Sunday, February 19, 2012

Use your brain in Spain

Looking for an inexpensive Spanish vacation? If you don't mind doing some work in return, consider the program offered by Grupo Vaughan ( for volunteers to help Spaniards learn English. The program lasts six days in several different locations in central Spain, and includes all costs except air fare to Madrid. No teaching experience is required, and there is no upper age limit. Being a native English speaker is a requirement, though.
The schedule is quite full, with conversation classes and various activities where you are expected to interact with your students, most of whom are business people. If you think this sounds easy, think again. One of my early English teaching experiences involved speaking with two men, one from Uzbekistan and one from Afghanistan, who both worked as mechanics. After just a few minutes I ran out of topics--my knowledge of mechanics is very limited. I asked about their families, but knew that it is not considered polite in their cultures to inquire much about their wives. The time passed extremely slowly. A program like the Vaughan program, which requires a lot of interaction most of the day, is probably best for garrulous people.
There are other openings for volunteers to speak English with people trying to learn that language, and many are listed on The Republic of Georgia has been bringing in many volunteers who are willing to commit to a semester or more teaching English to school children, and Chile also has a big push on for English learning at all levels of education.
If you are determined to find some way to teach English abroad, these volunteer programs are a good way to try out the field and see whether you enjoy it, before you commit to an expensive certificate program or sign a long-term contract.

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