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 things are really interesting here and good
i've come to accept that this school year i fuck around in madrid and have fun, because there's no sense in striving for perfection when things are chaotic
it is overstimulation though. i wish i could have all the good things that are happening be spread over many years instead of all condensed at once so that i could appreciate it more.
i hope i don't end back up in madrid in a year. later in life yes maybe.

don't know when what is above was written.
i just read my january 24th post and don't even know who that person is.

What. the. fuck.

Even though this picture is really unsettling I can not stop laughing.

colegio penalvento 2

Learning a second language requires a variety of teaching methods for the language to be learned well. While learning new vocabulary through texts and studying grammatical rules can help one to learn a new language, the value of learning to speak conversationally with a native speaker is something indispensible to learning a second language. School teachers often do as much as they can to provide a variety of learning tools to their students, but most educational systems are lacking in that they do not spend sufficient time engaging their students in natural conversation. This is often because the teachers are not native speakers of the language themselves. By providing their students exposure to weekly conversation with a native English speaker, Colegio Penalvento is providing its students a valuable opportunity to improve their conversational skills.
            Now that Colegio Penalvento has had its first semester of Conversational English class with a George Washington University student, it seems worthwhile to assess the merits of the program as well as recommend adjustments that can be made to make this program more successful in the future. Particularly important questions to ask are
  What can be done to improve the Colegio Penalvento internship program?
  Which teaching methods will best facilitate English learning among students at the Colegio Penalvento?
            To answer these questions, a thorough assessment of how the program *functioned in its first run is critical. As the colegio's first internship teacher I feel very comfortable saying that this program has had a successful start. Using a variety of teaching methods, I had ten minute sessions with four to six students in my own classroom. The environment was close and communicative as there were only 4-6 students in each group. I taught 32 sessions per week to almost 200 hundred students. The students ranged in age from 6 to 12 years old and were diverse in their level of English mastery.
            In my first week of working at the colegio I was introduced to the faculty and shown around the school. I was given my own small classroom where I would instruct. The faculty was incredibly helpful and always approachable whenever I had any concerns or doubts. I was shown where English resources could be found: a series of Cambridge activity books containing material on which students take an annual exam, short stories, and English workbooks. Before I started teaching classes the goal of my work was clearly established. I was expected to engage students in English conversation in a comfortable environment to help them gain confidence in their speaking abilities. It was very easy to establish such an environment with each group since they were comprised of so few students. I had complete freedom to select any topics we would discuss on a given day and was welcome to use any teaching method I saw fit. This set up was advantageous in that it allowed me to alter my lesson plan according to the interests and speaking levels of my students.
            While having so much freedom made for a constantly evolving and chat-filled teaching environment, I think that more structure would make the program more effective. During the period in which I worked at Colegio Penalvento I was always thinking up new topics to discuss with the students and different teaching methods to try out. Many times I had success, but other times the topics I had selected were met with blank stares. To prevent this, I would recommend that Colegio Penalvento English teachers meet with the GW intern for at least 5 minutes on a weekly basis to information interns on which topics are being studied in class. Even though Penalvento students were usually quick to inform me on what they had or had not learned in class, it would be great to begin each week with some sort of curriculum related agenda. I have confidence that with just a 5 minute discussion between the Colegio Penalvento teacher and GW intern that the GW intern will be able to reinforce the material students are learning in class and help them resolve any doubts they may have. I found that speaking about topics students were learning in class was met with as much enthusiasm as if we had been talking about their favorite toys, presumably because they were acquainted with the vocabulary and felt that they could better express themselves. The benefits of regularly updating future GW interns about the colegio's English curriculum are threefold: it will help reinforce and clarify class material, motivate student involvement, and better prepare students for examinations.
            I would also recommend that Colegio Penalvento teachers provide input on how students should be divided into groups within any given class. This is not to say that students necessarily need to be placed by English level (Group 1= Beginners, Group 2= Intermediate Level, etc.) because a bit of diversity in a group can be encouraging to students. Instead, I would simply recommend that teachers use their judgment to adjust groups as they see fit. I say this for two reasons. First, there were groups in which language levels were so diverse that the most proficient students were doing all of the talking while the less advanced speakers were prone to tune out. Not knowing the students beforehand, some time was lost in the first couple of weeks gauging student level of English proficiency. Especially since Colegio Penalvento is a new school with students coming from an array of educational backgrounds, I would recommend that the language-level extremes that can be found among students in a class be taken into consideration. Second, there were some groups in which there were minor conduct problems or where students simply wanted to chat with their friends in Spanish. Given the brief period of time that the intern has class with each group this is something that must be avoided. I imagine that with a quick glance by Colegio Penalvento teachers of how students are grouped they will be able to spot obvious groupings where there are drastic differences in language level or where there are students placed in the same groups that may cause a distraction. Of course, I believe making these judgments is as much the responsibility of the intern as it is the responsibility of Colegio Penalvento teachers. Realistically, it is up to the GW intern to judge which groupings are most conducive to learning in their ten minute sessions. It is for this reason that I was incredibly appreciative of the flexibility I was allowed with regard to reorganizing student groups. The freedom I was given to reorganize groups was invaluable. I would absolutely recommend that Colegio Penalvento remain open to this flexibility as it allowed me to tweak class organizations to facilitate students that needed the most attention.

Teaching students from 2nd through 6th grade was enjoyable as I got to interact with students at drastically different levels of development and it was interesting to see differences in how different age groups used English to communicate. This said, I think that students would get more out of their conversational class if future GW interns either teach fewer students, less grade levels, or both. Seeing 190 students for ten minutes a week made it difficult to develop a strong student-teacher relationship with my pupils, let alone learn all of their names. Having fewer students will allow future GW interns to get to know their students better. Two suggestions stemming from the same concern are the number of grade levels and time constraints. While these two things can remain the same so long as the number of students is reduced for the next GW intern adjustments could be beneficial. Reducing the number of grade levels to two or three would be especially helpful as it would give the GW intern a very clear idea of what students are learning in school and what level they are at.

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Dec. 10th, 2008

Today I discovered...the radio! I am completely enamored! I asked Toti if she had one and it blows my mind. I am never going to watch tv or be bored again! I am like a little kid - such a shame to have discovered this right before I go. Good thing I will get to listen to it all next semester!
It even has a headphone plug! I think I might start carrying around this little radio in place of my iPod.
You may be wondering; How is it that you are just discovering the radio in Spain? I don't know, I am obviously without a clue.

I'm staying in Spain till mid-July!

I'm staying in Spain till the running of the bulls in San Fermin! I'm staying till July! Ah!

Madrid 9/4/08 - 12/16/08
Washington DC 12/16/08 - 1/13/09
Madrid 1/14/09-7/13/09

Holy shit.
3 1/2 months - not scary.
6 months - a little bit.

I hope this isn't a bad choice! I finish school 5/11 but figure I could do some summer living here...I just really hope I'm not aimlessly meandering around in May and June wanting to be home. Note: must save money.

"oh i do believe
you are what you perceive
what comes is better
than what came before"
(i found a reason)
aww i love you velvet underground.

Do I...

1) live comfortably with a nice lady that cooks for me in a great location?

2) find an apartment with Spanish students at a reasonable price - get to live independently and get to know what it's really like to be young and live in Madrid but also have all of the struggles associated with it...

I put a profile up on easypiso.com a couple of hours ago and am already getting messages. There are tons to pick from but looks like a lot of not so cool living situations as well. It seems dumb to be giving up such a sweet deal to go somewhere else (Toti has even offered to hold on to my stuff over the summer while I travel) but I really have such ganas de do the on my own thing and see if I can make it work. I have to decide by the end of November if I am going to be living with Toti.

History of the 20th Century in Europe calls...
Besos :)


Here's another copy n pasted family friendly one...

Sorry for not posting this week, it seems like there hasn't been much new to update on, but I guess now I can...

I have a really challenging schedule Monday through Wednesday and then four day weekends, so its just a very disjointed-feeling schedule that I plan to change after my trip to Holland. Wednesday night I went to Gran Via (can be best compared to times square) to study and then walked over to Chueca (super hip gay fun place with lots of shopping) to buy little birthday gifts for Caitlin and Sonia. I asked this guy how much these scarfs cost (this one style of scarf is a HUGE trend here - black and white and sort of checkered) and he immediately caught my accent and we got to talking in English. His name is David, he was born in Philadelphia and raised in Portugal and living in Madrid to go to a school for animation/comic drawing. He invited me out with some of his friends, I met some interesting guys from Venezuela, and David was able to jump from Spanish to English whenever I needed a little help understanding something. Fun time. I've really been on a roll this week with making new friends and I find it interesting that now that I'm in the swing of things I have a much easier time making friends when I venture out on my own.

Friday was Caitlin's birthday so she wanted to go to this club called Pacha that everyone here talks about. They have this word here, "pijo" which is like it's own subculture - pijo people are said to talk in a weird way (like the Spanish version of a valley girl) and only want designer clothing and aren't necessarily bright but think they're above everyone that isn't as shallow as them. After going to Pacha, I completely understand what the word means. I HATED THIS PLACE! There were girls that were checking themselves out in hand held mirrors and applying make up while sitting at the bar. Almost every single guy there was dressed like he was on his way to a golf tournament, sweater wrapped around the neck and everything. I never thought I disliked people like that so much until I was completely smothered in it. SOOO I got out of there as soon as possible with Neesha and met up with Nic and Russell who for some reason weren't allowed in. They shoulda worn their sweaters in the right way, clearly.

Saturday was Cristina's (from Colmenar-Viejo) 18th birthday. Yep. She's young. But the GW group had plans to celebrate Sonia's birthday which had already passed but never been celebrated properly. The choice was between taking the metro, a train, and a bus outside of Madrid solo for Cristina's OR to stick with GW friends and go to the coolest club I've ever been to in my life - Kapital. I didn't want to turn down Cristina's offer but given the trek it seemed reasonable. Edu and Carlos started calling all of our phones (Cristina's friends) like "where are you guys?" Mind you, no one else in the group had ever even planned to go to Cristina's birthday. I felt bad because they all called us, even Cristina, when we were in Kapital to say they were in Madrid and did we want to meet up. Anyway this probably isn't that interesting so long story short I think I may have hurt my sweet Spanish friend's feelings.

Kapital is a 7 floor club that is unbelievable. The first floor has this cool steam that comes out and confetti that goes flying every 15 minutes or so. The music is great. There is a very Spanish floor with strobe lights, a terrace for relaxing, and a hip hop floor that is set up like a stadium sort of. I ended up making friends with some guys there that seem pretty cool. One of them is named Carlos and he somehow has learned English better than I've learned Spanish just through taking classes. He's a total gentleman and just very nice and made me laugh. As we walked out of the club I realized that I had forgotten my coat inside. He offered to walk me back in but the bouncer wouldn't allow it. I went back up to get my coat and ran into Nic and Neesha who I'd lost for a minute and when we came outside it was pouring and Carlos was gone. Fortunately I'd already exchanged numbers with Carlos so there is another friend - hooray. Neesha went home and Nic and I went to San Gines, the famous chocolate & churros place. It's known for being jam packed at 6 am with people coming back from a night out. I will definitely have fond memories of those churros when I leave this country. I think the 6am churro tradition ought to become a global phenomenon - the world would just be happier!
Today I have studied, studied, talked to Fredes (happy birthday!) and my mom and am about to go study some more. I really want to change my schedule!

P.S. Mom and Dad - I don't go out like this every weekend I promise :) It was a biiirthday weekend, ya know?

This week has had lots and lots of ups and downs but I'm mainly leaning toward the up side right now. I sometimes feel alienated from my GW group, but that's whatever. Yesterday I had talked with Lauren about going to an intercambio as I was shopping around Rios Rosas (where I live) for notebooks and pens and whatnot. I decided I would go to Gran Via (times square-ish, big theatres, shopping, prostitution hot spot) on my way to Chueca (super-hip ultra-gay fashionable rich fun area) and Opera (I don't know too much bout Opera but it is close and that's where Lauren's intercambio thing was supposed to be). So I go to the Gran Via McDonald's - go figure - and I got a McFlurry and let me tell you it was awesome. It's definitely some McFlurry that doesn't exist in the US with white chocolate and caramel...anyway. I do my studying and then I start walking over to Chueca looking for birthday gifts for Caitlin and Sonia (both GW students - Caitlin's birthday is today, Sonia's was a few weeks ago but we never properly celebrated). I stop by this one place that is kind of a central shopping area - it's got cheap funky boutiquey stuff in a concentrated 3 story building I guessss you could call a mall for lack of better words, but I really don't like to. I see these scarfs that are a big fasion deal here (black and white checkered) in other colors and want to ask how much they cost but decide to go into the headshop first. I bought a red metal chillum for 5 euros and this plastic purple and blue bong. I love that guy. It is my second Spanish bong and already as beloved as my last one (RIP Bubba). I also found out from the guy that I bought these from that the hash pipe that I had been using before was actually supposed to be used for sniffing coke. Oops.
I go over to the spot with the scarfs and ask the guy working there how much it costs. The guy working there easily could tell I was foreign so we got to talking and it turns out he's from Philly and Portugal. I buy the scarfs and he invites me out to get some beers with him and his friends after he gets off work. So I hung out there while he closed up and talked to his bro who used to live in Barcelona and is pretty cute. David and I bought some litronas and went to a plaza in Chueca, the cops strangely came, we continued to walk around plazas drinking...at one point we stop in a plaza right by Gran Via and I'm hanging out on a bench while he's in the bathroom. This ridiculously animated guy sits down next to me (it looked like he was going for David's beer sitting next to me so I had called him out on it) and out of nowhere goes on about how he wants to go to America and see Ozzy Osbourne and ACDC perform and "Te gustas heavy rock?" and starts like listing off all of these bands - I wish I could record for you how he pronounced Quiet Riot and Pearl Jam. David came back kind of like "Is everything okay here?" with this dude and sits in between us quickly realizing this dude just *really really* likes heavy metal and rock and he wants to list off favorite artists and rank them. He was way too quick to be friendly though so David kind of ushered him off of our bench. I haven't been to many plaza botellons but at the three plazas I was at last night there was one or two people that would walk by every 10, 20 minutes trying to sell you a beer. Two of David's friends were in the third plaza we stopped by so we chilled with them for awhile. They're both Venezuelan and pretty cool I liked them. They talked about living in Venezuela and David is pretty into the fact that he's Portuguese so there was lots of language/country conversation. One of the guys was awesome and like I KNOW YOU KNOW THESE PEOPLE in NOVA - just like nice metal long hair guy-dude. Like Tim minus the drugs. The other guy is called Gabriel and he's got all of these piercings (like the bull ring even) and this super short green yellow and orange mohawk and manages to actually really pull it off. David is definitely a character too since he is just like super prideful of being Portuguese, talks in English with this Philadelphian accent (I honestly didn't even know there was such a thing really till hearing this guy) and summed it up himself when he said "soy cabron si, pero puro de corazon" - I am an asshole but I'm pure of heart. These people were just really interesting. I exchanged numbers with David and Gabriel so we'll see que pasa because it's awesome hanging out with someone truly bilingual with crazy friends. He introduced me to another guy on the street who just had dreads and was one of those people that just has that good person vibe that totally radiates off the people that have it. I've encountered it with 2 people in this country so far.
I forgot that I had make up class today so never set my alarm. I missed Spanish which is kind of a big deal since there are 4 people in the class. It kind of sucks because it means I can't miss class ever but whatever.
I'm kind of sick but it's alright because I am at least well rested. Today is Caitlin's birthday so the GW group is going out for dinner and then to Pacha (nice club I've never been to) to celebrate. I don't really have the faintest idea what to wear but whatever, I'll throw something together. Tomorrow GW group is meeting with Barbara (Spanish "monitor" basically a paid friend who is 25) at 10:30 for tapas/bars and then afterward the group is planning on going to Kapital (super cool 7floor club that costs way too much) to celebrate Sonia's birthday. But it's also Cristina's 18th (young, I know.) birthday in Colmenar which is 30 minutes away. Obviously if anyone goes it is just going to be me since there are these Sonia plans. So I have to do the whole "pick a birthday party" thing. It's uncomfortable and way dumb. Whatever, I got Sonia a scarf.
The End.