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Williams College

Language Proficiency Level

SPAN 3500

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Abstract

For my community service project, I worked as an English teacher at the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, a charter school in the neighborhood of Realejo in Granada. My primary contact at the school was a professor, José Guerrero, who is also head of the school’s English department, among many of his other roles. He assigned me to work with a group of 16-year-olds one day per week, and 7-year olds on another. With the older students, I presented a different aspect of American culture at each meeting, after which I asked them to share their own traditions. With the younger children, I reviewed more basic concepts, such as colors, birthdays, seasons, dates, and how to tell time.

Through my interactions with students and brief observations of their classes, I began to take note of their behavior, in addition to their teachers’ reactions. I found Spanish students to be very chatty during class, and their teachers to be direct, sometimes even critical. From there, I developed an interest in various aspects of discipline in Spanish schools, in comparison with what I could recall from my experience in the United States. I focused on classroom chatter, teachers’ responses to such behavior, the level of permissible contact between students and teachers, and the consequences of cheating. I also became interested in the different approaches to teaching in Spain, as well as how students are encouraged to learn.

I was led to conclude that the Spanish approach to discipline is often more relaxed than the American approach, especially in regards to talking out of turn and cheating. At the same time, Spanish teachers can be more harsh and blunt when reprimanding their students. Physical contact is more permissible, particularly between teachers and elementary school children, whereas American teachers are generally perceived to maintain more physical distance from their students. While there is variety among Spanish teachers, many still resort to traditional teaching methods, based on lecture and little interaction between students. Independent thinking is not as highly emphasized as it is in the United States, possibly because there is not the same cultural of individuality and competition in Spain.

My experiencing teaching at the school was a refreshing change of pace and environment during my semester in Granada. It provided me with the opportunity to interact with the youth of Granada, as well as a group of motivated Spanish educators. In addition to living with my host family, it contributed to my picture of daily life in Granada.

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | International and Comparative Education

 

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