The online language school born from the coronavirus that will improve your next vacation


IIf you were looking for a case study of a millennial generation who can’t stick to one job, you wouldn’t do much better than Jessica Dunks. In the five years since graduating from high school, Jessica has worked as a content writer for a travel app, as a teacher at a high school in Colombia, as a student recruiter at a university in London and, more recently as a project manager. for the charity wing of a language school.

“People have said in the past that they can’t keep up with me and my ‘job hopping’ but deep down I knew I had always wanted to work for myself,” Jessica shared with me.

Her latest role was the most rewarding so far, but it turned out they only had the funding to keep her on the books until Christmas. “After applying for countless jobs and getting rejections, I felt really discouraged,” Jessica shared. “Then Covid hit and a couple of companies I was in the last round of the hiring process with told me they weren’t recruiting for the roles anymore.”

It became apparent to Jessica that if she wanted to go back to work, she was going to have to sort something out herself. His long-term dream has always been to open a language school or a cultural center in Spain, but under the current circumstances it was far from achievable. Instead, she launched a series of online Spanish and Portuguese lessons, as part of her new venture Roots Up Languages.

“I know a lot of people who want to learn a language,” Jessica told me. “But they all said the same thing – I’m a little bored or a little restless. The topics that come up in a lot of classes, I don’t care enough about.

Founder Jessica Dunk

When she thought about her own upbringing, in Spanish, German and Portuguese, the lessons that really stood out to her were those that resonated most with her own interests. “Like watching a movie in Spanish and then talking about it, or going to a paella-making class during my year abroad and following along,” Jessica said.

From there, she knew she didn’t want to go the traditional route of beginner Spanish or advanced Portuguese – she wanted to tap into what really interests people and their motivation for learning to communicate in a other language.

“I sat down and thought about my friends and how they had fun at home and what kind of language lessons they would like and found four types. Whoever is behind Zoom dinners is said to be getting “Spanish on a plate”, learning the language by talking about cuisines, through recipes. Whoever watches live streams of musicians/DJs and shares Spotify playlists: “Spanish through sound”, learns through music, including song lyrics and discovers new genres. Anyone trying to find something decent on Netflix that they haven’t watched yet: ‘Spanish on Screen’, learning by watching and discussing episodes, short films, documentaries. And finally, the one keeping a close eye on Skyscanner for its post-covid escape: ‘Spanish and Portuguese for Travelling’, learning while taking a virtual tour of the countries that speak these languages.

One class is already operational and the others should be officially launched at the beginning of May. Each is taught via Zoom, using Prezi slides, on a weekly basis for three months. Classes will range from two to five people and cost up to £12.50 per person depending on group size. You can choose to do this with a few friends who all want to learn together (virtually, of course), or join a group of other people. “It’s great because it’s social too. I want to bring people together and introduce them to new friends online,” Jess said.

Spanish on a plate will consist of conversations around cooking and recipes

Obviously, the main goal of his students is to learn a new language, but there is also an underlying social element, which many people wish they had more of in these times of social distancing.

If you want to know more or register for a course, you can fill out the form on the website.

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