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Showing posts from October, 2012

4 Names for “Teacher” in Spanish

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This week I’ll be going into my third week in Spanish classrooms, but even in that short amount of time I’ve picked up on the words the kiddos use to get the attention of me or the teacher I’m helping.


1) profe Pronounced “PROE-fay” [ˈpɾo.fe], this is a shortening of the Spanish word profesor or profesora, which looks like our word “professor” but means both university professor and teacher in any grade.

2) seño Pronounced “SAY-nyoe” [ˈse.ɲo], this is a shortening of the Spanish words señorita (“Miss”) or señora (“Mrs.”). Two syllables are always easier to say than three or four!

3) maestro Pronounced “mah-AYS-troe” [maˈes.tɾo], this word (and the accompanying female form maestra) means “teacher,” plain and simple.

4) teacher In Spain, they learn British English in schools, so they pronounce the word “teacher” as “TEE-chuh” [ˈti.tʃə]. Sometimes they do attempt the American pronunciation, but it comes out more like “TEE-chahrr” [ˈti.tʃar].

Bonus: my name In Standard American English, m…

Weekly Update 3: First Day of School Edition

After a week of planning, the people at my school finally got my teaching schedule finalized on Tuesday, which was my first day of actual work at the school (the previous week involved me sitting around or going to the provincial capital for other business). I’m assisting teachers in twelve periods of classes, ranging from five-year-olds to 4th-graders and concentrating mostly on science (there is one English class, however!). Ideally, all the teaching would be done in English, but because the students’ level of English is pretty low (the teachers do know English fairly well, though), much of the classes are simply vocab lessons. Also, if I hadn’t studied Spanish in college, I don’t think I’d be able to get through this year without going crazy—I feel like much of my English teaching will have to be done in Spanish.

There are quite a few Moroccan students at school, making up maybe a tenth to a quarter of the classes. They all speak Spanish just as well as the other kids, which is gre…

How to Vote Abroad From Spain in U.S. Elections

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LAST UPDATED OCTOBER 2012
Voting: it’s one of the fundamental rights of being an adult citizen of the United States. But just because you happen to be living abroad doesn’t mean you should be deprived of that right. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to cast a vote for the candidate of your choice while overseas by requesting an absentee ballot. This is how to do it!


1) You request the ballot Assuming you’re already registered to vote at your last place of residence back in the U.S., fill out the form called the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and send it to the official responsible for elections in your county. For example, the Texas Secretary of State’s website has a list of such personnel here. If you’re pressed for time, you can put your email address on the form and the election administrator/county clerk will email you your ballot for you to print off. You can even register and apply for the ballot before you leave the country; I drove to my county’s election office and han…

Weekly Update 2: Dragging My Luggage Across Town Edition

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Well, guys, week two has come and gone and I feel like I’ve finally “arrived.” By that I mean I’ve gotten a cellphone, a national ID number, a shared apartment, a bank account, and a schedule for my job. It’s been rather annoying living out of a suitcase in a foreign country in three different hotels (long story) so I am relieved to have a small place to crash in at night and to do laundry in (I’ve worn the same pair of jeans since the airplane flight…oops). Next week—I think—I finally start work as a language assistant in some elementary music and science classes.


Among other things, this is what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted:
met basically the only redhead in Spainhiked 10 miles from the town where I work to Iznatoraf, a town of ~1,000 people on a tall hill overlooking the countrysideran into a random convention of mopeds at said hilltop villagedid “whatever I liked” on the first day of school (headmaster’s words)started reading Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (a…

How to Apply for Your NIE in Jaén (and Get Your TIE)

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LAST UPDATED NOVEMBER 2012
If you’re a language assistant in Spain (auxiliar de conversación), by now you’ve applied for the program, gotten your visa, and at last arrived in the country.

But, because your student visa is good for only three months—and because you’re supposed to be working for eight—you need to apply for an NIE (número de identificación de extranjero), a foreigner’s identification number, and get the corresponding TIE (tarjeta de identificación de extranjero), a foreigner’s identification card. This will make your stay in Spain valid for around a year after arrival. Sweet! So, how can you get one?


Well, I’ll get to the nitty-gritty details, but first, let me say that my experience was totally abnormal from what you should expect.

As I’m teaching in a town in the province of Jaén (northeast corner of Andalucía), I had to go to Jaén capital to get the NIE. I made an appointment online for the earliest date possible, and my bilingual coordinator, Pedro, went with me to t…

On Power Plugs and Voltage in Spain

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Whether you’re moving to Spain or just simply traveling there from, say, the U.S., something you should prepare for is the change in electricity and how to use it.

However, it’s not as easy as simply plugging in an adapter to the wall outlet and then charging your toothbrush or laptop. There are two things you need to take into account when bringing gadgets and gizmos abroad with you.

1) The type of plug Here I’m talking about the physical prongs that stick out of the power cord and plug in to the socket in the wall. For instance, in North America, we use a plug style with two parallel vertical blades with holes along the side, sometimes with a third round grounding prong:


…which plugs into this kind of outlet:


In Spain and most of Europe, they use a similar dual design but with two round prongs instead of blades:


It’s pretty easy to stick an adapter onto the end of your power cord or the prongs that stick out from your device and charge it directly from the outlet. But before you do …