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Escola Vedruna Girona

Chelsea Church and her tutor at Escola Vedruna, in Girona, wrote to us about their impressions on the CAP’s programme. Joan’s entry is in Catalan; he writes about how happy they are with Chelsea and how her presence in the school is making the students’ level of English improve…and also the teachers’!

We thank you both for your entries!


JOAN BOIX, tutor de CHELSEA CHURCH de l’Escola Vedruna de Griona

Abans de res , jo voldria agrair a la Direcció de la nostra escola i a la seva Titular en particular per l’esforç de participar en aquest interessant programa dissenyat per Home to Home i l’Escola Cristiana .

La primera impressió que vaig tenir en conèixer la nostra auxiliar va ser molt positiva. A vegades diuen que les primeres impressions valen més que moltes paraules, explicacions i informes que et puguin donar.

Des d’un primer moment va entendre el què volíem d’ella i va ser fàcil explicar-li com funcionàvem i com ens agradaria que ella funcionés. Sempre s’ha mostrat molt receptiva i amb moltes ganes d’aprendre. La seva integració ha estat més fàcil del que ens esperàvem. Des del primer dia va tenir un molt bon tracte amb nosaltres i amb els alumnes. Ha après ràpid a fer de “mestra” i que els alumnes la respectessin.

Les seves qualitats humanes, la seva senzillesa i les seves ganes de fer ben feta la feina  fa que ens sentim a  la nostra escola força afortunats.

Creiem que ha après ràpid els nostres costums i va entenent de mica en mica la nostra manera de ser. Evidentment hi ha moltes diferències de costums i sociològiques entre el seu país i el nostre. El nostre desig, i el meu en particular, és que ens entengui com a poble i que la seva estada aquí entre nosaltres sigui recordada amb alegria a més d’una experiència personal altament profitosa.

Pels alumnes és una gran millora i una gran ajuda pel seu aprenentatge. Però per tots els mestres que parlem anglès, també. Amb ella estem millorant dia a dia el nostre nivell, tant de vocabulari  com de listening com de fluidesa.  Tot això haurà d’afectar en millorar la nostra  qualitat de l’ensenyament de la llengua anglesa, tant de forma directa com indirecta.

L’experiència està essent molt positiva. Tots estem molt contents.  Només volem desitjar que continuï així i que tots junts seguim fent un profitós camí.

CHELSEA CHURCH, auxiliar de conversa de l’Escola Vedruna de Girona

My first impressions of the Vedruna school were very good: a beautiful, old building set right in the heart of Girona. The children are all very friendly and are not afraid to introduce themselves or ask you questions which made me feel welcome. There is the constant buzz of Catalan conversation as you walk around the school grounds, which is at first disconcerting when your mother tongue is English and nothing makes sense. I quickly became enveloped in the Catalan language as the teachers too converse it, obviously as it is the regional language of Catalunya. This is a small difficulty for me as I had come to Girona on the pretence of learning Castillian and my internet-based lessons are on the Castillian language. I would definitely find it easier to learn Castillian if living in a different Spanish region or even Barcelona, where there are more Castillian speakers.

None the less, some teachers make an effort to speak Castillian infront of me and I have made friends who speak stronger Castillian. Most of my lessons are ´Science in English¨ with the sole aim to improve the students English vocabulary and speaking skills. I enjoy these lessons very much and there are alot of opportunities for communicating with the children and preparing activities.

I also speak English with students in the older classes such as ESO and Baxcillerate, both have a higher level of English than the primary students so lessons mainly consist of conversation about a range of topics. I also teach extra english classes twice a week in my lunch time which is very stressful in controlling the classes but rewarding when their English actually improves. I have been assigned a pastor in the school which is very good as if I have any problems I know who to go to, such as organising a bank account. I am also introducing him to English humour and, although he is slow to catch on, he is eager to learn!

There are vast differences in culture between England and Spain; firstly alot of activites occur at a later time such as dinner between half past nine to ten o´clock. In England I am used to eating dinner at seven o´clock, and my host family eat at half past eight which is viewed as early, but they have two young children. School finishes at half past five and then there are extra curricular acitivites, which account for the late dinners. At first these extra hours exhausted me but my body clock has finally adjusted!

The Mediterrean diet is much more healthy than typical British food; it involves alot of tomatoes, olive oil, fish and fruit. I love the food here, especially Pa amb Tomata which is bread covered in olive oil and tomatoes. One lapse in this healthy diet is the popular Churros, a typical Catalan deep fried pastry. Definitely an annual treat as I can feel my arteries hardening when Churros is consumed. Another typical Spanish dish is the Spanish omelette- a thick, potato affair which can be made with as many as 16 eggs! However the usual number is 5 eggs. It is also typical for people to drink wine with their lunch which is a tradition not experienced by people in England.

Catalan people are much more expressive with their emotions than the stiff upper lipped Briton, so I find it easy to understand how someone is feeling due to their rapid hand movements and tone of voice. I personally prefer this open form of character, even if people have commented on me retaining a typical British front of politeness.

My host family include two young children which provides a very different home setting to my English family where nobody is under 16. Obviously this has been a crash course in coping with young children but it has aided me in my teaching methods in the school. The family cook delicious, healthy meals of an evening and we all sit together at a table which I enjoy. I am required to give some of my time to the girls of an evening in the week, in which we speak in English whilst we colour pictures or play a game. I am also required to drop them off and pick them up from a ballet class once a week as part of my contribution to the household. The family have been very kind in taking me to visit different areas of Catalunya, such as Costa Brava and Banyoles.

I have found myself missing my family and friends much more than I expected, but I assume this is because I only finished school myself in June and everything is very different to my life in England. However the kindess of people who look after me has definitely helped to stop feeling homesick!

The city of Girona has a beautiful old part, which includes an amazing Cathedral in a rustic, cobbled stone setting of narrow, winding streets. There are a few good bars and a clubs which I have frequented with new friends, and most are reasonable in price. I have made English friends on the same programme and also Spanish friends from Girona University. This weekend is a national four day holiday which celebrates the Saint of Girona. There will be a fairground, beer tents, music e.t.c. so I am very much looking forward to it. My host family are going on holiday so I am going to stay with a Spanish friend in a nearby village.