Cathal from Ireland. In my opinion, this 3-month placement is brilliant as it gives me a taste of the teaching profession and what it is like to live in another country.

I believe that this experience has definitely made me more confident as a person. Also, it is making me think more and more about the possibility of becoming a teacher in the future.

Name of Volunteer Speaker




Name of town/city where school is located.


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

My experience at the school is going well. The teachers are so friendly and welcoming which made settling in very easy. With the older classes, I often take groups of 2 or 3 students for approximately 10-15 minutes of conversation. I feel that most of them enjoy this, and that they would like more opportunities to practise their oral skills. So far, I (at the request of teachers) have also played games such as Pictionary and Taboo. I think that games like these are a fantastic way to get the children thinking and speaking in English. In addition, I think that such activities emphasise that English is a useful communicative tool and not merely a school subject, which should help with motivation levels. With younger primary students and pre-primary students, I have read stories and sung songs. I sometimes assist the English teachers in the execution of textbook activities with the students. I have also accompanied some groups on their excursions which is a welcome break from the classroom. However, as everything is in Catalan and I have no knowledge of the language, it can be somewhat frustrating not being able to understand what is being discussed (especially if it seems interesting), but the teachers try their best to explain to me in English certain elements of the event in question so that I am not totally in the dark.

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

I am having a fantastic time with my host family so far. I imagine that inviting a stranger into one’s home for 3 months is a major decision, and so, I am grateful for their hospitality. My host family had spent 7 months in the west of Ireland (where I am from), and this was a great icebreaker for my first weekend with them. They include me in their weekend plans (usually Sunday), and I enjoy it thoroughly as it is both a great way to spend time with them and to see other parts of Catalonia. Living with my host family has also made it much easier to settle into my placement at the school. I truly appreciate all that they do for me. I feel that I have established a proper connection with them, and I hope that we stay in contact once my time here comes to an end.

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

As this is new territory to me, I did not have many expectations prior to my arrival. I wanted to keep an open mind and entered it with a somewhat “go-with-the-flow approach”. All classroom tasks/activities in which I have partaken have been under the direction of both English-language teachers. Initially, I thought that I would have some sort of autonomy and that worried me a little, naturally due to my inexperience. So, I am quite happy to be guided by Laia and Aleix. I have told them that I will help out in whatever way they see fit.

Changes/Improvements in both personal and professional development

I believe that this experience has definitely made me more confident as a person. Also, it is making me think more and more about the possibility of becoming a teacher in the future.

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.…)

Honestly, Bellpuig is quite small, so there is not much to do (just like my hometown of Ballina).

I recently went to Barcelona with my host family. We visited Gaudí’s house which I found impressive for both its artistry and its place in Catalan history. We also took a trip to the wax museum and many of the figures were eerily realistic.

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

Personally, when speaking to teachers and students, I would make sure to slow down just a tad (but not too much as that would be unnatural and perhaps appear somewhat condescending). I think that one should use some basic greetings in Catalan to show respect to the people and their culture. This is especially a good idea when acknowledging those with a limited command of English. It is also important for a Voluntary Speaker to express their enthusiasm, especially when among the students.

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

I think that a Voluntary Speaker should be prepared to spend lots of time with their host family. After all, they are inviting you into their home. It is particularly important to interact with the children. I often play games with the children (particularly those of card and board varieties). They are not only a great way to bond, but also to normalize the use of English in the house. I am not a sporty person (I wish I was) but I try my best for the children’s sake, especially Nil who adores soccer and basketball. His evident joy as a result of my companionship and willingness to try makes it all worth it.

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

Honestly, there are too many moments to mention. One of the best moments with my host family was watching Eurovision. We had a good laugh at the extravagant costumes and questionable dance moves. One of the best moments with the school was my first excursion with infant 4 & 5. This happened during the second week and it was a great way to get to know those teachers better and for those children to get used to my presence. Both my host family and the school teachers are terrific to be with. They also have fantastic senses of humour which I very much value in life.

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?

So far, everything is going splendidly, and I am glad to say that I have no regrets. I recently graduated from university and was not sure what my next step should be. The idea of teaching English abroad has always intrigued me. In my opinion, this 3-month placement is brilliant as it gives me a taste of the teaching profession and what it is like to live in another country. Also, its shorter duration allows a homebird like me to enjoy it to the fullest and without the prospect of homesickness. As a result, I am even more open to the idea of working abroad and for a longer period too. The overall experience has made a positive mark in my life and I will remember it for the rest of my days. Needless to say, I would highly recommend this program to others.

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