For my fifth and final year of college, I decided to utilize my Spanish minor and spend two semesters abroad in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It was great; I had purposely waited until my last year so I could finish all my requirements and not worry too much while in Spain. My only real concern was money, so I thought I’d look into teaching English as many of the other foreign students were already doing so.
I ended up getting into the same small teaching academy that my new English-speaking friends were working for, and the fact that they paid me enough cash to cover my monthly rent was perfect. I worked five to eight hours a week, mostly teaching little kids at the local primary school and sometimes adults in the evenings. I had no previous ESL training other than volunteering at a local school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin a few times just speaking English with adults who were learning in their free time.
I had a great time working with the older students and adults in the evenings in Spain, but nothing prepared me for how to work with the younger children who were only four and five years old. My excitement to teach cute little Compostelan children soon ebbed as their behavior worsened and my patience thinned. I supposed I couldn’t blame them – what young child wants to learn English for an hour at the end of their school day? Had we taught them in the morning it might have been a different story.
So I had to get creative, and that’s when I really learned how to improve my teaching style. Our academy had few resources so I had to get creative. I learned how to research fun activities that helped the kids learn the English alphabet and kept their attention at the same time. I also found fun worksheets that helped them remember colors in English. I was actually excited to get there every day!
Now, I’m currently taking an online ESL course so I can use it in the future and feel more confident in my teaching abilities. I have a fantasy of moving to Germany or even eastern Asia for a couple years, teaching and traveling just like I did in Spain. We’ll see what the future brings but I definitely intend to use my new teaching skills!
About the Author:
Samantha Bilkey blogs about her adventure at Samantha En Route, and you can follow her on Twitter @samanthaenroute. All images from Wikimedia Commons.