29 March 2021

Speakeasy’s Director of Studies Sandra Gobeaux never stops learning

Sandra Gobeaux has been a central member of Academia Speakeasy starting back in 2003. Starting as a teacher, she became Director of Studies as the school began to expand. Since then, she continues to grow her knowledge and apply what she learns to bring consistent quality to Speakeasy’s classrooms and environment. Read on to learn about the path that brought her to where she is now.

Smiling woman in front of
Sandra has been the Director of Studies at Academia Speakeasy since 2003

Sandra’s beginnings

Sandra’s fondest for language started at a young age. Although she’s from Barcelona, she has double nationality – Spanish and Belgian. Her father is from Galicia and her mother was from Belgium. They met in London and eventually moved to Catalonia together.

Having learned French with her grandparents and Catalan at school, Sandra and her two brothers always thought it was cool to be one of the few kids at school to have a parent from abroad. The family would drive to Belgium and spend their vacations there. Sandra learned some English when she worked as an au-pair in London for a year at 18.

“Learning languages has helped me a lot in my personal and professional life and a big part of it is thanks to my family.”

old family photo
Sandra as a child with her family in Galicia

Becoming a Spanish teacher

Ever since primary school, Sandra has enjoyed reading, literature and the Spanish language. She finally ended up studying Hispanic Philology at university, where she also had some subjects from the French department that included teaching French as a foreign language. This is how Sandra first discovered the idea of learning and teaching languages.

Sandra did her Erasmus exchange in Belgium on French as a foreign language and later received a grant to go to Quebec to study language teaching. Once she finished her undergraduate degree, she went on to do a postgrad in teaching foreign languages. Sandra taught French to her first students at a language academy and Catalan to a couple from Latin America. She then taught Spanish to a few French teenagers that were in Barcelona on a vacation program. Everything snowballed from there. Sandra realized that teaching Spanish was her calling.

What she most enjoyed about being a teacher is the feedback she received from he students. She feels that by teaching you’re doing something useful, helping people understand and little by little, they start talking and communicating which is comforting.

old photo with 4 smiling young people
Sandra and her very first French students

Starting at Speakeasy

At one point, Sandra had been teaching Spanish to some engineers at Nokia. One of their girlfriends who was from Denmark was studying at Speakeasy and passed her along her CV to Soren, the director of the school. She became a teacher in 2003 and within a few months, the school began growing quickly and Sandra was offered the Director of Studies position.

Speakeasy started on one floor of the building with just a few classrooms, but with time, it’s grown to 24 classrooms and the number of teachers and staff has expanded. In 2013, Speakeasy became a Cervantes-certified school and Sandra feels proud to continue and maintain the important accreditation year over year.

As Director of Studies, Sandra knows it’s a position that requires a lot of time and concentration. She has a lot of people that depend on her directly, but she can see that as the days and the years pass, everyone works together as a family, and it’s very rewarding.

Happy smiling colleagues
Sandra and some of her Speakeasy colleagues in the earlier days

How COVID-19 has changed the Speakeasy environment

Although the Coronavirus has so much negative to it, Sandra has tried to find the silver lining in it. For her, it was like a kind of test. Obviously it’s a very stressful time and situation, but it also forced everyone to coordinate, help each other and overcome together.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you can count on your colleagues and that when there’s a goal, you have the tools and the capability to reach it. The most important, though, is knowing that you can count on your boss, the director of the academy because that’s the person who is taking the most risks. We’re able to continue because of him.”

Some other Spanish schools have closed. Some didn’t get behind online classes. In her case, Sandra feels lucky that we were able to continue teaching and that the team was essentially forced to take on the challenge of online learning that was always a pending project.

Team of smiling colleagues
Sandra and her Speakeasy colleagues

A day in the life

Now that Sandra’s working from home, she says the days fly by. She usually starts her day with a coffee from her French press and is already at her computer by 8. She tries to give herself short breaks to get moving and away from the screen. She works at her tasks, but most importantly she tries to be available to the teachers and the team through their internal communication system.

In the afternoons, she goes to pick up her sons aged 11 and 10 and prepares lunch for them, takes them to their activities or helps them with homework. Sandra also likes to have things organized for the next day. Unlike most people in Spain, she doesn’t describe herself as a night owl, so they often eat dinner around 7:30pm, watch a bit of TV together and are in bed by 10pm.

In her free time, Sandra likes to spend time with her kids and with her father who lives close by. Since they live near the beach, they enjoy taking walks along the shore, kicking a ball around or simply having a barbecue at home. She describes herself as a homebody too, happy to hang out on the sofa with a book or a series.

Woman smiling on boat with two smiling boys
Sandra in Belgium with her two sons

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