Richard Vaughan, President of Vaughan Systems
In July 2001 we did something that had never been done before: we transformed an abandoned Spanish village into a tiny but bustling metropolis whose official language was English. We "stocked" the village with 20 English speakers from all over the world and brought in 20 Spaniards, leaving the 40 to fight it out and have fun over 6 days.
The battle was fierce, and when the dust finally settled, we clearly had a draw on our hands: the Anglos had the most memorable 10 days of their life and the Spaniards were three times more fluent and confident with the English language. The pilot project, in fact, was so successful that it attracted not only the Spanish media, but a lot of attention from European media as well. Four major Spanish TV channels ran reports on the event, including a 12-minute segment on Spain's equivalent of the U.S. "60 Minutes".
Then Euronews, the only pan-European news station, aired the 12-minute report in all 12 member countries and in every official language of the European Union. It was a surprise to us all, but logical in view of the results achieved. Then, seven months later, the Wall Street Journal published a report that also appeared in 40 major U.S. dailies.
Since our pilot project, we have conducted over 350 programs and attracted more than 9,000 English-speaking volunteers and Spanish clients. Gradually we are transforming this innovative cultural and linguistic experience into an ongoing venture, thereby establishing a true enclave for English improvement deep in the heart of Spain.
Slowly but surely we are "infiltrating" this noble, Spanish-speaking country with the most novel cross-section of English-speakers, from retired Irish farmers to Canadian civil servants to Los Angeles firewomen to Australian businessmen.
We'll see you there!