton.

This summer I completed a virtual summer school with the University of Oviedo in northern Spain. I opted for the ‘Español para Negocio’ (Spanish for Business) pathway, taking modules in ‘El Mundo de la Empresa’ (The World of Business) and ‘La Economía Global’ (The Global Economy), both of which were taught and assessed in Spanish.

This course presented quite a challenge for me, as I only had a relatively basic understanding of the language, with no formal instruction since taking my GCSEs in secondary school. I spent a few weeks preparing for the course by brushing-up on my conversational Spanish, while also learning some subject-specific vocab for business, finance and economics.

I was thrown straight into the deep end, as the first one-to-one videoconference tutorial was taught entirely in Spanish. I surprised myself with how much I understood, but found myself often asking the professor “¿que significa…?” (what does… mean?).

There were some issues with timing, due to the geographically-diverse cohort on this course and also because some other students were taking other classes alongside the summer school. However, we had a great professor who adapted to the circumstances and split tutorials into smaller groups. My group included two friendly American students, Jack from Virginia and Delilah from Oregon. We interacted through the discussion forums and videoconference, in lieu of the face-to-face tutorials and lectures that would normally take place on the course.

Over the month, there was a significant amount of work to do, but the course was well-paced and more manageable with Professor Víctor’s mantra “poco a poco” (little by little). For each module, there was a large pack of theory which we worked from between tutorials, the contents of which formed the basis of our discussions.

I had to add 10 entries to our shared glossary on the Virtual Campus every week, with images and examples. I also had to find articles of interest and post them on our Twitter-style discussion forums, summarising the topic, assessing its impact on business and the economy and then giving my personal opinion. We debated topical issues in Spanish business and the international economy, from the extension of Spanish trading hours to help recover from the lockdown, to the use of cryptocurrency blockchain anonymity for cartels’ money laundering operations. 

Finally, we wrote a 1000-word essay for each module. For Business, this was a comparison between the adaptability of SMEs and larger companies, and for Economics, this was an essay on the nature of global financial crises in recent times.

I ended up achieving a ‘Sobresaliente’ (Oustanding) grade in both modules, with a score of 97.5% in my final essay.

Although this summer course was very different to the one normally delivered by the University of Oviedo, it was a great experience. With a brilliant professor who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of both linguistics and business, and an extraordinary faculty for patience, I made some significant progress in my Spanish language-learning journey.

Professor Víctor often supplemented the course content with some anecdotes about entrepreneurialism and the local economy of Oviedo, from his experience in business. Learning from someone who was not teaching a purely academic course was valuable for applying the theory to practice, and in relating what we were learning to the real world.

I expanded my knowledge on the world of business and the global economy, while picking up some colloquialisms and neologisms by interacting with native speakers.

I feel that if I ever decide to live and work in Spain, I will have at least a foundational understanding of the national economy, how businesses function, and the specialist vocab necessary to get by in a Spanish workplace.

I’m looking forward to visiting Oviedo in the near future!

Oviedo Spanish for Business Summer School

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