Leela’s Kids Field Note

As a teacher in a bilingual instituto, or Spanish high school, I have a lot of opportunities to interact with teenagers. I find they are just as crazy, weird, funny, intelligent, bored, emotional and talented as teenagers and kids I know in the US. Here are some pictures of one class with 14 year-olds (notice how they raise their hands with pointed fingers) and an interview with 13 year-olds.

Leela: Ok, so this is a class in a school in Madrid. They’re in Segundo de la eso, which is kind of equivalent to our eight grade but high school here is six years long instead of four so these students are all 13 years old and they’re all really, really smart and they’re going to tell you about life in Spain!

Juan Carlos: My name is Juan Carlos Blanco and I am going to talk to you about houses. In Spain, people normally live in flats that are many houses in different floors. I live in a second floor. Houses normally have one bathroom, one kitchen, one living room and three bedrooms. Some other people live in chalets that are two floor houses and three but I live in a flat.

Gema: Hi my name is Gema Garcia and I am going to talk about the food in Spain. We usually eat breakfast at 7:30 when we have to go to the High School. We normally eat cereals, milk and some juice. We eat lunch from 2pm to 3pm and we eat any kind of food in our lunch. Dinner time is from 8’oclock to 9’oclock at night time, and we usually don’t eat so much food. We take some snacks from time to time between meals.  The very typical food here in Spain is the potato omelet and it’s delicious. And I love macaroni.

Leela: And so what is the potato dish?

Gema: It’s like— ummm…

Leela: Does it have potato? What other food besides potato?

Gema: Potato and milk.

Leela: Potatoes and milk? Interesting. So do you put it in the oven, do you cook it in the oven?


Leela: So, for example, what did you eat for breakfast today?

Gema: Orange juice, cereals…

Leela: And milk?

Gema: Yes.

Leela: Cool. And what are you going to eat for lunch.

Gema: I don’t know.

Leela: What about meat? Do people eat a lot of meat in Spain?

Gema: Yes.

Leela: Like what kind of meat?

Gema: Cordero.

Leela: Cordero? Okay, so that’s lamp, yeah? Do people eat ham in Spain?

Gema: Yes.

Leela: Yeah, ham is very famous in Spain. Okay, thank you. And Javi—

Javi (short for Javier): Hello I’m Javi Arrunca and I’m going to talk about chores in Spain. I clean my bedroom all the days and I, some days, put the food on the table. I know that some friends help their mothers with the cooking but I don’t really do that.

Leela: You don’t help your mom when she’s cooking?

Javi: No. I have a brother and he make more chores and have more money but I some days do the chores and my fathers give me the money.

Leela: So your father gives you the money that should go to your brother? Since you do your brothers’ chores? So how much money do you get?

Javi: Five euros.

Leela: Five euros? Every day?

Javi: Each week. More or less.

Leela: Do you know how many American dollars five euros is?

Javi: No.

Leela: Five euros is about seven or eight American dollars. Alright. Thank you.

Alba: Hi my name is Alba Rodriguez and I’m going to talk about school. Our school starts at eight and a half so I wake up about a quarter to eight because I live near the school. We have seven periods a day, depending, or six. Some days we go home at three and a half or on other days at two and a half. We have two breaks of twenty minutes.

Leela: You only have two breaks of twenty minutes during the day?

Alba: Yes.

Leela: So you have no recess or lunch during the school day?

Alba: Well, we have a lunch room and sometimes if you want you can buy something to eat in the break.

Leela: Like what do they sell in the lunch room?

Alba: They sell sandwich or omelet or have coffee. In the breaks people play basketball or football [not American football, in Spain soccer is called futbol] or sit and talk with their friends. And that’s it.

Leela: Thanks.

Cristina: Hi, My name is Cristina Nerea. My surname doesn’t come from the Spanish language. It comes from a language that is talked in the North of the country that is called Usera. And I’m going to talk about subjects. In our high school we have several subjects. Reading class, education for citizenship, PE.

Leela: Education for what?

Cristina: Citizenship.

Leela: Education for citizenship. Interesting. So is that for Spanish citizens?

Cristina: What?

Leela: Do all the students take that class?

Cristina: Yes.

Leela: Interesting.

Cristina: Also we have language, maths, English, French. My favorite subject is P.E. because we play a lot of games and we practice a lot of sports and we have learned how to juggle. What I dislike is education for citizenship because it is so boring.

Leela: It’s boring?

Cristina: Yes.

Leela: What’s your favorite subject?

Cristina: P.E.

Leela: Why?

Cristina: Because we practice a lot of sports.

Leela: So you like sports?

Cristina: Yes.

Leela: Are you going to go to University, Cristina?

Cristina: I think so.

Leela: What do your parents do? What are your parents’ jobs?

Cristina: My father is an electrician and my mother is a housewife.

Leela: Nice. Do you have brothers and sisters?

Cristina: I have one sister and she’s studying in another high school.

Leela: Is she older than you?

Cristina: Yes, she had 19 years old.

Leela: Is her high school a bilingual high school?

Cristina: No. So these students are all in a bilingual high school. Ok, thanks.

Patricia: Hi I am Patricia Roñez and I will talk about what things I do after school. When class is finished I come back home by car and my father drives. It lasts like ten minutes because my house I live far from the high school and many of my friends come back to their houses from foot. Then I have lunch and I do my homework and sometimes I watch TV. At 5pm I go to dance classes and my sister to painting classes and many of my friends prefer football or basketball classes. When I finish dance classes I spend time with my friends and I go shopping or stay in the park and then I watch TV again and take a shower.

Leela: What kind of shows do you watch on TV?

Patricia: I see, for example, Simpsons.

Leela: The Simpsons? Cool! Oh yeah? Javi, do you watch the Simpsons, too?

Javi: Sometimes.

Leela: And when you hang out with your friends, do you guys go shopping?

Javi: We play some sports.

Leela: Do you ever go hang out at one of your friends’ houses?

Javi: Yeah.

Leela: Do you ever spend the night?

Javi: Yes, but just one time a year.

Leela: One time a year? In America, people do that quite often. Four or five people at a friends house and they spend the night and play, and they don’t sleep at all! So, Patricia, when you go shopping, what kind of clothes do you buy?

Patricia: I like… cool clothes.

Leela: Do you buy high heels?

Patricia: No.

Leela: Do you buy dresses or pants?

Patricia: I prefer pants.

Leela: Thanks, Patricia.

Jorge: Hi my name is Jorge Vega and I’m going to talk about my hobbies and hobbies in general in Spain. My favorite hobbies are football, playing PS3—

Leela: Hey Jorge, just talk to us, you don’t have to read your notes. Jorge’s English is really good.

Jorge: My favorite hobby is playing football and I play on a football team in Fuenlabrada. I like playing PS3, too but I am a bad player. I like chatting with friends on the internet, but not so much.

Leela: Do you have Facebook?

Jorge: No, I have Tuenti. Tuenti is a social network where you can put your photos and you can chat with your friends. In general in Spain the most popular hobby is the social networks. After school a lot of people go into the social network and chat with their friends.

(The bell rings and the students shuffle around.)

Leela: Oh that’s the bell. Hang on, guys. Hang on. Why don’t we call on a few people—just wait—why don’t we ask a few people to ask their question for the students in New York. So, Gema, why don’t you ask your question to the students in New York.

Gema: What’s the most typical food in America?

Cristina: Is Spanish a subject in America?

Alba: How is your school like?

Juan Carlos: How are houses like in New York?

Jorge: Do you like Justin Bieber? It’s because I don’t like him but a lot of people in Spain like him?

Leela: And Jorge, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Jorge: I don’t know. I think I would like to be something with the cinema.

Leela: Does anyone else want to be an actor or actress?

Jorge: No, an actor no. Like, a director.

Leela: And Gema, what about you, what do you want to be?

Gema: I would like to be an actress.

Alba: I don’t know what I want to be.

Juan Carlos: I want to be a forensic scientist.

Leela: Whoa. Cool. Javi, what about you?

Javi: I want to be a doctor.

Leela: What kind of doctor do you want to be? A brain surgeon?

Javi: I don’t know.

Leela: Okay, so you just want to work with medicine and stuff? What about you, Patricia?

Patricia: I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about what I should do but I don’t know.

Leela: Okay, anything else you want to say to students in the US?

Patricia: What things Americans do after school?

Leela: Okay, so how do you say good bye in Spanish?

Class: Adios!

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