Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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I know it has been weeks since I have posted anything on here... But I will try to catch everyone up on my life in BsAs.

My weeks have quickly filled up as I am now fully employed. When I say "fully" I mean I teach about 20 hours a week, which doesn't sound like much, but trust me-- it adds up quickly. I am totally responsible for these classes, so although I may have books and material provided to me, I still have to put together a lesson plan for each class. Also, with the added time of travel and from class and then evaluation afterwards, it ends up being a very full day. It still seems strange to actually be teaching-- sometimes I feel like I'm just playing a game or something, and can't really believe that these people are trusting me to teach them an entirely new language. It's also really cool to notice the improvements of my students and to see that look of understanding when they manage to grasp a new concept. Most of my classes are very small, between one and five people, but I really like it this way. I do several in company classes, which means I am hired by a business in BA to come to their office and teach there. Right now I have two classes at EMI (the giant UK record label, one at Grant Thornton (a worldwide accountancy firm) and another at a small marketing firm. In these classes all of my students are between 30 and 50 years old. They are all very motivated and for the most part are there because they want to learn English. I was initially a bit overwhelmed by the fact that most of my students were so much older than me, but now it doesn't even phase me. They all look to me as the English expert, and I have quickly taken on the role (with the constant assistance of grammar books and the internet for all the stuff I don't know). It gives me more time to get to know them individually, and to be able to explain and correct more easily.

I also tutor a few children, which is totally different than the in-company lessons. With them, I generally help with homework and go over more basic grammar. I was surprised by how focused and driven these kids were. I expected to need to push them more, but overall they all really want to learn English and take my corrections very seriously. Sometimes it is a bit harder to keep them on task and I have one student named Daniel, who is so full of energy and always moving around and trying to show me picture books and play games. I've figured out ways to use this to my advantage though. So I'll get him to do a few pages of grammar and then as a reward we'll play a game-- but something that makes him practice like I spy. Another issue I had the other week was one of my students getting really upset with herself for struggling. She goes to a private, bilingual school which is very demanding and I think she is a bit of a perfectionist. She is only 8 years old and so when she was struggling with an activity she just totally broke down and started crying. It was quite a strange situation for me, but I was able to reassure her that it was ok to struggle with this, and that she was a very smart girl and we would figure this out together. By the end of the lesson she was upbeat and chatttering on about roller coasters and disney land.

It's also really nice to have such small classes because I am able to learn from my students as well. Especially with the more advanced ones, who really just want to converse and have their pronunciation corrected, I've learned tons more about Argentina. For instance, all of their elections are mandatory until you reach a certain age. I explained how in the US it is very difficult to get people to register to vote and we talked about some of the pros and cons of this system. I've also learned much more about the educational system here, in terms of the private, public, bilingual schools and also the rural schools. There is a huge discrepancy between all of these schools. One of my students volunteers at an organization that provides support to rural schools who do not receive proper funding. Because of this, the schools are of very poor quality, with underpaid teachers, and outdated books and material. Her organization attempts to fill in some of these gaps with fundraising and donations.

Besides working a bunch, I've been trying to get to know my new roommates some more. Everyone is now totally moved in and the travelling French Hotel has moved out. However, it still is quite the Casa de Francia, as three of the girls are French, but they are super sweet and I really like them. I went out for a really delicious BBQ the other night with a few of them. Not only was it amazing food, but we also spoke Spanish the entire time. I think this was the first time I had a complete meal without using any English. It was so cool to realize how much my Spanish has improved already in the short time I've been here... I still make plenty of mistakes but I feel like I am able to speak more fluidly now...

Well, I've got to stop by my office (haha) before my next class to pick up some more materials. I hope everyone is doing well! I'll try to get some pictures and updates up more frequently. Besos.
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