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.
Col·legi Santa Anna is a school located in Lleida. This year they are hosting Sarah, from the UK, as their Conversation Assistant. Sarah works with students from 3 to 16 years old, who enjoy spending time and speaking English with her.
We thank Sarah and her tutor, Eva, for writing to us and also sending some wonderful photos!
After graduating from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Linguistics, I wanted a chance to travel and experience a new culture, whilst putting my degree to some use.
CAPs has proved to be the perfect programme for me.
I am working at Santa Anna School in Lleida, Catalonia. My role within the school involves practicing conversation with small groups of students from each class; I am often extremely impressed with the level of English the students have! Other than teaching, I have been involved in some out of class activities, such as playing a demon in the Christmas performance of “Els Pastorets” alongside the 4th ESO students.
I have had no problems fitting in here, as I’ve been made to feel so welcome from day one. My host family are fantastic; I’ve been very lucky. I have learnt so much from them about culture and language here in Catalonia. I was very much thrown in at the deep end, having snails for my first meal! They have taught me how to cook typical foods such as prawn and crab soup, Spanish omelette and paella. In exchange I have made them typical English desserts such as Apple Crumble and White chocolate and winter berry cheesecake which have both been hits! The family always include me in their plans even at the weekends; we have such a laugh together and I feel I could go to them with any problem I may have. I truly feel part of the family.
Before arriving in Spain I was admittedly very apprehensive due to not knowing the language at all, and therefore not being able to communicate freely with everyone. It is difficult at times but I am picking up a lot more Spanish than I had anticipated (with lots of help from my host family) and I never really feel lonely here because there arether CAPs in Lleida who I meet on a regular basis and have become quite close to.
Also, the teachers in the school have all been very helpful and accommodating, and even the ones who cannot speak a lot of English always really make an effort with me.
I’ve had a truly fantastic experience so far and am excited to see what the next months have in store for me!
Escola Pia Igualada has been in the Programa Auxiliars de Conversa for four years. This year they are hosting David, who comes from the United Kingdom. Here are his thoughts on the program. Thank you for writing to us!
My name is David Bosanquet, I’m 23 and come from England. I am the youngest in my family and, like the rest of them, love to travel to different countries. I enjoy teaching and have previously taught in Buenos Aries, Argentina where I did my TEFL course and Manresa, Spain. Now I am living in Igualada – a town to the west of Barcelona. I have found the people in Catalonia to be very friendly and helpful with there own traditions and unique festivals.
I am currently working at Escola Pia Iguadala, teaching 1st ESO to 2nd Baxt. The school is very big having 3 classes of around 30 for every year. This means I get to teach a lot of different personalities and level giving me quite a challenge. There are also two other CAs from different programs so I started the year with two new friends with soon expanded as we met more CAs and Au Pairs from different parts of Igualada.
I have lived with two different host families while in Igualada and am very happy here now. My host family are great as we have lots of common interests and they tell me all the best things to do and see introducing me to local customs and cuisine.
The advantages of the CAPS program are that you start the year with a large pool of other CAs, if you find yourself in Barcelona then meeting people is easy. The first weekend in Spain we all met up with the program and tried to make as many new friends as possible many of whom I still keep in touch with even living further away. Furthermore, as I have very few expenses any money I make is mine to spend or save as I choose.
Escola Santa Teresa de Jesús, in Vilanova, has been in the Programa Auxiliars de Conversa since the beginning. They have hosted Conversation Assistants for five years now! This year, they are hosting Adam, who comes from Ireland.
Both Adam and her tutor have written to us to tell us what their experience with the program is like so far. Thank you, Adam and Roser!
Per cinquè any consecutiu, ha estat un plaer acollir un auxiliar de conversa a la nostra escola. Enguany tenim la sort de comptar amb l’Adam, que des del principi s’ha adaptat molt ràpid a la dinàmica de l’escola i s’ha integrat a la comunitat educativa com un més.
A més a més, ens ha acostat a la cultura irlandesa i ens ha fet partícips de les seves costums i tradicions, creant materials de presentació enfocats als alumnes.
Comparteix temps i espai tant amb alumnes de primària, secundària com de cicles formatius. És una persona polivalent, creativa i de fàcil adaptació.
Una de les activitats que destacaria és la realitzada amb els alumnes de 1er d’ESO. A classe estàvem treballant la interrogació, així que els alumnes es van posar a la pell d’un periodista i van preparar una entrevista per al nostre auxiliar, l’Adam. Molt amablement ell va contestar a totes dels preguntes dels 5 grups, que van enregistrar amb els seus mòbils per posteriorment transcriure’n el contingut. Als alumnes els va agradar molt aquesta activitat, ja que van poder palpar la utilitat real d’un contingut treballat a classe.
L’Adam també participa en activitats més lúdiques de l’escola, com el Carnaval, que ara estem preparant intensament, i altres sortides i excursions.
Estem molt contents de l’experiència viscuda fins ara, i continuem treballant amb il·lusió per tirar endavant aquest projecte comú.
I have only just finished moving house for the second half of my stay here in Vilanova i la Geltru, and I can’t believe how fast the first part has finished. Time really does fly when you’re having fun! I am working in a lovely school that is quite literally dead in the centre of the town (And the town is quite big!). Every week I have the opportunity to teach groups from First Primaria (6 Years old) right through to commerce and Administration students in cicles formatius preparing to enter the workforce. It’s certainly an eye-opener.
There are too many good things about Escola-Col.legi Santa Teresa to recount in a blog piece, but some of the highlights include the enduring popularity which many students afford to me as a Language Assistant, the ever-welcoming attitude of the teaching and administrative staff, as well as the occasional excursions we make to Places like Montserrat and the Nou Camp. On the latter of the three, the best of these has been the opportunity to work with a group of Sixth Primary students that represented the School on the Catalan TV English-Language game show “Fish & Chips”. It was a really great responsibility to be given. Of course we work on lots of other innovative English ideas with classes as well, such as collaborative writing with other Schools, and cultural presentations.
Other teachers treat me as an equal, and I’ve been able to participate in lots of really fun things, such as “Teachers Day”, the annual Christmas teachers dinner and a teachers night at the restaurant for the School Founder’s Saint’s Day. When I’m not helping students with their English, my colleagues are more than happy to help me with my Catalan. The same can be said for my host families, the last of whom also gave me an amazing introduction to their town. I now wave to people on the street like one of the locals!
Vilanova, like many towns in Catalonia, is opportunely placed for travelling to Spain for weekends, and I’ve already been to Madrid twice! People in the School community are never shy to share their tips for travel in and beyond the region! In an all-round manner, whether in Teaching, Language, Culture or travel, the programme has been a fantastic experience to date.
El Programa d’Auxiliars de Conversa és una proposta del Projecte Escola Multilingüe de la Fundació Escola Cristiana de Catalunya pensat perquè les escoles adscrites que així ho sol·licitin puguin disposar d’un o més joves estudiants, seleccionats per Home To Home, per a qui l’anglès o el francès és llengua materna i que, en el marc d’un conveni de cooperació educativa, i com a formació pràctica en el camp de la pedagogia, el magisteri i l’ensenyament-aprenentatge de la llengua anglesa o francesa, duguin a terme tasques d’assistència que donin suport a les activitats previstes en el projecte multilingüe del centre, 25 hores a la setmana, durant pràcticament tot el curs escolar (d’octubre a juny).
Un auxiliar de conversa pot col·laborar en les vostres activitats AICLE essent present a l’aula amb el professor, pot donar un cop de mà en treballs de grup, per parelles, preparació d’exposicions orals; pot augmentar la incidència en la llengua oral a través de petits diàlegs, jocs de taula, petites lectures; pot col·laborar en l’elaboració de materials, pot enregistrar textos, pot participar en les activitats musicals, teatrals, esportives… i pot estimular la competència comunicativa només amb la seva presència activa.
El vostre compromís consisteix en proporcionar a l’Auxiliar de Conversa allotjament i manutenció gratuïts en l’àmbit de famílies acollidores ( fins a un màxim de tres) vinculades amb l’escola, designar un tutor responsable de l’Auxiliar en el vostre centre, i satisfer una quantitat mensual per Auxiliar de Conversa.
Podeu conèixer més a fons tot el que suposa participar al Programa Auxiliars de Conversa a la Guia d’Escoles que volen participar al PAC.
Per sol·licitar un o més auxiliars de conversa, heu d’emplenar el full de sol·licitud, que podeu descarregar aquí. Les assignacions es faran per ordre de recepció de les sol·licituds, donant preferència a les escoles que repeteixen.
Consulteu l’apartat Informació per a escoles per consultar la resta de guies del programa (per a famílies acollidores, tutors…)
Per qualsevol dubte o consulta, també podeu adreçar-vos a email@example.com
Animeu-vos a sol·licitar-ho, i feu-ho abans del 30 de maig de 2014, que és la data límit!
Col·legi Dr. Masmitjà, an Infant and Primary school located in Girona, has been in the Programa Auxiliars de Conversa for five years. This year they are hosting Rebecca, a Conversation Assitant from California. She helps students from 3 to 11 years old improve their English language skills, and is also helping the 6th graders in the Schools Song Contest! Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Rebecca!
From the first day when I met my host family and tutor I knew I was going to have an amazing experience. I felt very at home from the beginning with my host family and have really enjoyed spending time with them experiencing what their life in Girona is like. I have spent some time at soccer and basketball games and at extended family’s homes for delicious meals as well. Whether I am teaching the children English, playing games with them, or talking with my host parents everything is funny and enjoyable. My positive feelings about living in Spain extend to my teaching experience as well. Everyone at the school has been very welcoming. All of the teachers have made an effort to make me feel very comfortable and supported and they were successful from day one. I love that I am able to work with everyone at the school, ranging from ages 3 to 11. All of my classes from P3 to 6th are delightful. I spend the most time with the students in 6th. I have also been lucky enough to be able to participate in activities outside of teaching English in the classroom. These include field trips and working on extra English projects, such as a song competition. I also teach English outside of the school, hang out with friends whenever possible, and am trying not to miss an opportunity to travel while here in Europe. I am busy as can be and am enjoying every minute of it. Experiencing the culture and getting to know people I have met while here has been a wonderful experience so far and I know it is only going to get better.
It is the third year that Escola Pia Moià takes part in FECC’s Conversation Assistants Program. Escola Pia Moià is an Infant and Primary school and this year they have Rachel, from the UK, helping the students improve their English. Rachel works with kids from three to twelve years old, and they really enjoy their time with her.
Thank you for writing to us and sending along some great photos too!
After graduating from Northumbria University I decided I wanted to be a teacher. As you all know PGCE’s are not the easiest to get onto and most universities are looking for committed and skilled experience. As well as this, I was happy to be out of education for the time being and maybe take a ‘gap year’. I wanted to travel and experience different cultures. When I first came across the CAPS program I immediately thought ‘yes this is perfect’ and I was correct. I didn’t just want to move abroad and work in a bar or a restaurant with loads of tourists, I wanted to immerse myself into the a different lifestyle. This program would not only fill my travelling ambition but also helped me gain the experience I needed.
I’ve been situated in a town called Moia, which is north of Barcelona. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t like the small town life style as I was so used to the big north cities of the UK, but I was wrong. Moia maybe a small town but it’s got lots of exciting stuff going on and the people make it so welcoming. I’ve been working at Escola Pia Moia primary school with children aged 3-12. Everyone at the school has greeted me well and made me feel very welcome. Living in a small town it’s hard not to see people you know everywhere and each time I do they always greet me with a smile or an “Hola”. I work along side the English teacher here at the school. We work together planning lessons and activities for the children covering the curriculum. Each class is very different and some may me challenging that others but it’s very rewarding when you see the children growing in their vocabulary of your language. The classes with the younger children are some of my favorites. They are constantly so excited to see you and always so enthusiastic to play the games and activities. It took me a while to learn all the children’s names but now I’m pretty sure I know them all (Although the pronunciation is a little dodgy with some). The time passes very quickly and I’m not just talking about the days, it’s hard to believe I’ve been here for four months already. I’m very much looking for to the next five. It will be a very sad day when I leave I’m sure.
Living with three host families is something I first thought would be a very enjoyable and easy to adapt to. It’s not until you live with the families (for me the first family are people who I cherish closely to me and I know we will remain very good friends) that you realise how easy it is to get comfortable and attached to a family. Leaving the first family for me was very difficult and even now I’m finding it hard to find myself as ease and at home again but of course this is all apart of the experience. When I first moved here I was very sure I was open with myself and to other people, I’m not a shy person but moving into a house with a family can at first be very daunting, but you can only make it a positive experience for everyone if you want to.
Something that has helped make my experience even more positive are the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. I think it’s good for you to meet new people your age who share the same hobbies and interest. I’ve been lucky enough to have met some people from Moia who I’m sure will be friends after I leave.
All in all it’s been an EXPERIENCE! Which is what it’s all about. I love working at the school with the children but I also love coming home after school and relaxing and reflecting on the day’s events after all your only human and can’t work 24/7. For anyone interested in teaching and being involved in a different lifestyle than your own I think that this program is perfect for you.
Mare Janer was the first school in Andorra to join FECC’s Programa Auxiliars de Conversa. It is their second year hosting a Conversation Assistant. Just like last year, their CA, Chris, has felt very welcomed in Andorra and is helping Mare Janer’s students’ improve their English skills.
Thank you Chris and her tutor, Esther, for writing to us!
My name’s Chris and I am the second conversation assistant at Mare Janer in Santa Coloma, Andorra.
Mare Janer is a semi-subsidised Catholic school nestled comfortably at the bottom of a huge mountain face. That’s not saying much, however; almost everything in Andorra is nestled at the bottom of a huge mountain face.
One thing that strikes me about the school is, for the most part, how well the students are behaved. I cannot find a displayed list anywhere of the school rules, not on the walls or in the classrooms – all the students just seem to know what the rules are and how to behave. When there was one fight between two students, it was talked about throughout the entire school. I’ve come from a very different environment personally, so it’s a humbling experience that makes you think a lot about culture and upbringing.
The school itself has its own genuine forest; not a forest behind or next to the school, but as a part of the school grounds, where the children go to play at lunchtime. This is what I thought was the most wonderful aspect of the school – imagine the adventures you’d have every day growing up in a place like this. The forest is completely at my own disposal, so generally at lunchtime I will find a quiet spot to sit on a rock and do some drawing. Within minutes it’s no longer quiet as I’ll be surrounded by adorable screeching children asking me what I’m doing, and pointing at objects and demanding I say the Spanish word. I find speaking with the children in this way is the best way to learn and practise basic Spanish, and it helps them as they simultaneously practise their English.
One difficulty I’ve encountered is in attempting to refine the kids accents. Because for almost my whole working life I’ve been around mostly non-native English speakers, it actually sounds more natural to me to hear strong accents. And as I think accents are a wonderful, beautiful aspect of identity, it seems almost a shame to flatten it out, but of course it is a great aid to the students to practise from as young as possible.
The most astounding thing is to see the generosity and openness from each of the host families. They are taking a huge risk inviting a stranger into their homes, at a substantial financial expense too, while only asking that the assistant be with them and talk to them at dinner. They are the real people who keep the CAPS program together, and my host families will always hold a special place in my heart.