Antoni Mateu, from Spain, said he arrived in America last July because of an agreement between the Spanish government and Oklahoma state.
According to the agreement, teachers from Spain who meet enough requirements in teaching experience have a chance to teach in Oklahoma public high schools and primary schools, he said. Mateu applied and was hired.
“The longest time I can stay here is three years, but if I want to stay here three years, the Oklahoma City Public School District has to renew the contract with me every year,” Mateu said, “I have a visa which only allows me working at OKCPS, so I cannot change my work.”
In Spain, he said, most of the English lessons he was taught were mainly focused on grammar and vocabulary, not speaking and pronunciation skills.
Mateu said he is currently teaching world history at U.S. Grant High School in southwest Oklahoma City. He is taking one class at OCCC this semester.
At first, he said he faced a lot of problems in lecturing to his students; however, most of his students are young Latinos, so he can explain difficult words and terms in Spanish. He said that is the main reason OKCPS wants to hire Spanish teachers, because they can help hispanic students to learn easier. He said working here brings him a good opportunity to practice his speaking skills because most of his students are more fluent in English than he is.
“They help me practice English. Sometimes, some of them make fun of me, but some of them really help me,” he said, “But, I like to say to them ‘please don’t make fun of me, help me to improve my English.’”
Mateu said he was born and raised in Caimari, a town, located on Mallorca Island, located off Spain’s southern coast.
Though it’s part of Spain, things are different from the mainland, he said.
“When people from abroad think about Spain, they might think about flamenco, or some kinds of music. We actually don’t have those kind of things.
“My island, until the ‘60s, most of the people here worked in agriculture, but nowadays very few people work in agriculture because the city starts focusing on tourism,” he said.
Mateu said his island attracts many European visitors from Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden and others. He said in Mallorca most businesses operate only for six months from April to September because of the weather condition.
“In the winter, it could be really cold and sometimes it has snow so that people do not want to go to the beach for travel,” Mateu said.
He said he views his island like a paradise with beautiful beaches, many exquisite landscapes, and ancient Roman buildings.
Mateu said Oklahoma is a unique place compared to some other places in the U.S. he has travelled to.
The huge reliance on cars in Oklahoma surprised him the most.
“Oklahoma City is a really spread out city. You need a car to go everywhere,” he said. “In another city like San Francisco, for example, people are more like Europeans. You can go walking wherever you want, and you don’t need a car as much as you do here.”
Mateu said he likes many things about Oklahoma, such as beautiful landscapes, neighborhoods of the city with pretty houses, backyards and front yards.
“Oklahomans are really nice and friendly,” he said.
“In Mallorca, in Spain, it is not that easy like here to meet people,” he said. “Sometimes, people at my hometown if they don’t know other people, it is really difficult to make a group of friends. I have been here only for six months and I have met many American people, and they invited me to go to their home, to some parties. I think the thing that impressed me the most to me in Oklahoma is the need of the car.”