Trying to decide whether to volunteer or not? My answer is absolutely. This has been one of the best decisions I have made since I have been abroad. In the beginning, my program had meetings to plan for volunteering early in the morning. This discouraged me. When first arriving in Spain, all that matter to me was sleep. I thought to myself, I don’t want to do this anymore. After my first day at the school, those thoughts changed.
Every Tuesday, and occasional Thursday, from 3-5, I take the metro across town to a primary school. The kids I teach English to are only three years old. There are two classrooms that I teach. Each classroom has fifteen students. In the first hour, I teach all thirty at once. The last hour, we split the classes and I teach fifteen of them. Considering I love kids, this was a perfect fit.
Not only were the kids adorable, the counselor and both teachers were so nice. One teacher didn’t speak any English but the other was able to communicate with me. The teachers and I are now great friends.
The first few weeks, the teachers and I would come up with ways for me to teach. Here are a few ways I would teach the kids English:
When I first arrive, I stand in front of the whole class and show the kids pictures of a certain topic. For example, there would be pictures of fruits and vegetables. I would say the name of the picture and the kids would repeat after me.
The teacher would disperse a bucket of toys on the floor. I would play with the kids while telling them what the toy was. For example, she would lay out different types of animals. The kids would pick one up and I would tell them what the name of the animal was in English.
Occasionally, I will have the students sit in a circle on the floor and read them a book in English. The book is usually full of simple words and pictures. This way they can figure out what I am saying more easily. The story is always a common childhood one. For example, the students love Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
The kids are constantly asking me to sing. Every day I sing songs from my childhood. They are now able to sing a long in English. Their favorites are the Itsy-Bitsy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Every once in a while, I hear a kid singing it to him or herself.
After a while, I felt like I wasn’t doing much to help them learn English. The teacher informed me that just hearing English, they will catch on. I tell the kids to do the same tasks every day, very slowly. They have now been starting to recognize the phrases.
Volunteering is a wonderful experience. It is a great way to meet new people. If you find yourself deciding whether to volunteer abroad or not, I would say it is a must. Use the tips above to teach your students English in different ways. Be patient because in the end, it all pays off.