Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My presentation was a rousing success.

Last Friday I had dinner with some of my students from the language school in order for them to practice English. I understand their desire to use me as a practice dummy but it is frustrating to not get to practice my Spanish more frequently when I go out with people. The upside is that I got my meal paid for, I suppose. I need to find more people who either can't speak or have no desire to learn English. It's unfortunate that too many of my friends are English students and teachers. Despite not being able to practice as much as I'd like with conversation, I have contributed a substantial amount of my downtime between classes to practicing Spanish vocabulary and verb conjugations using a website called Memrise. It's a useful tool for learning and retaining things. So far it's working quite well.

This week I've been in the high school for the first time since I came back to Spain. I've noticed that I've become less frustrated with the students and their level of English and even lower level of motivation. Instead, I'm just bored and apathetic. It's difficult to motivate yourself after weeks of facing students who have no desire to learn anything. I suppose I get why teachers get burnt out so easily. It has made me question whether or not I could ever be a high school teacher for a substantial amount of time. It doesn't seem possible for someone to be exposed to the same material for six or seven consecutive years and still be unable to express even the most basic aspects of that material. Somehow these students are even avoiding subconscious absorption of English. Someone should do a psych study on these kids.

Yesterday evening I gave a presentation on the Spanish Civil War in the city center of Teruel. There was a surprising turnout, given that my presentation was entirely in English. It was the first presentation to be given there in English without a translator, so I felt kind of special. I talked about my interest in history and philosophy and how and why I ended up in Spain, as well as my research and perspective of the civil war. From what I could tell, most of the crowd followed my presentation well enough and they complimented me on my delivery. Apparently it is normally difficult for them to understand Americans but my accent was neutral enough. After my presentation, I received a lot of contact information and offers to meet civil war enthusiasts in Teruel. Everyone was excited to give me a list of books and films to check out and some even offered to show me around some of the civil war sites (monuments, trenches, etc.) near Teruel. Oh, and I get paid. Overall, I think it turned out fairly well. It's another presentation I can add to my CV and it has served as a great way to make knowledgeable contacts.

I have been looking at places I can travel to on the weekends as well. Unfortunately, I am limited to the bus schedule and the incredibly slow pace of the buses. I'm thinking about heading to the north of Spain in the near future and eventually Barcelona. There are fewer long holidays in the first half of the year in Aragon, it seems. Hopefully this weekend or the next I can make it up north to some city or another.

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