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Assistant English Teacher/Humanities Teacher
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I had recently complete a postgraduate course in History where I had focused on Central and South American history and had a year before my new job in England started. I always planned to travel, but VolunTeach gave me the chance to have a fuller, more rounded, authentic experience spending 6 months teaching in a school in the Peruvian highlands rather than a standard travelling one. VolunTeach came well-recommended, was quick to reply to queries and seemed focused on providing an excellent experience.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Student Jobshop advert

Application process

The application process was rigorous for the 6 month employment contract. I had to complete an application form, send in a CV and covering letter, then write an essay detailing my reasons for application, my aims for the placement, and why I would be suited to the job. Next was an interview with the coordinator, Shadia, over Skype and finally an interview with the Headteacher of the school I was assigned to. Generally, feedback for each stage was given quite quickly although logistically the process is quite long as schools need to be found for placement etc. which can take some time.

Main responsibilities

My placement was split into two distinct stages. For the first three months, I was a teaching assistant in classes of 9-11 year olds, helping out with activities in English. I was also tasked with taking classes of 3-8 students to help with English acquisition - these classes were for new students with low levels of English ability. I planned material, delivered classes, and marked assignments and class work.For the second half, I became a humanities teacher in the secondary school on a full-time contract and all the duties associated with full-time teaching. I planned and delivered a curriculum I had created and marked essays, exams, assignments and classwork. I attended meetings and graded and wrote reports on students.

Typical day

School started at 7.30 every weekday and finished at 3.10pm. During this time, in primary school, I would assist class teachers in English activities, taking spelling tests, reading to and with students, taking small group activities and games. I also planned and delivered English lessons for a number of hours a week to students with low-level English skills.In Secondary, I would spend the school day planning and delivering lessons to large classes of about 25 students and then marking their work. I taught several school years on a variety of topics and had the freedom to shape a curriculum.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I would be pressed to find something I didn't enjoy on the placement. The whole experience, over the 6 months, was fantastic from start to finish. It was challenging, but if anything that made it more enjoyable and satisfactory. Firstly, I had the ability to travel the country extensively and know it well with ample school breaks. I was able to visit every place I wanted over the 6 months, many of which are largely unknown outside Peru. I enjoyed the responsibility and trust placed on me by the school I worked with. From day one I was plunged (with lots of guidance and support!) into school life and given proper responsibility, which only increased over the course of the placement.I love history and was given the chance to teach it, shaping and moulding the curriculum to what I thought was important at the same time. I loved planning and delivering lessons and had an excellent relationship with the students I taught.These are just a few examples of what I enjoyed, but to be honest there was not one bad moment in the entire 6 months.

Challenging aspects

Whilst an incredible experience and thoroughly enjoyable, there were challenging aspects of the placement. Firstly, from day one, you are expected to work both by Shadia the coordinator and the school you are placed in. This isn't an easy scheme for students to mess around for a few months, it is a job and you are expected to be professional. That meant my work had to be high quality - lesson plans created properly, delivered professionally, attendance and punctuality excellent etc. As it was taken seriously, the job itself was challenging but again, thoroughly enjoyable.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

This isn't really applicable to my experience as I did not study languages at university - except for a year of Spanish with the MLTC which did definitely help!

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

If anything the placement has made my future choice harder. I did not plan to go into teaching when I took the job, and now I may well at some point pursue it as a career path. Going to Peru however has made me more open to working abroad long-term, especially in South America.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

This sounds like a cliche but the placement really is what you make it. Me and the flatmates I lived with had the best 6 months. We tried every new experience we could and dived in to Peruvian culture. Some people might find this adjustment difficult, especially as some placements seem quite out of the way and could be a bit lonely. If you approach Peru with the right mindset, however, you will have a fantastic time. The country is a mad, incredible, chaotic mess and it rewards close engagement. If you make it out to Peru, and do find yourself overwhelmed or lonely or homesick, my advice is to tell somebody! Shadia, the Volunteach Coordinator, will contact you all the time to make sure everything is alright and provides absolutely fantastic guidance and support and truly is there for you. Schools as well genuinely value you being there so if you are struggling, let them know and they well help you out so much.My final piece of advice is to do this placement! Just get out to Peru, you will thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy it and you have the chance to see the most fantastic places in the world.

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Form completed: 06 Oct 2018

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