Auxiliar Interview: Leah S.

Leah is a second year auxiliar in Madrid and spent her first year teaching in Andalucía! Here are her thoughts of living and working in Spain:

1. Where are you from?


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

I studied Spanish in university and I was teaching Spanish in my country, but I have never been to any Spanish speaking country. I knew that living here would really improve my Spanish and so I decided to be a language assistant. My love for travelling is my second reason.

3. Which program hired you?

I’m currently under the Ministerio program.

4. What region are you placed in?

Last year I was in Andalucía and this year I am in Madrid.

5. Had you been to Spain before the auxiliar program?


6. What grades do you teach?

Last year, I was with an infantíl class, grades 1-2, and 5-6. This year, I have grades 1-4. I really enjoy teaching kids and prefer having them as students than the older ones.

7. Before the auxiliar program, had you worked with children in education in the past?

I was teaching for almost 4 years in middle school (11-12 yo) and high school (13-17) in the Philippines before coming to Spain.

8. What surprised you the most about the Spanish education system?

There is a lot of things really.

a. Teachers in the Philippines are stricter in class than teachers here in Spain. I noticed that teachers here in Spain are more relaxed. Obviously there are times when teachers here are also as strict, but those times are not as often as it is in the Philippines.

b. In my country, everything that a student does, that is related to the lesson, is graded. And I mean everything: assignments, a 5-item pop quiz, the way he behaves in class, etc. Sometimes, students here forget to do their homework and it would be okay. In my country, most of the time, not doing your homework would automatically give you a 0 for that work. We also have 100 as the highest possible score for the final grade while here in Spain, it’s 10.

c. How students answer their teachers back. Obviously, sometimes it is okay to do it, especially if the teacher is being unreasonable, but sometimes, students cross that border wherein they are already being disrespectful towards their teacher – a situation which I have never encountered in my country.

9. What is your favorite part of the job?

As I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was in high school, being able to improve my teaching skills in doing this program is the best part of it. Being able to travel around Europe, which would be very expensive if I’d be coming from my country, is next.

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

When I want to scold the students for being inattentive in class or for interrupting the class, but I can’t because: a) If I scold them in English, they wouldn’t fully understand me which is very frustrating; and b) I can’t do it in Spanish because we are not supposed to speak in Spanish.

11. What is your favorite word or phrase your students use?

I guess it would be when they say my name in an excited tone. I know it sounds vain, but it’s just that there are times when I don’t feel like going to school but I need to go and those times suck. But whenever I enter a classroom and my little ones say my name in that happy tone, like they are excited for me to be there, it just makes me happy and think that getting out of bed that day wasn’t so bad after all.

12. What is your favorite part of living in Spain?

The transportation. I don’t know about you but the transportation in my country IS HELL. IT SUCKS. You know how crowded the metros are in Madrid during rush hour? Well imagine having that many people in the train every hour, every day. All the buses would also be crowded and the traffic is terrible. That’s what we have in my country. And of course the food. It’s healthier here than in my country.

13. Do you plan on renewing for another year?

Next question. Haha. I actually do not know yet.

14. What advice would you give a prospective auxiliar?

Always have patience and always know what you want and stick to it. Patience because in my case, I needed to process a lot of papers to be able to come here. It was quite a tedious task which would sometimes involve incompetent people. Losing your temper during the process will just make the process longer. Always know what you want and be open about it to your peers and colleagues. If you want to work with younger ones, tell your coordinator about it.  Don’t accept a work and then complain about it afterwards. You are going to be here for almost a year, that’s going to take a while and making it less stressful and more enjoyable will greatly depend on how you deal with the work assigned to you.

Thank you so much, Leah!

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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