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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A day in the life of a Spanish pre-practicum student

A typical day at my placement begins at 9:15 in the morning. I arrive to school and meet one of my co-teachers, Paul. With Paul I go to the 4th year ESO class (equivalent to sophomores in high school) for two periods, meaning I see all of the students who are in this year of school. After these two classes we have a 30-minute break, where the students play in the courtyard and the teachers often go down the street to a cafĂ© to get some coffee or tortilla (Spanish omelette). Afterwards, I come back and I go with my other co-teacher, Marta, to the 2nd year ESO students (equivalent to 8th graders) for a conversation class where the students are mostly working on projects and activities to practice their speaking and practical language. After this, I go back with Paul to the 1st year ESO (equivalent to 6th and 7th graders). These students are in their first year of having separate English classes, however they already have had English lessons throughout the entirety of their elementary school so they are beginning to work with more complex tenses and vocabulary. To finish off the day, I go to the opposite end of the spectrum with Marta and the bachillerato students who are juniors in high school. By working with all these years of students, I am able to see the students and their levels of English during every year. It is also very interesting to see how the skills learned and practiced during the 1st year ESO eventually give way to the bachillerato students.  

Normally while I am in the different classrooms I take on a variety of roles. For the two older groups of students, I worked with small groups of about 5 students and taken them out of class as a group to have small conversations and practice speaking. I would have the students tell me about themselves, what they liked to do, who was in their family, and what their favorite trip they have ever been on is. This way, the students felt comfortable trying to express themselves as much as they could while using different verb tenses to correctly describe situations. I loved getting to know the students and trying to relate some of their stories to my own life and other stories I had heard from students. At times, I would also use this time with the small group to practice a specific aspect of the class that they had been working on, whether that was a new verb tense or a new set of vocabulary.

Along with taking out small groups, I would also help the teachers during the class with their lessons. On two occasions I was able to teach the entire vocabulary lesson myself, going over the words with the students and leading the activities. Even if I was not teaching the lesson directly, oftentimes the students would have activities to practice their skills and I would walk around the classroom helping out the groups. I would help the teachers with some of the American equivalents to the British vocabulary words they were learning. Also throughout the semester I got to see the students in different levels taking tests, and my co-teachers allowed me to look at the tests, and after I helped to correct them as well, both with multiple choice and fill in the blank answers as well as grading the older students’ essays.

Throughout the semester I have also worked with one student in particular. This student is actually from a local town in Massachusetts (I also grew up in Massachusetts) who just moved to Spain to live with his mom. Despite growing up in the States, he was struggling in the English class as he spoke English natively and wasn’t taught the names of specific tenses and British vocabulary words. It has been very interesting getting to work with him and figure out what the best way to help him and how to help improve his scores. In a way, I think it was also nice for him to have someone from home to talk to, since he is only now adjusting to life in Spain. I’ve really enjoyed helping him and working through this interesting situation of helping a native English speaker in their English class.

Every week has been interesting seeing how I can help both the teachers and the students. By taking on a variety of different roles in a wide range of age groups I have gained insight into the entirety of the teaching of English to Spanish students. This was not something I necessarily expected to be a part of my international pre-practicum, but I am so thankful to have been able to have this diverse range of experiences.

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