My experience with the school in Spain has been highly positive, especially with the primary school children. I have been preparing lessons for 4th, 5th and 6th grade every week, going through groups of 3 or 4 students for 15 minutes.
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What is your experience in school, including tasks, classes, and relationships with students/teachers in Spain?
My experience with the school while teaching in Spain has been highly positive, especially with the primary school children. I have been preparing lessons for 4th, 5th and 6th grade every week, going through groups of 3 or 4 students for 15 minutes. I have interacted with them efficiently and feel like every student has been participating in the lessons; adding an element of fun increased my relationship and respect with all the students.
The high school teaching only takes up a small number of my hours, but I am working with the teachers to ensure more students engage in the conversation. Overall, I get on brilliantly with the teachers and have many chats, great lunches, and coffees with an element of language exchange. My lesson plans consist of a vocabulary section with pictures and keywords, ensuring students elicit and memorise new information, and then getting them to do a short exercise at the end of the lesson.
What is your experience living with your Host Family? Have they made you feel welcome, relationships, activities, etc….?
There is nothing I can fault about the host family; they have provided me with excellent meals, hospitality, great company, family trips and understanding if I need anything. They also don’t mind if I want to do things independently, which is brilliant, and would recommend any Voluntary Speaker to come to stay with my family. The kids are so brilliant, and personally, I haven’t been treated as an au pair as the program said I wouldn’t, which is great, but I also love to spend time with them, be it watching football or playing games.
Your overall experience whilst on the program from prior expectations to your current experience
My experience with the program has been incredibly positive, and I didn’t expect it to go as well as it did. The initial struggles were there, and there were days that I found tough but then there were special moments with the school, family, and friends that I cherished forever.
Changes/Improvements in both personal and professional development
I have grown in confidence, breaking out of my hard, introverted IT background shell, and feeling good about myself, especially all the kids shouting my name in the school, it really is heartwarming
Advice for any new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your town/city (best places to visit, things to do, activities with a host family, favourite restaurant, bar, etc..…)
I would always advise asking as many questions as possible and concerns before going to Spain with your teachers and the family. If you are not a people person, I would not recommend it to them because you must be friendly and approachable to everyone, even if you are having a bad day. Me, I am usually good with people, but in a school setting, this was my biggest challenge to put myself out of my comfort zone.
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your school?
Make sure to have tea/coffee with your teachers after lunchtime because you will also form new friendships and earn their respect. Make sure to have at least prepare one lesson plan per week to ensure that if you run into the same students again, you will have new material for them. I would also recommend bringing a kettle because people don’t use it here, bring some tea bags, and you’ll save more money!
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers in relation to living with your host family or Spanish families in general
When living with your host family, always be respectful of the food you are given, and if you don’t like a particular type, feel free to express your feelings. They eat late here from 8 to 9 pm so just make sure to be on time for the meal because the parents have put effort into preparing it and always make sure to make an effort to speak English at the dinner table.
Share some of the best moments in your school, host family, and general whilst participating in the program.
When I see the kids in the school giving you smiles, waves, hugs and chanting your name, you know that you’ve helped them improve their English when they are happy to see you.
Any regrets about joining? Would you recommend the program to others? And what would you say to someone thinking about teaching English abroad for the first time and thinking about joining this program?
I have no regrets, although I wish I had done this sooner. I don’t think such an opportunity existed except for some really expensive placements that you see online.