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Showing posts from July, 2012

How to Apply for the North American Language & Culture Assistant Program

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LAST UPDATED JANUARY 2014

The gig I got working in Spain for the 2012-2013 school year is through the Spanish Ministry of Education’s North American Language & Cultural Assistant program (auxiliares de conversaciónin Spanish). Basically, as long as you’re a senior in college/a college graduate, a citizen of the U.S. or Canada, and a native speaker of English or French (vive le Québec!), you’re eligible to apply. You can read my review of the program here, but in this post I want to show you how to get from where you are right now to the example email below in which Spain announced my placement in Andalucía.


Before I begin, please read over the official resources provided by the ministry, for they walk you through the craziness that is Profex (the online application program):

* Profex Manual (How to register online) (2014-2015)
* Application guidelines (2014-2015)
* Frequently asked questions (2014-2015)
* Checklist to print off (2014-2015)
* Letter of recommendation guidelines (20…

The School Placement Letter Arrived Today!

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Well, after rolling out of bed this morning, I checked my email and was met with a message from Auxiliares CED with the subject line “Su puesto como auxiliar de conversación en Andalucía”—which means “Your placement as language assistant in Andalucía.” Hooray! Two weeks and six days after receiving my regional placement, I now know my specific school placement in the region.

Come to find out, I’ll be teaching in an elementary school called CEIP Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta, which is in the city of Villanueva del Arzobispo and the province of Jaén.


Before I go on, here’s a guide on how to pronounce all these places, since I’m going to be talking about them a lot on this blog.

CEIP Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta (school)
NWAYS-trah say-NYO-rah day lah fwayn-SAHN-tah
[ˈnwe.stɾa seˈɲo.ɾa ðe la fwenˈsan.ta]

Villanueva del Arzobispo (city)
bee-yah-NWAY-vah dayl ahr-thoe-BEES-poe
[ˌbi.ʝaˈnwe.βa ðel ˌaɾ.θoˈβis.po]

Jaén (province)
khah-AYN
[xaˈen]

Andalucía (autonomous community)
ahn-dah-loo-THE…

5 Reasons NOT to Study Abroad

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Last week I talked about five good reasons you should study abroad—things like traveling, language learning, and résumé-boosting. I think some kind of international experience while in college can be extremely beneficial for a lot of people—I grew a lot personally and linguistically in the July I spent in Costa Rica. But I also think not everyone is cut out to spend a semester away from home. Kaley Hendrickson (who writes at her blog Y Mucho Más) shared similar concerns about studying abroad two years ago, and I thought I would add my 0,02 €.


1) It can be expensive Lots of parents often give their children studying abroad a fat sum of money to use as their allowance to pay for rent, books, food, and traveling. If you don’t happen to have this luxury, get ready to see your savings account disappear or take out a loan. As Susan Heller has famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” You’ll have to …

On Inserting Random Spanish Words in English-Language Posts

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Having read my share of expat-in-Spain blogs, something that drives me crazy is when bloggers insert random Spanish words into their posts and “forget” to translate them. Often these are pretty easily-understood; e.g., “just sipping some café trying to stay warm,” or “having a blast at this fiesta, y’all!” But sometimes they can be downright confusing, like, “a veces I just have to go to the panadería for some bread.”

Yep, you sure know how to speak Spanish all right, but the majority of your readers probably do not—and inserting cool phrases into your sentences will only confuse them. Don’t assume they do! Of course, there are times where you do need to include Spanish names or phrases in your posts, so I think some guidelines are in order for such times.


You should use “Spain” in place of “España” Yes, we all know you mean “Spain” when you talk about how much España has enchanted you, but if you’re writing in English, use the English name for the country. Please. Thank you.

You shou…

5 Reasons to Study Abroad

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Since I’m going to be living abroad in Spain as a language assistant for most of the next school year, I thought I’d look back on my first experience doing so. In the month of July 2011, I studied abroad at the University of Costa Rica and took two classes: Conversation I and Introduction to Latin-American Literature. I stayed in town with a wonderful host family who fed me twice daily, and I traveled the country with, among others, six fellow students from my college. I think being immersed in a Spanish-speaking home and environment was equally as instructive as the classes themselves were.

If you can find the time and resources to study abroad, I would say, “do it!” And here are some of the reasons I would recommend such an experience.


1) You can see the world Okay, we all know the real reason we go on these study abroad trips is to travel. (Just kidding!) But in all seriousness, the act of taking classes in another country will inevitably provide you with ways to see that country a…

5 Things I’m Looking Forward to About Spain

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The other day I talked about the top five things I’m going to miss about Texas, my home, when I go to Spain to be a language assistant for nine months. To lighten the mood, I decided to make a list of what I can’t wait to do once I step off the bus (or train?) in Andalucía this September.


1) Speaking Spanish I’ve been studying the Spanish language informally since 2007, I took college classes on it from 2009 through May of this year, and I even went on a one-month jaunt to Costa Rica last year. Now, there are definitely many more opportunities to speak the language and consume Spanish media here in Texas than in, say, Vermont, but it’s difficult to actually speak the language because we speak English by default here. It’s difficult to start a conversation with someone who quite likely speaks Spanish because assuming they do speak Spanish based on their appearance would be, quite frankly, racist. And Spanish-speakers are unlikely to approach me in Spanish because I’m white and speak En…

5 Things I’m Going to Miss About Texas

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Well, it’s official—I’m leaving the Great State of Texas for the better part of a year in September to be a language assistant in Spain. I’m overjoyed about going there, but, naturally, there are a few things I’m going to miss about home.

Before I begin, I need to hat-tip Tyler Donahue—a fellow language assistant and denizen of the Metroplex—for inspiring me to write this post. He wrote about the top ten things he’ll miss about the U.S. back in May, and I thought I’d add my two cents.


1) Food Yes, I know, it’s terrible this is number one, but food just came to my mind first! Anyway, Tex-Mex and Texas barbeque hold a special place in my heart, and there’s just no way I’m going to be able to find it across the Atlantic. Also, I really enjoy the variety of foods available in the States; people from probably every country in the world immigrate here and bring their cultures, languages, and their cuisines. I just love how in American cities we can have an Indian restaurant, a sushi shop, an…

Welcome to the Blog!

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Hello everyone and welcome to my blog, A Texan in Spain! If you haven’t heard yet, I got a job in SPAIN for the next school year and wanted to share my time there with you here.

Having waited since March 31st, I FINALLY got word today from the Ministry of Education that I will be a North American Language and Culture Assistant in the Autonomous Community of Andalucía!!!

In a few weeks, they’ll tell me which school I’ve been assigned to, and then I can start the visa process.

Now what’s that long job title entail? Well, in Spanish they call it a auxiliar de conversación extranjero—“foreign conversation helper.” So a conversation teacher? Not necessarily. The other title (subtitle?) for the job is a “Cultural Ambassador” from North America. The program brochure that my Spanish professor gave me (bless her!) explains it thusly:
The Language and Culture Assistants program is coordinated by the Spanish Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Spanish Comunidades Autónomas (regions)…