What an experience so far

After arriving in January 2023 Brian’s feet literally haven’t touched the ground. What with going skiing, family parties and his role in the school, he is making so much out of life on the program so far.

Name of Volunteer Speaker

Brian McGuire



Name of town/city where school is located


Experience in school including tasks, classes, relationship with students/teachers

I have my own small classroom and groups of 6 or 7 students come to me for half an hour. With the older classes, we generally focus on topics that they wouldn’t usually cover in the normal classes, such as films or music. I show them the content and then we talk about it. With the younger classes, the teachers have material that they want me to cover. The relationship with my tutor Núria is very good and I feel I can go to her with any questions I have. I also have a good relationship with the other teachers.

Experience living with your Host Family. Have they made you feel welcome, relationship, activities, etc…

My host family has made me feel very welcome. This was very evident when I was brought along to my host mother’s birthday lunch the day after I arrived. They have taken me cross-country skiing and paid for a pass to use the sports facility in the town. Their son is an only child and he is happy to have someone else in the house.

Your general experience whilst on the program from prior expectations to your current experience

The program has exceeded my expectations. I expected to just be assisting the teacher in the classroom and hovering between tables and helping if students had any questions. However, I’m being given the freedom to give them as much exposure to real-world content in English as possible and to lead my own groups.

Changes/Improvements in both personal and professional development

I think I am developing organisational skills by having to plan a 30-minute class and to think about what the students will take away from it. Planning a class means I have an idea of how I want it to go. However, depending on different factors the class could change slightly, and I have to adapt, and this is developing my adaptability skills and my ability to think on the spot. My communication is also improving as I have to ensure the students know what is happening in the class.

Advice for the any new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your town/city (best places to visit, things to do, activities with host family, favourite restaurant, bar, etc.…)

Puigcerdà is right beside France and very near the mountains. Definitely try skiing if you haven’t already as many people in the area do this in the winter and spring. I’ve done downhill skiing in Masella or cross-country skiing in Font-Romeu. My host family and I have played card games and board games, which are great ways to connect. So far, we’ve eaten dinner at Dani and I’ve had great crepes from Cafeteria & Creperie Cerdanya and Xocolata Pirineus. Try to use the Poliesportiu, which has a swimming pool and a gym. I hope to go to an ice-hockey match, a Barcelona match and also visit Andorra.

Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your school?

Try to think outside the box in terms of content to cover with the students as that way they’ll experience things they wouldn’t usually in their normal English class, such as films, music, food or sport. Some but not all of the teachers speak English, and you can feel isolated at times when they are all speaking Catalan but if you try to speak a little in Spanish or Catalan it will help.

Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers in relation to living with your host family or Spanish families in general.

Most people in Puigcerdà and the surrounding area seem to eat their big meal of the day at lunch time, around 2pm, and a smaller meal at dinner time, around 8 or 9pm. If the family has relatives living nearby expect to see them quite often as Catalan and Spanish families are very close. Also, Catalan is the predominant language and identity where I am so be mindful that while nearly everyone knows Spanish, they don’t call themselves Spanish.

Share some of the best moments in your school, host family and in general whilst participating on the program

During the Setmana Blanca there were no classes and the whole school went skiing and they paid for me to go too. I also like being able to show the students parts of Irish culture. The best moments with the family are when we go into the town together, when I’m playing games with the son or teaching them new words in English and explaining what they mean.

Any regrets 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 don’t have any regrets about joining and I would recommend the program to others. It’s normal to feel nervous, especially if it’s your first time doing something like this but don’t be. Remember, you´re a native English speaker and you know the language inside-out and you have so much that you can impart to the students about English and your own country. Get involved with what the host family is doing as much as possible, and this will help you to connect with them.

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