Hamish, Conversation Assistant at Escolàpies Llúria, has shared with us this fun game idea, that he put into practice with his 1-ESO students. Thanks a lot
In February, in our weekly 1º ESO speaking classes, we did something a little different. The kids were given paper, and told to fold it into a fun flap (if you aren’t familiar with the name, you’re not alone; I’d never heard the name before, even though I was familiar with the game, and it took my colleague Rosa Maria several years of research to find the correct name).
Once they had their fun flaps folded and ready, they began the English work. The aim was to practise asking and answering questions in the present simple. On each flap, the students wrote a question using sentence starters like ‘How often do you…?’ and ‘Do you ever…?
Whilst they were making their fun flaps, I was walking round the class, helping with grammar and springing questions on them with a fun flap I’d made earlier. Questions written, the activity began; in pairs, the students played with the fun flaps, asking and answering questions at random, until, at our signal, they changed partners and started again.
The students really enjoyed the activity; it was something different from what they were used to, and it also gave them the chance to write their own questions. Thinking of their own conversations in English meant that they could have fun with their friends in the language.
This activity has worked well for lots of other groups as well; in sixth of primary we used fun flaps to work on superlatives, which questions like ‘What is the most beautiful city in your country?’, and in fourth of primary to work on describing animals.
New blog post! This time coming from escola Maristes Sants – Les Corts, in Barcelona. It is their second year in the program and they are hosting two conversation assistants: Mike and Samar, one in Primary and the other in ESO. It seems like they are having a great experience, let’s hear it from the Primary teachers and Mike himself:
Mike is our conversation assistant at Maristes Sants- Les Corts . He is at primary school teaching children from 6 to 12 years old. He is usually in the Red Bus, the English interactive classroom. In the speaking corner, actually known as “Mike’s corner”, he speaks, plays and helps children to act out short stories. Definitely, he and his students learn while having fun.
Hola! Hailing from good old London town, my name is Mike and I have been the Conversational Assistant at Maristes Sants Les Corts since January. My students are of primary level, aged 6 to 12, and are all extremely enthusiastic. My duties include speaking and encouraging others to speak through playing games, helping to construct and act out role plays, and unofficially creating terrible pieces of “art”.
Mike and some of the English teachers at Maristes Sants – Les Corts
I am privileged to work with many awesome teachers, affectionately branded as my “peeps” or “peepitos”, who really do go out of their way to attempt to integrate me into civilised society. All of them have proven supportive throughout and have made my experience at the school a pleasant one. Likewise, my family are some of the most amazing people I have met in my life, who have taken it upon themselves to make me feel loved. Furthermore, I was flattered to learn that they wanted to keep me for the duration of my stay in Barcelona, which made me all warm and fuzzy inside.
I would recommend the experience to anyone interested in teaching abroad and with a genuine desire to shake up their lives. Leaving friends, family and possessions behind is certainly not for everyone. Fear not for those who can, plentiful opportunities for tutoring, learning Spanish and Catalan and befriending a region of absolutely lovely people awaits!
For our school, Sagrado Corazón – Corazonistas (Barcelona), this is our first time in the Programme. Our conversation assistant, Andrew, comes from Canada. He teaches students from the fifth year of primary school to students in their second year of batxillerat, all of whom are really enjoying this enriching experience so much.
As his tutor, I would like to use this piece of writing to thank Andrew for bringing such interesting and fun moments into our classrooms and for sharing his culture, sense of humour, original ideas and adventures with all of us.
Here are some thoughts from Andrew about his experience in Barcelona so far:
Each person that is a part of this program decided to come aboard for different reasons. But the main reason I decided to take on this adventure was to gain experience as a teacher. What better way was there to see what it was really like to be a teacher than to, you know, be a teacher! And it doesn’t hurt that I can do this in an incredible city like Barcelona!
Before I left for Barcelona I applied to some teachers colleges for next September. I was hoping that the CAPS program would be a good opportunity for me to grow and learn in a formal classroom environment. I have had numerous and varied teaching and coaching experiences in the past but this one is unique and particularly applicable to my future career.
So far my experience here at Sagrado Corazon – Corazonistas has been a very enjoyable one. When I first arrived here I quickly noticed the Spanish hospitality and was warmly welcomed into the school community. Even though I didn’t know any Spanish at first, everyone tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible. For me, this has been an extremely important aspect of my experience thus far. In all honesty, even though it is where I work, it has been the place where I have have many of my most memorable experiences. I have developed many close friendships with locals and teachers and many of them have gone out of their way to show me around and help me discover the city. I have also enjoyed getting to know my students better as well. One of my favourite experiences this year was accompanying the 4 ESO class to Llivia for a 4 day ski trip to the Pyrenees.
As far as what I actually do here, I am a conversation assistant for about 16 different classes ranging from 5 primary to 2 bachillerato (ages 9-17). As a teaching assistant I work alongside four different full time teachers during classes and help prepare a variety of lessons that are age/level appropriate. A lot of my lessons focus on applying grammar and vocabulary in real-life situations/contexts. I also tutor some of the teachers three times a week for those who want to improve their conversational skills. In addition, I have private lessons outside of school hours with some of my students.
One of the aspects that makes the CAPS Home to Home experience so unique is that you have the opportunity to become a part of a Spanish family during your stay here. Living with three different host families (in my opinion) is one of the best ways to learn about the local culture and lifestyle. Throughout the year I will live with three different families (I am currently with my second), each one providing new knowledge and experiences. As I mentioned, this can be a rewarding experience, but it needs to be said that it can also be one of the most challenging aspects of this program. There are many differences that you must adapt to and you have to be prepared for these. In some cases, these challenges can be overcome, but other times you must have to be able to deal with a difficult situation.
All of the experiences I have accumulated as a part of this program are invaluable to me. I have learned so much about myself and I have grown and matured in many ways. I would recommend this experience to anyone who is adventurous, adaptable and looking for a challenge.
Col·legi Sant Josep is hosting their first Conversation Assistant this year: Emma. She comes from the UK and works with pupils from Infant School to 4th of ESO. They have sent Emma’s thoughts on the program along with some beautiful photos. Thank you very much!
My name is Emma Harris and I’m working as a conversation assistant in Col.legi Sant Josep in Gracia, Barcelona. I’ve been here since September, helping out with all ages’ English classes. The children here range from about 6 months old to 16 years, so my experience has been varied but very enjoyable so far. I’m having a wonderful time with constant support from the school and the families. I’ve felt very welcomed into the community here and highly recommend the experience.
Emma with her youngest and tiniest students
Through the use of games, different activities, music, conversation classes and much more I’ve been assisting in all English classes as well as some music and science lessons to vary the English that the students learn.
Emma with some Primary students
Fortunately, for me, I already knew Castilian before coming to Barcelona but since arriving I’ve been learning Catalan and more and more about the culture and the people. It has been very interesting and everyone has been very willing to help me or to invite me to get to know their lives here. In exchange, with my host families and at school, I try to bring a part of my culture to them, through activities, games, songs and food.
In Sant Josep, we’ve also introduced this year the ability to take Cambridge exams from 5è to 4o Eso, for which I take small groups of students to revise any points of grammar or vocabulary and to practice speaking for the exams.
Working with a small group of ESO students
So, to anyone thinking about either taking on a conversation assistant or becoming one, I would recommend the idea, be prepared for a challenge but one that will enrich not only the learning of students at school but also your own!
Padre Damián Sagrados Corazones, in Barcelona, is one of the veteran schools in the PAC. They have hosted many conversation assistants, you can read all about them in their Multilingual Blog!
And now, let’s hear what their three newest conversation assistants thought during their first days in the school:
Hi guys! We are the new conversation assistants; Jonathan, Danny and Megan! We have the pleasure of taking over from the girls and after our first week we have already been made to feel very comfortable by the staff and the students. We were taken aback by the warm and excitable welcome we received from the students, which seems to be on-going as we are yet to introduce ourselves to all the classes. We have been impressed by the level of English that many students have and we plan helping them build on this knowledge through our own enthusiasm to converse. There is a positive attitude to learning English at Padre Damian SSCC which has added to the great working environment we have come across. We plan on making our classes as fun as possible while speaking as much English as we can. Thank you for the opportunity, we can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for us.
The school FEDAC Sant Feliu, in St. Feliu de Codines, is hosting a Conversation Assistant for the first time this year. Her name is Rachel, she comes from the UK and feels very welcome in Sant Feliu. She works with pupils from P3 to 1st of ESO and all of them really enjoy their time with her. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!
I’m Rachel, I’m 21 years old and I currently live in Sant Feliu de Codines. I originally live in Leeds in the north of England, but for the last 6 months I have been calling this small town outside Barcelona, home. I arrived in Barcelona with no expectations of what would happen next. I had only been on holiday to the Spanish islands before, and so to come and live here, knowing no Spanish or Catalan was a big step! But the choice I made couldn’t have been better. I work in a small school called FEDAC – Sant Feliu de Codines.
I have always wanted to work with children since the age of 14, and after completing a degree in psychology and having a particular interest in educational psychology, I decided to take the plunge and apply for the job here. After graduating I wanted to get experience working in a school, and I always had an interest in working abroad and indulging myself in another culture. But even after the culture difference I couldn’t be any happier here!
As soon as you arrive in this city, there is a constant welcoming feeling from everyone around you. The people in my town are very traditional and nothing is ever too much effort. I am now 6 months into my experience and it is still the same as day one. The people here always want to help, and for this reason I don’t think that people who come in future should worry about the differences, even when you have bad days or you miss home, the people always know how to make you happy and smile again.
The school I work at is called ‘Immaculat cor de Maria’, and it is very small but the feeling is like a little family! When I first arrived the children were very friendly and they were always shouting my name and asking questions! But even 6 months on this is still the same, and they are as intrigued with me and my culture as I am about them and theirs. They have certainly made me feel very welcome here. My job at the school is to assist with English and conversation. Every day I take out 4 or 5 children from the classes, for around 15 minutes at a time. I do activities to practice English through verbs, nouns, adjectives, prepositions, grammar and more, but I also like to focus on pronunciation. My typical day includes working with all ages of children and I work with P-3 to the 1st ESO. In the P-3 class I work in the classroom and practice small vocabulary such as colours and weather. In all the other classes I take the children out and do a small activity, with P-4 and P-5 it is usually flash cards telling stories and practicing. From 1n to the 4t primary school, I work on activities such as worksheets regarding the unit, which might include word searches, stories, pictures, games and activities. With the older children the level is much more advanced, and I hold competitions between to make them more motivated and they all love being competitive! I like to keep them motivated and I want to make them enjoy English! I do powerpoints or board games and ask them to explain in English the rules of the game. I also do reading comprehension and much more with this age range. I plan most of my classes around the units that they study in the class, this is so that I can reinforce the curricular and hopefully help them learn better and help understand English more. Teachers have told me that the children go back into the class or go home and talk about what they have done, all in a positive way! So this is a good outcome of my classes!
The family I live with couldn’t be any better, I stay with the director of primary school and her family. They are my second family now and mean a lot to me. Everything they have done and how welcoming they are couldn’t be any better. I have been made to feel like their daughter and I can see how I have improved their English, but also they have taught me some Spanish and of course a little Catalan! But that is the culture here, to make you feel so welcome and like you are at home.
Overall my experience of CAPs is very positive, I love the school, my family, the teachers and the students. I am very happy and I am looking forward to the rest of my time here. Especially when the sun gets hot!
Escola Santa Teresa de Jesús in Vilanova i la Geltrú joined the PAC three years ago. This year they are hosting Martin, from the UK, who works with students of Primary, ESO and CF! Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.
My experience at Santa Teresa de Jesús has been fantastic, the time I have spent here as an Auxiliar de Conversa (Conversational Assistant) has been enjoyable and a great learning experience. The teachers are very friendly, accommodating and patient. If you have a positive, creative and enthused attitude toward teaching, you will love it here; the more you give, the more you get back.
I was lucky enough to teach a wide range of levels: Primary, Secondary and Vocational (Professional: Administration and Commerce). Usually I taught groups of 5 – 7 in my own classroom from each year group, I also assisted in others classrooms when necessary.
Through negotiation I was able to create and expand on my own material and methods, this was an incredible opportunity to test my own teaching skills and methodology as well as informing and improving my ability to adapt and alter my teaching strategies to suit a variety of levels and needs.
Vilanova i la Geltrú is a wonderful place with the amenities of a big city but the community of a close-knit village. It’s situated between Barcelona and Tarragona and it’s a good place in terms of travelling around Catalonia (by train, bus, car).
Almost everything is within walking distance in Vilanova and there are plenty of interesting and quirky cafes and bars to explore to your hearts content. Vilanova is also well known for its celebrations: Carnivals, Festivals and Fiestas; it’s an amazing place to be.
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 quatre sessions informatives obertes a tothom: famílies acollidores, famílies interessades, direccions i mestres d’escola, etc. En aquestes reunions 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.
Les sessions informatives programades són les següents:
Dimecres 8 de maig | 17:30h
Escola Vedruna-Sagrat Cor
Santa Joaquima Vedruna, 10
Dilluns 13 de maig | 17:30h
Escola Maristes Girona
Josep Tarradellas, 5-7
Dimecres 15 de maig | 18:00h
Escola Pia Balmes
Dilluns 27 de maig | 17:30h
Prat de la Riba, 38
Podeu descarregar-vos un model de circular i un cartell per a promocionar les sessions en els següents enllaços:
> Model circular PDF
> Model circular word
> Cartell PDF
> Cartell word
Us animem a fer-ne difusió entre les famílies de les vostres escoles, i també us animem a venir a les sessions informatives, 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 email@example.com, indicant a quina de les sessions assistireu i quantes persones vindreu.
Recordeu-vos també de consultar les novetats del Programa per al curs 2013-14!
Novetats del Programa Auxiliars de Conversa per al curs 2013-14
1. Aquest curs oferim la possibilitat de demanar auxiliars de conversa de llengua anglesa i també de llengua francesa.
2. Els Auxiliars de Conversa són nois i noies que s’inscriuen voluntàriament en aquest programa després de conèixer les condicions en què es desenvolupa, que se’ls expliquen en el seu país d’origen. Saben que no vénen de vacances ni tampoc a treballar, i per això reben una beca mensual, ja que el seu allotjament i manutenció estan coberts per les famílies acollidores i les escoles.
Amb la voluntat de millora de les condicions d’estada dels Auxiliars, aquesta assignació (que no ha de ser entesa com un sou), enguany serà de 200 euros mensuals.
Aquest increment de 50 euros s’ha repartit incrementant la quota de les escoles en 25 euros mensuals i assumint l’organització els altres 25 euros. La quota del PAC queda, doncs, en 475 euros mensuals d’octubre a juny.
Ja teniu a la vostra disposició els fulls de sol·licitud d’Auxiliars de Conversa per al curs 2013-2014. Per sol·licitar un Auxiliar, heu de fer arribar el full emplenat, signat i segellat amb el segell de l’escola a firstname.lastname@example.org o per fax al 93 342 65 46.
Si teniu cap pregunta o consulta, no dubteu a contactar-nos a email@example.com o al 93 302 70 13.
Col·legi Claver has been in the PAC for three years. They are currently hosting two conversation assistants: Laura and Douglas. Today we are sharing Laura’s experience. Don’t miss Douglas’ text (and video!) in a few days! Thanks Laura and Blanca, her tutor, for sharing this with all of us!
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
It was one of my grandmother’s most frequently said clichés that time goes quicker with each year. Having reached the halfway point of my year as a Conversation Assistant at Claver, I think it is also one of the truest. It seems impossible that I have spent 5 months here already and even more impossible that I have only have 4 left.
Having just changed my host family, now seems an excellent halfway point to reflect on my experiences here thus far. I absolutely adored living with my first family, even though living with children was something entirely new to me! They were nothing short of fantastic and completely included me as part of their family, for which I am very grateful. Having only been with my second host family for two weeks I am happy to report I am finding them, whilst very different as a family, equally warm, hospitable and inclusive. The families have provided me with a vital support network for working and living away from home in a different country and culture.
Working at Claver is different every day. This is inevitable when working with children, but my job here in general guarantees an exciting and often unpredictable experience. I work with P5, 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th of Primary which provides a wide spectrum of pupils and personalities! With the younger students (P5, 1st and 2nd) I am usually in the classroom with the teacher, helping the children with their English vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation. Sometimes I take several students at a time outside of the classroom, either to help them if they are struggling or to give them more challenging tasks in the case of the most able. Given my extremely limited Catalan/Spanish language skills this can be a real challenge, but results in an impressive effort to speak in more fluent English by the students.
With my 5th and 6th level English classes I lead small groups (of around 4-7 pupils) outside of the main classroom. I am endlessly impressed by the effort and enthusiasm that the children display. Their English ability is much more advanced than I expected it would be when I arrived. A result, I’m sure, of Claver’s policy of immersion in language-learning from a young age. I also assist in the delivery of Science and Physical Education, both of which are taught in English. The fact that pupils are able to take their science exams in English astounds me. I barely understood my science lessons at school, I don’t know how I would have coped if it had been taught in another language! Schools in the UK could definitely benefit from taking a similar approach to foreign languages.
The classes I initially struggled most with were the other subjects taught in English. I had no idea how to use English to teach sports! After a few initial trials and errors, I have settled in and the children are fantastically enthusiastic and responsive. It is in these lessons especially that I’ve noticed how eager the students are to help each other and, despite the inevitable occasional crossed wires, everyone figures out what needs to be done and gets on with it.
I cannot really sum up my feelings on working at Claver and living in Lleida without repeating myself. The school environment is such a welcoming and inclusive one and really serves its students well. This is one of the best opportunities that I have been given and I am so glad I took it. I feel as though I am learning as much as my students are through my experiences here. Though, admittedly, not much Catalan or Spanish!