An Interview with Julie
How long have you been translating and teaching?
Actually, I kind of just fell into it over the years. Let me explain a little bit about my career. Please bear with me till the end. Spanish has been my passion since the age of 14 but I never wanted to be a teacher. After school, I decided to study Business Studies with Spanish and French. I passed everything but Economics (the most important subject that you had to pass) so I had to leave the course. I did learn a lot though because I studied Bookkeeping and Law, as well as plenty of Spanish and French.
After that, I worked for a year as an Invoice Clerk and watched the typing pool typing up the invoices that I had handwritten – a bit different to how it is nowadays where everybody can ‘type’. That’s when I decided that was what I really wanted to do. So, I did a 2-year Intensive Bilingual Secretarial Course in Spanish and French and came out with a Diploma! I love certificates – or at least that’s what my husband always says. During my course I worked for 4 months as a Secretary in a bank in Bilbao, Spain – hence my absolute love of the Basque Country.
This Diploma gave me the chance to work for the United Nations in Rome (FAO) as a Bilingual Secretary. Although my official job was not as a Translator, I translated many documents for my French boss and helped out a Spanish friend who was a Translator. I worked there for 2 years and came home to get married. While there, I even spent a few weeks working for the Director General of FAO! What an experience that was – writing letters to foreign Prime Ministers as my boss was from Libya and didn’t speak Spanish. I often wonder why he trusted what I wrote and didn’t check it.
Once back in the UK I married and went on to have three children. My second child was born with heart problems and, as we found out later, a whole load of other issues. She’s doing great now though! This later led me to learn about language and communication and different learning styles. After a couple of years trying to find answers, we found a doctor who was doing research into the genetic condition that the baby had. We understood he wasn’t there to help us but we could help him. That’s exactly what I wanted – to help and support other people in similar circumstances. Eventually, he asked us to set up a support group with another couple at the other end of the country. The group went from strength to strength and we literally became ‘experts’ on the condition. That sounds mad, doesn’t it? I had lots of contact with people in Spain and Latin America who needed support so my Spanish came in really handy! I was even asked to speak at a conference in Barcelona and it was very well accepted. I continued to run the support group voluntarily for 13 years until I had some family issues myself, as my parents were getting older and sick.
At that time, I had also followed a course to teach adults Spanish and began to run regular classes for a couple of Adult Education Centres. Since then I have run private classes and translated documents for friends and family, as well as a couple of other organisations.
At the beginning of the 2008 recession I was looking for work and it was suggested I apply to work for the DWP as a Personal Advisor (later called a Work Coach). This was an ideal place for me to deal with all the Spanish clients so I was often called to reception to interpret for them. They also gave me all the Spanish, French and Italian (I’d picked that up while living in Rome) clients. I wrote and reviewed hundreds of CVs during that time and coached clients on how to show their transferable skills.
Sorry this was a lot more information than you perhaps wanted, or needed
What would happen if you haven’t worked with anyone in my line of work?
Most of the principles of translation and teaching are the same. After a chat with you, I will be able to tell you whether we are a good fit to work together. Translation isn’t a quick job if it’s done properly, as there is a lot of research goes into the topic being translated – not just of the subject but also of the cultural references and idioms. I have worked with students who have different learning styles and taught privately, individually and in group sessions. It’s more fun in a group session as we all work and learn together.
What gives you the edge over other Translators and Spanish Tutors?
I believe that one of the main reasons I am able to teach and translate is that I have a lot of life experience. I studied Spanish and Italian at university and only graduated a couple of years ago at the ripe old age of 60. I found that life experience really helped with my studies and my approach to people and their different learning styles. I also have a daughter who has communication difficulties so that has never phased me. Something I found when I worked as a Teaching Assistant too.
What kind of people do you work with best and what would you expect from me?
The people I work best with are enthusiastic and positive and prepared to discuss any difficulties they have. They are committed to helping themselves by completing worksheets and having an open mind, when learning Spanish, and open to discussion and communication about their topic when translating so that we can get the best ever translation. I would expect you to turn up regularly for Spanish lessons and complete any work I ask you to do between sessions – don’t worry though, it won’t be pages and pages of homework! We will discuss everything in your getting acquainted call and you will receive any resources you need before the sessions.
Who would your services NOT work for?
My varying services won’t work for people who are not committed to communicating honestly and politely with me. I am a very open and communicative person and this helps me keep my work to a high standard. Neither will it work for people who are constantly sceptical of anyone trying to help them, or those who always have excuses for not turning up or not completing assignments. If you are one of these people, then I would respectively suggest that you do not work with me. We probably wouldn’t work very well together and I’d hate to take your time or money for something that you believe won’t work. I hope this sounds fair to you.
What exactly does SOBREMESA offer?
I offer translation of any document from Spanish into English, although we must discuss this first to see whether I can deliver it to you in time. I also teach Spanish to adults, from beginners to advanced level. Conversation classes in a group are particularly enjoyable. Proofreading is also something I have had much experience of so get in touch if you need some help in this area.
My experience as a Work Coach has enabled me to help write or review CVs and try to get the best out of someone. I have worked with clients who felt they could only do one job and maybe had no qualifications. They were always thrilled when I presented them with a CV that was totally about them. They were so proud to think they were reading about themselves when they hadn’t realised the transferable skills they had.
Does it really work? I’ve never studied a language before.
Yes, it does work! It’s about finding out about how to communicate, even if it’s not all correct – although I do teach you how to get it correct. When we have our getting acquainted call, it’ll be like talking to a friend over coffee about what you’d like to learn and how we’ll implement that. Everyone is an individual so lessons will be at your pace and will teach you a little about the culture of Spain too so you don’t get it wrong when you’re there. I have always had great success with my students, particularly when they were studying for GCSE. All lessons will be online for the time being, while we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
How will my translation be presented?
I will follow your instructions to give you the best translation possible. We will communicate regularly, if necessary, and I will keep you up to date with your order, ensuring the project is delivered to you in optimum time.
What results can I expect?
You can expect to have your document delivered to you on time (unless we have discussed otherwise), with every care taken to ensure it reads just as it should. Your privacy is assured every time.
With regard to work and career, I will show you how to work out your transferable skills that might just land you your perfect job, or a promotion, Maybe you’d even start considering a new career. Who knows! It’s quite exciting really.
With Spanish lessons you will be able to communicate with Spanish speakers to a higher level than before. You will be able to communicate you details and needs in different environments such as hotels, restaurants and bars and with friends. You'll even learn how to ask for directions!
Can I see some testimonials from your former clients to see what they thought about working with you?
Yes, you can! Please check out the testimonials page on my website.
How quickly can I expect results?
Results will not happen overnight, if you’re learning Spanish– although some of those ‘Aha!’ moments might. Ensuring you turn up to sessions and completing the assignments will help you get there a little quicker. However long it takes you, it’ll be fun. If you can find some friends to study with, it’ll be even more fun and much cheaper.
Your translated document will be presented to you within the time expected – unless we come across any problems which will be discussed with you beforehand.
As far as CVs are concerned, you should feel better about yourself and proud of your achievements. Your CV will be presented in a way which will be easier for prospective employers to read, as will be more organised.
Will it be worth my while paying for your Spanish lessons?
Of course it will! You may not be speaking Spanish after the first session. However, you will soon realise that you are starting to understand a little more. It takes some people longer but, if you are someone who is committed and prepared to fully immerse yourself, then you may see changes a little earlier on.
Will we have sessions online?
All sessions will be online, especially at the moment with the pandemic stopping us from working face to face. In the future though, it would be lovely to meet you if you live not too far from me. Most sessions will be on Zoom but we can also chat via Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp.
What do the programmes entail and how long do they last?
There are a variety of programmes for you to choose from, ranging from weekly, individual sessions to programmes where we ‘meet’ a couple of times a month. We can discuss this in your getting acquainted call to find out what would suit you best.
Do you have a payment plan for Spanish lessons?
Although it is cheaper to purchase the whole programme, there are monthly payment plans available to help with easier budgeting.
Do you accept credit cards
I prefer to be paid into my bank account.
Would it be possible to sample your Spanish lessons at low cost first of all, to see whether it’s definitely for me?
Of course you can! I’d be more than happy to do that and give you a FREE taster Spanish lesson. At least that way we’ll get to know each other a little better. We can arrange this during our getting acquainted call.
I think I know the programme that will suit me. How do I join up?
That’s great! We can get you joined up during our getting acquainted call.
I’m really busy and feeling overwhelmed. How would I fit in this programme?
Everybody seems to be really busy these days. However, some leisure time doing something you enjoy will give you a better quality of life and make you feel you’re not running round like a headless chicken.
I’ve read all your FAQs but have a further couple of questions. Can we talk?
I’d love to have a chat with you. Let’s set something up! You can email me at juliegspink@gmail, leave a message on or send me a message via Whatsapp +44 (0)7988194859