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Col·legi Escorial – Vic

Alison Watkins, conversational assistant at Col·legi Escorial in Vic, wrote us this e-mail sharing her experiences and thoughts at the school and in Catalonia so far


I am a conversational assistant in L´Escorial,Vic. This large school has a playschool, a primary school and a secondary school. I teach students from primary and secondary school.

In primary school I teach 5th and 6th class. We often do projects on different topics such as Autumn, Halloween and Christmas. The students are very visual so I use flash cards and posters to help them with new vocabulary. We also play games and role-plays, this helps with their spoken English. The students are enthusiatic and make me laugh a lot. Now that I have sworn my allegiance to “Barca” football team I am accepted as one of their own! I would like to raise the point that I feel the school hours are too long for children this age. Most adults in Ireland work from 9-5 and so do the children here. I feel that these long hours would be a test to any-ones´attention span and that they have a part to play in behavioral issues that may occur in the classroom.

In secondary school I teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year. I do a variety of activities with the students such as: role-plays,reading,debates,conversational games,acting and more. The level of English varies from class to class and I thrive on this as it adds a challange for me. I enjoy teaching the secondary students it´s not always easy but it´s great when you see them making an effort to improve their English. I understand that for them it is difficult to feel confident speaking in front of their classmates, but I think we have moved over that hurdle, and now its difficult to get them to stay quiet! They remind me of when I was in school: moody,prone to tantrums,image conscience etc, but at the bottom of it just in need of reasurrance and support. I am learning a lot by teaching these students and I don´t have any grey hairs yet so that´s a good sign!

I can´t heap enough praise on the teachers in this school. I was a slow learner in school and this meant that I was over looked by my teachers. This didn´t help and in fact lead me to become disinterested and resentful. When I was 16 I moved school and the teachers in my new school helped me greatly. They took a personal interest in me and encouraged me. They got to know me as a person and always did their best for me. If I didn´t understand something in class, they helped me. This school is full of teachers with the above traits. It´s a pleasure to be surrounded by people like this and I aspire to learn from them. The teachers have made a huge effort to include me and welcome me into their school. I know that should I need their help, they would do so willingly and with great intent. This is a great school, and with teachers like this, I have no doubt of it´s continued success.

I am throughly enjoying my experience as a conversation assistant. It´s a great opportunity and I´m going to make the most of it.

Kind regards,


Sagrat Cor – FEDAC Santa Coloma de Gramenet

Last Friday, we recieved this great e-mail from Sagrat Cor – FEDAC Santa Coloma de Gramenet. Both the school and the conversation assistant are making the most of this experience, and are happy to share it with us.

Dear members of the PAC Program,

Here I send you the comments written by our fantastic PAC teacher, Joe Martin,  evaluating his stay with us since his arrival to our school in October 2010. Me, as the English Teacher Coordinator of the PAC program, as well as the other English teachers, I am very grateful to share English teaching daily activities with such a nice person as Joe. He is helping us a lot in the English language classroom in all different levels : Primary and Secondary. The students are strongly motivated and many of them are improving their English a lot.  All of us in the school will be really excited to read Joe’s comments on the Website. I know you are not going to publish it until March but I prefer to send it to you right now. Thanks a lot for this nice pioneering experience. You will also find some photographs where Joe is teaching to some 4th ESO students. See you!!!

Yours sincerely,

Eduardo Pardo  –  English Teacher Coordinator

A photograph of Joe and some students during a lesson

Here is Joe’s letter:

Since arriving here, I’ve been treated like a celebrity! The school has 700 children, so I found it difficult to remember names at first, but everybody knew mine! Everywhere I walked somebody would say ‘Hi!’. Mothers in the street would say ‘Hello!’ and I wouldn’t know who they were. It was a surreal experience!
I’ve been working with children aged 4 to 16, so there are huge differences between one lesson and the next! In some classes I assist in the pronunciation by taking children to the side and gently trying to get them to speak some English and then with the teenage classes I have to stop them talking too much!! However, most students want to learn English, so that makes my job much easier.
I move family every two months and I haven’t had a bad experience so far! All the families have been very welcoming and treat me like part of their family, which has been very enjoyable. I am enjoying Spanish food and have become accustomed to the cultural differences. My Spanish is improving too! Overall, It’s been a very rewarding experience.