My experience as an English Language Assistant in Spain has given me a good taster to what the life and work of a teacher are like. I have now been teaching for a full semester at my school, “Nuestra Senora del Prado” or “Marianistas” school in Ciudad Real, Castilla de la Mancha. Luckily Ciudad Real has a few less metro stops than Madrid and the school is only a fifteen-minute walk from my apartment.
As I am the only English Language Assistant in the secondary school, I work with almost all of the classes, taking each class once a week, and teach a wide variety of ages and levels. Although I’m not supposed to have favourites there are some classes which make my life a lot easier than others…
1st and 2nd of the ESO (12-14 years old): My favourite age bracket. Despite their chattiness, these students are the most enthusiastic in my classes and there is always a sea of hands up to answer my questions. They are also the biggest chancers of the lot! I find myself saying far too often: “No *insert name here*, playing football in English does not count as an English lesson!”.
3rd and 4th of the ESO (14-16 years old): Uh-oh! Hormones are starting to kick in with these teens. Despite their higher level of English, these students often need more of a push than the younger kids as they lack the enthusiasm of their younger peers. This age group has challenged me more than the others and thus when I do get through to them it is a huge personal victory!
1st and 2nd Bachillerato (16-18 years old): One semester in and I am still slightly intimidated by these young adults. Not being incredibly gifted in the height department, some of these older teenagers tower above me. At this age some of the students’ levels are phenomenal and given their maturity there is a lot of scope to tackle some more advanced content and discuss contemporary world issues with them. Every week I take the Business English class which are 16yo students. This by far is my favourite class of all. It is my smallest class and all sixteen of the students have an excellent level of English. Thus I can do some very creative and challenging activities with this group, having lots of fun in the process.
I also give four conversation classes a week in the primary school which is one of my biggest challenges in the school, as I am alone with this class for the full forty-five minutes of non-curricular activity. Given that they are all very vibrant individuals bursting with personality, buckets of energy, and plenty of back-chat, this can be taxing at the best of times but extremely rewarding when the class goes well! They also draw me the cutest pictures!
This experience as an English Language Assistant has given me incredible scope to try out some inventive and engaging class activities. Given the necessity to reinforce my students listening skills, a lot of lessons have been musically-centred or include at least one song that ties into the theme. As of the other day, my students have tackled an expansive catalogue of activities including lyrically analyzing songs with sociocultural messages, a Dragon’s Den “product launch” with the Business English class, designing the “next big invention to change the future”, and a “barmbrack” (Irish Hallowe’en dessert) fortune telling game. One of my proudest innovations was my special Christmas special advent calendar which, instead of chocolate behind each colorful window, was a Christmas’ questions which individual students had to ask to the class. It worked amazingly with every age group, however, all of the kids were raging about the lack of chocolate… especially the younger ones!
2015/2016 Posted by Nikesh C.