Helen Matthews

My husband is Spanish, and we had been planning to move to Spain for over a decade, but the timing was never quite right. Finally, in 2004, we moved to Órgiva with our then two-year old daughter, Sofía, after a round-the-world trip!

Meeting Antonio had inspired me to take a GCSE in Spanish at evening classes while we still lived in the UK. We also visited his family once a year, but only for a week at a time. So I didn’t get much practice. So although I spoke some Spanish when we got here, I am generally quite shy, and found communication very difficult at first. I was also nervous about starting classes, but knew I needed them, so I became a student at Puentes Language School just a few weeks after our arrival.

The classes helped build my confidence, especially in local shops and everyday dealings with the Spanish community. I also made very good friends with other students in my class, which made a big difference to my social life.

After a short time I was able to get a temporary job at a local hotel. The job interview role playing was a great help. Speaking only Spanish for three months certainly helped me move ahead, and though it was not grammatically perfect, I was understood by, and could understand my colleagues most of the time.

Although I have given up classes when I had my second child, I’m looking forward to starting “school” again – at the same time that he does!

—Helen Matthews