Trevor is a former auxiliar de conversación and blogger with three years of experience working in Spain. Here are his thoughts from living abroad:
1. Where are you from?
I was born in Indiana, grew up in Dallas, Texas, went to college in Arkansas, and now live in Phoenix, Arizona–but Dallas will always be home.
2. What made you decide to be an auxiliar de conversación?
I wanted to improve my command of the Spanish language after majoring it in college, I wanted to have an opportunity to travel around Spain, Europe, and northern Africa, and I wanted to see if being a teacher would be a good fit for me or not.
3. Which program hired you?
The Ministry of Education of Spain’s North American Language and Culture Assistant program.
4. What regions did you work in?
My first year I was in Andalucía (lived in Úbeda, worked in Villanueva del Arzobispo, Jaén province) and my second and third years I was in Galicia (lived in Santiago de Compostela, worked in Boiro, A Coruña province).
5. Was teaching abroad your first experience in Spain?
6. What grades did you teach?
I taught everyone from 3-year-olds in infantil (preschool) to sixth graders in primaria (elementary).
7. Had you worked with children in education before the auxiliar program?
8. What surprised you most about the Spanish education system?
That teachers treat it as an hourly job. My mom works as a kindergarden teacher and she always arrives to work an hour before classes start, leaves for home an hour after they end, and grades schoolwork and lesson plans at home; whereas in Spain, teachers arrive 5 minutes before classes start, leave the instant the final bell rings, and do most of their grading and lesson-planning in their break hours.
9. What were your favorite/least favorite parts of the job?
My favorite part was being able to intimately experience another culture, from mundane/everyday things to the periodic saint’s days or festivals. There’s a lot of useful vocabulary and phrases in Spanish you simply never learn in the classroom or from a textbook that you pick up on pretty quick on the job!
My least favorite part was having to deal with classroom management, as most students have little respect for teachers on top of the baseline Spanish custom of talking over each other.
10. What was your favorite word or phrase your students used?
The very enthusiastic and loud “¡TOMAAA!” they would say whenever they scored a point on a game or got a good grade on a test. It just means “alright!” or “got it!”
11. What was your favorite part of living in Spain?
My favorite part was being able to walk anywhere in town, from a coffee shop or bar to the grocery store or a doctor’s office, or being able to take public transit to further-flung places in town or take a bus/train to almost literally anywhere in the country. America, and Sunbelt metros like Dallas or Phoenix in particular, are so spread out you almost can’t survive without a car.
12. What does your post auxiliar life look like?
I’m currently doing multimedia work for a major radio station in Phoenix, Arizona.
13. What advice would you give a prospective auxiliar?
I would recommend you save as much money as possible before you get to Spain, not only because your first paycheck won’t come until November (or December in some regions), but also so you can travel internationally on Christmas and Easter breaks. I would also recommend to be as patient as possible; the application process will lightly test your patience and then actually living here will tax it.
Thank you, Trevor!
Check out Trevor’s blog for more on Spain, traveling, and auxiliar life: A Texan in Spain
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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