Monday, December 3, 2012

The Sante Fe English School

Last week in my post about my transportation difficulties here, I briefly mentioned that I was working at an English school part time. Well, let me tell you about the Sante Fe English School and how much it makes me want a real job. 
After I finally found Santa Fe, I walked in the door and spoke with the director for all of five minutes, signed a piece of paper with only my first name on it ("Cristel") and found out the times I was to work that week. It all happened so fast I didn't know what to do. They didn't ask if I had a college degree or even a high school diploma. They didn't ask anything about me once they knew I was a native speaker. The man who hired me simply said, "I will find you some work" and his secretary said, "Okay, so come on Monday to give oral examinations and then we'll give you a new schedule on Thursday for next week." 
Oral exams. Okay. So I asked for her to show me/tell me what I was to do. She said, "Oh, just come fifteen minutes early on Monday and I'll explain." 
I was there 15 minutes early on Monday and she came in about 5 minutes later and busied herself at her desk for a few minutes, ignoring me. I went up to her desk and asked her about the exam I was to give in less than 10 minutes. She handed me a sheet of paper with students names and five different categories: Fluency, Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar, and Pronunciation. "Grade them 1-5 in each of these categories." 
Well, okay. But the only thing I had to go by were some scribbles at the top of the paper saying they had covered "wh-questions," "there is/are," "simple present tense," and "simple future tense." No mention of what vocab they knew and no indication of what "Basic II" (which is what their language level was supposed to be) meant. 
I asked the secretary more questions and eventually she got a little sick of me I think because she found a textbook and shoved it at me and said "look at units 5-8." Alright, I was getting somewhere, except now it was time to give the exam. 
Before I went into the room, the secretary said, "remember to go easy on them." 
I introduced myself to the class to be greeted only by blank stares. I stopped and said, "Do you understand me?" They turned and whispered to each other in Spanish in response, until the class speaker said, "No. Repeat please." 
Things got better from there out, as I realized that "Basic II" probably meant beginner. But I couldn't believe that this school would just stick me into a classroom to test their students (and this was like a midterm exam, it wasn't just a quiz) without explaining hardly anything to me. And without even knowing if I knew anything about teaching English. I could have been anyone, but just because I am a native speaker I was dishing out grades to students I knew nothing about. 
The rest of the week was pretty much the same, with me giving exams to five different classes of different levels. I enjoyed working with the students though, and by Thursday the secretary knew to just give me the textbook for the class I was going to be working with as soon as I walked in the door. 
However, my troubles with Santa Fe have not ended. They were supposed to call me to tell me next week's schedule on Friday. I called them this morning and no one who speaks English was around, so I couldn't figure out my schedule. The guy I spoke with said they'd call me later. The trouble is I accidentally stole one of their textbooks and I also have not gotten paid. I wouldn't mind quitting there because I'm already sick of how much of a fiasco the whole place is, but I'd like to take the textbook back and get a few dollars for the time I worked last week. 
Anyway, all of this has made me much more keen on finding a job at a legitimate school--language school or not. I've been applying like crazy and am hoping to hear back from some places this week or next. The trick seems to be finding people who know people or checking the newspapers rather than online listings. We'll see. In the mean time, I'm doing some more writing for my uncle and memorizing Spanish vocab. 

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