Step 1 for Successful Auxiliares de Conversación in Spain: High Expectations

THE HIGHEST OF EXPECTATIONS

Lesson 1 of how to be a better auxiliar de conversación is to always have high expectations for you students. Always.

You’ll hear “¿Qué ha dicho?” (What did he say?) ten times during your first lesson. A good auxiliar knows not to slow down yet, and never to switch to Spanish. Repeat yourself. Say it in different words. Figure out how many students are understanding (see chapter: Checks for Understanding) and go from there.

You might think you’re doing your students a favor by “dumbing it down,” but really you’re doing anything but. Your job as an auxiliar is to help Spanish students raise their English fluency as fast as possible. Going slow and playing it safe doesn’t do this. Three weeks from now, they will understand more than they do right now—They will rise to the challenge if you push them. If you don’t, they’ve got nowhere to go. “¿Qué ha dicho?” will be replaced with conversations about lunch and other things because they don’t need to try anymore. You’re using simple English that they already know, or, even worse, you’re explaining stuff in Spanish so that they don’t have to work.

Don’t let those “¿QUÉ?” questions slow you down. Push your students. Ask: What word did you not understand? Have them summarize to a partner what they understood. Help them see that they understand more than they think they do.

Don’t let those “¿QUÉ?” questions slow you down. Push your students. Ask: What word did you not understand? Have them summarize to a partner what they understood. Help them see that they understand more than they think they do.

Keep pushing them. When they understand, push them more. Stay a step ahead and remain there. In language acquisition lingo, this is the “zone of proximal development” or “i + 1.”  

Yes, it feels good to be the easy teacher that students teach words to in Spanish, but that’s why you have friends outside of school. Believe me, you will feel so much more accomplished and proud when at the end of the day you can say, “Dang- I didn’t speak a word of Spanish” and see the tangible growth of your students in your exit slips (see chapter: Checks for Understanding).