Miss Alicia en el Pais de las Maravillas

Programs for this blog post

Teach In Spain Program

Authored By:

Allison V.

Hola chicos y chicas,

Thanks again for checking in on my blog. I appreciate everyone who takes time to read my blog to see what I have been up to in Spain! It is exciting to share my adventures and thoughts with those of you who read this blog.

Yes, I do have a job in Madrid.

Life has been exciting lately staring my job over in Spain as an “Auxiliar de Conversación”. That is my title of my job over here in Spain, but it is technically called a Language and Culture assistant in the United States. For those of you who don’t know specifically what I do, I will explain my situation a little better. I work in a primary school in the southeast part of Madrid. The school I work at is a bilingual school; therefore they speak both English and Spanish.
Even though I speak Spanish, I am only allowed to speak English with them. They do not even know that I understand Spanish at all. This sounds easier than it is, considering outside of school we speak a lot of Spanish with people in Madrid. It is hard because in class, I understand what they are saying and I have to ignore it and say, “Can you say that in English, I do not understand Spanish?” I work with 1st grade, 2nd grade and 4th grade and they are so very smart. With my older students it is harder to keep my “Spanish secret” because they catch on to either me nodding my head when my teacher is speaking in English or simple things like that.
Although it is nice to speak in English at work, because I am confident in my English skills,

I never realized how big of a part of my life Spanish was.

During my first week of school, we had to present a PowerPoint introduction about myself. It was basic information that was for my students to get to know more about where I come from and who I am. I told them all about my friends, family, college and of course Minnesota. I spoke about the Vikings, showed them the SKOL chant and explained American football to them. I was very excited to show/tell me about Ice Hockey because I knew the concept of a sport on ice was beyond foraging to them. I told them so much about me but had to leave about very important parts, such as having a Spanish minor and studying abroad in Barcelona. I had to leave these parts out because they weren’t able to know I spoke Spanish. It was just ironic how one little concept about me that I had to leave out made me feel like was not telling them everything about me. It was refreshing to feel like Spanish has made such a large impact on my education, life and world that I can not wait for my students to hopefully have English do they same for them.

Spanish schools are very different than the United States schools.

My school in Spain in a way reminds me of my school from the United States, but surprisingly my school in Spain is smaller. Each class is about 30 students but there are only two classes per grade. They are separated by A and B, I have not asked my teachers if they are separated by level but I am assuming so. Since it is a bilingual school, English is very much stressed. The older the students get, the less Spanish that is spoken in the classroom.  It is very impressive how young the students are speaking two languages; it makes me envious that I did not attend a bilingual school.
I recall at orientation they said that affection is looked at very differently in Spain than in the United States at schools. They were very right. The teacher and student interaction is very different. Hugging is very common, in fact my second day of work they all got up from their desks to hug me when I walked through the door. The students call the teachers either “teacher” or by their first name. As for me, my 1st grade classes all think I look like “Alicia en el pais de las Maravillas” which is Alice in Wonderland in English so they often call me that.

I am learning that not only do I teach my students everyday, but also I am learning from them constantly.

I am learning patience, kindness and how to use my skills that I was taught and teach them to other person. This experience has already made me beyond grateful for the teachers in my life. I am very thankful for the kindness of my former teachers.
Spain is constantly going, even with a job. This past weekend was full of lesson planning, connecting with friends and getting as much done as I could. I am looking forward to a busy year in Madrid.
Allison Vote