We love our job–most of the time–but there are certain things that I’m sure every auxiliary in Spain has experienced.
- Our little robot students. – I walk into class everyday and ask, “How are you?” and they respond in unison, “I’m fine thanks, and you?” I’m pretty sure emotions and feelings are taught in primary, so in secondary they should be able to respond independently and have original responses by now.
- Estuche (pencil case). –Spanish children’s most treasured possession is their sacred estuche/pencil case. It’s not only a pencil case but also a weapon that they use to constantly hit their partner, or their favorite object to play hide and seek with. This isn’t just an average pencil case with pens and pencils, but it’s filled with glue sticks, scissors, rules, protractor and compass. It’s a constant distraction as I consistently ask my students and myself why they are playing around with scissors during a conversation activity. Ni idea.
- Tipp-ex (white out). –Note taking in class takes an eternity and a half. The main reason is because they are obsessed with their tipp-ex or white out correction tape. Student A spells a word wrong, they take their white out tape, cover the error, wait for it to dry, and write over the tape. Now that process takes about 10x longer than just crossing out the word or writing over the mistake would take. And it’s a big game when someone finishes a roll because they use the ribbon as a jump rope, handcuffs, necklaces, you name it, I’ve confiscated that garbage and thrown it in the trash. Or as my students would say, “the rubbish bin”.
- British English. –So we are teaching British English to the students and I’m not exaggerating that I have to rely on some of the pictures in the book to let me know what the word means. Like what is candy floss? At first I thought they had invented a new fun and tasty way to floss your teeth. But then a student showed me the picture in the book. It’s cotton candy FYI. I can’t even describe my shock and how appalled I was when the male teacher asked me for a rubber??!! He was looking for an eraser for a pencil. We then went into a cultural explanation of what a rubber means in American English. He then understood my surprise.
- Common Spanish/English translation errors. –Learning a second language is hard, I know. But there are some things that make me cringe as a teacher when I hear them. For example, “I have 13 years old.” or “You can write it on the board?” And if I hear the word “interesting” one more time, I’ll go loca. It’s their favorite adjective; How was your weekend? -Interesting. How was the movie? -Interesting. Describe your best friend. -Interesting. Well, I guess their lives are very interesting.
- Awkward compliments from your students. –14 year old boys are pretty suave. Between trying to keep your social media a secret so they don’t find you and rejecting them every chance you get at school. You do have to admire their effort. “Gabby will you be my girlfriend? I love you.” I respond, “Umm how old are you?” His response, “Love knows no age.”
- Oh you’re American, so you know everything about American pop culture?! –I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked about Route 66. It’s like Spaniards have some weird obsession with it. They hate driving more than 4 hours in car but for some reason a multiday road trip across the country sounds like a good idea. Also I try to avoid saying, “What do you mean?” in class because then they will erupt in unison singing Justin Bieber’s new song. Also stay away from saying, “What else?” because then they will tell you that’s what George Clooney says in his nespresso commercial.
At the end of the day, I just can’t help but smile and think that these little spaniards are changing my life. And I hope I’m changing theirs too!
Alright auxiliars, what are some other things you have encountered?? No matter who I talk to in Galicia, Madrid, Sevilla it’s like we are all having a similar experience in the classroom. El mundo es un panuelo.