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Col·legi Ave Maria de Manresa

Col·legi Ave Maria in Manresa has joined the PAC for the first time this year. They are hosting James, who comes from the UK. It is the first time that James has done anything related to teaching…and he is doing a great job. Both him and the school are making the most out of the program, and everyone’s English is improving. We thank James for sharing his thoughts with us!



Hello! My name is James Ferns, I’m 23 years old and I come from Manchester, England. I lived with my parents, prior to moving to Spain, and I have one sister. Prior to applying for the CAPS programme, I had completed my degree in Film Studies and I had never anticipated becoming involved anything like teaching before. I just decided that at the particular point in my life that I discovered the CAPS programme, I wanted to broaden my horizons and experience new things, away from my comfort zone. The prospect of just being able to live in another country alone, though admittedly a little nerve-wracking, was enough to make me apply with great enthusiasm. Admittedly, I had never particularly had a specific interest in Spain before, and I wasn´t even aware of the autonomous region, Catalonia, but now I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! I’ve never felt more at home. Anyway, in Spring 2014, a close friend and I decided to both go for it and apply, having simply found the course online by chance, and fortunately for us, we’ve ended up in the same beautiful city, Manresa, which is about 60 kilometres from Barcelona.  I work at the Ave Maria school, which is a small, semi-private school in the centre of Manresa, with around 320 pupils of ages ranging from 3-16. I work with all of the children in the school and do English classes and some P.E classes too. Having been initially been a little anxious about having to work with such a wide age-range, my worries were immediately dispelled on the first day, when I was greeted by my lovely tutor and introduced to the children, who were all so excited and happy to meet me, and completely full of endless questions! I had never considered myself a particularly fascinating person until I started working at the school!

I take each class for roughly two hours per week, and in most cases, one of the hours is spent in the English class and the other in the P.E class. In the English classes, we participate in a range of fun activities; for example, the ESO4 class have recently been making short films (In English) and we’ve all had a great time making them together. With the younger classes, I have started to play my guitar for them and have been teaching them songs in English and their enthusiasm is so infectious! As for the P.E classes, I remember fervently hating P.E at school and having never really been keen on sports, so my initial reaction when I heard I’d be taking these classes was one of great disappointment. However, to my surprise, I actually have heaps of fun with the classes and the kids love to teach me how to play sports in exchange for me teaching them English!

Throughout my tenure here I´ve lived with three host families. I´m now living with my third and my experience of this has been generally fantastic. My first family: a GP and an engineer, with a girl and boy aged 12 and 9, respectively, were incredibly welcoming and my initial worries about having to live with strangers immediately vanished. They took me out for lunch in Barcelona after having just met me for the first time and then showed me around the city of Manresa, when we arrived there later. They were incredibly generous and made it very clear that their home was also my home. I spent a wonderful three months with them and was sad to leave. The experience with the second family (from January to April) was admittedly a little more challenging. They were fantastic with me but they had two boys aged 3 and 7, who, despite being great little characters, were quite often a handful! Nonetheless, I was still very welcome in the house, maintained a good friendship with the parents ,and even remember the father telling me that he wished I could have stayed for longer, as the final week of my time living there approached! I´m now living with the third family who have a 10 year old daughter. It is an incredibly relaxed atmosphere and the generosity and warmth of this family is incredible. They tell me that I am welcome to live there for as long as I like! And despite their relatively low level of English, we speak all the time and I really feel like one of the family.  Aside from the school, I also do private conversation classes and have just started part-time work in a local academy. I have also done a fair bit of travelling around Catalonia and have visited the breath-taking mountains of the Pyrenees, the gorgeous city of Girona and of course have spent a lot of time In the magnificent capital city of Catalonia, Barcelona! I´ve made lots of friends and have decided that I definitely want to continue living here after I finish my time at the school (a decision I made on the day after I arrived here!). It´s a truly life-changing experience which I cannot recommend enough.

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