Academy teaching, private classes, full-time teaching, online classes. There are heaps of options for teaching English abroad. If you want to teach in Spain or you’re already here, you’ve probably heard the word “auxiliar” thrown around a bit. Being an auxiliar, or a language assistant, is one option for you in sunny Spain. Here are some of the reasons why being an auxiliar is a rewarding job.
Get Experience in a Real School
In many countries, your teaching experience is limited to language academies, short-term contracts, summer camps, and private classes. While these experiences are valuable, they’re very different from the daily vibrancy of working in a school, especially a Spanish one. For those of you interested in teaching in schools in the future, you’ll learn essential skills from your time as an auxiliar. Even better is that you have the option to work in public or charter schools, and some language assistants have had experience in both types of school. You’ll get an inside look at how Spanish schools function without the stress of marking homework or exams.
Do you like to do arts and crafts? Do you enjoy doing science experiments? In many schools, you’ll have the time and the resources to be creative with your students. The students are often quite busy with book work in their other classes, but you’re the teacher who can bring the essential spark and engage the students in dynamic learning through projects, crafts, and activities. For my part, I try to avoid giving the students more worksheets but rather bring in videos, songs, dances, and art projects to get them up and moving. Your students will be so enthusiastic that they’ll want to practice their English with you. They’lll dive in wholeheartedly to the creative ideas you bring in, and you’ll also add to your teaching bag of tricks. Let your imagination soar!
Explore Different Subjects
Along with creativity, you might have flexibility in the types of classes you work with. PE, science, and art class are just some of the classes you might be working in. It’s fun to teach ESL students through a subject other than English. You can teach them how to play dodgeball, experiment with reactions between Mentos and Coke, make a collage, and more. Variety and freedom are your friends in these classes, and the skills you learn in your classes will be invaluable for your future career, whether you decide to continue teaching or not.
Work with Various Age Groups
Are you new to teaching and unsure about which age group you like? Do you want to try teaching more than one level? As a language assistant, you often have the opportunity to work with more than one age group and usually in two departments or more. You’ll expand your teaching repertoire by learning how to educate students of different ages, and you’ll learn more about the needs of very young learners, primary students, and teenagers. It can also be a refreshing change in your day to change from a boisterous class of three-year-olds to a more relaxed group of teenagers and vice versa.
Share Your Culture & Learn More About Spanish Culture
Living abroad is the ideal way to explore another culture and share your own. And what could be a better place than the classroom? Talking about your country and culture and asking your students to contribute their perspectives is perfect material for fascinating class discussions. You can go beyond just talking about the typical holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving to subjects that are more diverse and controversial. American slang, food, and manners are just some cultural topics you can start with. Talking about culture can be especially compelling in the secondary classes when the students have a better language level and can pick up on the differences. Even a tiny detail like what time you usually eat lunch in the US or using a handshake to introduce yourself can be interesting to your students. Always remember to ask your students to explain their point-of-view. You’ll learn so much more about Spain and your students, and all of you will walk away with broader minds.
So do you have what it takes to be an auxiliar? The combination of real school experience, creative teaching, educating through a variety of subjects, working with different age groups, and sharing your culture are just five reasons why being an auxiliar is a meaningful job, for you and your students. For a lot of your students, you’ll be the best part of their day with your dynamic activities, new stories, and fresh perspective. You’ll have those magical moments when the lightbulb goes on and kids get excited and true learning is happening. And at the end of the day, those moments are what make teaching worth it.
Alexandra Hartline , MA in Bilingual & Multicultural Education 2017-2018