As you can read through this blog, I am now happily living in Madrid, coming from northern regions of Spain. I write this post only to wish you a wonderful year 2015, hope your expectations will be fulfilled and that love and health will keep your bodies and your souls warm and ravishing.
As for myself, I just hope I will be able to successfully finish this master I am taking. Well, actually it is now a must because I was granted a scholarship by the Spanish Government to be able to take this compulsory master free of charges, for it’s a professional sector considered as a national priority (Teachers of Secondary Education), especially those meant to teach English, as it is my case.
Concerning this, I would like to discuss about two aspects.
One: Can we measure language proficiency? Really? I mean, there are many factors affecting our ability to speak and being gobally fluent in a foreign language that I just find it hard and always incomplete. We are required to prove a level of C1, according to the Common European Framework of Reference, that’s to say, the equivalent to the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, or, obviously a university degree in English Studies and Literature or Translation of English.
The problem is that the average level is low in most of those degrees in English, and obviously even more for those who studied different subjects and had to prove a C1 level. I am a mix of both circumstances: I hold a Cambridge certificate proving to have at least a C1 level and I studied Translation of English and, especially, French. I honestly believe that my knowledge of English should be much higher and I am determined to get a bilingual level in order to properly teach. However, I am sure that it ‘s not even a criterion to pass the competitive exam to secure a job as a state worker-teacher. Contents include History of the UK and US and its literatures and politics; some units on the Commonwealth, in Linguistics, and finally about the Spanish culture and Educational system and laws of Education. Obviously, proficiency in the Spanish language is mandatory, even more than in English (unfortunately for my Irish, Russian, UK and US classmates).
Two. I am officially a middle- class person in Spain (really?). That means that I am not entitled to receive any extra allowance meant to support students from poor families while they study. Not anymore. For some years, things were the opposite for me. You may think that it’s a good news because our family incomes have increased, but it’s actually because the profound social and economic crunch has scrolled down the poverty standards. Currently, they consider that a family of 4 members (as its my case) live within the national income average if they earn 12.000 euros/year (yes, 12 thousands!). In other words: 3000€/per capita and 250/month. Truth be said, the number of applicants for these scholarships have dramatically risen, and so were the requirements to be eligible. Things are getting really fucked up over here people. I don’t know either to feel sad or happy for this new status … Well. I am still unemployed and studying at age 26. You judge.
To be fair, I can’t really complain. For I was given a tuition fee waiver, so I can save around 2000 euros for other issues such as my bills and my accommodation fees in the expensive Madrid. And, although I still need to get a job to gather enough money to survive during the rest of the academic course, at least I feel confident about it. I can always teach English French or English to gain pocket and leisure money. I am grateful because the basics are covered and my personal savings will allow me to cover the rest of it. But, what about those who can’t????? The job market is unaffordable and quite awful today for many people. You need to have a strong qualification and privileged personal network to make it… or just be brilliant and lucky.
I have another good news. I have recently learned that I can apply to be state teacher after my masters even with my current African nationality because I am considered a family of an European (Spanish) citizen. It seems that now that my family is formed by 4 nationalities (2 European/2 Africans) we are given more rights.
Anyway, I still think that I need to live in an English-speaking country for at least a couple of years to feel confident to teach English at a good level. And I am actually looking for opportunities abroad to teach French or Spanish or to translate. So if you know or hear of something, let me know. (I don’t mind, South Africa, Kenya, India, or the USA … as long as I can teach and learn) It would be of great help for me and for my future students, wherever I end up living.
Until then… Have a wonderful beginning of year 2015. Love and hope from Spain.
And last but not least, I have learned that more thousands of African immigrants have died while crossing into the Spanish border this year. The influx has risen. Meanwhile, African authorities stay speechless and doing nothing visible to me. We need to do something to stop these selfish people, we need to organize inside and outside our countries of origin to force them to improve, to move forward. Pressure! This makes me really sad. It’s horrifying that all those people can just keep on smiling and filling their pockets and bank accounts in Switzerland while allowing this to happen.
One of these people has arrived to my house this month. He crossed the border and was sent to our city because he said he had relatives there. He is family of my father- in- law and one more victim of these governments that force their people to leave as the only option… We need to do something. We are all affected by this. If they tell them not to come that way, risking their lives, they won’t listen because it much worsed to stay at home arms crossed watching the polititians in their lives if luxury and travelling. What do you think. What should we do? Where shall we start from? Hope. Hope. And strength.