I have been in Madrid since 15 June - that is six months today. I have been having the same conversations over and over again ever since the day that I got here. Where are you from? How long have you been in Madrid? What do you do? I am an English teacher. I have taught so many people in such a short time. People of every age and all walks of life who need to learn English for different reasons. From children at school to students at college to adults at work to those who simply want to converse.
For the past weeks I have talked and talked about Christmas and New Year and how we all do it differently. I have talked about driving and cars and have become expert on the London Congestion Charge! I have talked about books and reading, films and film making, cooking and eating, art and museums, culture and even F1 racing. I have done dogs (I know all the dogs my students have ever owned). I have done weddings, birthday parties and even funerals. I have been to Madagascar and Lanzarote, China and Peru - or rather my students have. I have done the past, the present and the future tenses in all their permutations. I have done grammar and vocab and speaking and listening skills. I have marked essays and ticked answer sheets.
I have found myself speaking English like the Queen and have demonstrated my limitations with Welsh and Scottish accents. I have stood up, sat down and generally moved around to demonstrate prepostions and walls and doors and yes, this is the floor! I have learnt how to make a Spanish apple cake and taught the Spanish about Hot Sangria (no is not possible! Oh yes it is!).
I have learnt where to eat, drink and swim in Madrid. I have learnt where to go for tapas and churros and what a puente is (clue: it is not a bridge like we know it!) I have sung, I have danced, I have recited and I have laughed (oh, how I have laughed!) I have hit the desk and hit my head but never lost my patience yet. (I have never hit a student). I've made up verse, I've gone from "bad" to "worse", I've even exhaled the odd "woof, woof!"
I have eaten biscuits and turron, drunk tea and gallons of water. I have discussed the Millennium books and Twilight trilogy and why girls love vampire stories. I have written lesson plans that worked and some that don't. I have travelled miles on the metro and walked thousands of steps to reach students in far flung streets of Madrid. I have waited in bars, on benches and in parks for the next class to start.
I have improved my Spanish. (I know more than they think I know!) I have written my own materials, downloaded from websites, photocopied, hole punched and filed papers for every class. I have filled in time sheets and submitted them every month in all the ways required.
I have genuinely enjoyed teaching them all! If only there had been more and then I wouldn't be quite so poor. Here's to teaching in 2010 and starting all over again.
What did you do for Christmas? What do you get for "Kings"? Where are you going on holiday this year? Tell me about the weather in Spain. Ask me about myself. English is not impossible. Really it isn't. It is difficult, yes, but it is not impossible.