Monthly Archives: October 2011

First week of teaching!

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Survive first week of work: check.

And not just survive, mind you. I think I did pretty well. Obviously it was rough at times, chaotic nearly always and successively more exhausting, but all in all, my first week as a productive Spain dweller was a success.

The breakdown:

During my time as an Auxiliar de Conversacíon with my first school, Alberite, I work as an assistant in the English classes; basically either presenting about American culture/my life/other topics in English or helping out the main English teachers with pronunciation assistance, grammar reinforcement and/or songs-games-and-activities. I get to work with a ton of students—I help with each of the classes from grade levels 1-6 as well as with the E.I. classes (educacíon infantíl) which are children ages 3-5.

All said, I had a blast with them this first week. I know it’s probably very “honeymoon” stage, as they are a little bit in awe of (and let’s face it, probably weirded out by) this strange American girl who has a boy’s name (people have a hard time differentiating my name from “Brian”); talks about this Nebraska place where there’s lots of corn and American football; and smiles ALL THE TIME (I actually think I saw a girl imitating my cheesy-facedness in the back of one of my classes. Oh well , jaja). Mostly what I did this week was present a short slideshow on the United States, Nebraska and other things that would help them get to know me a little better and serve as a springboard for questions I could ask them about themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed explaining what/where Nebraska was (California is here. New York is here. Nebraska is in the middle of them.); hearing the “awws” as they saw pictures of my family and pets; and denying, for the moment, requests to dance for them (I’m an avid ballroom/Latin dancer and had included that in “hobbies” section of my slideshow…I’m thinking I might use a promise of a short performance as an incentive for good behavior or something). With the younger ones, it was mostly songs and games—the cuteness was almost too much to bear when I attempted to sing Old Macdonald with a group of 3 year olds who spoke about as many words of English as they had toes…it was pretty much them swaying and singing the “e-i-e-i-ooh” parts, but it’s a start!  Had a cool realization as I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to a group of 1st graders that the same thing could be happening nearly a world away in Nebraska or any school in the United States. Kinda neat. 🙂

As this program only consumes 12 hours a week of my time, I, like most other Auxiliares, found other ways to busy myself (and make a few Euros along the way). For many, this is in the form of private tutoring lessons for kids or adults. For me, it’s the same thing, just with a few more middle-men involved. I was fortunate enough to find a place with an English academy in Logroño due to a friend of Jake’s being employed there at the moment, and thus I serve as basically an after-school private group English tutor for kids aged about 6 to 14 years old. This position was a bit more challenging for me, as the tutors are responsible for a sort of lesson plan (warm up activity, lesson from a workbook, vocabulary/exam studying help, game) that lasts for an hour as well as any classroom management (aka discipline) that needs to happen. Luckily our classes are pretty small and well-behaved for the most part, but I can’t say I haven’t utilized a little “positive reinforcement” every now and then (read: treats, if the class accrues more positive than negative points in a given period). It’s definitely a challenge at times to motivate the kids and create a very fun environment –we’re charged with the task of being the “fun” English class that they don’t have at school, so creating a balance between learning and play will definitely be a key point in our classroom success. It’s been great, as well, though. From teaching kids to play “Go Fish” (although it’s a bit different…in this academy we have to teach them using British English, so hearing ‘have you got a 9’ is a bit odd to hear, but necessary I suppose!); to discussing everyone’s football (soccer) team favorites (it’s always interesting to see the ratio of Real Madrid and Barcelona fans, as even wee little ones seem to have chosen the team to which they owe allegiance); to showing them pictures of my home (“Que guay!” (in English ‘How cool’) one little girl exclaimed on seeing a postcard of Nebraska countryside….more excitement than I expected, but I suppose anything different/out of the ordinary is always cool to a kid).

Anyway, this post has already reached it’s readable length-limit and more, so I’ll sign off for tonight. More to come, I’m sure, as I start with my second school, Albelda tomorrow (essentially first week of school all over again!) Hope all is well where you are, and hope you’re enjoying my musings. Let me know if you have any requests on what to hear about from my adventures!

Hasta luego,

Brianne

Canaries, orientation, tapas, and oh, teaching, too.

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Hola!

Spain has been a total blur so far…I’ve already been here for 3 weeks (!!! how is that possible?) and it is really feeling like home (especially upon return from weekend trips). But let me give you a run down of the highlights since my last post:

-A random, but awesome trip before we started work (holiday-within-a-holiday) to the Canary Islands. Beautiful beaches and huge sand dunes; our darling seaside town called Puerto Mogán;  a colorful/fascinating/welcoming/perfect hostel called Volver (which I would highly recommend if you plan to visit Gran Canaria); new friends and amazing paella de mariscos (the Spanish dish paella, which combines rice, veggies and in this case, seafood, in a skillet full of joy) all of which made the visit an unforgettable one. Also, shout-out our new friends Nina and Jenny, our German-with-Australian-accent hostel-mates we hung out with during our stay.

 

-Next, orientation in Madrid for the Auxiliares de Conversación program: a four hour bus ride from Logroño to Madrid successful navigation of the Metro, two nights free room/board in a hotel & meeting lots of new friends (both American Auxiliares and others from Canada and parts of Europe). Also, the sessions were held almost entirely in Spanish (all except the one at the end about security measures… they must mean business on that one, since it was in English)… which was a good and a bad thing. A good thing because I got a lot of it–I know that makes my Spanish ability sound miserable, but it was an accomplishment for me; a bad thing because I definitely missed some key details. Meh. I think I’ll survive.

 

 

-Tapas. I know, I know, you’ve heard about this before, but I am positively swooning over the tapas served in our city, particularly on Calle Laurel (the famous tapas street). They. Are. So. Stinkin. Good. And really affordable, for the quality of food you’re getting! Totally had four  different tapas or “mini dishes” tonight as my cena (supper) with Jake and it cost us each about 7 euro apiece. Not bad. Not bad.

 

 

-Last…I start teaching tomorrow! Yikes. No, I’m really pretty excited, but it’s a bit nerve-wracking as well of course. I won’t be starting with my schools in my role as an Auxiliar (laymans terms: language and culture assistant, so therefore not a main teacher) until Tuesday, but I will be meeting with my second school in Albelda tomorrow, which is exciting. I met with my other school in Alberite earlier this week and know I’m going to love it there. Evidently they Googled me and saw pictures of me doing ballroom dance (as I am wont to do) and one of the teachers wants me to teach him how! All in all, they were very nice, very helpful and seem like great future colleagues. But anyway, back to the present: I’m helping teach at an after-school English academy in addition to my duties as an Auxiliar, and that starts tomorrow…with little ones! My first class I’m teaching (and the only one I actually know for sure about) is the infantíl group: ages 3-5. Later tomorrow evening I’ll be working with a mix of several more primary school classes, but the first day is all introductions and fun, so I don’t think I have much to stress about. Wish me suerte (luck)!

Until next time, amigos. ¡Hasta luego! (I feel like that should be said in the voice of the Dos Equis guy…”stay thirsty, my friends”) jaja. 🙂