Monday, 18 May 2009


A rather interesting sight seen on a recent night out, flying from the terrace of someone's flat in El Entrego:

Who can name the flag?

You know you have a good job, part two...

...when your students give you cake:

This is actually a rather late Easter posting - the pic is of a traditional Spanish Easter cake that I was given by the student I give a private lesson to three times a week. He owns a café and makes some rather tasty pastries to which Sue is particularly partial. Going in for a nibble every now and again is getting to be embarassing affair though since it always ends up on the house. It's a hard life we English teachers lead.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

You know you have a good job when... can spend a chunk of your time there watching films and listening to music - and it counts as part of your work. Yes indeed, I have shown such gems as Juno, Out of Africa, American History X, Pride and Prejudice, The Constant Gardener and The Goonies as well as some lesser works like The Holiday, Love Actually, Spiderman, Shaun of the Dead, Borat and Iron Man, that still make for good entertainment, especially when it´s in the name of earning a living. Of course, it´s not just watching the film, I do make the students work for their visual stimulation - with exercises that have words missing from a particular scene, they have to listen and fill in the gaps before they can watch the rest of the film - but it´s still a pretty good way to pass an hour.

On the songs front I´ve discovered that something upbeat is best to grab their attention. The current winner seems to be Michael Jackson´s Billy Jean, though it´s closely followed
by Bohmeian Rhapsody, You´re the One That I Want (during the playing of which I have to be very careful not to slip into Olivia Netwon John mode and perform her actions in class - especially the part where she beckons to Travola with a sultry look on her face and runs her hands down her body), Hot Chocolate´s You Sexy Thing, Take On Me and It´s Not Unusual. During these lessons it's a common sight to see us all swaying in our chairs as we mouth the lyrics to the music.

This is all a pleasant change from previous years when I was mostly doing grammar and reading exercises with the students. This year we decided my lessons should be devoted to listening and speaking, and aren´t I glad we did.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Things that make me happy about living in Spain, part VII (I think)

As a little girl I'd frequently go shopping with my mum in town on Saturdays, or during the summer holidays and would always be astounded by the number of people she knew. She worked then as a cashier for one of the high-street banks, in the days when the staff in each bank knew all their customers well, and so got to know what seemed to be about half the town.

It was common to walk down Chestergate, a pedestrianised shopping street in Macclesfield, and take over an hour to get from one end to the other - and it wasn't a long thoroughfare - simply because of the quantity of people who stopped to say hello and have a 'quick' chat to my mum - she even knew the people who owned the town's local sex shop and said they were 'lovely men', (something that made me stop and reconsider my opinion of her when I first heard her voice that belief). Anyway, I'd hang around at her side, half listening to yet another conversation, bored witless and wondering how soon it would take us to get away and continue our short journey to where we were going. I must've looked quite sullen standing there, wishing to be elsewhere, or sometimes crossing my legs and bobbing up and down whilst tugging on mum's skirt to tell her that I really needed the loo and couldn't hold on for that much longer and please could we go right now.

Despite my negative feelings of these experiences as a child, I find now that I'm enjoying being in a similar position here in El Entrego. We have over 200 students at the academia, so I know that many people, plus the mothers or fathers who come to collect them. It's almost impossible for me to walk down a street in town without coming across someone I know - frequently a mother without her offspring, who I will recognise but embarassingly am unable to remember just who her son or daughter is. This is particularly a problem if they stop and want a proper chat, but fortunately that doesn't happen too often yet. And then there are the students themselves, the younger ones of whom will often shout 'Raaay-chelll' all the way across the park and wave their arms madly simply to say hello.

Then, as well as all the people I know from the academia you can add to the list my self-defence teacher and his girlfriend, the cashier from my bank, the manager too, the postman, the electrician, the nice men who work at the farmers' suppliers where I often go to buy vegetable plants, my neighbours, and lots of assistants from various shops around the town. They all say hello.

Even if it's just a brief communication it's a great feeling to walk around town and know people I can greet and who'll return my smile. It makes me feel as though I belong.