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Escola Pia Vilanova

Escola Pia Vilanova has joined the PAC this year for the first time. They have a conversation assitant from the United Kingdom, Miguel. He has written to explain what he does at school, and what his general feeligs were at the beginning of the program and how they have evolved. Thank you for emailing us!


         Arriving in Spain was the start of another travelling experience that would prove more challenging and beneficial than I could have imagined. I have been travelling and working now for the past couple of years, Australia and South East Asia, I assumed this time round travelling Spain would be more difficult because of the language barrier but I was confident that it wouldn’t be a problem.

         My first impressions of the Escolia Pia my school, made me feel very comfortable. I had lots of help before hand from my host family and the teachers were very friendly and helpful, the students all seemed very excited to see me. Instantly people started calling me Michael as they assumed the name I was using ‘Miguel’ was for their benefit, they soon realized that my actual name was ‘Miguel Gonzalez – Clayton’ a very strong Spanish name. I was already used to this however because I have met lots of Spanish before and I always get the same reaction, the interesting part comes when I give the explanation that I cannot speak any Spanish.

         During my first couple of weeks at the school everything was fine, I had lots of help and the students were very friendly, however because I was the only native Englishman in my town these were the hardest weeks for me outside of school hours. At times it was lonely and very difficult to find the motivation to go out and meet new people because of the language barrier. I had noticed by now that most of the other assistants in other parts of Catalan had either, another Native English assistant at their school, living in the same village or even close by at another village. This for me was not the case, there were no English assistant’s at my school, in my town or even close by and heading into Barcelona all the time to meet up with other assistants is quite a hassle and costs money, something we don’t receive much of during our experience here. Because of this I knew I had to learn Spanish as quickly as possible, and as I write this now I can say that doing exactly that, my situation has changed and its much better.

         Apart from that the whole experience with the school has been fantastic, I cannot complain about anything. The English teachers I work with are very flexible and allow me to have as much input into the lesson as I want. I really enjoy the classroom work as I feel important because the teachers always refer to me and encourage me to give my opinion. The students are also very enthusiastic to learn English even if the English teachers don’t think so, at times it is very difficult for them I can understand as I am learning Spanish at this moment in time. The students realize that the English language is important, and the way the world is at this moment I think the parents also realize that having this extra skill is an important advantage for their children when they are older.

Miguel preparing a Halloween activitiy with one of the English teachers

         On the whole as I said the school has given me so far a very pleasant experience and introduced me to a Spanish/Catalan culture that I really enjoy. My Spanish now has improved much more in than the first couple of months, I study everyday and I talk as much Spanish as possible outside of the English classroom. For me now this experience can only get better, with summer approaching and my Spanish improving, my experience with Escolia Pia will only be a positive one. As each day passes I am able to give more help to the students and they seem to be able to understand me more.


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