Wednesday, October 7


I imagine some of you are wondering how the thing I actually came here for is going.  Weeeeellll...

For real, my job is AWESOME. Essentially, I am working with first and second year bilingual students in "high school" aka Escuela Secondaria, mostly ages 12-14. They have to choose to be in the bilingual program so they are very eager to learn the language, which makes a world of difference. I definitely have one up on some of the other teachers in my program, being from California and all. The kids’ eyes bug out when I say I’m from California and they immediately want to know if I know anyone famous! It’s just so innocent, it’s endearing. The classes that are taught in mostly English (but also a good bit of Spanish) are English (obvi), Music, Science and P.E.

I LOVE the English class, for obvious reasons. One difficult thing though, is that they are learning British English and there are definitely some differences. For example, instead of asking, “Do you have a pen?” they ask, “Have you got a pen?” It’s not wrong, per se, just different. So even in English, there are some challenges, but I really enjoy getting up in front of class and sharing my language. I have done everything from lead discussions to facilitate activities to translate videos. I have worked with full classes as well as small groups of four kids for more personal interaction. These hours are really special because I have them on my own in the English Department instead of a classroom and we can have a ton of fun! I know if I can make them laugh, they will learn and enjoy the language so much more. Plus, it’s awesome getting to know these kids on a personal level. They are really great kids (I will have the same 50 or so all year). The first year kids know much less English that the second year kids, so we chuckle along as I try to explain in Spanish, then translate and help them to answer in English, both written and verbal. Whew!

Everyone at the school is SOOOOOOOOOOO nice – beyond warm and welcoming!!  While Antonio Luis is my right-hand man, I am really only with him for three hours a week (two hours worth of music classes and one for prep). The other hours I spend with three other teachers (English, Science, P.E.) and they are all SO kind and enthusiastic about me being there to help them. They also never fail to tell me that I am doing a wonderful job and thank me again and again for my help. It’s SUCH an encouraging environment… I really couldn’t ask for more.

Coffee breaks are very big at our school. We spend lots of time in the cafeteria, which is really just a small room with a counter, where Pilar and Pilar work. The big thing in Spain is when someone “invites you” to coffee.  This doesn’t mean they ask you to join them, more that while I am enjoying my toast and tea, Pilar tells me who “invited me” that day which means someone took care of my bill (it’s ridiculously cheap!).  I have yet to pay for breakfast at school, which is kinda awesome! Once I get paid, I will “invite” everyone myself!

The school itself is bright, cheery and fully equipped with technology, which makes for a fabulous learning and teaching environment. There is a huge teachers' lounge where I am told to make myself at home, use the Internet and whatever else I may like. The English teacher also gave me a key to the English Department to use at my leisure, for Internet, a quiet space for work or to facilitate small groups.

Two of my working hours are my “Coffee Talk” hours I think I mentioned before, where I basically sit down with several of the bilingual teachers and the Director (Principal) to help them with their English. These are a hoot as well, because the conversation is a little more adult and will go anywhere from talking about NY Pizza slices to American politics. They really help me connect with all the teachers and are equally as beneficial for me as they are for them, because whenever there is confusion, one of us will explain in Spanish!

My schedule is a dream: Weds., Thurs. and Fri, from 9:15-1:45 with a half hour break right in the middle and about 10-15 mins between each class (things are VERY lax here).  It’s about a 30-min walk to and from school each day, but I really love that time of my day… good for contemplating and exploring! Also, there are a ton of hills here in Jaen, so I just think of how hard my legs are working and I charge up those hills!

Ok, so there's the goods for this incredible opportunity that brought me here in the first place! Hahahha :)



Anonymous said...

I always inspired by you, your opinion and attitude, again, thanks for this nice post.

- Thomas