The Roots & Results of An ESL Innovator Project

The Roots & Results of An ESL Innovator Project 
Ten years ago, I was one of six English Language & Culture Assistants living in Zamora, Spain. 

The first months were rough. It had been a long time since I last opened a Spanish textbook, and when talking to people, “¿EH?” tended to be the most common response. My job as a language assistant was to help the various English teachers at my school lead conversation activities and teach about the American culture and other English speaking cultures. 

The experience, although challenging, cemented my interest in teaching. I read about teaching and planned my own lessons. I bought books and tried out tricks for managing misbehaviour in the classroom; some worked, some didn’t. Ultimately, I wanted to work full-time in California, so I moved back home. Now, 10 years later, I’ve been teaching Spanish ever since. 

Two years ago, I became a Google Innovator in the #MEX18 cohort. Thinking back to my days as a language and culture assistant, the issue I identified was that some English teachers in Spain ask their English language and culture assistants (of which there are thousands), also called auxiliares de conversación), to take charge of the class even though they don’t have the experience or resources to do so. I connected with past and current auxiliares, and together we identified three main needs:

  1. More training on teaching methods (specifically classroom management)
  2. A bank of activities, lesson plans, tips, games, blogs, and advice from past auxiliares
  3. 1-1 mentoring

My driving questions in devising a solution were: 

  • How could we better prepare assistants for the classroom in an economical, convenient, and captivating way?
  • How could we use auxiliaries’ free time (especially during the summer) to prepare them for what awaits?
  • How could we better supply auxiliaries with resources (adapted to what they need) that will help them be more effective in the classroom and beyond?

The result, with support from my mentor Kyle Brumbaugh was The website and materials are 100% free, with the overall goal being to make your experience as an auxiliar de conversación easier and more enjoyable. 

Several weeks ago, I submitted my final check-in, having recently met in person with the coordinator of the English Language & Culture Assistant program in the United States and being told she would recommend my resource! 

For those thinking of becoming an innovator, is there an experience you had that you were really passionate about? Perhaps this could form the roots of your project. 

(Editor's note) A huge thank you to Bayard for his contribution to this blog. This spirit of collaboration is at the core of what Google Innovators do.PMF.


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