I considered calling this page “FAQ,” since “frequently” is a relative term, but then I thought it would be deceiving. These are questions that I’ve been asked more than once and will answer here to hopefully avoid repeating myself in the future.
Q: What are you doing in Spain?
A: I’m a North American Language and Culture Assistant, also known as an Auxiliar de Conversación. The teaching position is offered through the Spanish Ministry of Education. I’m doing that exact job but through a program called CIEE. If you’re curious about the differences between the programs, I’d be happy to discuss it via email. But basically, I’m an English teaching assistant at a public high school in Seville.
Q: Okay, but what are you actually doing?
Great question! If you think I’m an English teacher in the traditional sense of the term, you would be wrong. I thought I’d be teaching English, too, but it doesn’t work like that.
I assist in the “bilingual” classes at my school, going over material that the students are already learning in Spanish, but in English. I explain it in more detail here.
This can be trying in some classes, like those related to technology and math, because some of the material is new to me. But most of the time I get to talk about things I actually know, like baroque art and principles of physical training. I sometimes come up with new material or presentations, but in theory the teachers always provide the assistant with guidelines for each class. Also in theory, I’m never left alone in a classroom with 30-35 students; the lead teacher is always present. The reality at school usually reflects those rules, with some exceptions.
Q: Fair enough, and what is this blog job you keep babbling about?
A: This year I’m coordinating the blog for the CIEE Study Center in Seville. This involves recruiting students to write for the blog, editing content, scheduling content, being clever with SEO technique and many other nerd things that I get overexcited about. I’m also starting to Tweet for @CIEESeville, FOLLOW IT NOW #shameless.
Q: How long are you in Spain? When were you there before?
A: I studied here between January—May 2010. I came back in early September 2011 and my teaching contract goes through May 31, 2012.
Q: Do you want to be a teacher? Did you study education?
A: Teaching is not my background—I studied journalism and Spanish in college and nearly all of my work experience has been in journalism. I thought teaching English would be a prime opportunity to get out of my professional comfort zone and learn new skills. So far, I think I was right. But I also think that my professional goals, at least right now, align more with writing and journalism than with education; however, there are aspects of teaching that thoroughly I enjoy. It’s something I could see myself doing further down the road, perhaps when I stop being in my 20s and start being more sagelike.
Q: Do you eat Mexican food, like, every day?
A: Instead of answering this question I’ll be sobbing silently over my laptop, brb.