Ashleigh Hough is a Conversational Assistant at Escola Pia Terrassa. She works with both Primary and Secondary classes, from 10 to 16 years old. For her, CAP’s has turned out to be a big challenge but also a great opportunity to learn about new methods of teaching and to get to know a different culture.
Thank you for your e-mail and photos, Ashleigh!
Since the end of September, I have been working as a Conversation Assistant in Escola Pia in Terrassa, a city forty minutes from Barcelona. I work with children between the ages of 10 and 16. I am helping to prepare the Primary school children for the speaking section of their English exam, and I am helping to give the Secondary school children an opportunity to speak English and to hear a native English accent through a range of activities. I knew basic Spanish before arriving here, but it was a shock at the beginning to find that everybody speaks Catalan in the centre of Terrassa – the classes in my school are all taught in Catalan and the teachers all speak Catalan in the staff room and at lunchtime. The little Spanish that I knew suddenly felt useless, but as the weeks and months have passed, it has become easier to hear the similarities between Catalan and Spanish. Furthermore, I am sure that by the end of the nine month programme I will have learnt a lot more Spanish and some Catalan! Besides, everybody here is capable of speaking fluent Spanish as well, so whenever I want to practice my Spanish or require help with my Spanish homework, there are plenty of people willing to help me.
Me playing ‘Quinto’ (Bingo) with the children in Primària
The school days here are long – mine run from 9am–5.30pm but a lot of the children begin at 8am on some days. We begin the ‘afternoon’ classes at 3.20pm … the children could not believe it when I told them that in England we finish school at this time! I have spare hours in my day to use the computer facilities, to plan the speaking activities and of course to visit cafés with friends! At the beginning the whole experience was a little overwhelming and sometimes lonely, but now I have many friends and I am rarely stuck for something to do. The teachers and the pupils are really friendly with me and they like to practice their English. I get invited to go on school trips … in April, for example, I am going on a school trip to England! My first family was great and now after three months I have moved in with my second family. In April I am due to move in with the third. Living in a different ‘home’ each term means that I improve my knowledge of the city and get to meet more people, and by living with Catalan families I am learning how true Catalan people live.
Me teaching a special Christmas class
I would recommend this programme to anyone who wants to learn about their own capabilities, a new culture, the methods of teaching, and to someone is ready for a challenge. I am certainly enjoying myself and I am already contemplating the possibility of continuing to live out here after my time with Escola Pia finishes at the end of June.