Spanish teaching assistant’s experience at Gleed school

Alberto J de Diego has helped new arrivals to the UK to gain English skills. Photo: SG130613-128NG
Alberto J de Diego has helped new arrivals to the UK to gain English skills. Photo: SG130613-128NG

We go there in droves to lap up the sun and enjoy the beaches.

But when it comes to learning the language, us Brits are not so enthusiastic about studying Spanish.

At least that’s the finding of a Spanish Comenius assistant at the Sir John Gleed School in Spalding.

Comenius assistants are future teachers from across Europe who are given work in schools so they can improve the cultural dimension across the curriculum and offer classes in their native language.

Alberto J de Diego, who is 27 and a Spanish history teacher from Madrid, has been in Spalding for almost six months and is due to return home shortly.

He spent the majority of his time within the language support department.

He says: “It was a rewarding experience to see the students who were new arrivals to the country, with limited English skills, progress and make a big effort to acquire a level of English so they could attend mainstream lessons.

“I taught a variety of Spanish lessons and it was really enjoyable to introduce students to my native language. This has generated enthusiasm and interest in the language and hopefully lead to a continued interest.

“The downside is I have very few native English students in my Spanish lessons. I found this unusual as a number of students have been to Spain at least once on holiday but were not particularly interested in learning the language.”

Alberto’s visit coincided with a difficult time for the school, which has merged its separate girls’ and boys’ schools, become an Academy and been put under special measures following a poor Ofsted inspection.

Alberto says: “Although it sounds strange, I really appreciate the experience of being at the school at this crucial time. To see what is involved in the merging of two different schools has been very enriching for me. I have seen the difficulties, the enormous changes and the effort that everybody has to undertake to achieve this objective.

“Now I am returning to Spain and my aim is to get a job as a teacher. Currently in Spain it is very important to be able to teach your own subject in English because the government wants to implement a bilingual education system. Teaching here in English has been the best practice I could ever imagine to prepare me for the future.”