An Interview with Cristian Pedraza
Find out about how you can improve your Spanish or your English and find out about the two cultures in one club.
What surprised you when you came to the UK?
London is a new world: the culture, the diversity. Seeing people from all over the world is a big surprise and you get to know people from so many places. I also found English culture to be very focused, very respectful of others – English people saying sorry when there is nothing to apologise for.
What do you wish you had known?
I wish I had learnt more English before I came here. If you don’t speak good English, it’s a barrier in so many ways, academically, socially.
What helped you?
Spanglish, it was started by my sister as a way of promoting our Colombian culture and language and I carried on with it and I haven’t stopped.
Now, Spanglish is a language and culture platform, we hold events promoting English and Spanish/Latin culture. We have 3 events a week:
- A film club on a Monday when we discuss a Spanish/Latin film
- A conversation club on a Wednesday
- A language exchange on a Saturday
Each event lasts 2 hours and the fee is £5.00 per event. We are on Facebook, Meetup, Instagram – our Meetup group has over 5000 people in it.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
2 years ago, I decided to turn Spanglish into a business, this comes with challenges but it’s also very exciting to have created your own business. And, of course, moving the events online because of the pandemic.
What is rewarding about the work?
The participants who come to the events. I have established the basis but the people who come create the atmosphere and make it work. I also love making links with different communities and being able to help people by making connections for them.
And now for some reflections on English culture:
I really like the afternoon cup of tea. I like the ritual of sitting down with a cup of tea to discuss the day. We have something like this in Colombia but it’s not quite the same. I also like the English Sunday, having lunch, going for a walk and coming back and having a cup of tea.
What advice would you give someone planning to migrate to the UK?
Don’t make the same mistake as me – learn English first. Don’t be afraid and take time to understand the culture. Latinos tend to be happy to get close and it takes more time with English people.
Find Spanglish Meetups here look or for Spanglish Universal on Facebook and Instagram.