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Jesuïtes Sarrià, Barcelona

Paul Costello, Conversation Assistant at Sant Ignasi-Sarrià in Barcelona and his tutor Maria have submitted the following for the blog. Thanks a lot!


Paul Costello is from Manchester and has a sports coaching degree. In October he arrived in Barcelona to work as a Conversation Assistant at Jesuïtes Sarrià. It is the first time he takes part in a PAC (Conversation Assistant Program). Working as a conversation assistant means
he has conversation classes with ESO and Batxillerat students and assists teachers who are doing CLIL ( Content and language integrated learning) subjects

Hello! My name is Paul Costello and I am a conversation assistant here In Sant Ignasi School, Barcelona. I have been in Spain since the 12th of October and began in the school a week after I arrived. I was very nervous as I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish! But as soon as I met the staff and the family they helped me settle in perfectly.

I stay with three different families during my time in Barcelona. The first family I am living with have three boys, so that keeps the parents busy as you can imagine! As the mother (Marta) works at the school she helped me find my way around during the first few days. Sant Ignasi is very big and I got lost a few times in the first week!

I have been very lucky with my first term in Barcelona; the family I am staying with are big football fans and have season tickets at the Camp Nou. I have been to see six games! I saw twenty two goals scored and all of them scored for Barça! When the family and I finish school on Friday afternoon we travel to a village north of Barcelona called “Seva” and we spend the weekend there with two of the children taking part in football matches each week.

I work in the school Monday to Friday doing an average of four classes every day.  I work with a wide range of age groups from 3 ESO to 2BAT which is a wide range of levels but all have a good enthusiasm to learn English and practice the language. I have been really surprised by how happy the students have been to learn and try new things; they all seem to enjoy having a new face around the school. In some lessons I take four or five students and we will go to do an activity in a different classroom, the activities will be based on what the students are doing in class, or in some classes I assist the teacher who is teaching a subject in English. I think it is good to have a conversation assistant in these lessons to help with the more complex language and pronunciation. It also allows the students to help me learn some Spanish!

I have also been doing some extra classes with students who want to gain experience of speaking with an English person.  During these lessons I give tips regarding pronunciation and assistance with useful words and phrases. I believe these one-on-one classes are good because it allows me to give more attention to an individual.

I have joined the Sant Ignasi football team as I played football in Manchester and I was keen to get involved in as many sports as possible during my time here. The football team have all made me feel very welcome and I can’t wait to start the training again next year.

The thing I like most about Barcelona is the people.  Everyone is so friendly and helpful, the family and the school have been very good to me. I am looking forward to coming back after Christmas to continue with the classes and to meet new people in Sant Cugat.

Escola Vedruna Berga

We have received this e-mail from Cassidy, a Conversation Assistant staying at Escola Vedruna in Berga. Thank you!


Hello, my name is Cassidy and I’m working in Escola Vedruna Berga. The town of Berga is a lovely place about an hour and a half out of Barcelona. Situated in the mountains, I’m surrounded by picturesque views and a brilliant atmosphere.

My role as Conversation Assistant in the school means I take groups of students from their usual English classes and practice speaking and pronunciation with them. In order to do this I get them involved in a number of different activities aimed at getting them speaking as much English as possible. I find this job to be very rewarding, seeing the proud look on the student’s faces when they say something correctly. Learning a third language (as they are also taught both Catalan and Spanish) is not always an exciting prospect for children, especially of primary school age, however I have found that they all enjoy having the opportunity of speaking to a native English speaker.

As the ‘English girl’ I have gained popularity both inside and outside of the school. I am constantly greeted by smiling children with shouts of ‘Hello Cassidy!’ whether walking through the school or just walking down the street. I have been made to feel very welcome at the school by all the teachers, students and staff. I have also really enjoyed being involved in school celebrations, especially at Christmas when the whole school put together a nativity scene which takes place throughout the school and involves all the students dressing up and delivering short performances for their section of the scene.

During the first three months out here I have met some of the friendliest and funniest people you could ever wish to meet. I am staying with the English teacher from the school and think this has helped me settle in a lot as she is always there to help me and answer any questions. I am very lucky as my host family have done everything possible to welcome me in to their family and all of their friends and family have welcomed me as well. I have become great friends with the couple and their daughter has soon become like a little sister to me. I have really enjoyed all the family activities I have been involved in including family celebrations, trips to the beach, the mountains and even a holiday in Seville where I was introduced to even more family members all just as friendly and welcoming.

I have soon found myself adapting to the Catalan way of life. The two different languages can sometimes be confusing but I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve begun to pick up Catalan and understand a lot more of what people are saying (just by listening to everyday conversations) despite studying Spanish. I have really enjoyed my first months here and I am looking forward to the next six months ahead. It is a very rewarding experience and there is no better way to experience a culture than living with a native family.