A Life in the Day
I have two young children and my wife works in the restaurant business so my day starts early, usually before seven. In the ´old days´, before children, I used to do early morning company classes, teaching business people who would have the classes before their working day started. It´s not a bad time to travel around the city and I used to value the time I had on the train to read, while most of the world was asleep. These days I´m on breakfast, uniform and taxi duty and spend most of my time trying to avoid watching Spongebob Squarepants or stepping on Lego.
Midmornings in Madrid can be a dead time, teaching-wise, although recently I´ve started giving telephone classes to big companies. These pay well and it means you can work from home. If I have no classes, I try to squeeze in a little exercise. There´s a lot of unemployment in Spain at the moment but this offers teaching opportunities to me as I can coach people who are looking to do interviews in English or work for English-speaking companies. I like this type of work as you get to meet a broad range of people and it gives you a different perspective on society.
Lunchtime is a busy time for teachers, especially as lunch in Spanish culture is a good two or three-hour affair. This is dictated more by the weather than by the need for siestas and long lunches but it´s a custom that´s coming under increasing fire from the demands of multi-national corporations. However, most Spanish companies are still following the national time-table: start early, long lunch and work late. This means lots of classes for teachers at lunchtime and I have regular company classes, too, at this time. Again, it´s often a chance to learn about new fields of expertise and chat about issues which people are talking about.
Between lunch and collecting the kids is usually a good time to work on my main hobby, which is writing. I use this last hour or two of being alone to try to get ideas down on paper or edit into shape those I´ve already written.
At about five o´clock I pick the kids up from school and drop them at home with my wife and then I go out for the second part of my day, which the Spanish call the afternoon but which most people would call the evening – the hours between five-thirty and nine. These classes are with schoolchildren swotting up on their English or needing help with their homework and for a self-employed teacher like me, they form a bulk of my work.
The level of English in Spain has improved a lot in the ten years or so that I´ve been here, partly due to a government-funded programs and partly due to the improved methods and materials used by teachers. There´s a great awareness these days that English is necessary for careers and business and many schools and parents put huge emphasis on their children learning the language.
Dinner in Spain is around nine ´clock, sometimes earlier, sometimes later and although as a foreigner this takes some getting used to, it all seems normal in time. The evening news is on almost all the channels at nine o´clock and by ten the children are in bed or on the way. The last few hours of the evening are spent watching sport, films or reading, and it´s usually lights out and hasta mañana at midnight.