Friday, February 11, 2011

Brother y Brother and School

So my blog has been a major fail on my part. I have not only not written in this blog for two weeks, but I just realized that I completely forgot about my La Zafra blog where I was supposed to be writing down what I did at school everyday; my last entry in that blog was before holiday vacation! Oops. Is it to late for a New Years resolution of consistently writing a blog entry? I don’t think so. Consider it done.

There really are no excuses for not posting for two weeks. Yet, I have been surprisingly busy. Most of it actually centers around one thing: the “real” world. That’s right, it is officially February and that means I have started browsing the net for teaching jobs back in the States for next school year. In the last two weeks I have completed several applications as well as cover letters for open positions scanning the East coast, south and Midwest. Oh, Colorado too. So, we will see how this process goes and I am hoping for the best!

Jay’s Arrival

As mentioned in my earlier entry, my brother Jay is officially in Spain and has now been here for a month. I picked him up in Malaga on January 11 and we hung out in Motril for a couple of days before we headed to Algeciras to visit with my family there. We went out for tapas and drinks one night…

*Thanks to Emily for providing these pictures.

and also went down to Playa Granada, the Motril beach for a sunset…

On Thursday Jay and I, along with Emily, Michael Lynn and our friend Bern went down toSalobreña, the nearby pueblo blanco (white village). We hung around the beach there all afternoon as well and enjoyed the view from a large rock that sticks out into the sea. This included seeing a very large jelly fish hanging out below us. We also saw another sunset.

That following Friday morning we hopped in the Beamer and drove over to Algeciras to spend the weekend with my aunt, uncle and cousin. We relaxed Friday afternoon and on Saturday afternoon all 5 of us hopped in my uncles new Mazda and took off to show Jay the drive along the coast towards Tarifa. We then took him up to the Roman ruins my uncle had showed me back in August when I first arrive in Spain. After walking around the ruins we grabbed some lunch near the beach. We enjoyed some typical Spanish salad with several servings of different types of fish and seafood. I’ll be honest, some of that seafood is starting to grow on me and I can easily order fried calamari now and enjoy it.

After lunch, and with a stuffed belly, we went down to the beach. We ended up running around playing Frisbee and soccer, and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon and sun on the Atlantic. Some pictures:

We eventually made our way back to Algeciras. Sunday morning I took off back for Motril and Jay hung around another day until Monday, when my uncle brought him up to Sevilla where he was starting his orientation for his study abroad program. Two VandenBrinks in Spain now, not too bad. I am working on getting up there to see him in the next couple of weeks.

Work? Yeah, I guess you can call it that…

I’ve been back to work for a month now and things are continuing to go well. I am continuing to work with all of the content area teachers at La Zafra, helping them with their English and proof reading worksheets and other handouts they’ve written in English. My time in the classroom with the students has also been awesome, and is obvious the highlight of my time working at the school. I am seeing such large improvements in the kids’ English skills, especially the first eso (sixth graders). This is their first year in the bilingual program and many of the students have grown by leaps and bounds in their English skills over the last 4 months.

Last week I had science class with this first eso and they were working on the pronunciation of vocabulary words for plant life and biology. My teacher had created a chart that had a column for the English vocabulary words, a column for how those words could be written using Spanish pronunciation, and a third column for what the word was in Spanish. I was really intrigued by the second column, how the students heard the English pronunciation of the word but written using Spanish pronunciation. I thought I’d share that chart with you.













Mineral salts

Mineral salts

Sales minerales




Carbon dioxide

Carbon diaxaid

Dióxido de carbono






























Perjudicial (dañino)

I thought it was pretty entertaining and the students have done it with a few other sets of vocabulary words.

My academy classes have also been going well. Although I am still have issues with my 12 and 13 year olds speaking too much Spanish in class, I feel like I have been able to vary the content more so that they aren’t so bored. Before break I was doing a lot of work out of the textbook, which is the Cambridge University EFL curriculum that we use at the academy. It was boring the students to death. So, over break I thought about different things I could do and I have begun to break the 90-minute class into 3 thirty-minute sections. I spend 30 minutes doing a vocabulary review/writing assignment or in-class project, I then spend 30 minutes working out of the textbook, and I then spend 30 minutes playing some sort of game or doing another type of activity to help the students apply the content from the first 60 minutes. It has been going much better and I feel like I have been able to keep the students more engaged. But, the whole Spanish-speaking thing has been difficult with the students; I am still working on the best way to fight that problem.

Anyway, hopefully this month I can get back to some sort of routine in terms of posting once or twice a week. Tomorrow Michael Lynn and I are heading up to Guadix to explore its’ famous caves and then down the road to La Calahorra to see one of the more famous castles in all of Spain. Look for an entry in couple of days about that day trip!


  1. I love your phonetics. Don't you think it wouldn't take so long to introduce traditional phonetic symbols to the kids?

  2. I would love to use traditional phonetic symbols with the kids, but unfortunately they have not been taught them! Every once in a while when I am showing students how to pronounce a word I use the phonetic symbol and I often get blank stares. Even something as simple as a short or long vowel sound symbol. Hopefully that will be something they will learn as their English learning continues, but I am surprised English phonetics isn't taught from the get go!