Getting to Know the Platform Superprof: How One Brand Ambassador Explores Culture & Identity through Language Learning, with Pablo Buey: Podcast Transcript

Ludo Millar
Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.

Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.

The question is, what will you learn today?

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Ludo Millar 1:00
Hello, and welcome to the 110th episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. My name is Ludo Millar, the host of this podcast. Welcome back to regular listeners. Welcome to any of you for whom this is your first time listening to the qualified tutor podcast. And of course a huge welcome to today’s guest, Pablo Buey. Pablo, welcome to the podcast.

Pablo Buey 2:15
Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me.

Ludo Millar 2:18
It’s been a busy day of tutoring for you today, hasn’t it?

Pablo Buey 2:21
Yeah, it has been in fact, I’ve given four lessons already. So yeah, it’s been a busy day. But I’m happy.

Ludo Millar 2:29
Well, that’s great to see. Pablo has got a wonderful story. And we’ll be getting into it a little bit more over the next sort of 25 minutes or so. But just to give you listeners some context, Pablo is a Brand Ambassador of the hugely popular tutoring platform, Superprof. Now Superprof support 1000s of pupils around the world by providing a space for students and tutors to connect and learn together. Anyone who’s used the platform will value its very easy to use interface. And it’s got very efficient, effective filtering tools for parents looking for tutors, and also for tutors to be able to promote themselves and create their own profile. I myself have been and still am a tutor on the platform. I think it’s really one of the best out there. But Pablo is also a true polyglot. And that is if you don’t know it, a speaker of multiple languages.

Hailing from Spain, Pablo added French at university, Mandarin Chinese in his own time, and Portuguese through a group of Brazilian friends he made a short while back, so a real spread of languages there. And this mastery of languages has given Pablo a greater sense of culture and of identity both within himself and those around him, his students, his friends. It’s really very, very impressive and coupled with this linguistic capability, Pablo also has a genuine interest in teaching and learning and ensuring that that environment is a fun and enjoyable one for all his students. So let’s hope we’re lucky enough today to share in that enthusiasm, I’m sure that will come across in this episode but welcome Pablo, what’s giving you reason to smile today?

Pablo Buey 4:19
Well today as I said, it has been a busy day and I have to thank Superprof for that because mI have my students come from that platform as well. And as I said, I’m happy because I do what I love to do, which is basically anything related to languages and sharing my knowledge to other students.

Ludo Millar 4:48
It’s excellent to see that. Now, for those of you who’ve listened to the last few episodes, you will know that most episodes of late start with you an often entertaining little segment, which is that I’ve asked guests before they come on to see if they can locate some old school reports and get them to read out the most interesting, the most symbolic of those reports at the start of the episode. Pablo couldn’t find any school report but he did send me a very amusing piece of feedback from an instructor on a course he had finished. I’ll let you read out that feedback and speak a little bit about it.

Pablo Buey 5:28
Okay, yeah, so well, as Ludo has said, I didn’t have any school reports, however, I remember when I was in secondary school, I remember this English teacher who was definitely sure I would fail my first certificate exam. The first certificate exam is like a B2 level more or less, right? So I remember her telling me, ‘Unless there is a miracle, you will fail your first certificate exam’. So well, I didn’t turn water into wine, but at least I passed my English test. [LAUGHS] And in fact, I currently prepare students to pass the first advanced exams. So yeah, it’s been quite an unexpected outcome.

Ludo Millar 6:19
Quite a miraculous outcome. Your teacher would be probably very excited to hear that you now not only passed, but you also now teach it to others. I think that’s a slightly ironic reversal of fortunes.

So we’d love to know- I mean, there’s obviously so much background to where you are today and what you do today and we’ll probably only scratch the surface of that over the next 25 minutes but what is your what is your WHY as a tutor? Why do you do what you do?

Pablo Buey 6:56
So well, I began to be interested in English and literature in secondary school. I had this really cool English teacher Okay. Hi, John! [LAUGHS] His lessons were quite funny, you know, because of his sense of humor, you know, very, very British. The sort of ironic, dry British humor right? So I attended these kind of posh school right? And you could see this English teacher who went against the current in that sort of environment. So apart from learning English, with this teacher, he used to share with us his love for poetry, Man United as well, British rock music. And also his cats and dogs jokes, you know, because he despised cats and dogs. So it was everything, very funny, you know, in his lessons. So yeah, although I love animals you know, I started to to follow a bit of his interest right. And I started to listen, for example, to The Libertines, Babyshambles, Pete Doherty, you know, this kind of music. And then well, I started reading literature as well. And then at uni, I decided to study languages. Because I found communicating with other people from different countries very interesting. So, what I learnt was that learning languages, it’s a way to discover the world as well. So yeah, why not share my knowledge with others in a fun way?

Ludo Millar 8:38
Yeah, that’s excellent. So it’s often that you hear that an educator’s love of teaching and learning has come from one single teacher. And I think that’s a really empowering moment, isn’t it? Because you can be that educator that the same student of yours goes on to say, you know, ‘I loved working with Pablo, he taught me an interest, a passion for Spanish. He told me about his love for, I’m gonna guess, maybe Barcelona, could be Real Madrid. I’m not sure maybe it’s Man United’. But yeah, that’s a really strong kind of story that Pablo. So what is your current kind of philosophy of teaching languages then? That’s a such a key part of learning for so many children and adults as well. What is your philosophy of teaching languages?

Pablo Buey 9:30
So I think teaching languages should be fun, both the student and the teacher. I think, well, in that way, the student is happy and it encourages him or her to learn more. A student who is encouraged to learn more is always happy. So I think that’s it is a very important point, right, to make the lessons enjoyable. Also, it is important to bear in mind students that will they may have different goals or a different mindset. So at I think to them, I think it’s also key. You know, I have some students from Kuwait and others from Singapore, another was from England or from Spain. So I think it’s very important, adapting to the student as well. Yeah.

Ludo Millar 10:16
So how have you come to learn how to adapt best to a student? You say adapting to a student is a really key part. When you first start working with a new student, how do you adapt to the way that they learn?

Pablo Buey 10:33
So in some ways, it depends on the case, right? Some students may be more interested in music, right? Others might be more interested in more kind of literature or more the cultural part of the language right? Or some other food well, food generally, we all love food, right. But yeah, it depends on the student. And also what about the pace. Some people are quick learners. Some others need a little bit more help maybe in some areas, but yeah, it’s also very important in adapting to other people’s mindset or goals. Yeah.

Ludo Millar 11:22
Yeah, no, absolutely. I think when I was tutoring languages, which I don’t do a great deal of, I tutor more English and maths, but I also do French and a little bit of Spanish as well. And I think it’s- I’ve always found it, trying to avoid too much of the classic classroom style of teaching languages, especially here in the UK, where it’s often just learning banks of words, covering up one side, learning the other side, and then filling out a sheet with missing words, or, you know, that classroom style of teaching languages. I feel that it’s teaching languages, as one would speak a language is, in the long run, going to be so much more beneficial for that student. So speaking to them in the target language in French, during the lesson, even if, at first, they may not catch everything you’re saying, if you speak slowly, they will eventually learn some of the key terms and the key ways of speaking in that language. And I think perhaps languages have an advantage in that field. Because you can’t teach your lesson in Maths or you can’t teach your lesson in Geography. And so there’s a small advantage there. But yeah, no, I think that’s really key. I mean, you mentioned there that, that making your lessons fun is a key part of what you do. And you can tell already, Pablo, that you are, you know, enthusiastic and energetic and a very humorous individual. So what do you think makes a good language tutoring session?

Pablo Buey 12:58
Well, I think, in my case, I like creating my own teaching material. Okay, well always other academic material, obviously, right. But in that way, apart from teaching grammar, vocabulary, right, the sort of academic things I have the freedom as well, by creating my own material to share culture and music, bring up different topics to engage in conversation. So that’s what I teach with my lessons as well, to cover different topics as well. And to make it different. Yeah, every day, if I can. So I think that conversation practice is very important. Going through grammar points on vocabulary, and we’ll have a good laugh. Right. So I think, is the perfect language tutoring session.

Ludo Millar 13:58
Yeah, I think that’s very true. And when you say have a ‘love’, you mean sort of have a passion for it?

Pablo Buey 14:03
And a good laugh as well. 

Ludo Millar 14:08
And a good laugh, you said, a good laugh.

Pablo Buey 14:10
Sorry, and have a good laugh. Yeah [LAUGHS]

Ludo Millar 14:11
So, how did you develop that style? Why is that the style that you go with for a language tutoring session?

Pablo Buey 14:20
So, well, I always like to start with the practice, with a conversation and see how has been the last few days for the student and we may talk about very current topics. And then I always tried to go to the grammar points, which gradually expand vocabulary. And at the same time, you try to delve into the Spanish culture and into its music as well. And in that way, we’ll make the whole tutoring [session] an interesting experience for the student.

Ludo Millar 15:10
So, we obviously mentioned a little bit about your style. But you mentioned at the beginning as well that you owe some gratitude to Superprof for providing you with this platform to be able to deliver these fun, engaging lessons to students. How long have you have you worked for Superprof? And tell us a little bit about your background to your work with Superprof.

Pablo Buey 15:34
So yeah, so before, I worked at Madrid’s airport, first of all, so there I could- and then I worked when I moved to London, right. And I worked in London Heathrow Airport. So I’ve worked in both airports. And I quite enjoyed both jobs, because airports are international environments, right. So there, you can meet people from many different countries, right. And you can speak languages. You know, it was quite fun, every day meeting new people. But well, then the pandemic started. So after, when the pandemic started, there were no flights, obviously. And so I decided to start to think. And I came across this page, this site, and they started from there. And in a year, more or less well, I got more students and yeah, and that’s how I started, and I’m quite happy for it.

Ludo Millar 16:44
Yeah, so what do you enjoy? What is it about working with the Superprof platform that you enjoy most?

Pablo Buey 16:53
Well, what I enjoy the most is that well, Superprof makes things simple in terms of getting in contact with new students. And it also promotes the idea of giving lessons online, which I think is very comfortable and useful. So that’s two, I think, two key points, you know, about Superprof.

Ludo Millar 17:14
Yeah. So most of your students come from Superprof. What do you think of Superprof? Where do you think it can go? What are the next steps that Superprof can continue to offer to deliver to the tutoring industry, to the tutoring market?

Pablo Buey 17:32
So I think that yeah, we might also find some group tutoring as well, you know, so that will be a good idea, you know, in the future to find more groups instead of just individual students. So try and give lessons in groups, or maybe more translation and interpreting, you know, I’ve also been very interested always in translating and interpreting. I’ve been interpreting for medical services, here in the UK, in London, and I think it’s enriching helping to communicate with others in this kind of vulnerable situations. And yeah, I think super cool for you, I think, yeah, it could do some translating and interpreting as well.

Ludo Millar 18:22
Lovely. So in your role as Brand Ambassador, what does that mean? What does being a Brand Ambassador for Superprof, what does that mean?

Pablo Buey 18:31
So, basically, when I say Brand Ambassador, what I do is I explain the benefits for joining in case you join Superprof to work and I explain the benefits of belonging to Superprof and all these advantages that the site has. And which I always recommend other fellow teachers to use, and students.

Ludo Millar 19:04
So is that quite a sort of international role?

Pablo Buey 19:07
Yeah, it is because as I said before, yeah, I have students from many different countries, you know, from Canada, or from Kuwait or from Singapore as well. So yeah, many, many, many different countries.

Ludo Millar 19:23
Yeah. So I mean, what you’ve done is just incredible to think that you are teaching children who are sitting in their living room or wherever in Kuwait or in Canada or wherever it is, what have you learned by teaching students from so many different parts of the world?

Pablo Buey 19:43
So yes, you can see that, in the case of Asian students, Singapore, China, you can see that well, they respect teachers. In a way that even they are very respectful, let’s say even sometimes too much, right? [LAUGHS] For what we’re used to here in the Western countries, right. So, they always will wait for the teacher to finish the sentences and they just speak whenever you ask them to. So in that case, you have to be more mindful also with the cultural differences and adapt to those situations.

Ludo Millar 20:39
And what have you noticed about teaching kids here in in the UK? Is there something that you find as a kind of pattern across students learning languages here in the UK?

Pablo Buey 20:52
So yeah, the parents like to ensure the children that they learn languages from an early age. So I think that there’s a lot of parents who like to reach out to Superprof to find an outstanding tutor for their children so that they can learn a language from an early age because, well, the truth is that if you start learning a language since you’re a kid, then you [will] probably speak it fluently in the future.

Ludo Millar 21:30
And what’s that told you that about your own language acquisition? Because you’ve obviously spoken Spanish since you were a child. And now as an adult, you’ve learned a bit of Portuguese and a bit of Mandarin Chinese, what have been the differences to learning as an adult compared to learning as as a child?

Pablo Buey 21:49
Well, in my case, I was lucky because my parents wanted me to learn English since I was two; that’s the lucky point, right. But then when I was, say, a teen also, yeah, I decided to learn other languages, because I’ve always been very curious about other countries, cultures, yeah. So I took lessons as well. And then I also tried to engage in conversation with other people, right? So in the case of French, I made a very good friend, who is from Cameroon. So in Cameroon, their mother tongue is French, apart from other many different languages. So in that way, we also learn French through making acquaintances in French or in the case of Chinese, when I lived in Madrid, I lived in an area where there were many Chinese people. So I used to go to the shops and speak to Chinese people there, you know, and that was another way to improve my Chinese as well. So I think that’s the beauty of languages as well. You can get to know other people, make new friends. And you know, that’s the point, I think.

Ludo Millar 23:12
I would totally agree, Pablo. I did French at university. And it allowed me to spend a year in France, in which I did exactly as you said, just to experience, new cultural experience, new people, make new friends, and then new types of friends as well. I think that’s always very interesting, that friendship with someone where they speak a language that isn’t your first language but is a language that you’re learning, because you learn a great deal about yourself in that friendship, because it’s not your mother tongue, it’s not your native language. So you’re having to- you’ve come at it from a slightly different angle, and you’re having to work on not only the language side of things, but also you know, making friends with someone. And I have noticed as well over the years, if my level of language, whether it’s French or Spanish, has dipped slightly, you know, it suddenly- there’s this bizarre experience where it becomes harder to speak to a friend of yours, which is a very strange experience, because you don’t have that with people, friends of yours who speak your native tongue.

So, you know, it’s a great reason to continue learning a language once you’ve made friends in that language, because otherwise, you may lose those friendships. So yeah, so I mean, this has been a really great chat with you. We speak to tutors from a very, very wide range of subjects on this podcast, including people who aren’t really necessarily tutors, they might be more teachers, or they might work as tutoring business leaders or in the education space generally. But it’s great to talk about languages from time to time and I’m probably slightly biased because as the host of this podcast, and as a great lover of languages, I’d probably love to do more. But you know, it’s a small proportion of the wider tutoring market but it’s been great to speak to you. And you know, perhaps further down the line when this podcast has exploded onto the podcasting space, we can have a version in Spanish, we can have our Portuguese version, we can have a Mandarin Chinese version of this episode as well. But I’d love to finish on a question that I love asking guests when they come on, which is, what’s next for you? What’s next for for you in 2022 and beyond?

Pablo Buey 25:25
So I will continue with my tutoring lessons. Because it’s, I think I’m quite enjoying it. And it’s very comfortable, working from home. And as I said before, I have always been into translating and interpreting. So I think I would like as well to work for the police or the courts at the same time I continue the tutoring sessions. So yeah, that will be the ideal thing for me, I think.

Ludo Millar 25:56
Is there another language that you’d like to add to your armoury?

Pablo Buey 26:00
I mean, I’ve just been in Egypt. So while I was in Egypt, I was dreaming of learning Arabic as well. But for the time being, it’s just a dream. As you learn languages, you know, it takes a lot of time and effort. So for the time being, I’m happy with the languages I already speak.

Ludo Millar 26:22
Yeah, well, you know, no pressure to learn anymore. That’s already four or five that you’ve mastered Pablo, but no, thank you so much for coming on, giving up your time for representing Superprof in your capacity as Brand Ambassador. I think that it’s a great thing to be part of, and not only to be a part of the Superprof community, but also to be able to represent them, to go that step further and be a Brand Ambassador for them. So if you are thinking that you would like to join the wonderful community that is Superprof, just head to superprof.co.uk, you can sign up to become a tutor very easily, very simply. There are 1000s and 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of students on there looking for sessions across a wide range of subjects, not necessarily just academic. And that’s what Superprof do so well, is they offer all kinds of instruction and training and coaching as well as academic tutoring as well. So thank you, Pablo, I hope you enjoyed it. This was your first podcast, I believe .. ?

Pablo Buey 27:26
Yep. It was, it’s been quite enjoyable. Yeah. Thank you very much for inviting me.

Ludo Millar 27:32
That’s a pleasure. We very much enjoyed having you on Pablo. Next week, we will be talking to Henry Dingle, who is a member of the Qualified Tutor Community and offers tuition as part of a 12-week mentorship program where he helps students with English, Maths, mindset, mentorship, but also supports parents in their role as an educator with their kids. I think it’s a great dichotomy to have is to be supporting the students as well as the parents alongside that, so we’ll be talking to him about his his new video course, Trusting Your Teen. And that’s going to be a really great episode for students, for tutors, and also for parents. But, Pablo, that’s been a wonderful conversation about what it means to make languages tutoring effective, part of that is making it fun. And I think that’s a really good starting point for so many tutors of languages. So thank you.

Pablo Buey 28:35
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Ludo, for everything and I hope to see you soon.

Ludo Millar 28:43
Lovely. We will see you all next time then, dear listeners, cheerio. Bye, thank you.

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Ludo Millar

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