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Escolàpies Olesa

Over the last few months I’ve been living near Barcelona, Spain, in the small town of Olesa de Montserrat, where I also work at the Escolapies School as the English speaking assistant through the CAPS Home to Home organization.

The experience so far has been great, I’ve lived in 2 homes already. The first was the home of 4 of my students. This immersed me in the culture and language of the country as well as the more mundane day to day living. The greatest aspect of this was being able to communicate with my students on their opinion of my classes and gain feedback. The second house, and my current home, is the house of another teacher whom I work with and her family. It’s been a rewarding experience, once again being immersed in the same culture from a different point of view, the most important aspect of this was to have another teacher to consult with regularly, someone who was in the same profession as I was, however someone who was more experienced and new the inner workings of the school.

The job itself has been so rewarding to improve on my teaching techniques and knowledge of the mechanics. The school is run perfectly. I notice it’s a very rigid studious school environment, however Escolapies also takes a very artistic liberalized approach to its teaching very similar to the Montessori schools and their teaching philosophy.

My only words of advice for a family who wishes to host a language assistant is that it helps to have at the very least a basic understanding of English as it can be trying when a language barrier exists. It’s also noteworthy that in northern Spain other languages exist alongside Spanish this includes Basque, Catalan, and Gallego and even though they’re relatively similar and all have Latin origin it can still confuse you if you come to northern Spain (Barcelona area) expecting a total Spanish environment like Madrid and its surrounding area.

In a couple of weeks I move to my new host family. Everything has been great so far and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants the experience of a lifetime.

Nostra Senyora de Montserrat – Olesa de Montserrat

Nostra Senyora de Montserrat is a school located in Olesa de Montserrat. It is their first year in the Conversation Assistants Program, and they are hosting Clark, who comes from Canada. Here are his thoughts on the program! (Click here if you want to see the original PDF they kindly sent).


CAPS Experience Thus Far

It has been four and a half months since my arrival to Olesa de Montserrat, and the experience is turning out to be a great use of my time and energies. A Catalonian landscape to take your breath away, the most part of my lunch breaks begin with a run up the mountains, across the forest, and through the orchards. Raised on the prairies, I am extremely appreciative of this environment. The centuries old town is also foreign to my roots and intriguing.

Of the 331 odd students in my school, I enjoy the challenge of memorizing names and juggling the teaching approaches appropriate for each age group. Interacting with the children from P-3 all the way to ESO 4 also gives me a sense of familiarity with the community as a whole. The encouragement of a student shouting a greeting to me on the street is priceless. This school year here is an incredible immersion of vitality and significance.

With a range in students from 3-16 years of age I am having some widely varied experiences! With the 3, 4, and 5 year-olds there is loud rejoicing accompanying my guitar every time I relive the glory days of Old Macdonald, Singing in the Rain, many other classics, and some new ones, too. With children 6 years-old and up I instruct the classes, normally in thirds, on content related to their subject of study. When the unbridled and intense enthusiasm of youth is harnessed I delight in the endless possibilities.

An appreciated part of work with ESO is the developed vocabulary and conversation skills held by these adolescents. With a hunger to communicate, they are a generous stockpile of ideas. It seems that a twenty year-old Anglophone who understands very little Catalan or Spanish is a great learning incentive. Although they may be older and appear less impressionable than in earlier years, I deny the thought that they are too far gone to discover great new levels of conversing and understanding in English.

Certainly, it is a pride and a privilege to witness a youth discover a new frontier and then surpass it. Never before has this school had an English speaker here as I am, as a result nobody is left out of the excitement. During this dynamic work in progress all the teachers are being gracious and imaginative. May the next half of the program be no less challenging and no less full of growth!