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Col·legi Sant Gabriel – Ripollet

Col·legi Sant Gabriel in Ripollet is hosting a Conversation Assistant for the first time this year. John, the Conversation Assistant, and his tutor Neus, have written to us to tell about their experience. Thanks a lot!!!


john_ripollet1John has been in our school for six months now. He is our first conversation assistant and the experience is proving really positive. He has perfectly adapted to our school from the first moment and he has always shown a very collaborative attitude. He is hard-working, extremely responsible and as motivated as motivating, because he enjoys his classes at school very much and he is plenty of interesting and creative ideas. He cares for pupils and they love him. He helps the English teachers from Pre-school education to ESO and he also participates in school trips. As his tutor, I spend a lot of time with him and I can say he is not only a wonderful teacher but also a wonderful person, who adds to me, to pupils and to his host families, more than just support with English language. (Neus – John’s Tutor)

I applied for this in May/June 2014 after getting an email regarding the programme and instantly was interested. Working with children was something I was doing at the time voluntarily anyway and I was stuck in a job I hated, it seemed very natural to choose to do this. I got accepted and had to wait two months until I could go as it started in September. Before leaving the UK I was rather worried because I didn’t know how the students would be and how respectful or disrespectful they would be toward me, this wasn’t an issue in the end, but it was something which worried me.

john_ripollet2I work at Sant Gabriel School in Ripollet and I work with from first of primary (6 years old) to fourth of ESO (16 years old) with occasionally working with the preschool classes during special occasions, for example, Easter. Before coming here most of my experience with working with young people was in a youth setting and mostly 11+, so when asked to work with primary I was a little worried how they would react to me and how I would teach them as it’s not something I was used to.

The families which I have lived with have, both been very nice and have taken good care of me, especially when I fell ill twice whilst being here. They have been very accommodating and I really appreciate them allowing me to live with them and for feeding me too! I wasn’t so worried about living with a family again, even after living on my own for about 4 years because of university. The only worry I had was that I would be too much of a burden on them.

I think my tutor has been amazing too. She’s made my time here fantastic as she’s put the effort into working alongside me in class and improving the level of English teaching in her classes. During the times where I’ve not necessarily been feeling amazing, she’s been there for me to talk to about any problems I’ve had, either with the course or any personal problems.

While the people who live here don’t agree with me, I quite like Ripollet. It’s quite a small town and not too far away from Barcelona by train making it quite easy to get to. I’ve found everything to be rather cheap too. It’s completely surrounded by mountains too which I love. After living in two (reasonably) big cities it has been nice to live somewhere where isn’t populated with 200,000+ people and isn’t as fast or busy.

On a practical note though, I would advise people who are interested in doing this to bring their phone from wherever they are. I bought a phone out here and it would have been much cheaper for me to bring one out here and buy a new sim card or get a new contract. As well as that, I would recommend bringing things from home which would perhaps reduce the amount of homesickness suffered. I know toward the end of December I was feeling quite homesick. It’s been easier since January, but homesickness has come and gone over the past few months but nowhere near as bad as in December.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience for me. I love the school and teaching. I have really enjoyed my time here. Everybody has been very accommodating and very welcoming from the students to the teachers. I’ve found out more about myself and more about teaching through being in the school. (John)


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