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Teaching English in Spain

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| WMU

Wow, It’s hard for me to believe that this experience in Spain is quickly coming to an end.

Today was my last day at the school where I’ve been volunteering for the past couple of months. I’ve been teaching English for a few hours a day, three or four mornings a week, and it has been an absolutely wonderful experience.

Although I’ve been teaching English classes, most of what I’ve been teaching is about American culture. In my classes we’ve talked about American holidays, American schools, American money, and some interesting differences between the two cultures. It’s good for the students to be able to listen to a native speaker who’s an American, since most of the English they learn over here is British English. It´s also a good opportunity for them to practice speaking, share their opinions, and make important cultural comparisons.

Here’s a couple of funny and interesting cultural comparisons that have occurred:

Apparently the picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt on the dime looks like Juan Carlos, the king of Spain, when he was younger!

On the day we talked about holidays the students were explaining to me about a day in Spain when they celebrate the three wise men, or the Reyes Magos in Spanish. They weren’t quite sure how that translated, so one of the students called them “the magical kings”…that made me laugh.

Another day I was explaining to some students that in the United States we don’t have time for a siesta (naptime built into the middle of the day) like they do in Spain, and all I heard was a collective gasp…they were shocked! One of the kids in the front blurted out in Spanish without thinking, “Esto es un pecado!” (That’s a sin!) hahaha…it’s definitely been interesting to see some of the differences between our cultures and very rewarding to watch them learn.

I’ve been teaching English classes to students that are the equivalent of 6th to 12th grades, plus a few English classes in the vocational training section of the school. My absolute favorite class to work with was one of the sections of 12 year olds (maybe because they reminded me of my little brother, Brady). They were soooo enthusiastic all the time. When I entered the classroom, they would start yelling, run over to give me high fives, and ask me all sorts of questions. During class I could never get through all of the material I wanted to cover because they had so many questions about everything…they are so curious and are all really, really sweet kids. When I went to say goodbye to them today, they started chanting my name as a class and were very disappointed that I was leaving. Here’s a picture of us together:

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They were so incredibly excited to take this picture together!

I’ve definitely learned a ton about teaching from this experience, mainly how to modify the same lesson for different age groups and for different levels of English. Teaching a class of 6th graders is NOT the same as teaching a class of high school seniors!

The teachers and staff at the school have been incredibly welcoming, too. Words can’t express how thankful I am to them for allowing me to have this experience, for taking care of me (showing me around the school, serving me coffee in the teachers’ lounge during our break, asking about my time in Spain, truly caring about my life and my experience here), and for trusting me with their classes!

I’ve worked closely with about five teachers: Marisol, Marta, Puri, Yolanda, and Rosa, and also with Julio, the general head of studies. They’ve all been extremely accomodating and friendly.

with Marta and Marisol, two of the English teachers at the school
with Marta and Marisol, two of the English teachers at the school

Since today is my last day, they surprised me by giving me a present and a card! I’m only a volunteer and certainly wasn’t expecting anything, but they bought me a scarf and a beautiful purse. They are soooo sad to see me leave, and that almost made me cry. (I didn’t cry, though, because I know I’ll be doing enough of that in the next few days!) Multiple teachers told me that if I ever want to come back to Spain, all I have to do is shoot them an email, and I can come stay at one of their houses.

I’ve really been so blessed by this volunteer experience. It was definitely worth the early mornings and busy schedule to be able to work in a school with such wonderful people. :)

In addition to teaching English at the school, I´ve also been giving some private English lessons to two kids here in Burgos. Every Saturday morning, I go over to their house and spend time with Adrián, age 8, and his sister Sara, age 5. Their mom, Ana, is also very, very nice and tries to practice her English with me, too!

With Adrián and Sara, two of the cutest kids in Spain!
With Adrián and Sara, two of the cutest kids in Spain!

This past Saturday was my last lesson with them, and we were able to have a lot of fun. The kids were sad to see me leave and asked if I would ever be coming back. Ana, their mom, wanted to get my address, my Skype name, and my phone number to be able to contact me once I’m back in the United States. She even told me (as she has told me multiple times before)  that if I ever want to come back to Burgos, I have a home with them. I think Ana had tears in her eyes as she walked me to the door. It’s been such a blessing to get to know this family.

Everyone (including Ana’s family, the teachers at the school, people at church, and my Spanish friends) keeps telling me that I’ll have to come back to Spain someday. And really, I’m not sure if that will ever happen. I hope to return in the future, but I don’t know. Whatever happens, though, I know that the plans the Lord has for me are good, and that the future is going to be one amazing adventure.

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