At the beginning of 2017 when I was researching auxiliar blogs and panicking about life post college, I came across a lot of posts in this style. They helped me to get an idea of the range of experiences one can have while working as a language assistant in Spain, soooo I’m writing one of my own!
Also, since you – my friends, family, or aspiring language assistants, etc. – might be wondering what the heck this whole teaching in Spain thing entails, here’s a little peek into my day-to-day. After a month, I’ve got a bit more of a routine going on, and it’s not too different from a timetable I might have at home (save for 10pm dinner times). Yes, I actually am working, but I do take advantage of the weekends to do some traveling and recharge my batteries.
7:45am (ish) – The day begins. My alarm rings and my room is still pitch black (thank you persianas). Usually I lay in bed for a few minutes, then I motivate myself to get ready, make some coffee in my cafetera, and eat a quick breakfast before heading out the door.
8:45am – My apartment is conveniently located right near one of the bus stops for my school, which I take with the kids for free. We are all sleepy so it’s a nice, quiet ride, and since I live relatively close to the school Iʼve got a nice short commute.
9am – After greeting my students and a round of backpack show and tell and hugs, itʼs time to start things up. Depending on the day, Iʼm either in the English classrooms for the 3, 4, or 5 year olds. Basically, my job is to make a fool of myself so they wake up and get involved in the morning English routine – I sing lots of songs about the weather, feelings, days of the week, etc. using funny faces and voices. Usually it helps me wake up too!
10am – Now it’s on to the 2 year old class. Depending on the day this one can be super fun or make me want to cry along with them. With students that have the attention span of a fly, I have to be flexible. Usually this means my plans go out the window, and I’m usually just trying to teach them not to bite each other, using English. It’s no easy task. For the second half hour we head out for recreo, or recess, and they suddenly become fascinated by the my bag full of English teaching materials…
11am – At this time, I head over to the one year old classroom to hang out with the babies. Since they canʼt really talk in Spanish or much less English, if they so much as mutter hello, good bye, or uh oh, then I feel as though Iʼve done my job. Their little baby shoes get me every time.
11:40-12pm – I have a break for desayuno (breakfast in Spanish…well, more like second breakfast for me). The teacherʼs lounge is full of sweets, bread, and of course coffee, so it’s an exercise in self-control.
12-1pm – Usually I work with the 5 year olds, taking them out in groups of two or three to practice reading and writing in English. Most of them realize I can speak Spanish, but I have to pretend I don’t know what they’re saying, which makes for an interesting time. Overall, they’re a good group of kids and they make me laugh usually without trying.
1-2:15pm – Here I have a break for lunch, which is provided by the school (again, for free! So many perks) in the teacherʼs lounge. Not every school will feed their teachers, but itʼs pretty nice when they do. Mostly I like the food, but Iʼm a little picky so sometimes I end up eating the fruit, yogurt or bread. Also, depending on how much I eat at breakfast #1 and #2, sometimes I’m not even that hungry. Either way, it’s a nice leisurely hour and great for practicing my Spanish!
2:15-3pm – On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I give an English conversation class with second of primary. This is an extracurricular activity and there’s only five students, so I try to make it fun while still helping them prep for the English exams that theyʼll be taking in a couple years. Thus far we have bonded over our mutual love of Shakira, and they try to imitate me and my American accent, so if that means they’re practicing English then so be it.
3-4:15pm – Every day I have this time to prep, surf the web, Netflix, and maybe sneak in a little siesta 😉
4:15-4:45pm – At the end of the day I lead the 2 year old class in a different activity. So far I’ve helped them with finger painting, musical instruments, and story time. Since it’s the end of the day they’re all just as tired as I am, so it’s easier to catch their attention.
4:45pm – Time to catch the bus home (again, this is free!). On Tuesday and Thursday instead of taking the bus I go home with one of the families from my school to help the kids with their English. Sometimes I help with English homework, other times we’re playing football (aka soccer for all you ‘Muricans) and I’m wowing them with my mediocre juggling abilities.
After school, I run errands, meet up with friends, go to the gym…sounds pretty normal huh? Honestly, my weeks are pretty busy and surprisingly normal; it might be life abroad, but it’s still life!
For those aspiring language assistants with Meddeas or any other program out there, keep in mind that this is just my experience. Schedules and school placements are alllll across the board, and each situation has its pros and cons. With Meddeas, you usually have 20 hours of class time per week, which means plenty of free time. However, these hours might not necessarily be right in a row; you could have a few hours free during the day as it depends on the needs of your school. Make sure you’ve got some books to read, shows to watch, or a new skill to learn during your breaks (suggestions for that coming soon to a blog near you).
If you’re an aspiring language assistant feel free to reach out with questions! I’m relatively new to this gig myself, but I’ve made it this far so I’ll do what I can to help.