Auxiliar Interview: Hannah

Hannah is a first-time auxiliar here in Madrid and will soon be heading back to the US to start law school! Here is what she thinks of her time teaching in Spain. 

1. Where are you from?

I’m from a small town near Madison, Wisconsin. Go Pack Go!

2. What made you decide to be an Auxiliar de Conversación?

I did a Master’s program in Alcala de Henares last year, and I wanted to stay in Madrid for another year. So, the Auxiliar program was a way for me to accomplish that.

3. Is this your first time in Spain?

My first time in Spain was when I studied abroad in Sevilla in 2011.

4-6. Which program hired you/What region were you placed in/Why did you choose Madrid?

My situation was a little different than most people’s, since I did the Master’s program last year. If you are a returning Master’s student, you get placed in Madrid automatically (if that’s what you want.) I love Madrid and wanted to stay another year!

7. What grades do you teach?

This year I’m in an elementary school, and I teach grades 2, 3 and 4. Last year I taught students from 3 – 16 years old.

8. Have you worked with children in education in the past?

I taught English in Malaysia for a year before coming to Spain.

9. What has surprised you the most about the Spanish education system?

I’ve been most surprised by the strict adherence to following class books and “teaching to the test”. It makes sense, since the whole educational system is built on exam scores, but it was still surprising to me. I was also surprised the first time I saw university exam scores posted in the hallway for everyone to see.

10. What is your favorite part of the job?

The kiddos are my favorite part of the job! Their enthusiasm and funny stories always make my day.

11. What is your least favorite part of the job?

My least favorite part of the job is classroom management and disciplining. I don’t think any teachers enjoy that part.

12. What’s your favorite word or phrase your students use?

No matter how many times we go over how to pronounce “crocodile” they inevitably say “cocodrile” and it always makes me laugh. It’s a tricky one for Spanish speakers.

13. Are you going to renew your position for another year?

Unfortunately, I’m not renewing. I’ve been here for two years now, and I’m heading home to start law school in the fall.

14. What’s your favorite part of living in Spain?

It’s too hard to pick just one thing! I love traveling and discovering how diverse the country is, the cheap/abundant/delicious wine, and the tendency of people to live their lives “en la calle” – eating outside, weekend walks with the whole family, community festivals.

15. What advice would you give a prospective auxiliar?

I would tell a prospective auxiliar to come to Spain ready to laugh at themselves and with a willingness to be flexible. The language/cultural barrier is bound to cause some funny moments, and it’s so helpful to have a sense of humor about it. The auxiliar job varies a lot from school to school, and sometimes the job description isn’t very well-defined. Flexibility and the ability to “go with the flow” will make the year a great one!

Gracias, Hannah! And good luck in law school!

If you are a volunteer, language assistant, or English teacher abroad and would like to participate in an interview, let me know via the contact tab!

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