miércoles, 18 de abril de 2018

3er Day. Visit to a Secondary School

Secondary Education in England lasts for five years: children begin being 11 years old and end with 16 years. So, they began one year before, but end at the same age. At the end they have to pass an state exam called GCSE, that allow them to continue the path to their A Levels exams that control the access to the University.

The school i visited was an Academy. Academies are state funded charities ("Fundaciones" in Spanish), but they can get additional funding and, specially, don't have to follow the National Curriculum, enjoying much more freedom in their school project design. But methodologically and at the technological level, this one was quite traditional. In each classroom there was an Interactive Whiteboard and a dedicated laptop, but the students used textbooks.

But there were some very attractive projects. All students play a PLB gamification. They belong to one house, there are four of them, like in the Harry Potter movies. Students earn points for their house and get badges of honour for great performances in categories like football, rugby, acting, punctuality, helping...

There is a teacher in charge of each house. Once a week, all the house members (25% of the school) join together in the theatre. There, they check the leaderboard of the gamification, congratulate students with merits, confirm their house motto and vision and have a lesson about ethics and moral values. Quite interesting, indeed.

3rd day in Oxford. Visit to a Primary School

One of the objectives of my course was to visit educational institutes to learn how they work and to share knowledge. This morning was the turn for a Nursery, Reception and Primary School here in Oxford.

Nursery is for 3 years old. Reception is for 4 years old, with a kind of introductory function. Primary education in England begins with 5 years old children and last through six years (1-6), the last one began when they are 10 years old. There is a final exam called SAT in the sixth year, with merely an assessment function.

Comparing with Spain, we can see that there is one year less for "kindergarten" and primary education begins and ends one year before.

The school I visited was in a neighborhood with a lot of immigration. They had 38 different languages in the school, receiving a lot of children with no knowledge of english. That is why they hire a lot of teacher assistants to help the teacher managing the class. Those teacher assistants have no special qualification and earn minimum salary. Almost every classroom had two adults inside. And sometimes, even three, when the special needs teacher help them. Teaching is heavily scheduled, with short, medium and long term programming, checked weekly.

I observed two maths lessons, one for 8-9, the other for 6-7. In both classrooms, the children were given tasks ("word problems", "problemas con enunciado" in Spanish) according to three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The problems were about addition and subtraction, only the gold needing more than one operation. In the 6-7 class were beginning with intuitive division. In this classroom, very huge, the teacher used an assembly system to expose the initial concepts, helped with an Interactive Whiteboard. The students use a whiteboard slate to work while in assembly mode. The teacher also used a kind of lamp-like camera to project her written notes and tasks. These tasks were divided in Gold, Silver and Bronze levels too. Once made, the students glue them to their evaluation notebook-folder.

About technology, there is an interactive whiteboard in every classroom with its dedicated laptop. In addition, they have two cupboards with laptops. I didn't see any kind of textbook, everything was made with photocopies. 

martes, 17 de abril de 2018

2nd day in Oxford. Traditions

Early this morning, walking to my classes, i have met a young man looking like this:

At first, i thought about a kind of costume. But then, i saw another young man. And another few minutes later. And a fourth one. Hey, that is something like a robe. And a white rose, well, not a rose, a carnation. And they have a strange hat, the "birrete" that we use in Spain in our graduation ceremonies. My goodness! Do they really use that outfit?!

Yes, they do. That indicates that they are in their final examinations process. The suit is known as subfusc, from latin. Men must wear a funny white bow tie, shirt, black suit and black shoes under an academic gown. Women use a black tie with the gown and either a black skirt or trousers. And there is the carnation, that reflects when are they in the process. It is white when they do the first exam, pink thereafter and red for the final exam.

Strange, isn't it? It against any modernity. It's so old fashioned! But the students voted overwhelmingly in favour of compulsory academic dress in examinations, with 75.8% supporting subfusc. Why could young people consider it was important to do something as stressful and decisive as your Oxford final exam disguised as a two century old academic?

Because traditions are important. Chesterton said tradition was "the democracy of the Dead". And he was right (as usual). These young men's ancestors built Oxford reputation. That is an immaterial treasure nowadays students are enjoying. They owe that respect to the ones who built Oxford and configured it. It's their tribute, the external sign that,  "hey, old pals, we are here, we are listening, we will continue your path and we thank you all for what you did".

lunes, 16 de abril de 2018

Arrival and first day

A dream becoming true. Here I am, as a student in Oxford, living in a college for a course.

I arrived on Sunday. Waiting for boarding to Birmingham, i met some very young students, around eleven or twelve years old. When i saw them, scattered through the hall, my headteacher soul sprang: "My goodness! Why are these students without an adult?! Why are not grouped together?!" I couldn't resist the temptation to ask them those questions. They were living a full year course near Birmingham and were returning after having easter holidays with their families (School Easter Holidays in England are two weeks long, after Easter Sunday). I was amazed how independent, how resolute, how resourceful they appeared being so young. Today, my course manager told me that in England, everybody is surprised about how young the children we send from Spain are.

In my first day of the course, we've been talking about our schools. Another chance to be proud about ours, Colegio JABY. In this occasion, the reasons to fall into the sin of Pride was that our Erasmus+ programs are the only ones I have known about here that are not fully english learning driven. Our projects are always about innovation, about sharing experiences, about methodological and technological change. But most of the other projects are simply about english learning and teaching, led by english teachers. Of course, this is not a bad thing, on the contrary. But i feel that our projects are more holistic, more complete, more complex. They involve the whole school, not only a small part of the faculty and are more ambitious in theme and actions, i think.

A very interesting activity we made today was to visit the most famous Oxford University Press. The money-packed OUP is very important division of the University of Oxford. AND its financial heart. The OUP sells millions of books, most of them textbooks and, specially, english learning textbooks. The profits are so... (SORRY, they are a charity, they are not allowed by law to have profits, the have "surplus")... The "surplus" are so high that they provide HALF the university budget... That's why the University can afford expensive buildings and equipment and a numerous faculty. Of course, i thought about our inititative-less universities, always begging for public money instead of looking or improving their own funding sources and even with students demonstrating against "bussiness in university", as it would be an evil thing. Oxford is lucky to have a succesful brand. But they managed to get the most of it selling related products. Thinking about how Salamanca or Alcala being incapables to have a relatively similar success with spanish language teaching and learning makes me sad. Oops, another sin: envy.

jueves, 21 de septiembre de 2017


Today, we went early, with the English and the Portuguese teachers, to the Waldorf School of Lund, located 11 kilometers from the city. In a natural and unusual environment in a our school, Silvia has three different lessons of Spanish as her mother tongue. 

After Waldorf School, we went back to the school we was on Wednesday morning. This time guided by two 10 year old students, we have visited the educational center facilities, noticing the great differences between our schools and the Swedish ones.  At the end of the day, Silvia and I went to Malmo, a great afternoon, a nice walk and a meaningful conversation.

Hoy, junto con el profesor de inglés y la profesora de portugués, hemos ido temprano hasta la Escuela Waldorf de Lund, situada a 11 kilómetros de la ciudad. En un entorno natural y poco habitual en una escuela común, Silvia ha tenido tres clases diferentes de español como lengua materna.

Tras la escuela Waldorf, hemos vuelto al instituto al que fuimos el miércoles por la mañana. Esta vez por dos  alumnos de 10 años, hemos recorrido las instalaciones del centro educativo, constatando las grandes diferencias entre nuestros centros y los centros suecos.

Al acabar la jornada de clases, Silvia y yo hemos ido a Malmo, una tarde estupenda, un bonita paseo y una conversación cargada de sentido.

miércoles, 20 de septiembre de 2017


We started the day early with a high school student of 13, in a with students from 9 to 16. We during the lesson we did a small session of Facetime with 3rd grade of our Secundary students, that in moment were in Spanish class with Antonio Albiol. We noticed how different are the schedules, the routines and the school spaces in the two countries!  

After this first class we moved to the Mother Language Center, in the center of Lund, to the coordination meeting of the Spanish teachers. In the center there are 100 teachers with 23 different mother tongues. The meeting with Silvia, Esther, Erica and Verónica, has been very interesting. One of the main issues was how to assess whether Spanish is really a mother tongue in the children's home, if it is an alive language, and at least one of the adults in the house speaks daily with children in Spanish. The last part of the meeting was dedicated to sharing activities and resources for the Spanish class.  

After a lively meal, shared with the teachers of Arabic and Greek, we returnedto Spanish lessons, this time with two children of 8 and 9: Antonio and Paula.They have been fantastic, and we have taken advantage of another small session of Facetime, this time with our 5th grade students.  

And to finish the day, class with the Bachillerato students, with whom we had a great conversation about education, youth and leisure in Spain and Sweden Long and very, very, very interesting day, full os sense !!

Comenzamos temprano el día, con una alumna de secundaria de 13 años, en un colegio con alumnos 9 a 16 años. Aprovechamos la clase para hacer una pequeña sesión de Facetime con 3º de la ESO, que ese momento estaban en clase de Lengua con Antonio Albiol. ¡Qué diferentes son los tiempos, las rutinas y los espacios escolares en los dos países!

Tras esta primera clase nos trasladamos al Centro de Lenguas Maternas, en el centro de Lund, a la reunión de coordinación de las profesoras de español. En el centro hay 100 profesores de 23 lenguas maternas diferentes. La reunión con Silvia, Esther,  Erica y Verónica,  y  ha sido muy interesante. Uno de los temas principales fue cómo valorar si el español es realmente una lengua materna en el hogar de los niños, si se trata de una lengua viva y, al menos uno de los adultos de la casa, habla cotidianamente con los niños en español.  La última parte de la reunión la hemos  dedicado a compartir actividades y recursos para la clase de español.

Tras una animada comida, compartida con los profesores de árabe y griego, hemos vuelto a las clases, esta vez con dos niños de 8 y 9 años: Antonio y Paula. Han sido fantásticos, y hemos aprovechado para hacer otra pequeña sesión de Facetime, esta vez con nuestros alumnos de 5º de primaria J

Y para terminar el día, clase con los alumnos de Bachillerato, con los que hemos tenido una estupenda conversación sobre la educación, los jóvenes y el ocio en España y Suecia.

Día largo y muy, muy, muy interesante y lleno de sentido!!

martes, 19 de septiembre de 2017


Tuesday morning has been quiet, preparing presentations on Torrejón and Alcalá for the children, and walking through the sunny streets of Lund, visiting the Cathedral, the University, having a nice coffee, buying books ... Lund is full of bookshops and of bikes 😁

In the afternoon we had Spanish as a mother tongue lessons in the International School, first with a small group of elementary students, made up of two girls, Teresa and Ana Paula, and a large group of secondary students from different backgrounds, but all with Spanish as mother tongue. It has been great to see how they work as a team, how they work hard outside their school hours, and how they get involved in the classroom.  

After lessons ... a small excursion to the coast ... a full day !!

La mañana del martes ha sido tranquila, preparando las presentaciones sobre Torrejón y Alcalá para los grupos de niños, y paseando por las calles soleadas de Lund, visitando la Catedral, la Universidad, tomando un café, comprado libros… Lund está lleno de librerías y de bicicletas 😀

Por la tarde tuvimos las clases de español como lengua materna en la Escuela internacional, un pequeño grupo de primaria, formado por dos niñas, Teresa y Ana Paula, y un grupo grande de secundaria, con alumnos de diversos orígenes, pero todos con el español como lengua materna. Ha sido fantástico ver cómo trabajan en equipo, cómo trabajan fuera de su horario escolar y cómo se implican en el aula.

Tras las clases… pequeña excursión a la costa… un día completo!!