Friday, September 19, 2008

First day of school

Today was the first day I spent with the students. I taught in the 3 classes today and gave a presentation on myself which showed pictures of me, my house, college, and California and New York landmarks. I was very impressed at the level of English the students understood. I tried to speak slowly but most of the students had a high level of comprehension and were able to ask follow questions on my presentation rather than asking me to repeat something because they did not understand it. This is quite a relief because earlier in the week I had talked with some of the primary school TAs who said despite the fact that some of their students were in the fourth or fifth year of bilingual education they still did not understand basic questions. One story that stuck in my head was that after going over vocabulary relating to the classroom, the TA asked what is this pointing at a desk and the students responded “This”. It appears the students in the primary program are used to just repeating what the teacher says and are not really comprehending that much English. On the other hand, the students I have in the secondary program feel pretty comfortable in English. While they make mistakes, I am able to figure out what they mean and they are able to listen very well.

Most of my students thought it was very funny that my cat was named Kittie and that I live in a town called Los Altos which means the talls in English because I am clearly not very tall. This year I will be working ESO (educacion secundaria obligatoria) 1, 2, 3, and 4 which is equivalent to grades 7-10 in the US. At my school, there are also bachillerato grades 1 and 2 (US equivalent grades 11, and 12) but I will not be working with the older students because bachillerato does not have a formal bilingual program. Today, I was with ESO grades 1, 2, and 4. It is quite interesting to see the differences in demeanor between the students. The younger ones shout out questions and are not afraid to make mistakes while the older students are more reserved and think things through. Almost all the classes asked me if I know any celebrities because I am from California and if I have experienced an earthquake or hurricane. Students in Spain are also interested about sharks and school lockers because they have seen them in American movies but are not familiar with them in Spain. I was also surprised by how interested my students were in American politics. They asked me who I was planning on voting for and when I asked them who they preferred the overwhelming majority like Barack Obama.

Today, I also received my bank card in the mail. This was very exciting because I have heard horror stories about them getting lost in the mail and it taking months in order to receive a replacement. Plus banks are only open until two so if I have any issues it will be hard for me to get to a bank because they are only open when I would be a school.

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