Yesterday was my first day of work. I went to the school where I'll be teaching - Colegio Madres Concepcionistas - and met the teachers with whom I'll be spending the year. Pilar, one of the English teachers, told me neither Spanish nor miniskirts are allowed, then gifted me with a school planner featuring a cartoon drawing of a nun. Pilar was wonderfully nice and told me I'd be in secondary (ages 12 to 15), and bachillerato (ages 16 and 17) classrooms, along with two hours a week giving English lessons for the teachers, most of whom speak little or none.
Quick explanation of the Spanish school system: Secondary education was only recently made mandatory and bachillerato is elective, meaning class sizes drop quite a bit at this level. (PS. Did you know that in the States something like 30% of 8th graders don't graduate high school?!) In Spain if students finish bachillerato they have to pass a test to go on to university, but the uni culture in Spain is such that (according to one of my professors) higher education is part of a trend towards modernization, and many students aren't necessarily doing it for personal or professional reasons. In any case, unemployment in Spain is somewhere around 20%, - 42% among people in my generation! - so a university degree doesn't guarantee much (hello? America?). I also read in the paper yesterday that the current crop of young people is known as the "ni ni" generation. As in very many ni (neither) work, ni (nor) are students. Read this (in Spanish): http://www.elpais.com/articulo/reportajes/generacion/busca/plan/B/elpepusocdmg/20100919elpdmgrep_1/Tes
Another big difference with school here is that mandatory education begins at age 3 (!) or 2 (!!!), if the kid's birthday is sometime before the end of the first semester. That means that some of the other people in my program have been assigned to "teach English" to a classroom of thirty toddlers, sometimes without any other professional teacher to assist. Say whaaa??
I don't go back to colegio until Wednesday so I'm on a mini-vacation in which I will never sleep past 8 am. I found out Monday that the interior courtyard of my building becomes recess during the school year, and I've been taking creepy zoomed-in photos from my bedroom window. Also learned in my Biliteracy class that Spanish rooster's go "Quiquiriquiquííí". My professor then asked us: "What sound does your cock make?" I plan on working this into my first lesson with the Madres.