First Impressions of my Internship! / Primeras impresiones de mi programa de prácticas!

Melanie Brown Arcadia in Granada, Spain


March 18, 2018

As one of the biggest reasons why I chose to come to Granada, I figured it would be good to cover what my internship is about, what I do, and how I like it! To start, my only option was an educational internship because I received a level 6 (High Intermediate/Low Advanced) on my placement exam. This semester the Centro de Lenguas Modernas only works with private Catholic schools, and I was assigned to one conveniently right by the Centro de Lenguas Modernas. I help out in 11 different classrooms, and I work with kids from ages 8 to 11 years old.

I have only been three times so far, but they have all been enlightening and fun! I help out in English, Bilingual Natural Science, and Bilingual Social Science classes. What I’ve done so far has involved lengthy introductions, leading class activities, helping teachers assess students’ English, and reading passages aloud to help students with listening skills. Some students requested total classroom autonomy, meaning they get to plan lessons and lead full classes. I chose not to do this, as I have no experience teaching and don’t actually plan on becoming a teacher. What I’m in this for is more to learn more about how languages are taught (specifically English) and to help some adorable young Spaniards improve their English skills.

What I’ve found to be really interesting is the insight I get into the Spanish educational system. In Spain today, there is huge controversy around the effectiveness of schools’ bilingual programs. These programs are in English and French, but I really only have experience with the English part. Teachers have to have a minimum of a B1 (around low intermediate) English level to teach English or bilingual subject classes. Classes also have to be, if I’m not mistaken, at least 30% in the target language. If that doesn’t sound very bilingual to you, you’ve got the right idea. The teachers at this school have been a delight to work with, but they teach their classes in Spanish. Some assessments are in English, I believe, but more to follow on that. Some of the teachers haven’t said more than “turn to page 45” in English. Why? Frankly, because the kids don't understand it. I can’t say that I see the bilingualism program as effective (like many Spanish parents) because it’s really difficult to give elementary schoolers an immersive experience without a crazy amount of resources. As discussed in class at my university, there is a shortage of native English-speaking teachers, which of course leads to less English being taught. It’s definitely an admirable effort and not the fault of anyone in particular, just a tough to execute program. I hope that my small-scale contribution will help these kids learn as much as possible in my short 45 hour internship.

Overall first impression: super cool! I have met some really fun, interesting, young teacher and worked with a lot of sweet kids. I plan on getting more involved in the classes each day as I get more confident in my role as “seño” (what kids call their teachers here). Excited to see what’s to come!