Name of Volunteer Speaker
Polish / Irish
Name of town/city where school is located
Experience in school including tasks, classes, relationship with students/teachers
I teach 4th, 5th and 6th class of primary. I usually work with a small group of students and work with them on conversation practices or vocabulary. I ask them simple questions on topics that they have already done or are doing in their English class. As well as that we do small activities like matching pairs, hangman or charades and the kids love it. The students are friendly and each time I see them around the school they wave or say hello to me.
I also help with older teenagers, which can be quite difficult at first because it takes them awhile to get comfortable. Some of them can be moody and not willing to participate and others love talking. With them I usually ask about their weekends, play charades, guess the title, it is usually all conversation-based activities.
I mostly talk to the English teachers who have been nice and helpful. Some teachers do not speak English that well and there is a communication barrier, which makes getting to know each other a little more difficult. I have learned a few Catalan phrases to help me communicate better.
Experience living with your Host Family. Have they made you feel welcome, relationship, activities, etc…
My host family is extremely nice. I get along with my host parents very well. The children are young and do not speak much of English, they are also very shy. However, they are slowly becoming more comfortable around me. The family have shown me so many beautiful places and I am extremely grateful to be able to see a part of their culture.
Your general experience whilst on the program from prior expectations to your current experience
I did not have many expectations coming over as I have never done something like this, so I did not know what to expect, but I thought I would be helping in the classes more like an actual language assistant.
Changes/Improvements in both personal and professional development
I am a shy person, so for these past few weeks it has been challenging for me to be out of my comfort zone and I do think I have changed since I have come here. I am more confident than I was in my first week and I learn something new about teaching every day.
Advice for the 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.…)
My host family lives a bit further away from Vic, in a little village called Santa Eulalia de Ruprimer. There is not much to do here, however the views of the surrounding mountains are very pretty. We often go on road trips to different cities. There is a nice café that is near to the school called El Caputxi. They have lots of fresh pastries to choose from and a vast variety of drinks. It is a common spot to go to on the big lunch break. Placa Major in Vic is like the town square, surrounded by lots of cafes, restaurants and shops, there is something there for everyone.
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your school?
Be prepared for the primary kids, they are loud, active, and excited. Sometimes because of the excitement they do not focus that well. Some students have different English levels so need to be prepared to adapt to each level according to the students need.
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers in relation to living with your host family or Spanish families in general
One of the biggest culture shocks for me is how the mealtimes in Spain are quite different to the times that I am used to. Breakfast is something light, lunch is quite a big meal, and I am surprised at how long the lunch break is. Dinner is often late at 9pm which I normally would not eat that late back at home but seeing how the lifestyle is so different here it makes sense as to why it is this late. All the shops are open until late as well, which is good if you need something. Also, communication is key to avoid any misunderstanding.
Share some of the best moments in your school, host family and in general whilst participating on the program
In the school: One of the best moments for me is seeing a personality change within the group of teenagers that I teach. Some of them went from having no interest and not participating to making jokes and laughing and enjoying the class. It is nice to see that change happen, the students become more open, and they give me ideas on what they like to do, which is helpful. The group consists of 5 students, they all have different personalities which is funny, some of them are party-goers others are more introverted and like to play video games, but I feel like I have gotten to know them a lot throughout these weeks, and we have built a good relationship.
In the family: The family are great. They have shown me a lot, for example Tossa de Mar, Girona, Panta de Sau and much more. My favorite place that we have been to is Rupit, it’s a small medieval village with cafes and restaurants and a church. To enter the village, you must cross a bridge, it sways from side to side, which is a bit scary if you do not like heights, but the views are amazing. There is a hiking trail that leads into the woods, inside you can find a waterfall Salt de Sallent. The hike took around 2 hours, but it was so worth it. I love nature and going on long walks. I really recommend this place to anyone who is a nature lover, the views are simply breathtaking.
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 never been away from my family and my dog for this long, there are days that I miss them but other days there is so much happening I do not even think of it. The time really does go by quickly. I have no regrets. I am glad I applied for this program as I am gaining teaching experience and I see what the day in the life of a teacher looks like. If you plan to join the program, come prepared, bring winter clothes as it does get very cold here. I suggest buying vitamins or supplements! I have been sick twice since I have come here.