A Day in the Life of a Language and Culture Assistant

Authored by:
Dana H.

Dana H.

    Not every day is the same here in Madrid. There are new faces, new cities, new countries. Different skills are learned and fresh challenges are faced. Each day I am growing and adapting and seeing things in a new light. My weekdays are pretty busy but I try to keep to a solid routine in order to keep my head clear. Everyone’s experience as a language assistant will vary, but let me tell you how an average Thursday looks for me.

    I wake up at 7:30. Luckily none of my roommates have early classes so I can get ready in peace in the morning and don’t have to wait for the bathroom. I make my coffee and fry up some eggs or microwave a pre-made Spanish tortilla that I bought at Lidl. I’ll usually pack my lunch so I don’t have to buy it or come home during my break. I get dressed, do my makeup and hair, and head out the door.

    I am the luckiest language assistant I know because my school is a glorious 15-minute walk from my house. On my walk I see the same old man on a bicycle approximately two minutes after I leave my apartment and the same dad pulling his child on a scooter approximately five minutes before I get to my school. Every day my schedule is different but on Thursdays at 9:00 I head to one of my sixth grade classes for the first two periods.

    Sixth graders are some of my favorite kids because they’re smart enough to have full conversations with you but still young and awkward enough to not terrify you. With this class I usually go out in the hall with groups of two and play an English board game with them or do activities like have them compare two pictures to find the differences.

    At 10:30 I go down to the teachers lounge for coffee and snacks. Snacks usually include bread with some form of meat or cheese, cookies, and fruit. All seven of us auxiliares sit at one table and chat for a half hour.

    At 11:00 I go to one of my fourth grade classes. This group of fourth graders happen to be a particularly rambunctious group of monsters that I was moderately terrified of at first because the first twenty minutes of class were usually devoted to getting them to sit down and be quiet. However, as I get to know them individually, I’m beginning to love them. Last class a group of them begged me to sit with them, and as we all know, having a group of Spanish fourth graders ask you to sit with them is the ultimate compliment.

    With this group I may go out in the hall and quiz them on the natural science chapter they’re learning. Usually they’re so hyper that I have to make it a little exciting to get them involved before they end up all yelling at each other in Spanish.

    “Quick! Adrián just burnt his hand on the stove! What do we do??” I’ll shout at them as we review the health and illnesses chapter.

    The others will start jumping around excitedly.

    “Ehh— Water! Cold water!”

    At 11:45 I have another group of sixth graders. These are one of my favorite groups because I have them three times a week so I memorized all their names long ago and know them better than I do any of my other classes. I do whatever their teacher asks me to do with them, from reading instructions to the whole class in English so they can “hear a nice American accent,” to taking them to the hall to chat in order to prepare them for their final oral exam.

    Last class they were going over the sexual reproduction unit for science and as soon as I walked into the room, the teacher asked the class, “now who would like to go out into the hall and talk with Dana about penises and vaginas?” to which several sixth grade boys raised their hands.

    At 12:30 I have a two hour lunch break. On Mondays and Wednesdays I’ll either go home or get lunch with my coworkers, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays I want these long breaks to be productive so I meet my Spanish tutor at a cafe down the street. She prepares very helpful lessons for me and it’s a nice way to break up a day of speaking only in English.

At 2:30 I go back to the same sixth grade class and then at 3:15 my school day is over. It’s always a little sad to leave my goobers for the weekend but I will see them on Tuesday!

    If I’m feeling extra productive and have already finished my lesson planning for that night, I’ll go home and change and then head to the gym, which is just a six minute walk from my apartment. I’ll exercise, come home and shower, and then head to my tutoring lesson at 5:30. I tutor a six-year old and an eight-year old from 6:00 p.m- 8:00 p.m.

    When I return home, I make myself a late dinner (late for me, average for Spanish people) and either head to bed, meet a friend for drinks, or head to a friend’s house for a movie night.

    Life here is exactly the amount of routine that gives you comfort and allows you to grow while still having opportunity for adventure and spontaneity. It can be as relaxing, comfortable, or exciting as you want! I know every language assistant’s day is different from mine and this experience really is what you make it. I’m trying to make the most of each day here in Madrid.


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