16 January 2013

My Teaching Placement ...and an Update in Photos

I only work in one school this year, which helped me to feel integrated more quickly. I have a biweekly schedule, so I work with all of the groups instead of a few select classes. Although I still don't teach each student every week, I see them in the halls and some students are in more than one of my classes.

My school is the tan one behind the colorful elementary school.

One of my classes is an American Culture and History Elective for the Bachillerato (11th and 12th grade) students, which is pretty neat. I have this class twice a week, every week, plus I'm in their English language classes, so I see these students the most. In their English classes I take half the group at a time, so I'm only teaching 10-12 students at once. This is nicer for me and gives them more opportunities for speaking and practicing the language. The other group I see a lot is 4th ESO (10th grade) because I have a private lesson twice a week with a group of 6 girls from this level. Technically I don't see all of 4th year a lot; however, I feel like I know their group better, just because I know a handful of them well.

---I don't have anymore school-related photos, 
so how about a small update in the form of random images?---

I spent a lot of time on the trails outside of Lekeitio in October.
The weather was so nice!

I can honestly say I like all of my classes this year (...err, there might be one small exception, but out of 18 groups that's not bad). The 1st ESO (7th grade) is especially fun because they are so young and eager and LOVE having the American come to their class. I am pretty sure they would like me no matter what I did, but I still try to plan a fun lesson for them. 3rd ESO (9th grade) seems interested to get to know me. They really like activities where they get to ask me questions about myself or hear a small presentation about something in the U.S. 2nd ESO (8th grade) is somewhat a mix of 1st and 3rd meshed together; some are still very eager, others have chilled out a bit more.

I visited the farm of a friend of a friend in Markina (Oct).

In Spain some technical school classes are offered at the secondary schools, so I work with a business administration class from that group. Most of these students are 18-19, but some are in their 20s or older, and it is a very small class. It's neat that they are closer to my age. 

I was excited to see a bit of snow in Belgium :)  (Dec)

About my school as a whole... It is such a great school! There is so much technology available (which makes lesson planning easier and more fun), and the students have a high level of English overall (better than a lot of my previous students). Many of my students have traveled to England or the U.S., which makes them more motivated to learn the language. Because my school is in a small town, there are less behavior problems than some other places. All 5 of the English teachers I work with are very nice and laid back. I feel like I got lucky with a really good placement, the only small frustration I have is that it's a bit isolated; however, my living situation turned out pretty well too!

I was able to visit a friend in Mallorca for a few days of our Christmas break.
We had a great view of the Mediterranean while hiking in the mountains!

Wordless Wednesday 1/16

"Changing Lights" - Brussels, Belguim

17 December 2012

Where to Begin...

So now that I've been back in Spain for 2.5 months, I think it's about time to write about my new home and my new job...

I'm teaching in Lekeitio, Pais Vasco (Basque Country), Spain. Lekeitio is a gorgeous town on the northern coast of Spain, halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastian. Everyone in my town speaks Basque as their first language, and goes through a trilingual program in school, learning both Spanish and English as foreign languages. Some students even choose to take French or Latin as an elective. Language learning is just something they do here, which I think is pretty neat, as I have a passion for learning languages.

Most of the signs here are in Basque, sometimes without a Spanish translation!

However, my interest in learning languages is surprisingly inhibiting me from learning Basque, rather than aiding it. I'm a native English speaker with a high level of Spanish, began learning French from a friend last year, and have studied Mandarin Chinese with my brother in the past. Since I already have a basic foundation of two other languages, I want at least one of them to progress, for fear of losing all of them if I add a third language into my beginner's category. Plus, I live in close proximity to France, and other countries that speak the language (Belgium, Morocco), so I'm trying to set aside some time to study the language while I'm here. 

Recent trip to Belgium!

Although I haven't learned much more than a few phrases in Basque, I do really like their culture; I think it's so fascinating! I love when my students show me traditional dances, popular songs by local musicians, and tell me about their sports or traditions. Here is one band I was introduced to:

Living in the Basque Country gives me a new and rich cultural experience, while still allowing me to practice the same Spanish language with all of Europe at my fingertips.

06 October 2012

Estadounidense en ECUADOR for a month!

I spent the month of September doing a TESOL course in Quito, Ecuador. Overall it was a fabulous month & I wish it could have lasted longer. But, alas, I had to return to Spain to work as an auxiliar again. (Don't get me wrong, I am very excited to be here too! This time I will be on the Northern coast in Pais Vasco!)

View of Quito from the terrace where we ate lunch everyday!

I had been wanting to go to Ecuador for a long time because for the past few summers, I've worked with a large group of Ecuadorian college students on an International exchange program through their university. I also lived with a host-family in Quito, so outside of my clases, I was always doing things with locals. This was my favorite part of the experience because other times I've traveled (including now), I've known very few locals, if any, upon arrival.

Grabbing coffee with a couple friends
Although it was a short period of time, I made the most of my month in Quito. I was able to visit Teleférico (a mountain overlooking the city), La Mitad del Mundo (the equator), Panecillo (a smaller mountain with a statue at the top on the edge of the city), Cotopaxi (one of the tallest, active, snow-capped volcanos), the historic center, 2 gorgeous cathedrals, go shopping, go to the movies, and try some great food (both in restaurants & homemade). And all of that was just on the weekends as Monday-Fridays were filled with 10 hours of class and a 30 min commute each way.

Hiking [part of] Cotopaxi

I don't have to have the TESOL certification for my job in Spain, but it will make my job easier. There were some things we learned that would have been helpful to use in my classes last year. Plus, the certification is good for life, so if I ever want to spend a summer abroad after I start teaching in the States, it will be much easier. And, more than anything, I just wanted an excuse to visit Ecuador :)

At Teleférico with some of my host-family

Hopefully leaving was just an hasta pronto, not a full out adios!