I’ve had summer holidays for a month now, but that’s kind of necessary at the moment because of the temperatures, we have 30° C almost every day. Nevertheless, today I would like to write about my school and everyday life at school.
My school is a Catholic, semi-private school, which means that it is financed both by the state and by the students. My school has about 400 students.
The school system here is divided into Primaria and Secundaria, the Primaria lasts seven years here and the Secundaria mostly five, in schools with a technical orientation six years. During the first months I was in the 4th grade of the Secundaria (roughly comparable to the 11th grade in Germany) and then next year I will be in the 5th grade, which is the final year.
Because my school is semi-private, we wear a school uniform. It consists of blue jogging pants, a white polo shirt with the school logo and a blue sweatshirt or a blue sweat jacket. I think it’s pretty good that we have a school uniform because it’s super relaxed and our school uniform is pretty comfortable.
In Argentina it is common in many schools for some of the students to have lessons in the mornings and others in the afternoons. In my school the first two grades have lessons in the afternoon and the other three in the morning. There are also some subjects that are taught “contra turno”, i.e. for the first two grades in the morning and for the other three in the afternoon.
My school day begins at 7:55 a.m. with everyone gathering in the hallway and the grades standing in lines. Then the director speaks a few words, referring to events, the Argentine flag is hoisted inside the building and a prayer is said.
My class has seven hours a day (six on Fridays), each lasting 40 minutes. After the 2nd and 4th hour we have a 10-minute break. Mondays to Thursdays my school day ends at 1:00 p.m., Fridays at 12:20 p.m. Twice a week I have sports lessons for one hour in the afternoon.
In Secundaria, my school offers two different specialisations which you choose after 3rd grade. There is the orientation Biológico, where you focus on natural sciences and the orientation Docente, where the focus is on humanities.
I am in the Docente orientation. As the name suggests, you have subjects that could be useful to future teachers. This year, besides the typical subjects like English, Maths, Lengua (Spanish), Biology, Physics, Art, History, Catequesis (Catholic religious education), I also had subjects like Fundamentos de la Educación, where we talked about the history of education and concepts, philosophy and general psychology.
Among my favourite subjects here were general psychology and Fundamentos de la Educación, as I learned a lot there that I would never have learned at school in Germany. Next school year, however, I will have some other subjects and for example no physics, biology and art.
The lessons themselves are also very different from German schools. You don’t raise your hand if you want to say something, you just talk. Even during periods where we should work on exercises everyone usually talks to each other and silence is very rare.
We get a relatively large number of trabajos prácticos because there are hardly any textbooks here and if there are any, they are hardly used. These trabajos prácticos consist of several tasks and are done over a longer period of time at home or in class and then usually handed in.
Also, the relationship to the teachers is completely different here than in Germany, one addresses teachers with first names or Profe and sometimes greets them with the cheek kisses usual here. Also generally speaking, the relationship is more relaxed.
In addition, at least at my school there are so-called preceptors who for example take attendance of the classes and tell us if a class is cancelled and similar things. Each class has an assigned preceptor and there is also a very friendly relationship to these preceptors.
Another difference to my school in Germany is that I had quite a lot of cancelled lessons here, some weeks at least one hour a day. In addition, there is a school-free day at least once a month when the teachers organize themselves among each other.
The school year here is divided into three trimesters. At the time of my arrival the second trimester just came to an end, so I didn’t have to write any tests in this one yet. I also didn’t take all the tests in the third trimester, because some subjects were extremely difficult because of the language.
Physics and maths weren’t a problem at all, most of the other subjects became easier over time, but Lengua, philosophy and history were very difficult for me until the end of the school year. In the end I wrote tests in physics, maths, English and Lengua, in psychology I wrote a test-like trabajo práctico with the help of a translator and in philosophy and Fundamentos de la Educación we wrote detailed essays instead of tests, which I also submitted.
Overall the standards here, apart from mathematics, physics and English, are on a similar level as in Germany. However, the tests are much easier than German exams, most of them can be finished before the given time and in mathematics and physics for example there were only 3 or 4 quite simple tasks.
English is taught at three different levels. However, even at the highest level only things like Present Perfect are taught. That’s why some of my classmates go to institutes in their spare time to learn more English.
At my school we are three exchange students, an Italian boy, a Finnish girl and me. We are all in the same year, but in different classes. We only have English together. Our school is very understanding in dealing with us exchange students. We get grades like everyone else, but most teachers, at least for me, give grades taking into account the fact that I have only been learning Spanish intensively for about 3 months.
I don’t have all my grades yet, because the certificates of the exchange students are more difficult to prepare, but the ones I already have are tens and a nine (here ten is the best grade and one the worst, you passed if you have seven or better).
I’m pretty happy to be on holiday now, because school has been rather boring in the last few weeks. In most subjects only grades were discussed and then nothing else was done.
Next week we will go on vacation and return after New Year’s Eve, but I will write about that later.