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English Teaching Volunteer
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I had wanted to do voluntary work for years, and when this opportunity presented itself, i decided to take it. It has always been important to me to give back to the world through volunteering, and I was also keen to get out of my privileged comfort zone and experience life in a deprived area. This project also presented me with the opportunity to further narrow down my options for what to do during my year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country (3rd year), in as much as it would either rule out teaching or encourage me to pursue it (I'm happy to note that what happened was the latter).

How did you find your placement/internship?

Organisation website

Application process

I was very hesitant in applying, and contacted the organisation staff via email for several months before applying, making sure that all my questions were answered. After that, I filled out the online application, including a questionnaire and attaching my CV. Once I was approved, I payed a deposit, and from there there were follow-up phone interviews.

Main responsibilities

Teaching English

Typical day

As I taught from 2pm to 6pm, I often had the mornings free. Most mornings, I would wake up early as my roommates went to their morning work, and have breakfast around 7am with my host family. I would then venture out to one of the island's beaches or to the malecón, and there would spend a couple of hours planning the lessons for that day. I would come back to my host family for lunch, and then head to the volunteer office to gather supplies and print off resources before lessons started.

For the first two days, there was another teaching volunteer with me, but from then on I was alone in the classroom. this was a lot of responsibility, but I found it very enjoyable. after work, I would close up the office, turn off the computers and lights and make my way down to the malecón, where volunteers gathered in the evenings. We would often chat or play card games before going back to the host families for dinner.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

The kids. It's been over a month since I've returned from my placement, and I'm still telling anecdotes of the funny things the kids that I was teaching did and said.

Additionally, it was a perfect opportunity for me to practise my spanish over the summer holiday, and I really loved experiencing life in a culture so different to my own.

Challenging aspects

Thankfully, the language barrier was not a challenge, as I had anticipated it would be. I would say that the most challenging aspect was the fact that I fell ill over the course of my placement, but as I was the only teaching volunteer there at the time, and the staff did not speak good english, I was still called into work every day despite my illness.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I conversed only in Spanish for the duration of my placement, with the kids, the staff, the locals and my host family, as none of those people spoke english.

I also used skills from the ELL side of my degree while teaching English grammar to the children.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Unexpectedly, yes! In my head before I went on my placement, I said to myself that if i hated teaching, I wouldn't consider it during my year abroad and if I didn't hate it, i'd consider spending some of my year abroad teaching. However i found that i enjoyed it beyond what i could have imagined, and this has influenced me to pursue teaching English in Latin America as a future career.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

When you take a placement abroad, particularly one in an underdeveloped country, you have completely immerse yourself in the culture. Eat all the weird delicacies, talk to locals, take part in any cultural activities you can. All this will come together to make your overseas experience unforgettable.

Form completed: 05 Sep 2017

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