Case Studies: Clients

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Tarran Kent-Hume & Olie Hunter Smart

Tarran Kent-Hume and Olie Hunter Smart are two adrenaline-seeking adventurers who have dared to take on the western hemisphere’s longest and largest river, the Amazon. For five months, the two will be kayaking the 6,500 kilometer course of this gigantic, unpredictable river. While planning the adventure, the two enrolled in a 10-session online class with Language Trainers to learn Spanish before heading to South America. We caught up with them to chat about their trip and their experience with our online Spanish course.

We wanted to come to Peru with the confidence we could have small conversations with the people here. We knew that not only would it be helpful, but it would also enhance our experience and make us get more out of the trip

Good afternoon guys, how are you?

Olie Hunter Smart: Hi, we’re good, thanks! We’re currently in Lima, the first stop on our trip, and just finished a Google Hangout with a bunch of kids to talk to them about traveling and our adventure.

Tarran Kent-Hume: We’ll be here until Sunday or Monday and then we’ll be packing up and beginning the first part of our adventure at the Mantaro River here in Peru.

Wow, I can imagine you’re excited about your upcoming kayak adventure down the Amazon! I know you’re probably busy with preparations so thanks for taking the time to chat. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and the adventure? We’ve been reading about your project and we’d love to hear more.

Tarran Kent-Hume: After six years as an investment banking headhunter, I knew I needed to make a change. I just turned 30 a couple weeks ago, and I wanted to do something big. I’m an adventurer: I practice Muay Thai fighting, I’ve climbed Mont Blanc, and now it’s onto conquering the Amazon. While I was in Thailand, I became fascinated by the rivers there and since I’d never been to South America, I figured the Amazon was the perfect next stop.

Olie Hunter Smart: When I was 18, I went to the Belizean jungle and it blew my mind. The scale of the trees and the peacefulness of it all really captivated me. I have been working in advertising in London for the past 10 years and wasn’t liking it. I thought there must be more than sitting behind a desk. Then I went traveling through Russia and South America with my girlfriend – it was incredible! When I got back, however, I went straight back into the world of advertising and got into the internal politics again, ending up right back where I was. I thought, “Nope! Can’t do this!” I needed to escape and live my life properly. I went camping with a guy who knew Tarran was going to be kayaking the Amazon and two weeks later, I met him and we began planning this trip together.

So that’s why you began studying Spanish, right? To prepare for this trip?

Tarran Kent-Hume: Yes, we wanted to come to Peru with the confidence we could have small conversations with the people here. We knew that not only would it be helpful, but it would also enhance our experience and make us get more out of the trip. Also, if you speak someone’s language, they’re a lot more likely to help you out.

What was your Spanish level beforehand?

Tarran Kent-Hume: I didn’t know much Spanish at all.

Olie Hunter Smart: Since I had traveled around South America before, I knew some and could understand when people talked. But it was frustrating because I didn’t know how to respond – I couldn’t put sentences together.

And now that you’ve finished the course, how has your Spanish improved?

Tarran Kent-Hume: The classes helped massively. Plus we received homework outside the course which helped us process what we learned. We would write in Spanish and put thought into what we were writing, how to structure sentences and what we wanted to say. I know how to order food, ask for directions, and have short conversations with people – before I couldn’t do that!

Olie Hunter Smart: Right, and I liked that the class was more about conversing than specific vocabulary words. That really helped me get better.

That’s great to hear. Have you been putting your new language skills to use?

Tarran Kent-Hume: Yes, in the past few days we’ve really been immersed. I listen to what people are saying and can pull out words I recognize, and piece together a response.

Olie Hunter Smart: Our knowledge of Spanish has already helped us out a lot here in Lima but it’s going to prove invaluable in the more rural parts where no one speaks English.

What was your favorite part about your classes with us?

Tarran Kent-Hume: I liked that we could take the class together and online. After the class ended each time, I’d call Olie and we’d review our notes, converse in Spanish to practice, and talk about the homework.

Olie Hunter Smart: And our teacher was great. She knew why we wanted to learn Spanish and helped us make a list of keywords and phrases to know. For example, we know how to say “Please don’t shoot!” if we need to use it.

Would you recommend Language Trainers in the future?

Olie Hunter Smart: Yeah, I would. We learned a lot in the short time we had. It has given me the confidence to talk a bit more and not rely on other people while I’m traveling.

Tarran Kent-Hume: Definitely – I already have recommended Language Trainers!

One last question – do you have a favorite word or expression that you learned in Spanish?

Tarran Kent-Hume: “Vivir” – to live. It’s so beautiful and it has to be my favorite Spanish word.

Olie Hunter Smart: “Mañana” – tomorrow, why? Because everything that happens here happens mañana.

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