Should I teach in Spain or South America if I’m not fluent in Spanish?

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Looking to learn Spanish, but definitely not fluent yet.


Yes! Having some knowledge of Spanish is certainly helpful -- but more for your day to day life, making friends, etc. not the actual teaching part.

Technically, you shouldn't teach by translation. Linguists have citied that teaching solely in the language a student is learning will help better create an immersion environment. Learning by translation is not actually a good way to learn a language. Rather, we're trying to get our students to figure out English within the context of English.

So, instead of explaining activities in Spanish, you should be using really simple English, demonstrate every activity before you assign it to the class, and ask questions to check understanding (e.g. ask "what verb should you use here?". NEVER ask "do you understand?")

I speak Spanish fluently but I have taught with colleagues who only have a very basic level of Spanish. Knowledge of the home language is not necessary to teach English in a Latin country. In fact, I have had colleagues criticized for using too much Spanish in class. I would say however, that life outside the classroom is much easier if you have some basic language skills and are willing to make the effort to communicate in the national language. Teaching placements will offer language training for their teachers because it will make life easier and encourage teachers to stay longer.

It depends what kind of Spanish you are seeking to learn... While they may be inherently the same language, European Spanish is much different from South American.

When I moved to Madrid, I knew a very basic level of Spanish and learned so much about the language in my time there. However, being an American I was taught Latin American Spanish and found my transition to European Spanish to be a bit difficult. It's all about what your ear is trained to hearing. You can equate it to a Spanish person being able to understand British English vs. American English - the accents are completely different and the words can be different, too.