Learning to Teach

school buildingI don’t know about you, but my June was pretty great! It was spent with great people, great culture, and a GREAT internship. The impetus for my journey to Spain was to teach English at the International Immersion Institute. This is an academy founded by Heather Espeso, Melissa Anderson, and Nuria Serrano with the objective to create a fun and natural way of learning English. Classes are limited to a maximum of six students and are offered to preschoolers, primary students, teenagers, those preparing for official language exams, unemployed adults, and beginner to intermediate adults. In this type of environment, students of all ages can build on their reading and writing skills they have learned in a standard school setting by gaining experience with speaking and conversation.

Initially, I was unsure of what to expect from this task. When I told people what I would be doing, they typically responded with, “Do you even know how to be a teacher?” The truth was, I didn’t have previous teaching experience. However, I did know how to be a leader, confident, and adaptive. With these three qualities in mind, I set off to see what my future had in store, surprising myself and others with my abilities.

School 2For the first couple of days, I observed many classes, and acted as an assistant. Even after the first day, I knew I liked what I saw. The teachers welcomed spontaneity during the class and took advantage of every teachable moment. There weren’t worksheets, quizzes, or tests. The students learned vocabulary, played educational games, sang, read books, and engaged in great conversation. In this type of setting, the students are eager and ready to learn.

By the end of the first week, another intern arrived from Wisconsin, Jake Johnston. Jake and I took on a class of adult beginners together. After the first class, I realized that I loved what I was doing. The class was productive, and we shared many laughs and conversations. Although I assisted with many classes throughout the week, I eventually taught a class of four preschool-aged girls independently. At this age, they are mostly capable of learning basic concepts like vocabulary, colors, shapes, and the weather.

School

Teaching my class

For the first couple of weeks, the theme was summer vacation. The students in all classes learned summer vocabulary. The preschool classes made rainbow fish magnets with sequins and prepared their song, “Five Little Monkeys,” to perform for their parents the following week. The primary classes also did summer activities and practiced the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen for their parents. The adult classes focused on summer vacation and traveling. They also went over future tense verbs.

Creating the rainbow fish

Creating the rainbow fish

The second week featured a cooking workshop for all classes. We made no-bake energy bites, an American snack that surprised many students.

Cooking workshop with the preschoolers

Cooking workshop with the preschoolers

Cooking workshop with adult learners

Cooking workshop with the adult learners

The third week was parent observation for the preschool and primary students. After making “Hello Summer” posters, the students performed their songs wonderfully and their parents could observe the structure of the classes. The adults reviewed giving directions and practiced interview questions.

Hello, summer!

Hello, summer!

School 5

Making our “Hello Summer” posters

During the fourth week, each class hosted a goodbye party. The preschoolers made fans and brought snacks to share. The teenagers and primary students played a variety of games, including Apples to Apples. The adults spent the second half of their classes grabbing coffee at a local coffee shop.

Fans made with popsicle sticks

Fans made with popsicle sticks

Enjoying some good coffee and good conversation on the last day of class

Enjoying some good coffee and good conversation on the last day of class

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better internship opportunity. Although I was in a new place with many distractions, I was always eager to go to class and attend to my responsibilities. As much as I helped teach others, the students, teachers, and culture taught me more things than I could ever express. I regard this internship as one of the best decisions I have made thus far in my life, and I highly recommend this opportunity to any JCC student who is ready for growth, insight, and adventure!

School 10

I love my kids!


Learn more about our international internships and how you can have an experience like Nicole’s! JCC offers a wide variety of internship opportunities, both abroad and at home, paid and unpaid, for credit or not, with the college or with area businesses and organizations. Check out our listing of available internship opportunities and fill out an internship interest form to learn more.

About the author

Nicole Ewer

Hello there! I am Nicole Ewer, a small town girl from Pennsylvania embarking on a new adventure in Valladolid, Spain. I am pursuing a month-long internship for the month of June teaching English. Spanish has always been one of my passions, and I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to explore the language and culture in Spain!