Tamara is a blogger and auxiliar living and working in Madrid, Spain! Read about her experiences on the Iberian Peninsula:
1. Where are you from?
I am from Philadelphia, USA.
2. What made you decide to be an Auxiliar de Conversación?
Honestly, I really just wanted to learn Spanish and find a way to travel without spending all of my savings. I did a quick Google search for “teach English abroad” and the auxiliar program came up. I saw that I could get paid to work a few hours per week and have plenty of time to do my own thing. That pretty much sealed the deal!
3. Is this your first time in Spain?
Well, at this point I have been here for two years, but yes- it was my first time in Spain. First time in Europe, actually.
4. Which program hired you?
I originally came to Spain through CIEE, but after my first year, I switched to the ministry program.
5. What region were you placed in?
I was originally placed in Madrid and I am still here- going strong and onto my third year!
6. What grades do you teach?
I am in a high school, so the kids are 12-18 years old. I guess that makes them 7th-12th grade?
7. What is your experience working with children in the past?
I had a lot of experience babysitting little kids, and also tutoring college students.
8. What has surprised you the most about the Spanish education system?
That the kids remain in the same class, with the same kids, all day long, regardless of the level. I won’t get into that right now, but it was shocking for me. Also, that everything is just so….relaxed. Didn’t do your homework? Nooooo problem.
9. What is your favorite part of the job?
When the end of the day bell rings. Haha….kidding. (mostly). Besides the bell, I enjoy having conversations with kids who are really eager to learn or who come up to me after class and ask questions. Also, last year, one kid (12 years old) told me that because of me and my advice to try to have fun AND study, he now spends more time with friends and relaxes a bit instead of only studying. It pretty much made my year. I also very much enjoy the freedom that comes with the job- I can design activities and lessons and the teachers are almost always game and excited.
10. What is your least favorite part of the job?
When the first bell of the day rings 😉 And also that sometimes I feel a little useless- like the world, or the classroom, would keep moving if I weren’t there. I try to make fun activities and try to do things to be helpful, but sometimes the job involves a lot of walking around asking if the kids need help and they tell me no. One more thing- I hate reading papers that are very clearly plagiarized from the internet and some of the teachers don’t seem to care.
11. What’s your favorite word or phrase your students use?
Good question….I can tell you my least favorite. My least favorite is when they say ‘si’ or ‘porque si’ to my questions that they didn’t understand or when they are being obnoxious.
12. Are you going to renew your position for another year?
Yes. This was supposed to be a one year gig, but I am going on three years. Despite my complaining, I think it’s amazing.
13. What’s your favorite part of living in Spain?
This question gave my goosebumps!!! The people, the relaxed attitude, the TERRACES at restaurants, the style of eating and sharing, the winding streets and street art, the trendy, cool and affordable restaurants, the ability to easily travel, and the tortilla 😉
14. What advice would you give a prospective auxiliar?
If you have even the slightest, tiniest bit of interest in living abroad and traveling, come be an auxiliar for a year. Not even a year- 8 months. You have nothing to lose, but seriously so much to gain and it will be the best thing you have ever done. Even if you don’t want to be a teacher and have never wanted to be a teacher, the teaching aspect is only a few hours so don’t let that deter you. Come to Spain!!!!
¡Mil gracias, Tamara!
To read more about Tamara’s experiences traveling and teaching abroad, check out her blog:
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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