A little bit louder now

Spain is a loud country. No if’s and’s or but’s about it. If you’ve ever been here you undoubtedly agree. If you want to be heard, you simply speak louder than anything and everyone around you. After a year and a half in Spain, I still sometimes have to remind myself that two people shouting at each other is not necessarily an argument. That’s just a normal conversation, which is perfectly acceptable to have on the bus, at the supermarket, or in a restaurant.

What does that mean for classrooms in Spain? Definitely not this:

Hand raising- a concept I’ve had to teach my students

Spanish classrooms are quite like the rest of the country- loud and disorderly- at least in comparison to those in the United States. Obviously this isn’t true of all of them, but based on my experience in two primary schools and that of my friends, it doesn’t seem to be an unfair generalization. Working in schools here at first was a huge culture shock for me, and I spent quite a while wondering how, or if, anything was ever accomplished in schools. Students don’t ask to leave their seats and are often wandering around the room. Interrupting someone because you have something to say is completely normal. And there is shouting. Lots of shouting. I feel like I spend half my class time trying to get my kids to shut up and listen. But just like everything in Spain, it’s a bit different from what I’m used to, but it seems to work for them.

Case in point: last week a particularly soft spoken girl was beginning to read aloud from a book. It immediately became evident that there was just too much chitter chatter going on.

“Why are you all talking?!” my co-teacher demanded of the culprits, “Catherine is reading aloud and I can’t hear her!”

Well, she just needs to speak louder,” a member of the guilty party explained matter-of-factually.

I literally burst out laughing because this comment illustrated the Spanish mentality perfectly. It wasn’t her fault that she was talking out of turn, it was Catherine’s for not being loud enough.

Oh Spain.

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2 Responses to A little bit louder now

  1. Lauren says:

    I admire your ability to write such a level-headed reflection on loudness in the classroom. It drives me INSANE and I still find it incredibly rude! It would be dangerous blogging territory for me, that's for sure.

  2. Kim says:

    Totally agree with Lauren! This was something that drove me absolutely crazy while in Spain. It was so frustrating to try to teach a class when the kids were all talking…but to make it even worse, the teachers would be standing in the corner having their own convo, TALKING OVER ME. Arg!

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