At Babbel, our endgame is getting people to have conversations with other people, in a new language. There are fantastic folks here making that possible. In our “Behind The Scenes” series, we sit down with them to provide a glimpse into who makes it all work, what they do, and where their heads are at.
This round we’re talking to Héctor Hernández, Curriculum Manager for Babbel Live.
What’s your role at Babbel? What do you do on a typical day?
I’m the Curriculum Manager for Babbel Live. I’m in charge of structuring the progression of our live tutoring sessions and I manage a team of four content creators that create the teaching materials for the courses.
Where are you from and which languages do you speak?
I was born and raised in Mexico’s capital city, the Great Tenochtitlan, Mexico City. Spanish is my mother tongue, but I started learning English at a very young age. Also, French came along when I was still in primary school. German and Italian were the very first languages I learned autonomously when I was already in my late-twenties.
This is a pretty international workplace. How does that influence your work?
It definitely allows you to learn more about the world itself. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people from different cultures and places, which has allowed me to learn more about many interesting parts of the world, and to understand language learners better.
You started off as a Mexican Spanish Editor in Didactics and are now Curriculum Manager for Babbel Live. Tell us about your journey of how you got here?
I was originally hired last year to help the Didactics team develop content for Latin American Spanish, which is now available as a learning language on the Babbel platform. A few months ago, I became aware that the Curriculum Manager position became available as part of our Internal Mobility program. I was able to apply and after some interviews, I was hired to become part of Babbel Live. The team and the project are a new learning experience within Babbel, where we bring the best classroom environment to help our learners become conversational with the help of our experienced teachers.
You are part of the Babbel podcast A Zero to A Hero. What inspired you to create this podcast series?
A Zero to A Hero was part of one of Babbel’s goals to create new content formats that learners could listen to on the go. When I started creating the podcast I didn’t want to make it too grammar-focused, but target it more towards communication. That means that at the time of creating each episode, I always started with a communicative goal in mind (introducing yourself, talking about your daily habits, getting around in a new city, etc.). From there, I thought of the linguistic elements that needed to be included to reach that goal. Once that was clear, it was time to make it conversational. For that I had my colleague Catriona by my side, who was very into her Spanish-learning journey. She always had interesting questions that are common for Spanish learners but also for people who have just started learning a new language. We have received very positive feedback from learners all over the world, and thanks to the learner-centric approach, we have over 300k downloads already! Along with all of our Babbel podcasts, we were recently awarded the International e-Learning Award in the category of Mobile Learning this year.
What challenges are you most animated by?
Breaking barriers, which for me is what language learning is all about. Not only breaking linguistic and cultural barriers, but also mental barriers. As adults, we fall for the trap of believing that we have either learned it all or that we are unable to learn anything new, which blocks your vision and your development. Therefore, learning a new skill is a way of breaking barriers. Having these new skills also opens new opportunities, whether it is a new job, a new circle of friends, or a new life in another country. I want to help people reach their goals and live the life they want to.
How does working on a purpose-driven product affect your workday?
Babbel’s mission, everybody learning languages, was already my mission before joining the company. I’m very passionate about language learning, so it was easy to jump on the Babbel train. It is very motivating to work around people who have the same passion as you, because you are able to bring new ideas that you can build together to put in front of thousands of people. It is also very rewarding to receive feedback from our learners and get to know how they’ve put what they’ve learned to use. It continues to inspire me and my whole team.
Since we are now all working from home, how have you adjusted to this situation? Do you have any tips to share for WFH productivity?
Adapting to the work from home routine due to COVID has been a challenge for everybody. We had to rethink and adapt all of our routines. I just became a father in December last year, so seeing it from the bright side, the lockdown gave me the opportunity to see my baby grow and be closer to him at this stage of his life. This itself brought some challenges, where I’ve had to sit in several meetings while trying to bring my baby to sleep, which is not the easiest. I’ve tried to arrange my working area similarly to my office: I have another monitor, which definitely helps to increase productivity while working from home.
Want to work with Hector? His team is now hiring German Language Teachers for Babbel Live!