My passions for teaching and traveling were widely awakened when I became a WorldTeach volunteer English teacher in Chile in 2009. Before we received our teaching assignments, about 20 other volunteers and I received incredible training in not only best practice communicative approach teaching, but also in the culture of Chile. The amount of support that we received pre-departure and in-country were phenomenal.
After three weeks, we had to leave our comfort bubble of the training in Santiago and we embarked on our own individual teaching assignments in various rural towns in the eighth (Bio-Bio) region of the country. We all lived with host families who were incredibly welcoming and warm. My home was just a few blocks from my school so I could easily walk there and back. It was a very safe town (like most of Chile) and the locals treated me like I was a rock star. It was winter when I first arrived, and the south/central part of the country can get wet and cold. If I didn't have a scarf on, without a doubt, someone would wrap a "bufanda" around my neck for fear I would catch a cold. I didn't even have to miss my mother with a town like that!
Teaching had its immense triumphs and challenges. I taught 5th through 8th grade. I had experience working with adult immigrants, so this was a new realm. I had to spend a lot more time on classroom behavioral issues than I was used to, which can be challenging in the communicative approach (English only in the classroom). The English level was very minimal. I taught introductions, emotions, numbers, the alphabet, days of the week, etc. I had about 15 students at a time. There were about 8 classes each meeting twice weekly, so I made about 4 different lesson plans a week. I had to create my own material, but I had complete control over what I wanted to teach.
The experience set a foundation for my educational career. I would definitely recommend WorldTeach to someone that is looking for a teach-abroad experience. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer.