Name of Volunteer Speaker
Name of town/city where school is located
Sant Sadurni d’Anoia
Experience in school including tasks, classes, relationship with students/teachers
My experience in the school has been great so far, it is a very welcoming environment. I have taken students for one on one speaking practice, using pictures for prompts, or taking a piece of the tasks they are doing in class and speaking about that. I am helping to do projects in English with two of my classes. I play games, read books and generally encourage the students to talk in English. The teachers have been an immense help with merging me into the school environment and getting used to having me in their classes. I am extremely happy with how my first three weeks have gone.
Experience living with your Host Family. Have they made you feel welcome, relationship, activities, etc…
I am so lucky to have gotten this host family, I could not have asked for any better. They were extremely welcoming from the start and accepted me into their home and family right away. We go on walks or drives to other towns, we have movie nights, and the mother came to Barcelona with me and met my brother. We have already planned activities to do and for me to come back sometime in summer.
Your general experience whilst on the program from prior expectations to your current experience
I wasn’t sure what to expect before coming, I was moving to a completely new place and expecting to get along with a school full of people and fit into other people’s home. It seemed crazy to think about, but it worked out, everyone welcomed me with open arms. I am loving my time and trying to take in the experience while I can because the time is flying already.
Changes/Improvements in both personal and professional development
I have always been a home bird and love the comfort of knowing everyone around me, so it has been a crazy jump in personal development to move here. I have grown personally in three weeks more than I have in years. Being in a professional environment of a school is also something that is new to me, I was nervous about how I would fit in on the teacher side as I’ve always been the student. So, I have grown professionally by fully embracing the teacher role.
Advice for any new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your town/city (best places to visit, things to do, activities with host family, favorite restaurant, bar, etc.…)
Walks in the vineyards are beautiful and so relaxing. If you like paella get it from Fonda Neus on a Thursday it is amazing. If you like going to the gym, some of the gyms here are crazy busy but I found a lovely quiet one called Uematsu, also the owners are so lovely and helpful. Selectre is an amazing bar in the centre. Get out and go for walks there is always something cool to find around here, different small shops or cafes.
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your school?
Don’t be shy, the kids and teachers appreciate enthusiasm, and it makes the first few days of hellos so much easier. Make the speaking fun or entertaining for the children, it is difficult for them to become comfortable around you and especially when they are speaking their second language. Try to have some basic Catalan words to make your life easier with hellos and general communication. Meritxell is amazing so don’t be afraid to go to her with any issue she is always willing to help. I feared working in ESO because I am so close in age to them, but all the kids are lovely just try to find common interest or something they will want to talk about because it is harder to get the teenagers to start talking sometimes.
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers in relation to living with your host family or Spanish families in general.
Embrace the Spanish lifestyle. It is a complete culture shock coming from Ireland to Spain we do nearly everything differently. But once you get over the initial shock just embrace it. They are so loving and want to show you everything that is great about Spain. Try out the different food, make sure to spend time with the family because everyone here is very sociable, and be enthusiastic about going places or doing activities with them.
Share some of the best moments in your school, host family and in general whilst participating on the program
Coming from Ireland I am used to freezing weather so in my first week here it was cold, but for me it was not that bad, so I was in school, and it was my first day meeting this class. The teacher introduced me and said does anyone have questions for Emily, one child’s hand shot up and she said, “Why is she wearing a t-shirt!!!!” I definitely haven’t worn one since. Some of the best moments with the family are just our laughs at dinner, we find everything funny. We are getting a blackboard so that every time someone tries to say a word in English, and they make one up instead we can write it on the board, we call it Cata-English.
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 have no regrets about joining, I would recommend this to everyone. It is an amazing learning experience as well as a chance to experience life in a different culture. It includes travel and education, fun and knowledge. It is an experience you can’t let pass you.