"I learnt to be more confident and that you can do anything you set your mind to"
Name: Natasha Morgan
Occupation: Psychology Graduate
Volunteering period: 3rd March – 29th April 2012
What made you want to apply to volunteer and in particular for the project of teaching English?
I wanted to have an experience different to anything I have done before, and to get the opportunity to really get to know a different culture. Volunteering with a local community seemed like a good way to do this, and to add something extra to my backpacking trip. I wanted to teach English because I thought if I was going to volunteer, I should use a skill which I already have. As a native English speaker, I could help others to develop their Language skills. Also, as I speak only very basic Spanish, it would be easier for me to teach English than take part in other projects which would require a better level of Spanish.
How would you describe the project and your job and tasks?
I worked in two projects, both very different to each other: Pablo Nogues – This is a small after school English Academy where children come to get extra English tuition, more than they would at day school. There were several classes of children, but each day is different as not always the same children turn up each time. At the beginning of each afternoon I would be told what group I would be teaching, and be given the appropriate textbooks. Usually it was a group of about 3 or 4 8 year-olds, but it varied...sometimes I would be teaching one on one, and once, I had a class of 12. With the help of Ximena, one of the older students who acted as a teacher’s assistant (she was amazingly helpful) we would work through the exercises with the class. Hombre Nuevo – This is a private primary school in Flores, which places a heavy focus on teaching English. Here, I was less of a teacher, and more of an English Assistant. My role was to help out the teachers in English lessons, but mainly just to chat with the kids in class and in break-time, allowing them to practise their English and to find out about my background and English culture. Most of this involved them asking me questions about my life.
What are some of the best moments around the project and what have you learnt?
The co-ordinators and the kids in both the projects were really lovely, and I enjoyed getting to know them all. Highlights included successfully completing a lesson with 12 children, something I have never done before, and my last day at Hombre Neuvo, where I gave the kids smarties and baked beans, and the kids made me cards and alfahores. Also seeing their faces when I told them we don’t have dulce de leche in England! I learnt to be more confident and that you can do anything you set your mind to. I also learnt a lot about Argentinean culture.
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to look forward to for any volunteers that will be taking part in the same project?
I would recommend both the projects to any volunteers wanting to teach English, as long as they go in with an open mind. At Pablo Nogues, it is very much playing it by ear, but as long as you don’t try to be the perfect teacher, you’ll be OK. Just do the best you can, because having you there teaching them anything is better than having no lesson at all. At Hombre Nuevo, enjoy the opportunity to get to know the kids and to do something different with your time. It’s a private school, so the children aren’t the ‘poor’ people that you may think of when hear volunteering, but it’s still a really worthwhile project, just more in terms of cultural exchange. They will really appreciate having you around, and I know your visit makes their school day much more exciting.