I am now teaching/tutoring in three different places throughout the city of Buenos Aires! I’ve already written about Colegio San Javier and Fundamind, but I want to tell you about Colegio San Tarcisio. Though all of these opportunities and schools are incredible, I have to say that Colegio San Tarcisio is my favorite.
This school has all ages of students — jardin (kindergarten), primario (primary, the American equivalent to grades 1-7), and secundario (secondary, the American equivalent to grades 8 – senior year of high school). There are two turnos (halfs) in every school day. In the first half of the day, the students in secundario have English class. In the second turno, the students in primario have English class. I’ve been permanently placed in a 7th grade class in the afternoons. “Séptimo año”...7th year of primary school. There about 20 students in the class, and they are notorious for being very hard to control. My first Friday afternoon with them was crazy. The schools here are very different than the ones in the States. Raising your hand is not a requirement, nor is staying in your seat. Most people here are very passionate, pretty loud, and tend to be a bit disorganized. Apply those characteristics to seventh graders, put 20 together in a classroom, and you have quite an afternoon of English class.
It’s amazing because I’ve already developed a relationship with many of the students and their teacher. The teacher, Pearl, is thrilled to have me there helping with her class. I’ve been in the class for about three weeks now, and Pearl is giving me more opportunities to teach parts of the class and help grade exams. In fact, on Thursday, Pearl had to leave school early so she left me alone with the class to do some listening and grammar exercises.
I absolutely love teaching. I love school. I love students, and I love the process of learning.
For the first half of the day (primero turno) I help with the high school students. They are all taking the Cambridge English exams this December. The students at Colegio San Tarcisio have to pass these exams in order to graduate from high school! Cambridge has three levels of exams: the PET, the FCE, and the CAE. The PET is the Preliminary English Test, the FCE the First Certificate in English exam, and the CAE is the Cambridge Advanced English exam. There are four parts to all of these exams: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The head of the English department at San Tarcisio has had me going from class to class to take out individual students to practice for the speaking part of the exam. I’ve got a book full of practice exams, and I’ve been doing a lot of research about the format of these tests, how they are graded, and how I can help the students.
My volunteer experience with this school has been even better than I could have imagined. I’m starting to build relationships with the students and teachers, and it’s affirming the initial desire I had to teach. The learning process is incredible. When I’m working with a student 1:1, there’s no greater feeling than when a student begins to understand new or difficult material. There’s such a sense of accomplishment in learning, and I can see it in a student’s eyes when they are pleased with what they’re learning. I also love that I’m helping them with English. Learning another language can be daunting, but it also broadens your horizons in unimaginable ways. Because I learned Spanish, I’ve met so many people that have changed my life, visited so many places that have left me in awe, and had so many transformative experiences that I never could have had otherwise. I like to think about the people these students may be able to meet and the places they may be able to go with their knowledge of English.
My dad is coming to visit me next week, and I cannot wait to see him and show him Buenos Aires. I will keep you updated on all my adventures and the adventures that I have with my dad when we’re together. I hope he gets to meet some of my students!