As I sit here, eating my chocolate covered doughnut, I am wondering what it was I was doing 2 weeks ago from this very moment. Probably not very much. Ah how things change.
This is the first week that I started giving clases particulares, or private English lessons. It’s nice…I have something scheduled every night Monday-Thursday, and if I am able to handle this rate, I will make about 100 extra euros a week, which is NICE. It is quite a bit to keep up with though, and it essentially forces me to surrender my afternoons/early evenings…but the way I think of it is…well, what else would I be doing with my afternoons? Probably sleeping, eating or laying around on my computer. So, teaching English is much more productive option.
Along with the private English lessons, the actual work at A Farixa has commenced. I come home tired nowdays! But I’m also still making an effort to get out and run some longer (5-6 miles…so, relatively longer) trails. There’s a 10k coming up mid-november and I reckon I’d like to join in on that action! Anyway, here is a general breakdown of my week:
- # of work hours: 3
- Wake up time: 9:45
- Time I’m finally home: 19:30
Monday is one of my easier days. I get to sleep in, and my first commitment isn’t until 11:30. At that time, I have an hour at A Farixa allotted for whichever professor may need to meet with me. So I’m usually getting pinballed around the institute, but it’s usually quite a productive hour. After that, I come home, only to have another class at 4pm. This is a class who’s main objective is to pass the B1 English Language exam, so I feel quite useful when I arrive here! While it’s a 2 hour class, I handle just the first hour, going through speaking exercises (and fun games when I can think of them) with the students. It’s a good group of people, I quite enjoy the hour. Immediately after this class, I walk about half an hour to my first private English lesson of the week:
- 3 kids; 2 girls (ages 6), 1 boy (age 4)
- Degree of Difficulty: High
What a handful. Up until now, my experience with kids has been pretty limited to the time I’ve spent with my nephew Damy, jumping on the bed alongside him. As far as presenting myself as a figure of authority for children, I am at a complete loss. This became painfully obvious in my first meeting with these 3 kids. One of the girls is a sweetheart, the little boy is mostly quiet and just mutters Spanish phrases under his breath the entire time, and then we have the last girl. To paint a picture of her, I will use the following example: I asked her what day it was. She responded “monnnnnnddddddddddDDDAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY”. Now, if you can picture that response increasing in volume and pitch as it went on, then you’ll see what I mean. Every response was like that. No, she did not have a speech impediment. So that was quite a headache. I’ve had 4 classes with them to date, and they are certainly getting more comfortable with me, and I am slowly figuring out how to handle them. Most importantly, they’re also learning some fundamental English. I think. Often times after this lesson I stop and buy myself a pastry. It is well-deserved.
- # of work hours: 6
- Wake up time: 7:30
- Time I’m finally home: 17:30
This is my major day of work, followed by Wednesdays. It probably wouldn’t be such a bad day if it weren’t for the fact that I had to wake up at SUCH AN UNGODLY HOUR. I somehow managed to get through my 4 years at Grinnell having to endure only one 8am class. If anyone has personally experienced the dreadful task of waking me up early, you know firsthand what the results are. Not pleasant. I am one of the most nocturnal people you will ever come across in your life, and nothing perturbs me greater than being woken up at an hour earlier than I deem decent. So, anything before 10am, essentially.
So I'm at A Farixa from 9:00-14:30, with 2 of those hours dedicated to prep time with other professors, and 3 of those to helping out in class. By the time I get home at 15:00 I am famished, but that is the traditional time for lunch here! After eating lunch I go to my 2nd private English lesson of the week:
- 2 females; a professor from A Farixa, and her niece (age 15)
- Degree of Difficulty: easy peasy
Such. A. RELIEF to deal with these 2 individuals, given the difficulty I experience the night before. They had a pretty high level of English, we maybe had 1 or 2 misunderstandings the whole hour. The hour goes by quite quickly; it’s like just having a chat with another acquaintance. They have bestowed me with some fabulous info about Ourense, and all of Galicia. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time June rolls around I learn more about Spain than they do about English! It’s a great hour, and even greater since I arrive home with plenty of time to get a run down by the river in.
- # of work hours: 6
- Wake up time: 9:45
- Time I’m finally home 20:00
Although this day is technically just as long as Tuesday, it doesn’t seem so because I get to SLEEP IN. I have 2 hours of prep with professors before I assist a business class at 1:30. I come home, eat lunch, and come right back at 4:00 to give private lessons at A Farixa.
- 2 different classes, about 10 students in each, male and female
- Degree of difficulty: medium
These are classes completely run by lil’ ol’ me! Luckily there’s a platform at the front of the class that I bet makes me look really tall and menacing. The first day was interesting because I didn’t really know what to expect. I was scared that I’d be starting from scratch with these students, but that wasn’t the case at all. There is a stark difference in level of English between both classes, but everyone who’s there genuinely wants to learn English. The only thing that makes these classes difficult is that I am literally the only one in charge, and I have to make complete lesson plans without any guidance, and these plans must account for an hour long class. Also, since realizing the difference in English abilities, I’ve ceded to the fact that I can’t simply reuse the lesson in the first class with the second class. And also, I want to make sure the classes are fun, and include activities that I would want to do since all the students are my age. I've found myself modeling this class after the Intro to French classes I took at Grinnell, because I just had an absolute ball during them! So after these 2 hours at A Farixa, it’s onto another private English lesson…
…Part 2 from the lessons I give Monday evenings.
I am probably making these 3 kids sound like little demons, but I am also known for my over-dramatizations. They’re really actually quite fun to spend time with some days. And, the fact of the matter is that they are kids; they are meant to be rowdy once in awhile. It’s rewarding when I work with them and repeat words to them and speak slowly and use hand motions and they finally come up with the correct English word. I come home Wednesday evenings quite exhausted, and essentially feeling like it’s Friday, since my Thursdays and Fridays are quite low-key.
- # of work hours: 2.5
- Wake up time: 9:30
- Time I’m finally home: 7:30pm
This is quite the relaxed day. It used to be a bit more of a busy day, but I had to shuffle around my schedule which resulted in a very busy Tuesday and not so busy Thursday. I’ll take it!
My first obligation of the day is at 11:00, where I get together with professors at A Farixa during the coffee break and give a little talk about a predetermined topic in English. The first week I talked generally about the U.S., Chicago, and St. Charles; the following week I talked about the school system in the U.S.; this week I am going to talk about cultural differences between the U.S. and Spain; next week I'll talk about Halloween. It’s a strange but valuable experience. I usually talk about the topic as SLOW as humanly possible (or so I think) for about 20 minutes, pausing once in awhile to see if there are questions. All the while professors are sipping on their coffees and listening to me, while I sip on my Cola Coa (Spanish hot chocolate) because I’ve still not given in to caffeine. There are a couple of professors who speak English quite well, other that speak just only basic phrases, while still others speak nothing at all. I find it hard to believe that they actually enjoy having me orate to them to English, but, like I’ve said before, English is seen as a high commodity here! After this half hour break, I do the speaking portion of another class for an hour, then make my way home for a nice 5 hour break before my final English lesson of the week:
- One boy (age 7)
- Degree of difficulty: Low
This is the newest client/student I have, and it may potentially be the last I add to my schedule. I was hesitant to take this boy on since my schedule was already fairly full, but his mother was insistent on the phone that he'd be a great student and that he is the vision of an angel...or something to that degree. I don't know what it is about listening to a little boy speak high-pitched Spanish with such vigor, but it's nothing less than ADORABLE and I'm glad I decided to add him to my schedule. Not only is he absolutely precious but he's also super studious! Near the end of our first lesson he advised me that we needed to finish up with our games because he needed to get to his homework. HA! Cute.
- # of work hours: 1-2
- Wake up time: 10:30-11:30
- Time I’m finally home: 14:00-15:00
The only class I have this day is one in the physical education type department. This class deals with learning how to set up rehabilitation for disabled people, so it's way interesting. This is one of the classes for which Miguel (my original coordinator at A Farixa) deeply apologized, since it was on a Friday, and he went so far as to insist that I simply let him know if I don't want to come one week. It's probably the most interesting class as far as subject matter, so I have every intention of making it to as many classes as possible! Although it’s a class that usually takes 2.5 hours, Miguel specifies a time for me to come in partway through so that I don't have to sit through the lecture. By the time I show up, it's about time for them to go to the practical aspect of the class, meaning they go over to the nearby gym and play some small-sided games. Last week was the first time I went, and I ran their warm up in English. It was really fun, (partially because it allowed me to yell in an athletic setting again...I MISS IT) and then I watched as they came up with ideas on how to incorporate disabled people in every day gym-type games like dodgeball and steal the bacon.
Anyway, there you have it, now no one can say that I didn’t share my work week in exceedingly thorough detail! I think I like my week the way it is, although I wonder if I'll eventually want to add another English lesson to the week. I've already had to decline or pass along the offers of 3 different clients, man is the demand for native speakers high! I’m so thankful with these opportunities I’m getting, I hope I can be smart and not waste all this extra money on that black 130 euro leather jacket from Zara I can’t get my mind off of…
The weekend events vary from week to week, although I will say that we go out for drinks/tapas no more than once a week, if that. We are grown up! And we can’t afford to go out that often… but here is a picture of me and Anna, genuinely content because we found an Irish pub that serves crepes late into the night!