By Dinah E., Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid 19/20.
I was 49 when I applied for this program and I turned 50 just two weeks before the start of it. You can also teach English over 50. It’s never too late to realize your dreams while you still can! Here’s my story.
Time to Focus on My Dreams
I took care of my parents until they both passed away. I stayed single because I wanted to give them the best possible care, that I truly believe only a daughter can provide. My parents are in a better place now, so it’s time to focus on my dreams. I’m sure that’s what they want me to do.
This opportunity came to me while I was seated in front of the laptop frantically searching for a work that’s different from what I was doing at that time. I was working as a Virtual Assistant since 2009. It was an ideal job for people who are tired of commuting and running after the time every day. For me, it was hitting two birds with one stone, which was taking care of my parents while working online.
However, I wanted to go out there and explore the world.
A Message from My Niece
One night, I received a message from my niece asking me if I would be interested to join the Auxiliar de Conversación program, then she sent me the link. My niece thought of me immediately when she saw that the program was until 60 years old. I had my doubts at first because I had no teaching experience but it didn’t ask for any. You just need to speak English fluently with a C2 proficiency, hold a passport of any of the countries accepted by the Regional Education Authorities and a have a university degree of 3 years or more. So, I went for it.
In the Beginning, There Was a Teacher
Teaching over 50 years old is the same as teaching below 50. I guess the difference is just the number. Teaching English, in particular, doesn’t involve running, swimming, or rock climbing where a sound and fit body is an absolute must. It isn’t a sport, but a skill that involves a lot of practice to acquire mastery and experience over the years.
If you are new to teaching, then what counts is your willingness to teach as well as to learn the art of teaching. We should always remember that before there were doctors or engineers, there was a teacher. This is how important teachers are in our lives. Hence, this is how important your role will be to the students. Teaching may not require you to have energy in its highest form, but rather, the enthusiasm to share your knowledge and motivate the students to be the best that they can be.
That being said, over 50 is the age where an individual has got that whole life experience behind her back that is slowly molding itself into one word: “wisdom”. It means you are at that level of experience in life – that people younger than you are still working hard for. So, that is something to hold on to when you feel like it’s too late for you to take a giant leap.
When I set foot in school, I saw a bunch of very energetic kids, running around, shouting, laughing and talking with their classmates. The scene reminded me of the time when I was still a student. It was pretty much the same. They looked at me with innocent eyes but with a ready and somewhat hesitant, or shall I say, shy smile. They wondered who I was since I was the odd one out.
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A few first graders are now calling me “mama or mommy” and telling me “i love you” !!! These little ones are capturing my ❤ each day. I’m now an instant mommy! #conversaspain #auxiliardeconversacion #conversaspain #teachingexperience #conversaspain #travel #conversaspain #havingfun
When they all settled in and got to know me better, they started to smile and talk to me. A warm and welcoming smile that will make your heart melt! I don’t have kids of my own, so these are my kids and that’s how they see me. As the days, weeks and months went by, I found myself looking forward to seeing them from Tuesdays to Fridays. Some first graders called me “Mommy!” and wanted me to go home with them. Some wrapped themselves around each of my legs and some jumped up at me. I just couldn’t help but smile every time I think about it. They are such sweet kids.
Not Following the Rules
But mind you, there is that other side of them that you should not forget! Kids are kids, so they are bound to make mischiefs as well. I don’t mind how crazy kids can get with their mischievousness as long as they are made aware of the consequence of their actions. This happened a few times to both me and the teacher. Some kids refused to follow the classroom rules and seemed to have their own set of rules.
Sometimes, we were annoyed, sometimes it left us amused. I remember a kid who asked to be excused in class because she wanted to go to the toilet. It took a long time for her to come back that we wondered what went wrong with her. Then, the teacher found out that the little girl was mopping the toilet’s floor because she found it dirty and wet. It was an innocent act yet it wasn’t following the rules. It was very funny though!
Having the Time of My Life Now at 50
So, how did the class start each day? My assigned years were the Primero (first grade), and the Segundo (second grade). The classes were 45 minutes each with 10 minutes of assembly time wherein students gathered on the floor with the teacher and me in front of them. We sang the weather song and asked them about the day, weather, and season. Since these years belong to the lower primary, we did this repeatedly every day. Then, we asked them how they were doing and informed them of the lesson and activities of the day.
During the school year, I collaborated with the teachers and did a few projects and presentations in line with their lesson plans. I assisted them in every way that I could and in everything that I thought of as needing assistance. I was tired each day. But it wasn’t the kind of exhaustion that would make you feel like you don’t want to go back to school. It was just a normal feeling of someone who had a long day but looked forward to another day after a good night’s rest. It was unlike the job that I had for several years that left me with headaches and lower back pain.
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Appreciating the magnificence of Plaza Mayor 💖#iloveespaña💃 #conversaspain
The decision to leave my old job and embark on this teaching journey is my turning point. I’m having the time of my life now at 50 in a beautiful country with very friendly people. I met new friends, learned about their culture, and still learning their language. I traveled 20 hours by plane to reach this place and it was all worth it.
Hi! Thank you! I’m 54 year’s young and I’m also looking to start a new chapter in my life. I’m seriously thinking of signing up for the program for 2021. I’m a social worker and have worked with children and families and would love to teach and work with the kids in Spain and staff. Tell me what was the hardest adjustment? How long did you participate in the program? Would and could you do it again? I’m a little nervous but I never shy away from new adventures. 🙂
Hi Mary, nice to meet you here and thank you for this inquiry! I would say that my hardest adjustment was the transition from working online as a Virtual Assistant for several years to working in a school set up as a Conversation Assistant. It dawned on me when I was already here that I had to go out now and commute! It’s like going back to those days when I was still younger BUT it was an adventure, really! I participated in the program for 9 months, from October 1 to June 30, 2020 and I have renewed for the school year, 2020 to 2021. So, yes, you can definitely do it again and again. Well, I was nervous, too. So, don’t worry. Please feel free to reach out if you have more questions. Good luck! 🙂
As a 54 year old woman, who has been teaching English in a public school for 31 years, I have decided to leave my job and move to Spain to teach. Your blog post gives me so much hope. While I have travelled extensively, I have never lived outside of Vermont. The idea of living in a completely new country and culture is very exciting and also very scary.