Interview with Ana Cerro, Head of the Spanish department at GEM, and the Academic Advisor for students from Latin America (except Brazil), Italy and Spain. She gives us an insight into teaching languages at the business school, characteristics of Spanish-speakers and those learning the language at GEM, and the numerous opportunities that come from learning foreign languages and going on exchange.
Ms. Cerro is the main point of contact for the school’s partners from the South American and Spanish regions, working with schools such as the IQS School of Management at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, and the ESIC Business and Marketing School. In developing relationships with partners, Ms. Cerro has one main philosophy: use personal relationships to build up university partnerships. It comes down to the people, as they are the ones managing the outcomes of a potential partnership. A partnering strategy may be effectively lined out for both sides, but without the relationship component, a partnership is not possible. This is especially prominent in Spanish-speaking countries, where cultures are focused on developing more of a personal relationship within business affairs before coming to an agreement.
First of all, the overall dynamic between Spanish and Latin American students is pretty similar, as both groups of students are eager to learn with essentially the same objective: to take courses in English and improve their French (to varying degrees of course). According to Ms. Cerro, there is not a huge emphasis on studying in schools with numerous accreditations on behalf of the Spanish students though. Nevertheless, since Grenoble is within the top schools of the grandes ecoles of France, GEM is certainly an ideal exchange choice due to its reputation. The Latin American students are also more interested in skiing as Grenoble, being the heart of the French Alps, is a long way from home, and these students will certainly take advantage of that, she finds. As for the French students, they are pretty enthusiastic on absorbing as much Spanish as they can, because they are going to Latin America or Spain to study or work for the most part, so there is motivation there. Additionally, these Spanish classes may discuss how Spanish companies function and what to expect in a Spanish working context, really useful knowledge (awareness) for non-Spanish students to grasp when heading to these countries.
She stresses the relevance of exchanges and languages towards one’s academic life and career onwards. “You won’t learn anything in not going out on exchange.” Going on exchange is one of the most interesting and unique experiences that a student can have in university, as it gets you out of your comfort zone to learn about other cultures’ customs and traditions. Language acquisition is useful as well when working with varying cultures- particularly in many international professions. Yet, having more languages in your arsenal means more than just breaking through cultural barriers when trying to negotiate a deal overseas. Languages gives you more of an understanding to other people’s cultures and acceptance, as they are more willing to share and work with you if you speak their language. As Ms. Cerro reiterates, “with each language you know, the deeper your personality becomes.” Knowing another language enriches your personality and makes you prepared to face challenges in working with people from a different culture abroad.