Leon, Nicaragua Teaching English Q&A With Luis Espinales
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
I am Nicaraguan
What city and state are you from?
I am from Chinandega, Nicaragua.
How old are you?
I am 31 years old.
What is your education level and background?
I am currently in my third year of completing my Bachelors Degree in English Education.
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
I traveled to the United States in 2013.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
What motivates me is I want to know different types of cultures, and people, and to have new experiences which help me grow in the education field. When I was in high school, I used to help my classmates in Math and English, so I think that’s how everything started. Then, when I began my university studies, I had to earn money to pay for my expenses. I then began teaching English in a small English Academy on Saturday’s, and I spent two years teaching at that school. After that I decided to change my major at the university, which was computer programming, because I fell in love with teaching English.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified, and choose International TEFL Academy Nicaragua?
I have been in the education field for a while, and two of my co-workers took this course before me. They only had great things to say about the course, and that they learned a lot. They said that after the course, people really know what a lesson plan is, and tips that will help me save time, and be a better teacher in the classroom. The experience of the course instructors, Heather and Carmen, is obvious, as they had many methods and strategies that I will take back to my school. Plus, ITA Nicaragua’s TEFL course is a certification which is recognized in many countries. Then, I did a lot of research on my own about International TEFL Academy Nicaragua, and I realized that the course was really worth it. I will also be getting a pay raise at my current job where I teach English.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
On-site course at International TEFL Academy Nicaragua in Leon, January 2015.
How did you like the course?
The course was awesome. The ITA Nicaragua Staff is really friendly, and experienced. You don’t spend your time learning worthless activities, all the activities have a purpose. Heather and Carmen are organized, and they teach every activity with great passion. The course was hard, but I was really excited, happy, and motivated at the end of the course because I had gained a lot of tools and resources to become a better teacher.
We also had our practicums at the TEFL Academy, and it was great because I had an personal observer for every class I taught who gave me excellent feedback on my lesson plans, and the way I taught students.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
It has been amazing how the new methodology and lesson plan structure I acquired at ITA Nicaragua has drastically changed the way I assess students now. I am more organized, my lesson plans have a well-developed structure, and I am getting better results with students.
Also read featured article “A Day In The Life Of A TEFL Student.”
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I am currently working for a private school named “Mi Mundo”, it is a private elementary and high school in Leon, Nicaragua.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I teach fourth and sixth grade in elementary school and upper beginners in high school. This school usually starts the first week of February and in the first week teachers have to work on pacing guides and lesson plans for the week. I teach 14 hours a week and it is just in the morning (10 hours in elementary school and 4 in high school)
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:
Nicaraguan people are really friendly, and the weather is nice because Nicaragua is a tropical country, and you can find a lot of fresh fruits easily in supermarkets, or local markets throughout Leon.
Public transportation is really cheap, and at certain times, buses get crowed. Public buses are safe and fast.
To be honest I am not a nightlife type of guy, but here in Leon, there are many bars you can go have some beers (which are cheap) and chat with your friends. If you get a bored, you can go dancing. In downtown Leon, there is a bar which offers salsa nights on Thursdays, it is so amazing how people dance salsa, so if you love salsa go there and have good time.
The food is simple and traditional, but good. A typical dish that is eaten is Gallo pinto (rice and beans). There are also some food courts or small restaurants where you can have local food.
Although teaching takes a lot of time, on Saturdays and Sundays you can go to Poneloya. It is a beach just 20 minutes from Leon by car, or 40 minutes by bus. People often go to the restaurants for the fresh seafood, and of course to go swimming or surfing.
If you are more adventurous, you can go volcano boarding at Cerro Negro. It is a great experience.
How would you describe your standard of living?
Nicaragua is a country in which you don’t spend too much, a person can live on $ 350 to $ 400 a month.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Around $ 400.
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
- Do your research about the country and culture.
- Research about schools or teaching institutions.
- Have an impeccable resume and cover letter.
- Bring enough money for the first months.
- Study, learn, and practice the local language or at least survival expressions.
- Be open, try to go out to meet people so you don’t feel homesick.
- Plan all your activities for every day.
- Always be positive to all situation you face and learn from them.
- Have fun and try to go out to different places.