BEDA FAQ.

First off, HELLO my lovely readers! I know I have sucked in posting this past month. I have been quite busy at my school and I traveled to London during a long weekend we had last week (I’ll write another post about that later this week). I have been bombarded with emails regarding BEDA and the application process so I figured I would write a post answering the major questions I’ve gotten. To those that emailed me, I did finally respond! Again, I am SUPER sorry for replying so late…I’m normally not that bad, I promise!!

Anyway, here are the main questions I’ve gotten about the program:

When does the application period end?

January 31, 2013.

What is the Skype interview like and when did you find out about yours?

I received an email about a week after I submitted my application informing me of the date and time of my Skype interview. I know things are different this year, however, because the application period ends in January as oppose to March like last year. So I don’t know if the coordinator has already sent out emails letting people know when their interview is for or if she will start to do that after the application period ends.

As far as the interview, it’s nothing to stress over. First of all, the interview is in ENGLISH. The only question the coordinator asked me was my preference regarding what age group I wanted to teach and the number of hours I wanted to work. The rest of the interview was me asking her all of the questions I had about the program and living in Spain in general. Think of the interview as your opportunity to highlight any experience you have that makes you a good candidate and to show how enthusiastic you are about the program. My interview lasted a grand total of 7 minutes and I think that was the average time for most of them.

Is BEDA very competitive?

I would say BEDA is more selective than competitive. There are certain things that will give you an advantage:

  • Knowing Spanish
  • Experience living abroad (especially in Spain)
  • TEFL certificate
  • Education degree
  • Experience working with children

Having any of the things above will give you a GREAT advantage. It’s not like BEDA gets a TON of applications. Generally, for each opening, they have 2 candidates. At least, that’s what the coordinator told me during my interview last year when I asked her about the odds of being accepted/rejected. However, the program has gotten a lot more fame so that ratio may have increased this year.

Also, it doesn’t matter when you submit your application. BEDA is not like the Ministry program where preference is given to those who apply earlier. So if you haven’t sent in your application yet, no worries…but you only have a little over a month left, so get on it!

Can you live off of the monthly stipend?

First off, your stipend will depend on how many hours you work. So you could earn anywhere from 693-1040 euro. Most auxiliares will tell you that you’re going to have to supplement the stipend by giving private classes…and that’s true. I don’t, but that’s only because I live with a family so I don’t pay for rent or food. It’s always toughest the first few months, but once you learn how to manage your money and start to get a good grip on private classes, you’ll see the stipend is plenty.

Has BEDA ever had payment issues like the Ministry program?

No, BEDA has never had payment issues. The auxiliares are always paid on-time via direct deposit at the end of every month.

Do we get to decide when we take the mandatory course with Comillas and how long is it?

No, you have no say when you take this course. You will be assigned a group and once that happens you will be given a day and time for the course. This year, most of the classes are on Fridays, either in the morning or evening depending on how many hours you work.

The class generally lasts about 3 hours. Somedays it’s not that bad and others you can’t wait for it to be over, but I would say I have definitely found the courses to be helpful.

How much assistance does the program give with getting all your paperwork/cards/bank/apt when you get there?

BEDA is EXTREMELY helpful in getting you all set up. During orientation, we filled out all the paperwork in order to get our NIEs. This was such a relief for me. They provided all the documents we needed and let us know exactly how we needed to proceed. BEDA handles making the NIE appointment for you and sends you an email letting you know when your appointment is. You go with a group of other auxiliares and a worker from BEDA to your appointment at the police station when it’s time for you to file all the paperwork to get your NIE. I really can’t express enough how helpful BEDA is with that whole process.

BEDA also sets up your bank account for you. At orientation, we received our account information and debit card. All you have to do is make sure to go to the bank again once you have your NIE to switch your account over from extranjero to residente.

During orientation, you also fill out all the paperwork regarding your contract and your enrollment with Comillas for the course. The only thing BEDA does not help you with is finding an apartment. But I’m sure they could give you some tips/advice if you emailed them.

What exactly do you do at your school?

This question really depends on your school and the coordinators for the BEDA program there. At the school I am at now, I only work with the English teachers. I teach 1 and 2 ESO (so the equivalent of 7th and 8th graders) and 1 Bachillerato (equivalent of juniors in HS). With my ESO kids, I take half of the class for 25 minutes and do whatever activity the teacher and I have decided on, then I switch and take the other half of the class for 25 minutes and do the same thing. I take my half of the class to a laboratory so I am on my own with them during that time. With my Bachillerato students, I teach them on my own for 55 minutes. I do the listening and speaking section of their English book for whatever unit they’re on and then whatever activity I would like for the remainder of the class time.

Each auxiliar will tell you they do something different. Also, it depends greatly on the age group you teach. I enjoy having the older kids because I find that I can do more activities with them that I enjoy and are a bit more challenging.

Do you enjoy being an Au Pair? Can you really do this while participating in BEDA?

Yes, I really love being an au pair. Granted, I don’t really see myself that way. It really feels more like I was adopted into this family. I loveeeeee the family I live with. I refer to the parents as my Spain Mom and Spain Dad and I love the kids as if they were my siblings. Obviously it’s possible to do something like this while participating in BEDA since I’m doing it 🙂 I would HIGHLY recommend it because I feel like you gain a whole new experience by living with a family rather than on your own or with roommates. It really is a matter of finding a family that you feel is a good fit for you. Don’t make the decision lightly, however, because it is a big commitment.

I think that covers most of the questions I get about the program. If I missed any or if you have another, please leave it in a comment below.

I will be updating again soon about my London trip and about my upcoming trip home for the holidays!!!

¡Hasta Luego!

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The BEDA Application Period Has Begun!

Hello lovely readers!!

I just wanted to make a quick post to inform you that BEDA opened their application process at the beginning of November. The link where you can read more about the program and get the application/instructions is HERE.

So if you would like to be a language assistant here in Spain like me, get your application in! The closing date for applying is January 31, 2013.

The ministry program won’t be opening their application process until December, so now is the perfect time to apply to BEDA if you’re thinking of applying to both programs so that you aren’t filling out the applications for the two programs at the same time.

As always, if you have any questions please ask me 🙂 I know how daunting the application process can be.

¡Hablamos Luego!

Ch-ch-changes.

There are two main reasons for my lack of blogging as of late:

1. I have been incredibly busy with work for the school.

2. When you have nothing positive to blog, it’s best not to blog anything at all.

I posted awhile ago about the responsibilities at my school for BEDA. I also mentioned that I had spoken with the coordinator regarding the issue of me being left alone during one of my classes my first week. Well, even after the coordinator called and spoke with my school, they had a meeting with me and informed me that I would be left alone with the students because that was the way that they had designed the auxiliar hour to function. I didn’t bother to mention this again to my coordinator because I thought that maybe I could cope with the situation. I was able to deal with that aspect pretty well, just like I thought. However, I could not get use to the amount of students that I was responsible for and the amount of lesson planning that I had to do. I spent over 7 hours on Sunday researching lessons and videos for my 6 Monday classes. I knew this week would be the true test of whether I could handle being at this school because it was the first week with full school days. All of September was half days, so I didn’t have the majority of my assigned primary students.

Turns out that this school and I are just not compatible. I had a complete breakdown yesterday and made the decision to call the coordinator again first thing in the morning and tell her that I could not handle the situation at my school. During my commute to the school this morning, I called the coordinator and explained my situation to her and she offered to switch me to a different school. I happily agreed. I should mention that my main issue with the school was that they were treating me like I was a legitimate teacher rather than an auxiliar.

Tomorrow I have my NIE appointment at the comisaria at 8:30 in the morning and will be starting at my new school afterwards. My new school is in another region of Madrid, so I won’t even be in Majadahonda anymore. My commute will likely be a little longer and I’ll be working less hours, but I will GLADLY make those sacrifices in order to maintain my sanity. I’ll keep you all posted about the NIE appointment and my first day at my new school.

¡Hablamos Luego!

P.S. To my friends back home: I am terribly sorry for my lack of communication. I promise that it was due to lack of time, not my lack of missing you all since I miss you all terribly! Now that I’m switching schools, I should have more time to talk 🙂

Classroom Activities.

My first week at the school ended pretty well after I spoke with the principal. The students are pretty great and have a decent level of English. The activity that I’ve done with all my classes (except for 2) during my first class with them is interviews. They have to pair up with the person next to them, interview each other, and then present to the class what they learned about the other person in English. The students did great with that activity! They all were really eager to participate and were pretty creative with the questions they asked one another. Afterwards, if we had a few minutes to spare, I would let the students ask me questions. The questions that I got asked the most were: Where are you from? What does your tattoo mean? And how old are you?

I did a slightly different activity with one of my smaller, older groups. I took out a roll of toilet paper and told them that they should grab as much toilet paper as they believed they would need for the activity, but that I couldn’t tell them what the activity was until after everyone had their toilet paper. Afterwards, I told them that for each square of toilet paper they had, they had to tell me a fact about themselves. This game is always fun since, inevitably, someone takes half of the roll. This time around, a girl had 36 squares. After we finished that activity, we did a Guess the Celebrity game. In this game, you think of a Celebrity and you have to give the class clues (In English) that describe the celebrity until someone guesses correctly. It was really fun and a lot of the students in the class are really funny, which makes the class even more enjoyable.

Well, I’m off to search the internet for videos and such about tectonic plates for my Freshmen class tomorrow since that’s the material they’re on. If anyone has any fun activity suggestions that I could do with the students, I’m all ears. I really want to get a good rapport with the students and do activities like the interview one before I start to have to give them class using the material that they’re learning. I’d also really love some suggestions for the younger kids (3-7). I thought I could do a game like hot potato and whoever has the ball has to say something about themselves or answer one of my questions regarding a certain topic. Like I said, I’d love to hear some suggestions 🙂

Dear Fellow Auxiliares de Conversación:

Could you all leave a comment below stating what grade(s) you are assigned and what you are expected to do during your time with them? For example, are you just aiding the teacher teach their lesson or are you expected to teach lessons with the supervision of the main teacher? And if you are a former auxiliar de conversación, tell me what what age group you had and the types of things you did in the classroom.

It seems that there is a large discrepancy between schools regarding what the auxiliares de conversación are expected to do and I was trying to get a feel for what the majority seem to have.

I had to email the BEDA coordinator today because I found it weird that my school expects me to be alone with my students starting in October and teach them my own plans. After looking at my contract with BEDA, I noticed that it said the teacher should be with us at all times. The coordinator responded to my email saying that I am, in fact, NEVER to be left alone with the students and that she is going to call the school tomorrow to sort it all out. She didn’t address my other question, however, which is me teaching the students lessons of my own making. The school said it can be related to the subject (i.e. History/Geography) or be pretty much exactly what the students are learning, but in English. I guess I never expected to be actually teaching at my school since BEDA doesn’t require any education background in order to be in the program. I assumed that I would just be a teacher’s aide, which is, obviously, not the same thing as a teacher.

We’ll see what my schools says after the coordinator speaks with them. I, at least, feel better knowing that even if I do have to teach, the teacher must be there with me. Even though, today was my first day in the classroom with my students from 2 of my 23 assigned classes and I felt that the class where I ended up being left alone went better than the class where the teacher was with me. My first class was with the freshmen and getting them to answer my questions or ask me questions was like pulling teeth. Even with the teacher prompting them with questions they could ask me, they still weren’t really participating. My other class was with the 3rd graders and their teacher introduced me to the class, said I was there to teach them English, and proceeded to leave. I was alone with them for the entire hour. I thought it went pretty well considering the circumstances. I had to raise my voice a few times to tell them to settle down or be quiet, but at least I was able to get through the tasks I wanted (which was just asking them questions and making them go around the room answering). I had no idea what subject they normally have during that time period and it’s not like the teacher was there for me to ask. Plus, I wanted to get a feel of their English level.

I’ll write some more tomorrow with an update about what my school said in response to the coordinator getting in touch with them.

Oh and I already have so much to talk about in regards to the textbook quality and the relationship between the students and the teachers. Quite a bit different from the U.S.

¡Hablamos pronto!

Back to School. Back to School, to Prove to Dad That I’m Not a Fool.

That song from Billy Madison always gets stuck in my head for the first day of school and today was no different. Granted, this was my first day of school as an auxiliar de conversación, which is infinitely more exciting than being a student (at least in my opinion).

I woke up today at 6:15 and after getting ready and commuting, I arrived to my colegio around 9:00. The principal took me around the school and introduced me to the majority of the teachers (this took about 2 hours). Afterwards, I met with the director of primary levels and he gave me my schedule for the primary grades. And then, I met with the director of the secondary levels and he gave me my schedule for those grades. That’s right, I will be working with all of the grade levels. Ages 3-16. When I realized this, I was slightly taken aback, but it wasn’t until they told me that starting in October, the hour that I work with each grade is my time. As in, I will be responsible for coming up with a lesson plan that works in conjunction with what their teacher is teaching them and I will have to teach it to them. By myself. Alone. Without the teacher being present. My initial reaction was to panic, but I figure that if the past auxiliar could handle it and he is now a teacher at the school, it can’t be all that bad. And he said he’s more than willing to help me out and give me tips/ideas, which I really appreciate.

Oh and the course that I will be teaching in secondary grades is History/Geography. Of course, I have no idea what history they’re learning. If it’s the history of Spain, I know next to nothing so it will be a learning experience for all parties involved! And for the month of September, the school lets out around 1:50 so I won’t start working the full day until October. I like and dislike this at the same time. Obviously, I enjoy getting out of work early but that means I won’t be meeting some of my classes until October. One of those classes happens to be the infantil group, which makes me sad since I LOVE that age group. But it does allow me to slowly ease myself into the school and adjust to my job before having all of the grade levels, so it is very nice in that regard.

I’m off to go spend some time with my “adoptive” family here. I really do need to write a post talking about my experience living with the family here. It’s been nothing short of wonderful 🙂

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on my experience at the colegio and I’m still planning to write a post this weekend about my trip to Segovia when my sister and brother in law were here.

¡Hablamos Pronto!

I Have Not Abandoned the Blog, I Promise!

I am so sorry for my lack of blogging the past 2 weeks!! I’ve been so busy getting all of my things together and settling into my room with my au pair family. Plus, my sister and brother-in-law were with me for the first 10 days and we did a lot of sight seeing. I was getting so many emails asking if I had abandoned the blog. I can assure you all that I will continue updating the blog…there will probably be longer gaps between posts though because I am way busier than I anticipated.

Here’s a quick update:

Basically, I am in love with Spain. Obviously, Madrid is incredible, but I absolutely loved going to Segovia, Ávila, and Toledo. I think I’m going to dedicate a post to each of the places I visited with my sister during the past week.

I survived orientation with BEDA on Wednesday…which was from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening. Yes, hours and hours of orientation. Paperwork was the main theme for orientation. We filled out our contracts, our NIE forms, information forms, and other things that I can’t even remember anymore. We also received our insurance cards and our bank account! I was very happy that BEDA took care of that for us, all we have to do is visit the bank within the next 15 days so that they can scan our passport and for us to sign. The best part of orientation was getting to meet my fellow auxiliares. It was especially nice to finally meet the ones that I had been talking to online for the past few months in person. They all lived up to my expectations 🙂

Day 2 with BEDA was class…from 12-6:30. The topics were the history of the Spanish government and Sports (mainly sports in schools). I kinda died a little. I was not mentally prepared for sitting in lecture for hours. On both days, I came home, ate, drank some coffee, and went to sleep.

I thought I’d list out a couple of the things I’ve done the past few days so that I could update you all in a quick manner. So here are a few of the things I’ve done since arriving in Spain:

  • SIM card for my phone. Right now I’m using Orange and I like it, but I’m going to order a SIM card from Tuenti because they give me more data, which is what I use the most since I use whatsapp and viber a lot to communicate with friends and family.
  • Bought decorative things for my room at Ikea and Leroy Merlin (Spain’s version of Home Depot). The theme for my walls is cities of the world. One wall will be Paris, another London, and another New York City. It’s going to look amazing! I found my mirror and other little things a t Ikea in Alcorcón, so I would highly recommend going there if you want to buy things and get them cheaply.
  • Picked out the paint color for my room. My au pair family is awesome and told me that I get to pick the color for my room and they’re letting me decorate it all as I like. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been with the family I found. They have truly been the best part of this Spain adventure for me.
  • I went on the bus, train, metro, and a taxi. I have pretty much taken all forms of public transit. I practiced the route to my colegio in Majadahonda and the route to class for BEDA.
  • In the same vein as the public transportation stuff, I purchased my abono at an estanco (tobacco shop). The abono is a pass that is good for the buses, metro, and trains here in Madrid. I paid about 70 euros for mine since I need it to be good for the B2 area, but I never have to worry about paying for transportation this month, which is super nice since I’ll be using it a lot. In the end, the abono is truly a life-saving thing to have if you don’t want to worry about paying for transportation every single time you need to use it, plus it really does save you a lot of money if you use public transportation often.
  • I have learned that, although I speak Spanish, I use a lot of words that Spaniards do not and that Spaniards use a lot of words that I do not. For example, I say gavetas (drawers) and españoles say cajones (NEVER to be confused with cojones…which is something VERY, very different). I say sombrilla for umbrella and españoles say paraguas. And the word I have heard the most since arriving here is, without a doubt, vale. Vale is the Spaniard version of “okay.” Puerto Ricans do not say that word at all, we just use ok. I have already started saying “vale” and I’ve only been here for 2 weeks. I like picking up new vocabulary, though. I think it’s one of the best parts of moving to a new place. There are several other words that I could mention that I’ve learned here or words that I say that are not used here, but I think I’ll leave that for a separate post another day.

That’s all for now. I have to get ready to go to the estanco again to see if I can fix an issue I’m having with my abono. Apparently, it’s common for the band on the back of the abono to stop working or get ruined in some way, which is a major issue when you go to get on the metro because when you put your abono through the machine, it starts beeping like mad and won’t let you through (I learned this the hard way). It’s not a problem on the buses because even though the machine will beep and say your card is invalid, you just show the bus driver that it’s an abono for the month, and he lets you sit anyway.

I shall update again soon with pictures from the places I visited last week. And on Monday, if I’m not too tired, I will post about my first day at my colegio.

¡Hablamos pronto!

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come in the next post:

Joelis and I at the aqueduct in Segovia.

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