Heather Dillon has been a long standing Learner with Surrey Adult Learning and is a testimony to learning achievement and progression. A self motivated and determined linguist, Heather began learning Spanish in 2007 as an Entry Beginner Learner and today is amongst our highest achievers, with several qualifications in the language. Heather is currently studying Spanish at level 6+ at the Guildford Centre.
SAL met with Heather to discover the motivation behind this Learners’ success and the benefits of learning with Surrey Adult Learning.
Heather's learning path
Heather’s learning path goes way back to 2007, when she left her senior role in HR with the Post Office, in a conscious decision to devote her time, transferable knowledge and skills as an International Volunteer, working in partnership with the Christian development charity, Tearfund. Heather was selected to work overseas on a street girls’ project in Bolivia, South America. Having realised that this project would require a basic knowledge of Spanish in order to communicate with the local people on the ground, Heather searched on-line and enrolled on a Beginner Level 1 Spanish course over two terms with Surrey Adult Learning.
On completion of this Heather flew to Bolivia in South America to join forces with Tearfund. Upon her return to the UK she re-enrolled to the Level 3 class and in her natural style, she continued to build on her strengths, culminating in taking a GCSE examination in Spanish with support from Surrey Adult Learning in 2010. Heather was awarded an A*.
Heather continued learning with Surrey Adult Learning and used our courses to help her to prepare for the DELE examination (Diploma in Spanish as a Foreign Language), which equates to an A/S level. Heather sat the examination as an external candidate in Spain and was successful.
Achievement through self-study
A fascinating part of Heather’s story is her ability to reach academic achievement through self-study. She uses Surrey Adult Learning to reinforce her knowledge in order to prepare for her examinations. Heather discussed her learning strengths and how she can pick up grammar and improve her language analysis using text books or other resources, such as newspapers.
Heather shared that it was not a “walk in the park” to success. In her lifetime she has also conquered fears, as a child she worked with a speech therapist. Imagine today the sense of pride to be confident speaking a foreign language fluently!
Heather has known her Tutor, Judith Yiannis for some time and we discussed the advanced language Learners’ need to refresh and use their language skills. Judith chooses a range of topics for the group to explore, communicating the language using speaking and listening techniques with key grammar embedded into the lesson. Here the lesson focused on Fair Trade and encouraged a healthy exchange of views and discussion in Spanish. Judith confirmed that her Learners are “fluent with mistakes and that’s perfectly normal as they do not live in the native language country”.
Heather believes the key to success is regular attendance at Surrey Adult Learning. We talked about the value of the classroom based courses, which provide her with an informal place to sustain and develop her listening and speaking skills. She was happy to share the great team spirit in the group and mutual joy of sharing the language and being part of a group with similar interests for a number of years.
Image: SAL Learner Heather Dillon with Tutor Judith Yiannis at the Guildford Centre.