Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Spanish School Year


This is the final week of the Spanish school year, which runs from October through June. Therefore, this week I will be teaching year-end lessons for many of my students and giving tests to others. (Which means I’ll be grading tests, too.) In a few of my classes we will have a special little party of sorts. For example, one of my mid-day groups that I taught the expression “pot luck” to for a Christmas luncheon we had, have decided to have a pot luck luncheon for the year’s end.
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It is not good-bye to all of my students, however. Some I will see next year and a few are continuing with classes through July - some with a more intensive schedule and others with the same schedule they’ve had all year.
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What do teacher’s of English as a foreign language (EFL) living in Spain do during the summer? Well, those who work for the public school system and some who work for private schools (e.g., high schools) get paid vacation. Those who work for language academies or work on their own as private teachers usually have to work at least part of the summer, as they do not get paid vacation.
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Probably the biggest area of summer employment available in the EFL sector is Summer Camp work. Camps (usually referred to as ”colonias” in Spanish) often hire teachers under 30 to teach English. Teachers may also be expected to supervise the children during breaks and to participate in sports and other activities with them.
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It’s supposed to be exhausting work, but the pay can be good at the better camps. Most camps are residential with room and board usually provided. Since they are often located in rural areas, there is little opportunity for teachers to spend money. For these reasons, many teachers who work in colonias can actually save money.
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Teachers who do not work in Spanish colonias may work in Summer Camps in nearby countries. Italy, Switzerland and the UK seem to be particularly popular for this kind of work. Those teachers who do not want to work in summer camps, or who can't find such work (perhaps because they are over 30), usually find non-teaching work here or in their home countries and/or look for private students who want intensive classes during the summer.
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August is a particularly difficult time to find private students, because so many Spaniards take a good part of August off. Even those who do not go out of town for August vacation may be reluctant to take lessons during the hottest month of the year.
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Then there is September. Although the school year starts officially in October, there are language academies that start classes the month before. Many students who want private lessons are also willing to start-up early. So, some income usually starts to trickle in during the month of September. Then comes October and the cycle begins again.
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Copied from my original 25 June 2007 post at http://myspainblog.wordpress.com

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You can't work in summer camps if you are over 30? Is that general?

Carloz said...

Yes, that's a generalization. Thanks for pointing it out. I've re-worded my original text in a way that I hope makes it clearer. In case it doesn't, let me elaborate here.

It's not really a matter of whether someone over 30 "can" or "can't" work in a summer camp, but rather an issue of who usually does work in them. While I've seen some exceptions, it seems to me that the farther away from 30 a teacher is, the less likely it is that you'll find him/her working in a children's summer camp in Spain.

Why is that? My personal opinion is that most summer camp directors (who are probably over 30, by the way) want teachers under 30. However, a contributing factor may be that teachers over 30 are less interested in working in summer camps.

I believe that the summer camp in Palencia that I've written about on this blog would consider people over 30.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not soemthing I have to worry about this summer, anyway. I guess I guess I'm just not used to having to consider my advancing years as a possible issue.

Carloz said...

Well, like John Glenn said, there is still no cure for the common birthday. ;-) Seriously, I wouldn't be too concerned about it. As a side note, over the last couple of days I've talked with a few over-30 expat friends about this and they all said they don't tell the truth about their ages on their CVs!