Blog: Notes from Montevideo

Blog: Notes from Montevideo

Saul Nassé gets a first hand flavour of the colour and vibrancy of the Latin region at an annual get together of 'culturas' in Uruguay.

I was in South America recently to attend a conference called LABCI which is a get together of the 'culturas' who are the network of English language institutions across South America, who we've enjoyed a very long association with.

The Conference was held in Montevideo; each cultura takes turns hosting and this time it was Uruguay's turn. Cambridge English have been working in Uruguay for most of our 100 year existence and it's the country where our exams have the highest penetration. The streets of Montevideo is the place where I'm most likely to to run into someone who has taken one of our exams - one in every 200 people in the country has one of our qualifications.

Attending the conference was an education in itself as it was my first visit to that part of the world since I started at Cambridge English last year. At Labci you get people from all over so I was able to mainline Latin America in one hotel, meeting people from Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.

Saul union jack frame - imageOne fun highlight was our British themed photo booth that attendees could pop into to get a comedy momento of their trip. Pictured with me in the Union Jack frame are Mercedes Muratorio and Lisandro Terenzi From Cambridge English's Buenos Aires office.  

One person I met in Montevideo who I found particularly interesting was Miguel Brechner who runs Plan Ceibal which is a brilliant project making digital equipment and learning materials available to students across Uruguay. I was really struck by their ability to do things at scale - this latest project involves them buying thousands of tablets from a Chinese manufacturer which they were able to get at an amazing price.

This got me thinking about the sorts of things we could do in making our exams digital if we were able to replicate something similar, especially given that more and more people are doing their learning on tablets. If you've learned your English on a tablet, why wouldn't you sit your exams on one too?

On our last night at Labci the organisers took over Teatro Solis, Montevideo's main theatre, and got everyone from the conference along for a brilliant performance of local singers and tango dancers - a fantastic first hand flavour of the colour and vibrancy of the Latin region. Not a word of English, but no translation required.

Saul letterbox two - imageI wended my way on from Montevideo across the River Plate, which is a ninety minute ferry ride. I arrived in Buenos Aires, and was delighted to find red pillar boxes very similar to the ones I’m used to in the UK. I posted this blog in this particular pillar box (pictured), along with an envelope full of poetic licence.

Saul Nassé
Chief Executive, Cambridge English Language Assessment

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