It just occurred to me that I have yet to actually explain what I am doing here in Madrid this year. So, let me tell you what’s up……..
Last fall, I fell absolutely in love with Madrid while I was here studying abroad for a semester, and I knew that I really wanted to come back. So I started talking to friends I had made here who were teaching English, and thought, “Hey, I could do that!” I was mulling over various options when my Spanish major advisor from Davis sent out an email letting everyone in the major know about this program called Auxiliares de Conversación, which was a part of Spain’s Education Department and actually paid participants a little money rather than asking them for money like many other similar programs in different Spanish speaking countries.
It seemed like a really great opportunity, so I took the plunge and applied.
As I went through the process of applying, getting lots of paperwork together, and sitting through orientation sessions, I learned more and more about the program and what it is all about. It started in the Comunidad de Madrid (basically, the state of Madrid) about a decade ago as a way to improve their bilingual education in elementary and high schools and brings close to two thousand English speaking young people into Spain every year to help out in English classes and bilingual programs across the country. There are also a couple hundred French and German participants who assist in, well, French and German classes. Since the program started in the Comunidad de Madrid and still carries the most weight in this area, roughly 1400 of all the participants are placed in the capitol and in the surrounding towns and suburbs. For instance, I and my roommate Danielle are in a suburb to the south of the capitol called Leganés, and my other roommate Kelsey is in a city to the west called Villanueva de la Cañada.
Through Auxiliares de Conversación, participants like myself not only contribute in a big way to the education of the children, but we also are trained in the various classroom settings we work in so that can expand our abilities as teachers, youth workers, and the like. In short, it’s an educational experience for all.