Member Profile: Silvana, from Italy/Spain

Published on
November 27, 2020
Updated on
November 15, 2022
min read
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Written by
Alastair Budge

Be inspired by an amazing story of a grandmother from Turin, Italian by birth but Spanish by 'adoption'. Learn about how she listens to the podcasts, what she is planning on doing on January 1st, and the two things she still does in Italian.

Member Profile: Silvana, from Italy/Spain
Table of contents


Silvana Borgheresi

Mother tongue

Italian but given that I have been living in Barcelona / Spain for 51 years, I think that I can say that also Spanish is my mother tongue. 

But there are two things I’ve never stopped doing in Italian: praying and counting numbers!!

Lives in

Barcelona, Spain

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am 80 years old but I often forget my age !!! 

In Italy I lived in Turin with my family, my parents and one sister .

I was not such a brilliant student and back when I was at school few girls were studying a university degree!

In school I learned English and French, but language teaching was very different. We would never speak, instead focussing only on grammar and writing translations.

I began to work in Zurich/ Switzerland because I studied German outside of school.

After one year I returned to Turin where I worked as an executive secretary for a foreign sales company and as a German interpreter until I got married and moved to a different city. 

I then spent three years in Milan before my husband was assigned to working in Barcelona.

We packed up our things and moved to a different country with our little daughter, Elena. I was pregnant with Fiorella, our second daughter, at the time!

Life here in Barcelona was very easy, and we had a lot of luck with finding a great location and new friends!

Our parents died both very young so we don’t have any great nostalgia for the family

I find that the quality of life in Barcelona is very good and the city is wonderful!

I love music, dance and I am always doing something for the family.

I am a good cook so my family and their friends are always welcome to eat with us!

I love spinning , so three/ four days in the week I go to the gym. 

Also I love walking , swimming and on the 1st of January I go to the beach and take a dip in the sea with friends!!

I have two grandchildren, they are twins and 21 years old

Finally I am a typical Italian mother and nonna, I love the family and it is my greatest treasure.

My language learning journey

From the lockdown for COVID I wasn’t able to go to the gym. 

My husband bought an indoor exercise bike so every morning I pedal and listen to podcasts from Leonardo English....

Previously, I only listened, but now I’m a member I can follow along by reading the text. This is a big improvement for me, and is very interesting !!

From time to time In the evening I also listen to some podcasts with the transcript and key vocabulary.

What have you found to be the hardest thing about learning English?

It is always speaking! For me it’s very difficult to have a fluid English conversation !

What's your main goal for improving your English?

I would like to be able to have a fluid English conversation. I will try to find someone who willing speak English with me one hour per week

Why did you decide to become a member of Leonardo English?

For 6 months I had an English teacher for conversation practice but at the end it was too expensive for me.

She advised me to listen to the podcasts of Leonardo English!

At the beginning I only listened to the podcasts but one day listening to the episode about Leonardo da Vinci, I decided to take the jump and become a member!

What's your favourite English Learning for Curious Minds episode (and why)?

It’s very difficult to choose a podcast because there are a lot that I love, especially those who talk about Italian characters like De Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, Illuminati or Emanuela Orlandi

But I think that when I listened to the one about the history of Harrods I thought that it would be good for me to read the transcript, and when the Leonardo da Vinci episode arrived, I finally decided to join as a member !!!

Many years ago, I used to go with all of my family to London and every time we would go to Harrods, so I had a good memory of it

Alastair from Leonardo English says

‍Wow, Silvana really is an inspiration. 

I’m in awe of her love of learning, and she’s certainly proof that age is no factor when it comes to learning English. 

It’s an honour to count her as a member of Leonardo English, and I hope she’ll be an inspiration to others. 

I’m not sure I share her bravery at getting into the sea on the 1st of January though - even in Barcelona it gets down to 13.3C!

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