JOANNA DIMAS- By far one of the best decisions of studying abroad was signing up to teach English conversation classes at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Pretty much, you and a partner go to the university and support Spanish university students with their English skills. Since I am not taking classes at the UAM, I knew this was the only way for me to gain a connection with the university. And I love the experience so far.
Not trying to brag here, but my partner is the greatest. Ms. Kelly Choi killing the game with me. Having the opportunity to work with her has been amazing and she makes the experience so much better. Second, the students in our class are amazing. They really are bright, talented, and charismatic students. In our class we have played Pictionary, Hangman, Two Truths and a Lie, and more. We have talked about diversity in Hollywood, the politics of International Women’s Day and the feminist movement in general, and the ups and downs of Semana Santa. And sometimes we just talk about life in general. There really hasn’t been a bad day for me.
In addition, on Thursdays, I assist English Professors with their lesson plans. This has definitely been a different experience. It is more formal and serious. Some of the students are prepping for their English exams, and this is actually my job (I get paid for it). But it has been interesting meeting students and getting their feedback. Apparently, for some of the Spanish students it is harder to understand the “American” accent. Which I find very interesting because I talk fairly slow (so I have been told. Apparently it’s the California in me). In these classes with the professors, we have more specific lessons to discuss like comparing and contrasting photos, monitoring discussion questions, and learning new vocabulary; overall a more evaluative setting.
Both class settings have been interesting and fun in their own ways. But what I love most is being on the university campus and seeing the diversity of the students in the classrooms. Some of the students are just starting college, others are in their masters, while some students are parents going back to school. I have met Ecuadorian sisters who are now living in Madrid. I have met people from different parts of Spain such as Andalusia. I love hearing about the students’ lives and what interests them. I have met students studying Nutrition, Engineering, Chemistry, Teaching, Art History, etc. Being at the UAM, I realized how much I missed being around students and being in an interactive and energetic setting that is different from a city.
I am very happy with the classes and the students I have been able to meet. And I hope that I am supporting them with their learning. I look forward to the last few weeks I have with the students. I am sure they will be very entertaining.