What position do you hold at COINED? What has been your career path so far?
Valentina: After graduating from the University of Chile with a degree in literature and a minor in linguistics and Spanish literature, I began my work in the education field. My first professional experience was in 2011 when I began to teach Language and Communication classes at Preuniversitario Cpech, an institute where Chilean high school students take classes to prepare for the highly important university entrance exam.
After receiving my specialization in teaching Spanish as a foreign language, I began to work at COINED, which was my first experience teaching Spanish to international students. I have been a Spanish professor at COINED since 2013.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Valentina: I think that language learning is a fundamental element of today’s interpersonal relationships, considering the modes of communication that are available to us and the great diversity of people with whom we can communicate. In this sense, cultural immersion is an absolutely necessary aspect of language learning.
Language is a reflection of the world view of a culture, which is why you cannot learn a language without taking into account the culture that uses it as a form of expression. For me, it is unthinkable to learn a language without the cultural component. It would be like reading music without being able to play it.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the COINED team.
Valentina: I cannot pinpoint one specific moment at COINED that has made me feel proud. The truth is that I feel tremendous joy, excitement, and pride every time a student who arrived without speaking a single word of Spanish finishes his/her course and is able to communicate and express his/her feelings in Spanish.
At COINED, we try to integrate into our language classes not just the culture in relation to folklore, food, customs, etc., but also to show the idiosyncrasies of the Chilean way of life. I’m proud to be part of a team that cares so deeply about our students’ learning experience, and that has fun while we do it!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Valentina: Since working for COINED, I have learned and grown a lot as a professional. I’m now very comfortable in a classroom setting, especially when I can be motivating students to learn or improve their skills in a new language. Even more important than my interest in teaching language is the environment that I get to work in and the “buena onda” (good vibes) that permeate through the school.
The excellent work culture and determined students here give me extra inspiration to teach and do my job well. I feel very motivated, and that is thanks to the people I’ve met here, from my co-workers to the students from all over the world that I’ve had the pleasure to teach.
What was your favorite traveling experience?
Valentina: This past summer, I went to a beach in the south of Chile that is “off the beaten path” – very difficult to get to and not very well known. The beach is called Colún, and is located in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in Region XV. It was a wonderful experience. The beach is about 11 km long and to get there you have to take a bus from one town to the next, then walk about 5 hours, part of which was through a beautiful secluded forest.
The beach has lots of dunes, and also lots of cows. (Yes, there are cows on the beach!) It’s a beautiful place – I had never seen anything like it. This was a very significant experience for me, not just because of the beauty but also because getting there was a great feat!