In the past few weeks, I have continued to teach English to children in Salamanca. At first, the teaching proved to be very challenging for me because I didn’t have previous experience with teaching in a classroom setting. This past week, the teaching has seemed much easier because of the relationship I have built with all of the children. Through conversation, I have discovered their interests and who they are as individual people. A typical teaching session normally consists of starting with a basic topic of conversation like what they ate during the day or what are their favorite animals. From there we will either continue talking about something that interests them or the kids will engage in other activities. These activities could be spelling games on the chalkboard in English or watching something in English on the computer. While they are engaging in these activities I will had individual conversations to help them with their speaking skills. Also, many of the children like to draw pictures and I go around and ask them to describe what they are drawing. The language levels between the kids vary which means I need to spend more time helping some of them more than others. The way of teaching English at this school in Spain seems to be a much better for children to learn a foreign language than what I have experienced in the United States. I feel that speaking and understanding is the best way to start learning a language than doing grammar on worksheets. This way of teaching seems more organic and seems like in the period of time that I have been teaching the children that they have learned English at a faster rate because they are forced to speak English as well as listen to me speak English.
Studying in Spain has given me the opportunity to travel around Europe. The Colby Salamanca Study Abroad Program has many organized excursions that allow us to see different parts of Spain. We have had excursions to Spanish cities that include Santander, San Sebastian, Toledo, Madrid, Basque Country, Bilbao, and Merida. All of these places differ in many ways. There is a wide range of unique architecture and landmarks that define each of the places. On my own, I have traveled to Amsterdam (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), Cádiz (Spain), and Barcelona (Spain). Again each of these places were vastly different and it was very interesting to be able to travel to different countries and experience their cultures.
My favorite place that I have traveled to so far has been Amsterdam, Netherlands. My favorite thing about the city was the number of canals that flowed under the bridges in the streets. Also, I enjoyed visiting the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. Both were very interesting because of their historical significance and I got a different history lesson in each place. The food there was delicious and the highlights included the Amsterdam Pancakes and the Traditional Dutch Fries.
In my remaining time in Spain, I will travel to Southern Spain to the region of Andalusia for a five-day excursion with the Colby program. I will also travel to Milan, Italy for a weekend because Italy is a country that I have always wanted to visit. Finally, the Colby program gives us a four-day break in early December and I hope to go on one last trip.