Princess Street, Manchester, UK

A Spanish teacher in Manchester. How has Coronavirus affected her classes? We travel to UK!

From Manchester, a Spanish teacher, shares with us her daily life and tells us how school routines have been altered.

We introduce you Cristina, a Spanish teacher in Manchester.

Hi Cristina, we are happy to talk to you from Swap Family. Tell us who you are and what led you to Manchester.

Hello, I am Cristina from Spain. I am a Special Needs teacher and a MFL teacher. I have a Degree in English Teaching. Before I came to Manchester, I was an English teacher in Spain, but because finding a job there was difficult, I wanted to come to England to improve my English for a while, and well…. I have settled here after almost 7 years! I met my partner here and there we are…. time flies!

Seven years already! I imagine you must be very integrated. How were your beginnings?

At the beginning I was a Language Assistant in a High School for a year, then a supply teacher to gain experience until I found my passion, teaching my language at primary and college! 

Thanks to my work as a substitute teacher, I found my passion teaching my language at primary and college!

Manchester's Central Library
Manchester’s Central Library

Who would say that you would go back to your origins teaching Spanish!

You are right. I love my language and I feel very comfortable teaching other to develop their language skills. So much so that I also am a private Spanish tutor (all levels or ages).

I suppose that the COVID-19 has changed your normality. What phase are you in now?

Now we can go out with people that you live with as well as from the beginning, but also with other people as long as we keep the distance of 2 meters.

Little by little it seems that the situation is improving. And, at service level?

Schools close on the 20th of March, also public places as bars, restaurants, cinemas… And the lockdown started on the 24th. Here, we did not have many restrictions, we were able to go out once a day for a walk or a run since the beginning, so when we have had sunny days, everyone was out. I compare it with the situation in Spain, and here seems ‘more normal’.

I compare it with the situation in Spain, and here seems ‘more normal’

At least weather was good!

Yes, in this sense. We do the shopping online from a couple of years now, but this situation affects our routine, more people demand to shop online, so at the beginning we were lucky if we could book a slot every 3 weeks! Now is getting normal and we can do once a week.

Initially it required ingenuity! And on a professional level, as a Spanish teacher, have you seen your work altered?

Well, as the schools are close, I am spending my time preparing lessons and materials for the new academy year. At primary, we don’t have interactive lessons with the pupils, but we send every week some work to try to keep them with the routine! Before all of this, I was tutoring some students as well, for the GCSE’s (16 years old) Spanish exams but these exams were cancelled. So some of my lessons were too. I stopped teaching Spanish to children, as with them I prefer face to face interaction, difficult for a 5-year-old to focus on a Skype lesson!

It is difficult for a 5-year-old to focus on a Skype lesson!

Of course, it has to be difficult, they must be scattered enough.

It is complicated. With the rest of my students we are meeting online, I normally use Skype, and it has his advantages. It saves specially time, although I wouldn’t change the online lessons for the face to face ones!

And how is it affecting the educational system?

Not every child has access to internet, a computer or tablet to do some online work. The problem that I can see is that the more vulnerable children will be in disadvantage from who have been working at home using online resources. In the same class, we may have different levels of knowledge and skills!

More vulnerable children will be in disadvantage from who have been working at home using online resources

Sure, it will rise inequalities. On a personal level, how are you doing with this form of teaching?

Well is good to innovate and change sometimes. I feel confident teaching online specially to adults. You can share anything or send a quick email, you can play interactive games, it is easy….

Manchester school
Manchester school

A few days ago, I read an article in The Guardian that said “when the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, schools must never return to normal”.

I think to get back to normal will take a while. I am thinking in September, when we suppose to go back to school nothing is going to be the same. It is hard to think how you explain to a 5 year old one that he or she have to keep distance!

It is hard to think how you explain to a 5 year old one that he or she have to keep distance!

Very complicated, young children don’t understand about distances. What is the first thing you will do when this is all over?

I think the first thing I will do when all this finish is giving all my friends a big hug and go to a bar to have a drink with them! I also want to get a flight to Spain when all get better (hope is soon) and see my family! Just do the ‘normal’ things we were allowed to do before the Pandemic. 

Just do the ‘normal’ things we were allowed to do before

Who would have told us that we were going to value normality so much! I hope you can return to Spain soon and you can cuddle yours.

Thank you.

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