The first Spotlight of 2017 shines on Fran Rodríguez, teacher of French and Spanish.

Fran is our subjunctive-loving French and Spanish teacher. She has a French and Spanish degree from Cambridge University and has lived in France and Mexico where she picked up all her ‘whizzo phrases’. Fran has immense cultural knowledge of all things Francophone and Hispanic. She has taught EFL; worked as an assistant to a CEO of an international bank; ran her own business for 16 years and is now a teacher, Warminster School exchange organiser and travel blogger – Fran also enjoys her role as a Sixth Form tutor and tutor to our mother-tongue French and Spanish IB pupils in the literature of their native languages. We hear she also makes the best brownies you have ever tasted…

How long have you worked at Warminster?

6 years.

What’s the best thing about your role?

The creativity – I love the challenge of coming up with new ways to try and make everyone else as excited about languages as I am.  Of course, they don’t all work, but that just gives me licence to come up with yet another means of trying to achieve that all-important aim.

What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?

TOK (theory of knowledge) teacher – partly because I love to play with preconceptions and try and persuade people to look at things differently.  However also the way we use language colours our perceptions of things, and in a world where so few people read any more, I like to encourage pupils to experiment with use of language to discover things they didn’t know they knew.

Describe a typical day?

There is no such thing as a typical day.

What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?

There’s an open-minded “have a go” attitude in the typical Warminster pupil; when we take pupils to live with families in France and Spain on our exchange programmes in year 10 and year 9, they may be nervous (they are usually completely terrified that first day!) but they take a deep breath and just get on with it, and then of course they end up having the most wonderful time and making friends in other countries.

What would surprise us about you?

I have over 1,000 followers on my travel blog’s Twitter account, WinedDinedandRested!

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer; I will do that eventually, when I have the time.  In the meantime I have my blog, even though I really only have time to write it in the summer holiday.

What did your school reports say about you?

She should contribute more in class…. Clearly I was waiting to grow up so I could contribute as a teacher.

Your note/advice to teenage self?

Don’t worry, it all gets much better as you grow up.

Your mantra/motto or favoured quote?

The past isn’t a tense, it’s a time frame.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about language and languages.  When you can speak someone else’s language you are able to understand them so much better, and we could avoid so many terrible misunderstandings in world politics if more of the important people could communicate in several languages. This is why I am so excited about the Warminster School exchange programme; there are very few schools in the UK that still do a proper exchange, and it is a terrible loss to our future generations.  Young people on exchange get to understand that they don’t have to be completely fluent in a language to be able to communicate with people of their age in, say, France and Spain, and it opens up a whole new world of friends and activities.

Most treasured possession?

A very battered old copy of “The Time Machine” by HG Wells.  I inherited it from my great-aunt, who got it from her brother, my great grandfather, who was President of the Royal Society at one time.  It’s the only book I’ve read more than a dozen times since I was 8.

Biggest bugbear?

Apostrophe abuse – I am a proud member of the Apostrophe Vigilantes on Twitter.

Favourite musician/group?

I love so many different kinds of music, in all my four languages, that I don’t have one permanent favourite.  In one sitting I can go from a Brandenburg concerto to Flanders and Swann to Pedro Infante to Stromaë – I love the shuffle setting on my nano. As my pupils will know, I regularly use songs in lessons to illustrate a point.

Guilty pleasure?

Mmmm, I have many pleasures but I don’t feel guilty about them! Never a day passes that I don’t enjoy using my different languages. Eating Godminster cheese is a great pleasure, as is travelling of course; my two cats are a pleasure, listening to The Archers is a small pleasure, and time with my three children is an enormous pleasure, but guilt? Nope.

Signature dish if on MasterChef?

Guacamole – I learned how to make a proper guacamole in Mexico and now I’m a guacamole snob.  You so seldom find a real, chunky guacamole anywhere outside Mexico.

What is the secret to a good guacamole?

OK – the secret to a good guacamole – DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER MASH ANYTHING, please, pretty please, por favorcito. Rough chop everything and stir gently – it’s meant to be chunky.  And if anyone says “I don’t like chilli” recommend them to eat something different rather than make a “non-chilli” version – that would not be guacamole.

Favourite TV programme?

Anything that’s neither violent nor stupid.

Last book you read?

I read voraciously in all my languages and in many different genres, I usually have 2 or 3 books on the go at the same time.  My main book of the moment is “Do androids dream of electric sheep” by Phillip K Dick.  I’m a huge science-fiction fan, and have read many books by this author but had never read this one. A few months ago I read a Spanish science fiction book called “lagrimas en la lluvia” by Rosa Montero and she makes constant reference to Blade Runner,  a film which was based on this book I’m currently reading.

Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?

Someone far more glamorous than me so everyone would think I was really like that.

Hidden ambitions still to achieve?

Spend some time in Sri Lanka. It looks so beautiful, and I’d love the food.  I’d also like to live and work in France for a few years.

Favourite tipple?

I love French wine – a lot of my travelling is based around wine areas, and I’ve come to know many local producers in different areas.

Favourite place/city in the world and why?

Favourite city would probably be Barcelona – I spent a few months there between school and university and fell head over heels in love with it, and indeed that stay ignited my love of Catalan.  These days I marvel constantly at how very beautiful Somerset is – I’d never even been to the county until 7 years ago and it has been a wonderful revelation.

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter – when Facebook first came up I thought it was a bit of a joke and signed up as Donald Duck; a few years later they sent me an email asking for proof of ID and since I don’t have a passport in the name of Donald Duck I had to give up my account. I don’t really miss it.

For wonderful travel and food inspiration please take a look at Fran’s account @winedinedrested

Information about languages and our dedicated MFL team can be found here @WarminsterM and Modern Foreign Languages at Warminster

Read about the Warminster School exchange programme on our Spanish partner school’s website and our French partner school’s website.