Even though the students are already on holidays, teachers are still working! Irene, Carme and Sílvia, three English teachers from FEDAC Sant Vicenç, have written to us to share their school’s experience with their Conversation Assistant, Warren.
Thanks a lot!
It’s the 1st year that FEDAC Sant Vicenç is hosting a Conversation Assistant. Warren, from UK, arrived at our school in January.
Warren works with 3-16 years old doing different activities according to the level of students. He teaches the youngest classes with games, learning lots of new words.
With primary students he usually takes small group of students to another room to practice speaking activities: games, role plays, questions and answers, drawing stories,…
As for as Secondary Education is concerned, the conversation assistant has helped the English teachers in many ways. On the first sessions, he remained in class, reading texts out loud so that the students became familiar with his pronunciation and intonation. On the following sessions, groups of 4-5 students were sent away with him, and they practised oral skills, making rhymes with words, learning new vocabulary and singing songs as well as watching films. Sometimes those groups were larger, up to 12 students for about 25-30 minutes.
It’s been a positive experience for both, the school and the students, who have both made effort to speak English with the conversation assistant, not only in class, but also with the school building, when playing sport in the playground as well as eating lunch in the school canteen.
New blog submission from FEDAC Ripollet!
The Conversation Assistants finish their tasks at all their schools today. We hope everyone has made the most of this experience.
Patxi is a nineteen year-old boy who has spent six months with us. In December, he started to work in our school as a conversation assistant, with children who are 3 to 12 years old.
He came to Spain because he wanted to practise Spanish and Catalan so, he was born in Girona and was living there till the age of 10.
Patxi´s work consisted on taking small groups of boys and girls and practising English with them. Sometimes he stayed in the classroom with the teacher and talked about any topic: a unit of science, England or one of his experiences. The result of having a conversation assistant is that our students have improved their speaking and listening skills a lot.
Patxi is loved by eveyone in the school, not only by the children. The teachers are really happy to work with him. He is very enthusiastic, he wants to do his work the best he can and wants to participate in all the celebrations and activities organized at school.
Along these months, we have noticed that he enjoys working with children. Every morning he arrives at work with a huge smile. It is very nice to work with him.
Montse Barros (English Teacher)
I arrived at my placement during the beginning of December.
I was given information about the School and the Governing Body that owns it, as well as more information about other FEDACs around Spain and the World. This allowed me to research a bit more about their curriculum and what kind of work they did, so as to get a better picture of how I could help. Getting to know the school wasn’t hard; a small five floor building/church which was originally inhabited by nuns. The teachers were very friendly and welcoming, and very soon I was settled in and ready to teach.
During my time in the school I have been given support from the English Teacher, be it support with teaching ideas/materials or simple support from all the teachers about my residing town and the possible activities to do.
I was invited to several of the dinners organised by the teachers, and I was also given the opportunity to go with the school on the Colonies (camping) which allowed me to further develop my skills working with children. It was also great fun!
Vedruna Artés has joined the Programa Auxiliars de Conversa for the first time this year. They are hosting Josh, who comes from the UK. He and his tutor Imma have written to us to tell us a little about this new experience for both of them. Thanks a lot!!
We, at Vedruna Artés school, have had the chance of having our first conversation assistant ever. He’s Josh Hall. He joined the school team in January. He is a young, active man with loads of adventures in mind. He came directly from his native land, Cornwall, in the south- west England, to Barcelona; bringing with him his great passion: Running. He used to compete and he plans to go into competitions again in the near future. At the moment, he is planning to keep on travelling the world after his days in Artés. His next stop? Vietnam, the south of Asia, Australia and who knows what next. He feels good here but he is also very enthusiastic about seeing the world and undergoing the most fascinating adventures the world can offer. All the members of the school are enjoying his company and lessons. We can not wait for his postcards from around the world.
And now, Josh:
After I finished college with my qualifications in engineering/operating and an athletics ambition in the pipe works I decided to try something new with teaching, believing that teaching would allow me to travel the world whilst gaining great knowledge from different cultures, I picked up a TEFL qualification and went from there.
Apart from this the experience is allowing me to travel around the world. It also enables me to gain an understanding of the different cultures and see life from a different angle.
In general my time here in Spain has been a varied one full of different experiences which will stand me in good stead for the future.
I started school here worried about living with a host family after being independent outside of family life for so long and as to what to expect from the program and whether I would like it or not.
However, from day one I instantly felt like I should belong here and never felt more welcome. I have had 2 host families during my stay here and despite having the usual time to settle in an environment that you’re not used to I felt at home (even if the family need to make sure I’m safe every 5 minutes).
I have been put out of my comfort zone having never been in an education environment before and this presented many challenges that I didn’t think I would overcome in less than 6 months!!
The most interesting for me is the Spanish culture, food and traditions!! Paella, Calçots, Sangria and the Mediterranean diet to name just a few.
The family I feel like I could go to for any problem no matter what it might be which made me feel more reassured about the stay in Spain.
Before arriving here I was nervous about only knowing a small amount of Spanish and having such a small understanding of the Spanish language questions started to arise …”How are you going to understand what they are saying”, “How are you going to get your point across”,
These are all the questions I used to hear at the start and the questions I used to debate with myself before arrival.
But as soon as I arrived at the school, seen the teachers and seen the students my attitude changed fast…
Having the right attitude and energy (sometimes being crazy silly) made the young learners for the most part easy to work with and easy to teach.
Also the program has opened up options to teach in private academies to supplement income whilst also gaining even more experience in my case 8-50 year olds which I found in the 1st couple of weeks which made the stay a lot easier and a lot more comfortable for me financially especially when you consider the lack of expenses.
One of the highlights from the caps course for me was when I arrived in Barcelona and had a whole team of people from opposite ends of the world all with unique cultures and differences and speaking with them about what lies ahead. I still keep in contact with these people even if it is sometimes more difficult to see them if there further away from where I am or Barcelona.
I have been living in a small town called Artés; the town is only 50 miles from Barcelona and I have been working in the school which is called Vedruna, just a 5 minute walk from my house. I work with pupils aged from 4-16 year old and was like a big family. From the first day, I felt like part of a team!
I have now been here almost 6 months and still can’t walk around the school without students attempting there best English greetings with smiles bigger than dinner plates!!!
The school I work at is small thus enabling you to get a real connection with the students which may not be so easy with a bigger school, so this was a huge bonus and something that made the experience so much more special.
The students here are full of energy at all times and are always willing to make your day!
I have been taking small groups of students from the class to do some conversational classes.
We thank Amy & her tutor, Marta, for writing to us!
The school La Immaculada, in Sant Vicenç dels Horts, is hosting a Conversation Assistant for the first time this year. Her name is Amy and she comes from The United States. She helps pupils from 3 to 12 years old and all of them really enjoy their time with her. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!
Here are some thoughts from Amy about her experience in Sant Vicenç dels Horts so far:
Hello! My name is Amy and I am a Conversational Assistant at Col•legi La Immaculada, a primary school in Sant Vincenç dels Horts. I started the program in late January and cannot put into words how truly amazing and beneficial this experience has been for me. As a 22 year-old from Los Angeles California, I had never traveled outside The United States before, much less to a country that spoke a different language. It is safe to say that the last 5 months have been the most challenging and best months of my life.
Having graduated from my university last May, I really wanted to get more experience in the teaching field and have always felt that learning from different cultures is both valuable and important. CAPS is the perfect package because I am able to get more experience in the classroom, as well as the extra bonus of learning about a different culture.
From the very first day, La Immaculada welcomed me with warm “Hellos!” from both the students and teachers. I found it surprisingly easy to communicate with the children, despite speaking a different language. The children take English classes as well as a conversationally based English class called “Talk.” With these classes, I work with small groups of 4-6 children practice pronunciation, grammar and word usage by playing games, singing songs, or just simply having a conversation. I also teach science and art classes in English so that the students can be accustomed to listening to a native English speaker. In the Infantil classes, I primarily teach English through songs, stories and by leading their daily routines.
I have also had the opportunity to do some fun activities that tie language, culture, and learning together. One of these activities was a cooking workshop where I taught the students how to make American rice crispy treats. The children learned about the different ingredients, utensils and instructions in English during class, and then were able to actually make them with their parents at school. It was enjoyable and delicious!
The one thing that I was nervous about was living with host families. My first host family spoke a little English, which made my first month easier to get acclimated. The family I live with now has three small children and do not speak English. Because of this, I have been able to learn so much Spanish in a very short amount of time. At first, it was difficult because not only did I not know much Spanish, but I also had zero confidence speaking it. But now, whether it’s the car ride to school or at the dinner table, I am constantly practicing. Another benefit of living with a host family is that I have had the opportunity to learn about Catalan culture and traditions. 5 months ago, these families were strangers who I could not even understand. Now, I am dreading the day I have to leave them!
This experience has given me more than just an opportunity to improve in teaching; it has given me friends and family who I will always be connected to, even though they live in another part of the world.
FEDAC Sant Andreu has been in the PAC for three years now. This year they are hosting Molly, who comes from the UK. Molly is enjoying her time in FEDAC St. Andreu, with her students and host families, and from what we know, both school and host families also love having Molly with them. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience, Molly, and we hope you enjoy the rest of the schoolyear here!
We celebrated ‘Carnaval’ in school by each year group making their own costumes, all with different themes, and doing a ‘Rua de Carnestoltes’ (A walk around the block in our costumes, mainly so the parents can take photos) As you can see I was dressed up as ‘Bob Esponja’ (SpongeBob) – What a great day!
After finishing my studies last year, I was very undecided as to what step I wanted to take next. I only knew that I wanted to travel, enjoyed learning languages and that I had my TEFL qualification in hand. When I came across the CAPS program online, it really was ideal and I applied without hesitation…
I have now been living and working in Barcelona for nearly six months and I am sad to say I only have three left – time really does fly when you’re having fun!
I have been living in a small town, Sant Andreu, only 20 minutes by metro to the centre of Barcelona – I have the best of both worlds. And have been working in a school, FEDAC Sant Andreu, currently just 10 minutes walk from my house. I work with pupils aged 3-16 years old, which at times can be quite the challenge (especially remembering all 700 names!) but we’re like a big family. From the first day, I was welcomed with open arms (and biscuits) and I’m definitely proud to say I’m part of the team! I have now been here almost six months and still can’t walk around the school without students greeting me around every corner. I’m thoroughly relishing my time here and it will definitely be difficult to leave all these smiley faces!
Activities with P5 students
Before arriving to Barcelona, I was extremely nervous about living with a host family, especially because I haven’t lived with my own parents for a couple of years! Obviously, you receive basic information about each one and can contact them via email, but you are still a little apprehensive until you meet them in person. Of course everybody will have their own experience, but personally I have had the best host families I could have asked for! I am currently living with my second host family and soon to move into my third. Though at first it was difficult to adapt to living with a host family, changing your surroundings completely and leaving your loved ones, it’s surprising how quickly you form close relationships with them and how difficult it is to leave them! But you have to remember that these families don’t receive any money to keep you in their home and it’s only a good experience if you make it one! So get involved with family activities/events, interact with the children, help out with chores around the house and you will definitely be a part of the family.
Previously never travelling to Spain, this experience has given me the opportunity to visit various places around this beautiful country and satisfied my wanderlust somewhat… to name a few: Valencia, Vic and even as far north as Andorra! (soon to be on the list, Madrid)
I truly have met the most wonderful people whilst living here… not only families, students and colleagues but fellow CAPS auxiliars (it’s always nice to have people who are in the same situation as you and that you can talk to without having to mime!) and Spanish friends I have made. All making my experience even better!
Working as an ‘auxiliar´ has allowed me to gain vital teaching experience, learn about a different culture and their traditions, improve both Spanish and Catalan languages and all whilst the sun is shining! What more could I ask for?
Col·legi Sant Vicenç is an Infant and Primary school located in Sant Vicenç dels Horts. They have been in the PAC for four years now! Martine is spending this year there as their conversation assistant, and has shared with us her thoughts on the programme so far. Thanks, Martine and her tutor Laia!
Hello my name is Martine and I am currently on my gap year from the University of Ulster. I have known from I was in secondary school that I always want to pursue a career in teaching but never realized how hard it would be to achieve this goal until the past year. This program has given me the opportunity to get one step closer to my dream of teaching and also immerse myself in a different lifestyle and culture.
From the minute I arrived in Barcelona I knew it would be a brilliant experience that would stay with me for the rest of my life. I am currently situated in a town just outside of Barcelona called Sant Vicenç del horts. When I first arrived I didn’t know what to expect especially living in a town as I am so used to city life. I have being working in Col•legi Sant Vicenç for 5months now and I am enjoying it a lot. Both Student and teachers have welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home. I have been given the opportunity to take my own small groups for conversation classes and also been given the chance to take a few of my own English classes with the help of the teachers. I am so grateful that the school have giving me my own responsibilities and helped me gain a lot more confidence in the classroom. I work together with the English teachers to help plan my conversation classes and the school have also provided me with all the teaching material I need. The children brighten up my mornings with their welcoming smiles and there countless `Hellos.´ Each child brings their own personality to my conversation classes which makes each class different. To hear at least one child say a new word in English that they have learnt in my class makes my day. The days can be tiring but yet so rewarding to know that I am making a difference to a child´s life my speaking the language I have grew up with.
Living with three host families has been the more difficult part of the program. From the minute I was told I would be spending 9 months in Barcelona I never knew what to expect as all families are different. The first family was so nice and welcomed me into their home as part of their own family but I found it hard to adapt to their way of life because I was so used to my student life back at home. I never realized how important language was until I met my first family as they spoke little English and communicating was hard at times. My currently family are brilliant I feel so at home in there house and both parents can speak English which for me was a bonus. This family is hugely involved in the local community so I have got to experience local events which have been brilliant. I am feeling positive that my final family will be as welcoming as my first two.
In my spare time I like to meet up with other people on the program and share are experiences. It is so good having friends in close towns that are going through the same experience. I have also followed on the tradition of private tutoring lessons after school which is brilliant to meet people similar to my age in the same town. The majority of my lessons are just simple conversation classes that end up turning into a weekly gossip which is brilliant makes me feel like I am back home.
All in all it has been a great experience so far definitely one that I will never forget. The memories and friends I have made are for life. Its help me gain confidence in meeting new people and also essential teaching experience that will stand to me in the future. The whole experience so far has been a life lesson that I never thought I would have the courage to do. One thing I have learnt throughout the program is “anything´s possible if you set your mind to it.”
Què cal per acollir un Auxiliar? Com ens hi entendrem? Com serà la vida de cada dia (menjar, roba, dormir, transport…)? I els caps de setmana? L’hem d’acompanyar a tot arreu? I a l’escola, què ha de fer el tutor de l’Auxiliar? Què pot fer un auxiliar? Com hem d’organitzar la seva estada? Com podem facilitar la seva integració? Quin suport tenim de l’organització?
Aquestes són algunes de les preguntes més freqüents que es fan les escoles i les famílies acollidores sobre el Programa Auxiliars de Conversa. Per tal de resoldre aquests i altres dubtes, des de l’organització del PAC hem convocat, e dilluns 12 de maig, una sessió informativa oberta a tothom: famílies acollidores, famílies interessades, direccions i mestres d’escola, etc. En aquesta reunió parlarem de què suposa acollir un auxiliar de conversa a casa, com podem facilitar la seva integració a la família i al nostre país i donarem algunes pautes i recursos sobre com facilitar l’adaptació de l’Auxiliar de Conversa a l’escola i a les seves tasques i treure el màxim profit de la seva estada. També donarem, és clar, resposta a totes les preguntes que pugueu plantejar-nos.
Dilluns 12 de maig | 18:00h
Escola Pia Balmes – Barcelona
c. Balmes, 208
Podeu descarregar-vos un model de circular i un cartell per a promocionar la sessió en els següents enllaços:
Us animem a fer-ne difusió entre les famílies de les vostres escoles, i també us animem a venir a la sessió informativa, tant les escoles que voleu participar per primera vegada al PAC com les que ja heu tingut Auxiliars de Conversa els darrers anys.
Les sessions tenen caràcter informatiu. Per tant, l’assistència no implica cap compromís d’acollida posterior d’un Auxiliar de Conversa. Per facilitar la nostra organització, us preguem que confirmeu la vostra assistència al correu firstname.lastname@example.org, indicant quantes persones vindreu.
Tom, the Conversation Assistant at Escola Pia Tàrrega, has written to us to share his thoughts on the Programme, and specially about the St. Patrick”s Day celebrations that the school held with his help. Tom is having a good time in Tàrrega, with the school and host family, and we know that they are also delighted to host them.
Thanks a lot for writing, Tom!
St Patrick’s Day: what a wonderful invention. A day that, for me, would otherwise be spent saying ‘potatoes’ and other mild racial slurs rather more frequently than is appropriate, became instead a musical, colourful celebration. One of my particular favourite activities was lacing a chocolate cake with healthy portions of Guinness, and serving it to the most ‘enthusiastic’ group in school.
Everything didn’t (as ever!) go quite as planned. One lesson started in the light hearted innocence of colouring in a shamrock, and ended in the finer theological details of the Holy Trinity and its consequences on Christian worship. Another lesson was lost in the overwhelmingly difficult pronunciation of Irish names in folkta.
I like to think I did at least a little good, though: I banished for one day the less-than-completely-tuneful panpipe renditions of the classics; ‘Hey Jude’, ‘The Sound of Silence’ and ‘Mamma Mia’, and replaced them with the liveliest Irish jig I could find.
Each class in Primaria prepared an emblem to wear on the day. I’m no Trinny and Susannah (insert other knowledgeable fashion person here) but bedecked in their Celtic crosses, leprechaun hats and horsey-pattern things, I thought the kids looked quite cool. I’ll let you judge for yourselves.
My vain attempts at festival organising aside, this school has been as enchanting and captivating as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The buildings, the relationships between staff, students and parents, and the atmosphere of love and community that flows through these corridors and colonnades have held their magic over me for more than two months now. It is a pleasure to spend every day working in this historical school, and living with everyone else who has been lucky enough to fall under its spell.
Tom Phillips, Tàrrega
News from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia! Also, check out the School’s Website to see the Conversation Assistants in action and some more great photos!
It is the first year that Col·legi Sant Josep in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia takes part in FECC’s Conversation Assistants program. Sant Josep school is hosting Nicholas and Richard, from the UK. They both help students from 4th of Primary to 4th of ESO. Our students have the opportunity to improve their English language by doing dynamic classes and a wide range of activities to get fluency in your spoken English.
Both Nicholas and Richard have written to make us know what their experience with the program is like so far. Thank you Nicholas and Richard!
From the moment I landed in Barcelona, I knew that my life would change forever. I am residing in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia which is a beautiful part of Catalonia, and I am staying with a very welcoming family who are excellent with me. I am tremendously lucky to have this experience in front of me. The family have taken me in as if I were their very own son; it is heart warming and something I will never take for granted.
The opportunities that happen within this programme is incredible. Many examples would include the family that I live with; they are incredible and just like your very own family at home. Other examples would include the school that I work at, the school is called St Josep and it is amazing. The students as well as the teachers bring a sense of enjoyment into education and I believe that I have been truly blessed with the school that I work at, and also the family that I live with. I wanted to immerse myself into the culture and lifestyle that the family live, which often including skiing and taking part in various sports and being a big part of their children’s lives.
Sometimes I feel that I am going to grow too attached to the family and get too comfortable, but I realise the importance of this programme and how fantastic these opportunities can be. I have struggled in the past with acquiring teaching experience at Primary schools, but this programme has allowed me to not only teach older students but also Primary students. I love preparing lessons and getting students to be enthusiastic about their lessons with me. The students have become an important part of my life as I feel that it is necessary to leave with a massive impact on their lives and help the way they speak the English language as well as understand it. In the upcoming term, I plan to develop drama activities for the students to show them new and interesting ways of learning English as it value their learning and my experience at the school.
For anyone who has an interest in teaching or wants to venture into education, this would be the perfect programme as it would not only offer you valuable teaching experience, but a great family to live with, fantastic weather, and beautiful sights with great culture.
My experience so far. Since beginning the CAPS scheme and commencing work in St. Josep I can honestly say that already, I feel I have improved myself as a person. I have settled very quickly in the beautiful town of Cava, San Sadurni D’Anoia. The people here are wonderful, I have been welcomed into the community and I have been greeted with open arms.
Having the opportunity to spend time in St. Josep, using my English language skills, is a joy. The Students all take the chance to speak with me to try to practice talking, and even some of the Teachers are interested to learn about my culture and improve their English skills. I really feel appreciated here, and the weather is not bad either!!
I have no doubt that I will enjoy my time here, and that I will learn lot about life.
Col·legi Virolai, in Molins de Rei, has joined the Programa Auxiliars de Conversa for the first time this year. Their English conversation assistant, Victoria, comes from the UK and works with students in Infant and Primary school. Both students and teachers, as well as Victoria, are enjoying the experience and making the most of it. We leave you with Victoria’s views on the program and some photos. Thank you for writing, Victoria & her tutor M. Carmen!
The very first day I arrived in Molins De Rei I knew I would love it and have some very new exciting experiences.
The first day I arrived and was introduced to my host family and on that very same day it was the town’s festival. This included a massive camel on fire and the whole town had to run away from the camel and afterwards there was a big celebration. From that day on I knew I was not in Newcastle anymore.
I chose to do the CAPS program as I was not sure if I wanted to pursue teaching after university and therefore I wanted to gain some experience while at the same time I wanted to travel and experience a different culture and CAPS gives you the perfect opportunity for this.
I am a conversational assistant at Col·legi Virolai in Molins De Rei. It is about 15 minutes outside Barcelona. The school education starts from kindergarten to primary and secondary education. However, I am mostly with the primary students with the children varying in ages from 6-12. I do English lessons with the teachers and also take P.E lessons. Since I have arrived everyone has been welcoming and have been so nice, generous and supportive.
I feel like I have gained a lot of experience being here for 5 months and it is very rewarding when you see the children expanding their very own English vocabulary and knowing somehow you played a part in that. I have to say though some of my favourite classes would be in kindergarten as they get so excited when they see you or you happen to say your favourite colour is the same as theirs. They are always wanting to play with you and participate in the classes. I have also participated in outside the classroom going on school trips, one of them being to Montserrat which I thought was beautiful. Also it is not just the children who want to practice their English with you, the teachers want to as well and they try.
I was a bit worried about living with a family at the start as I am used to living with friends at University. However living with a family has been with one of the greatest experiences I have ever had and I would not change it. It is amazing how you can only know someone for 12 weeks and get a long so great and get attached. You really get to know the people and they get to know you and you share your traditions and they share theirs and in Catalonia they are crazy fun. These are the people; the families, the teachers, my tutor and the friends that I have met here that has made it so much more of a positive experience for me. I know when my time comes to an end here in Molins de Rei I am going to be very sad but I know I will still stay in contact with the people I have met here and I will always have my memories. After all it is an experience and I love working at the school and seeing the children every day.