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Col·legi Claver – Raimat

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!

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