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Col·legi Escorial – Vic

Col·legi Escorial joined the PAC three years ago. They have always contributed to the blog, for which we thank them! This year they are hosting Katy, from the UK. Here are her impressions on the programme:

I’m a Conversation Assistant working in Col·legi Escorial, located in the centre of the city of Vic, about 1 hour north of Barcelona. I’ve loved my time here and it’s hard to imagine that in just a few weeks I will be back in the UK. I arrived at the beginning of November, and from day one have been thrown into school life, head-first. With the schools support I have taken on many extra classes and while the timetable has been very tiring at times, I’ve really enjoyed being able to be part of such a wide range of activities.

My pupils in school vary from 6-16 years of age, and so the teaching approach varies a lot from class to class. In the primary school I assist the teachers with the whole class of pupils, and in the secondary school I take smaller groups of students (normally between 6 and 15) on my own and prepare different activities for them to do. The secondary classes are definitely my favourite, as I am more or less given free rein by the teachers for the hour, so I alternate between preparing role plays and debates, practising and reinforcing the grammar points they study in class, and playing some good old fashioned games! The latter of these is the most important and useful for me, as when I have to tell a class of 16 year olds that at 4pm on a Thursday we’re going to study the 3rd conditional, there has to be an element of bargaining with a good finishing game to get them to concentrate!

Aside from the school lessons, I also teach 2 small groups of teachers at lunch times and give conversation classes to parents after school. I have also had several different private pupils throughout the year, both children and adults, and I have given 2 ‘lectures’ at a local English Academy.

As you can see, I’ve barely had a spare moment to breathe this year, but there’s still been a little time left over to spend with my amazing host family, climbing various mountains, going for walks on sunny days to see the gorgeous Catalan countryside, and introducing them to the delights of scotch pancakes, custard, Cadburys and of course, Angel Delight!

There just remains 2 groups of people to mention. Firstly, the students. The kids here are fantastic, they have settled down amazingly well and within just a few weeks, the classes went from being totally silent, to being full of chatter (admittedly not all in English, but we’re getting there). They’ve embraced the idea of having a foreign student, and over the course of the year they have all visibly improved their English speaking ability, and as a ‘teacher’, that feels great. The second group obviously, is the teachers. I cannot praise the teachers here highly enough, they all do an amazing job and what a job it is! Even though everyone is clearly rushed off their feet with reports or marking or lesson planning, they always have time to answer my silly questions, or help me with something I’m unsure of. They all deserve medals!

Well, my year in Catalonia is almost at an end. There are so many things I wish I’d done, wish I’d visited or taken part in, and while that’s a little sad, it also makes me more sure than ever that I will find myself back here one day. I hope I’ve made some lifelong friends out here, and maybe one day soon the blonde girl from the Isle of Wight will be back!

Col·legi Claver – Raimat

Here is another submission from Col·legi Claver in Lleida. It is now Douglas’ time to talk about his experience. He arrived in Lleida in January and soon found himself like at home at Claver! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


(March 2013)

Arts and Crafts in Col·legi Claver with Douglas, the Conversation Assistant!

So, here is my blog for the first 6 weeks of my “Intercambio de Idioma” experience. I can safely say that it has been a baptism of fire in several ways so let’s get right into it!

After nearly missing my connecting flight at Schipol, I eventually landed at Barcelona International, met the lovely Raquel and soon thereafter everyone else. As you may expect there were a variety of willing young individuals who applied for the CAPS experience, some from the States, a Canadian and a majority of English folk too. After all of the activities (which myself and another girl missed because we were late, buaha!) we were sent off with our foster families to begin our Spanish experience!

Now, learning Spanish is one thing, but learning Spanish in a province which has it’s own language and is growing evermore independent from Spain is another! I brought my books for learning the language but the family I live with and everyone else I have met naturally speaks Catalan and regard Spanish as their second language so immersing myself amongst Castilian was and is still trickier than anticipated. A lot of people also want to practise their English!  However, everyone is very happy to change languages for me, whatever the situation.

The school I have been placed is one called Claver in Raimat, just outside Lleida in Catalonia. It is also home to followers of the Jesuit faith with some of the more old-school faithful living on the grounds 24-7. So, a school for most and a home for the few, the combination results in a very friendly and almost family like atmosphere since everyone seems to know everyone else. And when you’re on the CAPS program, everyone knows you before you arrive. For the first month, many encounters followed the script of
“Hey Doug!”
“Hey dudes/man/guy!”
but you learn the important ones quickly, like Greco, the busy canteen lady who serves gallons of coffee everyday, or Jani the nurse, with whom I have had many conversations based on sound effects and flamboyant hand gestures.

Difficulties so far have included language barriers, which provides a whole barrel of fun for an observer, and several pangs of loneliness but these are remedied by socializing! The other CAPS character, Laura Onslow (a very English lady), introduced me to an English Speaking club, which attracts many foreigners in Lleida, from Estonia, Egypt, Russia and elsewhere as well as locals from the city. Also, the staff are sympathetic and friendly, happy to take time to talk if you need it.

As for a general week in the school, I’m involved in Physics and Chemistry classes, Europe and English classes and Art! But I’m not only helping the young students, I’m helping the teachers with their English too. I’m still considered quite a novelty and many times I hear “Doug!” being shouted in the halls. There is also a music club that I help out with, which is great since I would be going quite mad without playing (I’m a session musician when I’m not a conversation assistant). But other than that I have also volunteered for open days and help with other random classes when I’m not busy, such as agricultural studies, religion and ethics.

All and all, the experience has been great so far. My family, with Rosa, Pol Snr, Pol Jnr and the wee man Joan, have been very hospitable. They have taken me skiing twice so far (I have only skied once in my life… when I was about 10… for less than an hour) and I have wined and dined with their friends and family. They’ve taken me to basketball matches (bangin’!) and cooked fantastic meals for me, making me feel very welcomed.  And that was only in the first month. 4 more to go! I’ll be fluent in no time. And if all else fails, my bottle of “Scottish Water” always helps encourage conversation with people.

Escolàpies Llúria

Hamish, Conversation Assistant at Escolàpies Llúria, has shared with us this fun game idea, that he put into practice with his 1-ESO students. Thanks a lot 🙂


In February, in our weekly 1º ESO speaking classes, we did something a little different. The kids were given paper, and told to fold it into a fun flap (if you aren’t familiar with the name, you’re not alone; I’d never heard the name before, even though I was familiar with the game, and it took my colleague Rosa Maria several years of research to find the correct name).

Once they had their fun flaps folded and ready, they began the English work. The aim was to practise asking and answering questions in the present simple. On each flap, the students wrote a question using sentence starters like ‘How often do you…?’ and ‘Do you ever…?

Whilst they were making their fun flaps, I was walking round the class, helping with grammar and springing questions on them with a fun flap I’d made earlier. Questions written, the activity began; in pairs, the students played with the fun flaps, asking and answering questions at random, until, at our signal, they changed partners and started again.

The students really enjoyed the activity; it was something different from what they were used to, and it also gave them the chance to write their own questions. Thinking of their own conversations in English meant that they could have fun with their friends in the language.

This activity has worked well for lots of other groups as well; in sixth of primary we used fun flaps to work on superlatives, which questions like ‘What is the most beautiful city in your country?’, and in fourth of primary to work on describing animals.

Maristes Sants – Les Corts

New blog post! This time coming from escola Maristes Sants – Les Corts, in Barcelona. It is their second year in the program and they are hosting two conversation assistants: Mike and Samar, one in Primary and the other in ESO. It seems like they are having a great experience, let’s hear it from the Primary teachers and Mike himself:

Mike is our conversation assistant at Maristes Sants- Les Corts . He is at primary school teaching children from 6 to 12 years old. He is usually in the Red Bus, the English interactive classroom.  In the speaking corner, actually known as “Mike’s corner”, he speaks, plays and helps children to act out short stories. Definitely, he and his students learn while having fun.

Hola! Hailing from good old London town, my name is Mike and I have been the Conversational Assistant at Maristes Sants Les Corts since January. My students are of primary level, aged 6 to 12, and are all extremely enthusiastic. My duties include speaking and encouraging others to speak through playing games, helping to construct and act out role plays, and unofficially creating terrible pieces of “art”.

Mike and some of the English teachers at Maristes Sants – Les Corts

I am privileged to work with many awesome teachers, affectionately branded as my “peeps” or “peepitos”, who really do go out of their way to attempt to integrate me into civilised society. All of them have proven supportive throughout and have made my experience at the school a pleasant one. Likewise, my family are some of the most amazing people I have met in my life, who have taken it upon themselves to make me feel loved. Furthermore, I was flattered to learn that they wanted to keep me for the duration of my stay in Barcelona, which made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

I would recommend the experience to anyone interested in teaching abroad and with a genuine desire to shake up their lives. Leaving friends, family and possessions behind is certainly not for everyone. Fear not for those who can, plentiful opportunities for tutoring, learning Spanish and Catalan and befriending a region of absolutely lovely people awaits!

Sagrado Corazón – Corazonistas

For our school, Sagrado Corazón – Corazonistas (Barcelona), this is our first time in the Programme. Our conversation assistant, Andrew, comes from Canada. He teaches students from the fifth year of primary school to students in their second year of batxillerat, all of whom are really enjoying this enriching experience so much.

As his tutor, I would like to use this piece of writing to thank Andrew for bringing such interesting and fun moments into our classrooms and for sharing his culture, sense of humour, original ideas and adventures with all of us.

Xavier Asensio

Here are some thoughts from Andrew about his experience in Barcelona so far:

Each person that is a part of this program decided to come aboard for different reasons. But the main reason I decided to take on this adventure was to gain experience as a teacher. What better way was there to see what it was really like to be a teacher than to, you know, be a teacher! And it doesn’t hurt that I can do this in an incredible city like Barcelona!

Before I left for Barcelona I applied to some teachers colleges for next September. I was hoping that the CAPS program would be a good opportunity for me to grow and learn in a formal classroom environment. I have had numerous and varied teaching and coaching experiences in the past but this one is unique and particularly applicable to my future career.

So far my experience here at Sagrado Corazon – Corazonistas has been a very enjoyable one. When I first arrived here I quickly noticed the Spanish hospitality and was warmly welcomed into the school community. Even though I didn’t know any Spanish at first, everyone tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible. For me, this has been an extremely important aspect of my experience thus far. In all honesty, even though it is where I work, it has been the place where I have have many of my most memorable experiences. I have developed many close friendships with locals and teachers and many of them have gone out of their way to show me around and help me discover the city. I have also enjoyed getting to know my students better as well. One of my favourite experiences this year was accompanying the 4 ESO class to Llivia for a 4 day ski trip to the Pyrenees.

As far as what I actually do here, I am a conversation assistant for about 16 different classes ranging from 5 primary to 2 bachillerato (ages 9-17). As a teaching assistant I work alongside four different full time teachers during classes and help prepare a variety of lessons that are age/level appropriate. A lot of my lessons focus on applying grammar and vocabulary in real-life situations/contexts. I also tutor some of the teachers three times a week for those who want to improve their conversational skills. In addition, I have private lessons outside of school hours with some of my students.

One of the aspects that makes the CAPS Home to Home experience so unique is that you have the opportunity to become a part of a Spanish family during your stay here. Living with three different host families (in my opinion) is one of the best ways to learn about the local culture and lifestyle. Throughout the year I will live with three different families (I am currently with my second), each one providing new knowledge and experiences. As I mentioned, this can be a rewarding experience, but it needs to be said that it can also be one of the most challenging aspects of this program. There are many differences that you must adapt to and you have to be prepared for these. In some cases, these challenges can be overcome, but other times you must have to be able to deal with a difficult situation.

All of the experiences I have accumulated as a part of this program are invaluable to me. I have learned so much about myself and I have grown and matured in many ways. I would recommend this experience to anyone who is adventurous, adaptable and looking for a challenge.



Col·legi Sant Josep – Barcelona

Col·legi Sant Josep is hosting their first Conversation Assistant this year: Emma. She comes from the UK and works with pupils from Infant School to 4th of ESO. They have sent Emma’s thoughts on the program along with some beautiful photos. Thank you very much!




My name is Emma Harris and I’m working as a conversation assistant in Col.legi Sant Josep in Gracia, Barcelona. I’ve been here since September, helping out with all ages’ English classes. The children here range from about 6 months old to 16 years, so my experience has been varied but very enjoyable so far. I’m having a wonderful time with constant support from the school and the families. I’ve felt very welcomed into the community here and highly recommend the experience.

Emma with her youngest and tiniest students


Through the use of games, different activities, music, conversation classes and much more I’ve been assisting in all English classes as well as some music and science lessons to vary the English that the students learn.


Emma with some Primary students

Fortunately, for me, I already knew Castilian before coming to Barcelona but since arriving I’ve been learning Catalan and more and more about the culture and the people. It has been very interesting and everyone has been very willing to help me or to invite me to get to know their lives here. In exchange, with my host families and at school, I try to bring a part of my culture to them, through activities, games, songs and food.

In Sant Josep, we’ve also introduced this year the ability to take Cambridge exams from 5è to 4o Eso, for which I take small groups of students to revise any points of grammar or vocabulary and to practice speaking for the exams.

Working with a small group of ESO students

So, to anyone thinking about either taking on a conversation assistant or becoming one, I would recommend the idea, be prepared for a challenge but one that will enrich not only the learning of students at school but also your own!


Padre Damián Sagrados Corazones

Padre Damián Sagrados Corazones, in Barcelona, is one of the veteran schools in the PAC. They have hosted many conversation assistants, you can read all about them in their Multilingual Blog!

And now, let’s hear what their three newest conversation assistants thought during their first days in the school:

Hi guys! We are the new conversation assistants; Jonathan, Danny and Megan! We have the pleasure of taking over from the girls and after our first week we have already been made to feel very comfortable by the staff and the students. We were taken aback by the warm and excitable welcome we received from the students, which seems to be on-going as we are yet to introduce ourselves to all the classes. We have been impressed by the level of English that many students have and we plan helping them build on this knowledge through our own enthusiasm to converse. There is a positive attitude to learning English at Padre Damian SSCC which has added to the great working environment we have come across. We plan on making our classes as fun as possible while speaking as much English as we can. Thank you for the opportunity, we can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for us.

FEDAC Sant Feliu

The school FEDAC Sant Feliu, in St. Feliu de Codines, is hosting a Conversation Assistant for the first time this year. Her name is Rachel, she comes from the UK and feels very welcome in Sant Feliu. She works with pupils from P3 to 1st of ESO and all of them really enjoy their time with her. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!



I’m Rachel, I’m 21 years old and I currently live in Sant Feliu de Codines. I originally live in Leeds in the north of England, but for the last 6 months I have been calling this small town outside Barcelona, home. I arrived in Barcelona with no expectations of what would happen next. I had only been on holiday to the Spanish islands before, and so to come and live here, knowing no Spanish or Catalan was a big step! But the choice I made couldn’t have been better. I work in a small school called FEDAC – Sant Feliu de Codines.

I have always wanted to work with children since the age of 14, and after completing a degree in psychology and having a particular interest in educational psychology, I decided to take the plunge and apply for the job here.  After graduating I wanted to get experience working in a school, and I always had an interest in working abroad and indulging myself in another culture. But even after the culture difference I couldn’t be any happier here!

As soon as you arrive in this city, there is a constant welcoming feeling from everyone around you. The people in my town are very traditional and nothing is ever too much effort. I am now 6 months into my experience and it is still the same as day one. The people here always want to help, and for this reason I don’t think that people who come in future should worry about the differences, even when you have bad days or you miss home, the people always know how to make you happy and smile again.

The school I work at is called ‘Immaculat cor de Maria’, and it is very small but the feeling is like a little family! When I first arrived the children were very friendly and they were always shouting my name and asking questions! But even 6 months on this is still the same, and they are as intrigued with me and my culture as I am about them and theirs. They have certainly made me feel very welcome here. My job at the school is to assist with English and conversation. Every day I take out 4 or 5 children from the classes, for around 15 minutes at a time. I do activities to practice English through verbs, nouns, adjectives, prepositions, grammar and more, but I also like to focus on pronunciation. My typical day includes working with all ages of children and I work with P-3 to the 1st ESO. In the P-3 class I work in the classroom and practice small vocabulary such as colours and weather. In all the other classes I take the children out and do a small activity, with P-4 and P-5 it is usually flash cards telling stories and practicing. From 1n to the 4t primary school, I work on activities such as worksheets regarding the unit, which might include word searches, stories, pictures, games and activities. With the older children the level is much more advanced, and I hold competitions between to make them more motivated and they all love being competitive! I like to keep them motivated and I want to make them enjoy English! I do powerpoints or board games and ask them to explain in English the rules of the game. I also do reading comprehension and much more with this age range. I plan most of my classes around the units that they study in the class, this is so that I can reinforce the curricular and hopefully help them learn better and help understand English more. Teachers have told me that the children go back into the class or go home and talk about what they have done, all in a positive way! So this is a good outcome of my classes!

The family I live with couldn’t be any better, I stay with the director of primary school and her family. They are my second family now and mean a lot to me. Everything they have done and how welcoming they are couldn’t be any better. I have been made to feel like their daughter and I can see how I have improved their English, but also they have taught me some Spanish and of course a little Catalan! But that is the culture here, to make you feel so welcome and like you are at home.

Overall my experience of CAPs is very positive, I love the school, my family, the teachers and the students. I am very happy and I am looking forward to the rest of my time here. Especially when the sun gets hot!


Escola Sta. Teresa de Jesús – Vilanova i la Geltrú

Escola Santa Teresa de Jesús in Vilanova i la Geltrú joined the PAC three years ago. This year they are hosting Martin, from the UK, who works with students of Primary, ESO and CF! Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.


My experience at Santa Teresa de Jesús has been fantastic, the time I have spent here as an Auxiliar de Conversa (Conversational Assistant) has been enjoyable and a great learning experience. The teachers are very friendly, accommodating and patient. If you have a positive, creative and enthused attitude toward teaching, you will love it here; the more you give, the more you get back.

I was lucky enough to teach a wide range of levels:  Primary, Secondary and Vocational (Professional: Administration and Commerce). Usually I taught groups of 5 – 7 in my own classroom from each year group, I also assisted in others classrooms when necessary.



Through negotiation I was able to create and expand on my own material and methods, this was an incredible opportunity to test my own teaching skills and methodology as well as informing and improving my ability to adapt and alter my teaching strategies to suit a variety of levels and needs.

Vilanova i la Geltrú is a wonderful place with the amenities of a big city but the community of a close-knit village. It’s situated between Barcelona and Tarragona and it’s a good place in terms of travelling around Catalonia (by train, bus, car).

Almost everything is within walking distance in Vilanova and there are plenty of interesting and quirky cafes and bars to explore to your hearts content. Vilanova is also well known for its celebrations: Carnivals, Festivals and Fiestas; it’s an amazing place to be.