I've had a really great experience here in Spain. I was fortunate to be placed with two other language assistants at my school. Through this, we've been able to create a strong support system, something necessary when you're away from the comfort of your home, family, and friends. The two girls I work with have become my best friends throughout these past several months. I've met many people through this experience and have been able to create a more positive outlook on life. The school I work at has all the teaching materials I need to do my lessons. The classrooms are equipped with SMART boards, black boards, computers, speakers, etc. The English teachers I work with are supportive and want to help me grow as a teacher. They allow me the freedom to plan and teach my lessons independently but also step in when feedback is necessary. I love working with them and I love this job because there is so much trust and independence from the very beginning! This is the perfect learning experience for someone who wants the freedom to teach what they want immediately without having to go through a training or school program. I also really like how we are able to take a TEFL course on the side through the International University of Barcelona, Catalunya. While it will be helpful to have TEFL on my resume, I wouldn't say the course is that beneficial. The teachers aren't helpful and during our monthly online class portion, they read off scripts instead of having a conversation or seminar based class. The online class is a waste of time. Some of the assignments are helpful, however some are so pointless. Sometimes, it seems as if they only give assignments because they need to--not because it will actually help us become better teachers. I wish our course was more focused on class management skills and linguistics. The teachers don't give any sort of feedback on any assignments. My teacher even mixed up one of our assignments with another class she had! My classmates and I were all so confused until one of us brought it up and the teacher finally admitted she was wrong.
While I teach, I also live with a host family. When you apply with Meddeas, you have the option to live independently or live with a host family to immerse in the language and culture. When you live with a host family, room and board are provided in exchange for English lessons all day twice weekly and two Saturdays a month. I chose to live with a host family because I thought I would be able to save more money and learn more Spanish. While my host family here has been so kind and helpful in making me feel comfortable in this new country, there are also some things I wish could be improved. I begin school every day at 9am and usually end at either 1pm or 2pm. Right after school ends, I have to give English lessons all day until the children go to bed. This means playing with them and teaching them English for 8 hours a day on top of the work day 9-2pm. So on English days, you are working from 9am-11pm (a 14 hour work day!!) I understand I did sign up to live with a host family so this is my job, however it can be extremely exhausting. On English days when we have school holidays, you're expected to be with them all day from when they wake up to when they go to bed because there is no school--so your school holiday isn't really a holiday. Then on English Saturdays, you spend the whole entire day with them. I'm lucky that my family likes to sleep in on the weekends so our days normally don't start until 10 or 11am, but it's still a reallyyyy long day!! It's very typical for Spanish families to have au pairs and care takers so in the beginning, I found myself becoming an au pair as well as having my own job as a language assistant. I've had to clarify with my host family that my job wasn't to be an au pair or babysit the kids. Other than this, I've been able to create a strong relationship with my host mom and we'll definitely be keeping in touch and visit each other in our home countries come the future. We go on hiking trips a lot and have visited the beach house a few times. We also went to see Cirque de Soleil which was such a cool show and experience! I'm lucky I live with this host family as I've been able to build really great relationships with the adults, however the English days with the kids can be exhausting.