My school is a primary school, with classes ranging from P3 to 6A/B, so an age range between 3-12, and I work with all of the classes. I teach English to P5 and upwards, and art and special workshops to all ages.
With the art classes, I interact with the children as they carry out their art by having casual conversations in English and helping them, and also I help with general tasks such as organising supplies or monitoring the class. Usually, in the final half hour of the art class I will give a presentation about a story or tale, for example Saint George or Dick Whittington.
For the special workshops there are four kinds: in one I play physical games with the children (Year 3-4) using English instructions to teach direction or parts of the body, in another I supervise and direct the creation of dialogues and dramas to be performed for me to grade (Year 5-6), one of my workshops involves teaching professions and verbs by having the children perform small scenes(Year 2), and finally in the other workshop I carry out varied tasks depending on what class I am assigned to, but usually I will be talking to very young children (Nursery) and teaching them simple words as we follow whatever activity the teacher has set out, such as gardening in the allotment or miming animals.
For the English classes themselves, my role depends on if I am teaching to the upper years (Year 5-6) or the lower years (Year 4-Nursery). For the upper years, I will be in the classroom with the teacher helping to correct grammar and pronunciation or presenting the current topic, as well as assisting anyone with any issues they have. For the lower levels, my role is more varied: whenever the children have exams, they will come with me one by one and I will examine their English through speaking or listening tests, and then grade them. When not evaluating the students, I take small groups (Never more than 6) out of the class to do alternative tasks such as playing games using the school material or rehearsing dialogues for small plays, or learning about topics in more depth such as time and clockfaces etc. Sometimes I give presentations on cultural topics such as Easter, where I’m from, Christmas etc. If none of these other activities are happening, I will be in the classroom talking to students as they do their work, or I will be speaking about the vocabulary of the lesson and providing the correct pronunciation etc.
My experience with the host families
Life in my first host family was good, but I did not have a great relationship with the children, who did not like me. Unfortunately, the parents spoke no English, so my only method of communication outside of using Translate was through the kids, who often did not want to do this for me. However, despite this, I feel as though I had a great relationship with the parents, as well as the extended family of uncles and cousins etc, who I am still in contact with now. The family took me to some of the nearby sights such as little villages or lakes, and my favourite was a big trip to Barcelona and the Catalan national museum and gallery.
My second family was much different, as I felt like a full member of the family there. I had a fantastic relationship with the host mother, and the children really liked me too. The host mother and I are good friends, and had a very healthy relationship. The family was often busy with activities, as was I, but we went to the children’s football match together, me and the mother went to carnival, and my favourite activity was an 8-hour hike in the Pyrenees!
In conclusion, life with the host families has been very enjoyable as a whole, and without problem. I have been given a high degree of autonomy and freedom which I am very grateful for and respect, and I have always been treated well.
This photo is of a birthday party of mine at the second host family, along with one of my CAPS CA friends. It was my 22nd birthday and we made a traditional English cake for the host family to enjoy. We had a big party dinner and just generally had a great time with a great atmosphere to boot! The cake was a hit, I had my best friend there and I felt really loved by the family, so it was a perfect birthday!
My experience has been extremely positive; the long answer is that I have enjoyed basically every aspect of this programme, in fact this is the happiest I have ever been, and I honestly have no real complaints.
Work-wise, initially I felt slightly in over my head because I had never done teaching fulltime, and the students at my school were shy and did not often respond when I tried to talk to them. Likewise, only two members of staff at the school speak English, so I felt estranged from most of the faculty. However, as time went on the children became more comfortable with me and I got into the rhythm of teaching and what the school wanted from me, and I began to really enjoy myself and my job. The children really like me, and seem to see me as a big brother, and always get excited whenever I am in their lessons. With the staff, since I started, they have become more friendly to me despite the language barrier, and I feel like part of the school now. I very much enjoy working at my school!
My host family experience has basically been summarised above, but I have had a good time with the families and have no problems with them. I have never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome, and I just hope they have positive memories about my stay with them!
From a personal standpoint, I have had a wonderful experience on this programme. I have made many good friends who are also CAs, I have travelled around northern Spain, I have seen some great sights, and I have experienced lots of authentic culture. I’ve been able to really live life to its fullest and go out and taste what life has to offer, and I’ve never been happier!
Overall though, Olot is a wonderful place, and it’ll soon feel like home.
In general, I would simply say be yourself and be open minded, and give yourself time to adjust. From my conversations with other CAs, my school is quite different compared to others, and likewise you won’t necessarily have the same options in your free time as people in Girona or Barcelona etc due to the size of Olot, you just have to take your time to get to know the place and immerse yourself.
here is a photo of me and the staff at my school in fancy dress for carnival, alongside the king and queen of the parade. The children had just done a big dance in the hall with us, and as you can see, we were all in good spirits! I like this photo because it’s a perfect summary of what it’s like to work ; very fun, very dynamic, and very inclusive!
I feel that CAPS is a rare opportunity because it allowed me to live in a beautiful place, with great people, at a brilliant school, all while earning experience and a TEFL.