Leon, Nicaragua Teaching English Q&A With Jared Swanson
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
25 years old
What is your education level and background?
BA in Environmental Studies
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
I did a 3 week high school trip across Europe, alternative spring break service trips to Mexico in college, and backpacked the Philippines for 2 months after college.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I wanted to experience living abroad, and teaching English seemed to be the most logical way to make this happen.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I was nervous about going abroad without having a job in place first.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
I didn’t shock anyone with my decision, however many people thought it was foolish to move abroad without a job secured.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy Nicaragua?
I chose the International TEFL Academy Nicaragua because they seemed the most reputable and professional online. I was able to see their reviews, and testimonials from other graduates on their website. When I contacted them, they seemed like they were helping me make a decision that was good for me. Also, Nicaragua is the most affordable country in the region, and once you factor in the housing costs, and living expenses, it just made more sense for me to get certified in Nicaragua.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
I took the TEFL course in Leon, Nicaragua.
How did you like the course?
The course was so much fun! I loved it! Our instructors Carmen and Heather were able to teach us so much information into just 4 weeks. The class was extremely interactive and had us up and moving around, writing mock lesson plans and presenting them to our classmates. I will say that is was very challenging and stressful at times, but so much fun.
My favorite part was the practice teaching, where we taught two hour lessons to Nicaraguan students. It was real life experience and showed you if this is something you want to do for a career.
Something else rewarding that I liked about this course, was going through such an intensive 4 weeks really bonded my classmates and I! I consider them all good friends and love hearing about their international adventures teaching English as well.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training at ITAN has shaped my entire teaching experience abroad. I’m currently 4 months into volunteer teaching in Colombia and I pull on my TEFL training daily. ITAN even prepared me for what real world teaching experience would be like in Latin America.
TEACHING ABROAD IN CALI, COLOMBIA
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Colombia because I was really drawn to the Volunteers Colombia program via Greenheart Travel, which was introduced to me in the job placement training I received at ITAN. My city, Cali, was assigned to me once I was accepted into the program, and I am beyond content here. I have already extended my contract to stay another year.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I came directly to Colombia from Nicaragua in June 2015 and will be here at least until June 2016.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I work for Volunteers Colombia, which is a government initiative to put foreign English teachers in public schools.
How did you get your work visa? If you didn’t get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
My work visa and cedula (Colombian ID) was provided by my employer.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I teach post-secondary students at a government vocational school. Basically picture a Community College. The school is modern but does not always have enough classrooms, so occasionally I have had to teach classes outside. My students and colleagues are amazing and I love the relationships I have built.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I found an apartment by walking around the neighborhood in which I decided I wanted to live in and finding for rent signs. Other volunteers in the same program then went in on the apartment with me, it was very simple!
COUNTRY INFORMATION – FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:
Cali has an amazing culture. It’s is appropriately named the salsa capital of the world, Cali definitely knows how to party. Public transportation is widely available and affordable.
I get paid around $500 USD a month, and I spend just about all of it. However I eat out and go out often. I also travel during long weekends. Keep in mind that I am working as a volunteer, and working in the private sector would allow me to live much better and potentially save.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I would say that my standard of living is comfortable, given that I can go out often, and travel once in a while.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
If you want to live comfortably, you could live off less than $500. I think I have a good standard of living and am able to do some light traveling earning about $500.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning on considering teaching abroad?
Would you recommend teaching in your country?
I would absolutely recommend teaching in Colombia. It is an amazing country and it definitely has me hooked.