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Confessions Of An English Teacher

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Today I celebrate having survived my first two weeks as an English teaching assistant in Spain.

Almost exactly one year ago today I sat next to a man who worked for National Geographic on my flight home from Buenos Aires. As we got to talking, I admitted to him that I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew that I wanted to travel and speak Spanish. He then suggested that I move back to Spain and teach English abroad. At first I shrugged the idea off, but here I am - one year later - working as a language assistant and helping adorable Spanish kids learn English. I would have never thought that life would take me in this direction, but I'm so glad it did.

My primary school in Galapagar

Here are some of the things that I've learned within my first 2 weeks as an Auxiliar de Conversación in Spain:

- There will always be questions kids ask you that you simply don't know how to answer. Some of my personal favorites these past two weeks have included: "What color is your motorbike?" (Such a European thing to say.) "What is your favorite sea dinosaur?" (Ummm... what's your favorite sea dinosaur?! Mine too! What a coincidence...) And best of all, "Why aren't you married???" (Good question, Juan. Gooooood question.)

- Improvisation is one of the foundations of teaching here in Spain. This is especially hard for Type A people like me who are obsessed with excessive planning and organization. Although going with the flow has at times been a challenge for me, it's also taught me to think on my feet more freely - and most importantly - have fun.

- The more teeth a kid has recently lost, the cuter they inevitably are. I'm serious. They're so stinkin' adorable.

- Pretending that I don't speak Spanish is one of the hardest parts of my job. The other day, one of my students told his classmates in Spanish that I looked like a grandma with my glasses on - and I totally called him out. Needless to say, I think some of them are catching on to the fact that I actually understand what they're saying en español.

- Something tells me that I will be making a lot of PowerPoint presentations this year.

- Teaching British English as a native American speaker is beyond frustrating. My jaw dropped the first time a student asked me for a "rubber", because apparently "rubber" means "eraser". Also, I have to teach certain grammatical phrases like "Have you got...?" instead of "Do you have...?", and vocabulary words like "chemist" instead of "pharmacy". Even telling time is harder in British English. (What in the world does "half 11" mean?)

- For every two little monsters, there are four angles that make your heart explode.

My Teaching Survival Essentials:

1. I kid you not, this is the most caffeinated I've ever been in my entire life. In the past month I've quadrupled my coffee intake, and quite frankly this is the only way I get through my mornings. (Despite the fact that school starts at 9 am, the school I teach at is quite far away. Hence, I have to wake up at 6:20 am everyday to get ready, scarf down some breakfast and make my commute.)

2. Kids will do anything for a sticker (or any other "prize" for that matter). They'll even behave! GENIUS.

3. I think it goes without saying that I need a large glass of tinto de verano everyday to quiet my mind from the persistent echoes of screaming children. I mean, when in Spain...

With all that said, I come home from work everyday exhausted but fulfilled. I'm already growing so attached to my little niños, and I love them even when they drive me crazy. Although there can be some challenging moments, at the end of the day I feel incredibly satisfied. 
2 comments on "Confessions Of An English Teacher"
  1. As a former third grade teacher, this made me smile. The questions they ask always made me laugh! I would be awful at pretending that I don't speak the language (I can only speak English, but still)!

  2. hahahah exactly! to all of this! it's such a different yet amazing experience