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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Greetings from Spain!

Hello! I am placed at San Rafael in Madrid with the "Infantil" group and it has been lovely so far. Studying in Spain, living in Spain, and then being exposed to the education system here, I have been able to notice some cultural differences that exist both in and outside of the school. First difference (may not seem that significant, but it was to me at the time) I noticed was the "bobby's" that all of the young kids were wearing. In the Infantil age group, the students wear their uniforms and another smock-like robe over the regular uniforms. It looks much stranger than it sounds. It is checkered and made with very 'playful'-like (non academic) colors. The teachers are also wearing a larger version of this "bobby" over their normal clothes and I really feel like I am in a different world, let alone a different country. Of course, my first very insightful and thoughtful question to my CT is, "Why do students and teachers wear these smocks?" She replies very matter-of-factly, "So their clothes don't get dirty." Oh, okay. Makes sense.

This led to further conversation about how the Spanish school system works. Because of the growing ex-pat population and Spain's transition into a more global economy and culturally globalized nation, there is an effort to make all of the schools in Madrid bilingual. This is huge for finding adequate teachers who can speak and teach in English, finding native English speakers who can come in to teach and help out in the classroom, parents finding English tutors, and a change in the whole school system. I noticed in my second visit that here in Spain, they use a lot of resources and materials from the UK. Teachers are either from the UK or taught by the UK in English. The CT "read" a story to the students by playing a recording provided by the teachers guide. It was all in an English accent, complete with, "Mummy! Grah-ny!" It was very interesting to see not only the English language differences, but how much the CT went "by the book". The school is still in their very early stages of their change to a bilingual education so motions by the CT, materials, recordings, and lesson plans are all from the book. I guess these books make it more systematic and accessible to the "masses", or to all the schools of Madrid, where some of the teachers still may not be too comfortable with English. This specific school was lucky enough to hire an entirely different English teacher who came in and replaced the regular classroom teacher for an hour a day, but I can see how not every school can provide this. 

Random side note that I want to include: The students raise their hands with their pointer fingers. Very cute.

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