For the past four weeks I’ve been volunteering in Buenos Aires with Voluntario Global. They have a number of different projects to choose from, and I chose teaching English. Before I arrived I didn’t have a clue where exactly in Buenos Aires I’d be teaching, what age group I’d be teaching, and what my teaching schedule would be.
Upon arrival, I soon learned that I’d be teaching in an after school academy. I was shown how to get there by one of the VG co-ordinators- it’s an hour away by train! Because it is an after school academy, I taught in the evenings. It meant getting the train home late at night, which wasn’t a problem, and my co-ordinator, (who also owns the academy), told me to always sit on the same train carriage as the police officers, so it was never a problem getting the train home at night.
The academy is just outside of Buenos Aires. It has five classrooms, all of various sizes.
There was one in particular I taught in for the majority of my time there.
I felt so comfortable teaching, especially in that classroom.
The academy also has a small garden, and I’ve seen some of the younger children playing there when they have there breaks from teaching. Each lesson is generally two hours long, so a break is needed for the students. And it always gave me a chance to figure out what the next part of the lesson was going to be.
The way the academy works is that the older students and more advanced students teaching the younger students who are at a lower level. It relies on volunteers from the UK, US and Australia, to give the students some exposure to a variety of different English accents. I think it’s brilliant that the more advanced students help out. My role as a volunteer there was to help the students with their pronunciation, as they study English phonology as part of their course. As I am a Geordie, (from the North of England), when I was helping them with their pronunciation, I could hear them mimicking my Geordie accent. I think that’s a great thing, as exposure to all the different English accents is really good for them, because if they do ever go to England they will be in a great position to understand most accents.
I also taught a bit of grammar too. I done this mostly in English, but partly in Spanish, as learning grammar in any language is complicated, but it’s even more complicated in English. There are so many rules, but all with too many exceptions, so explaining this in both English and in Spanish to my students would have helped them a lot.
It was really sad saying goodbye to all the students I’d taught on my last day, as well as all the other students at the Academy who I’d seen coming and going every day. I got told by my students that I was a great teacher, which made me really happy. It was my students who were great though, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my teaching experience with them, and being my first ever students I won’t ever forget this. I wish them all the very best of luck with their English studies.
Goodbye messages from my students!
My coordinator was really great too, she is a great teacher, and is so dedicated to the academy, which is great. She cares a lot about her students and pushes them to do well, because she wants them to succeed. She always makes sure her students have a hot drink when they arrive if it’s cold too!
I spent my four weeks at the academy teaching with a former student- a student who is still at school, preparing to go to University, but who has completed all of his studying at the academy. His English was absolutely brilliant and he is very talented. He has even taken it upon himself to study independently for an English exam which will qualify him as fluent and give him better career prospects. I think this is really admirable, and I have no doubt he will pass this exam. I wish him the best of luck with it.