My name is Allison Dooley and I am from the United States. Although I studied public relations while at university, I looked forward to being an auxiliar de conversación (language assistant) in Spain in order to convey to kids that learning a new language can be extremely valuable. My prior expectations of the program were limited, but I anticipated the opportunity to explore the field of education and to give back to a country and a people that had already taught me so much about myself, about European culture and about the country’s own customs.
Placement: IES Arturo Soria
The school that I was assigned to, IES Arturo Soria, is located in the Hortaleza area of central Madrid. The teachers at the school are very dedicated and tolerant of the occasional student’s unwillingness to learn. The school is not bilingual and does not participate in activities such as Global Classrooms, so I was initially presented with communication issues; Because the students’ confidence in working with English is somewhat low, it was and is necessary to have patience in trying to communicate a command, an idea or an explanation to the students.
Although this job can be a challenge at times, I consider myself lucky to be teaching at this school because of the supportive, encouraging atmosphere.
At Arturo Soria, I am assigned to teach 1o ESO through 2o Bachillerato – these classes typically consist of students between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. Because the school is not bilingual, I only assist with teaching English language and grammar. As an assistant focused on helping students practice English as a second language, my goal for the students is primarily to raise their level of awareness as to how useful English skills could be for their respective professional futures.
As for myself, my personal goal as an auxiliar de conversación at this school is to offer my knowledge about the United States and about the English language in a way that keeps students engaged. I feel as though I am most successful at working towards this goal when I present my own presentations to the class, helping to attract the focus of a few additional students that would never pay attention if we were to follow a lesson from a textbook. Such presentations have included:
Original Educational Presentations (Ages 12-18):
Overall, my experience as an auxiliar de conversación thus far has been rewarding. My contributions to the program have been beneficial to the teachers whom I assist and (I hope) to the students at the institute, but more than anything I have been challenged. Through being a language assistant I have strengthened certain skills such as leadership, cooperation and communication, as well as learned new skills altogether. My new skills include things like how to lesson plan, how to effectively communicate an idea to an ESL audience, and how to build trust with coworkers of different backgrounds and nationalities.