‘Integration and learning to speak the language is vital’

In this week's instalment we chat to Robert James Parfett, an English teacher living in Murcia who has just published his first book.

'Integration and learning to speak the language is vital'
Photo: Robert James Parfett

Originally from Nottingham, this 39-year-old first arrived in Spain in 1999 and has just become a published author with a rhyming picture book for children entitled The Not So Wise Owl.

What brought you to Spain? 

I wanted to travel the world and end up in Japan. Spain was supposed to be my first stop. I spoke French and German and wanted to add Spanish then Italian… etc.  

It was not my intention to still be here but two children later and things have changed somewhat. So seventeen years later and I'm still here!

How did you end up in Murcia? 

I was offered a job in Murcia at an English academy. I have since worked in other academies and numerous international schools and am now a primary school teacher at El Liceo Francés de Murcia.

My writing took off about three years ago when I started to contribute stories to a children's stories webpage. I then got my own slot and eventually published my first book last August.

What do you love about living in Spain?  

The wonderful cuisine, especially fresh seafood! The lovely weather and being able to enjoy the outside life. Not forgetting the superb local wines from Jumilla.

Any frustrations? 

I have three words for you, Middle Lane Drivers! Bureaucracy can be frustrating too.

As a teacher what do you think of Spain’s attitude to learning English? 

It has changed recently as people have become aware of the importance of English both in the workplace and for travelling.

How could it improve? 

There needs to be a more hands on approach.  Too much emphasis is placed on a grammar-based traditional way of learning as opposed to using the language and becoming more fluent.

What inspires you as a children’s author? 

My inspiration comes from everywhere, everyone and everything! Things people say or do, places. I work with children and my two boys are always giving me ideas for future stories.

How do you balance life and work in Spain? 

When I am not working I enjoy writing of course and travelling around Spain. I have a good balance of work and play! Meeting up with friends, going out for meals or taking a stroll along the beach.

What is the secret to a happy expat life? 

I have found integrating and learning to speak the language is vital. I speak more in Spanish than I do in English as I have a Spanish girlfriend. Having a balance of Spanish and non Spanish friends and not cutting yourself off from the REAL Spain.

 The Not So Wise Owl by Robert James Parfett is available on Amazon

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