Leon, Nicaragua Teaching English Q&A With Doc Stull
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Doctor of Education (Kinesiology), Master of Arts (Physical Education), Bachelor of Arts (Communications Arts)
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
20 countries (Europe, Middle East, Russia)
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
I studied German in Heidelberg, and in West Berlin, Germany. I also studied French, German, and International relations in Strasbourg, France. And then Spanish and my TEFL class in Granada and Leon, Nicaragua.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I traveled extensively after receiving my undergrad, but once I decided to go back to school to pursue my Grad and Doctorate in Education, life caught up with me, and I haven’t traveled since my 20’s. Nicaragua is the first place outside of the US that I have been to in over 20 years. I am also looking for a place to live after retirement, and Nicaragua seems to be a good fit for me. I also wanted to learn Spanish.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I really didn’t have any concerns. I am fairly versed in Nicaraguan history and literature, and I knew that it was a safe place to visit. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, and challenge of coming to Nicaragua, and experiencing it first hand.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My friends and family loved the vicarious experience of hearing about it. Dare I say they were inspired by it. I also do a local radio show for ESPN, and I incorporated some Nicaraguan athletes, and history in some of my radio show’s, so that was cool for people back home to hear as well.
Here is Doc Reciting His Poem “Ode to Nicaragua”
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy Nicaragua?
I decided to get TEFL certified for a few different reasons. First, I wanted to learn Spanish. I really liked the aspect that Nicaragua is sort of like an adventure all by itself. Also because I have done a lot of reading about Nicaragua’s history, literary and sports figures. Then the highly positive discussions I had while I was deciding where to go with Jon and Heather Smith in Leon and Shay Ames in Chicago.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
April 13 – May 9, 2015 course in Leon, Nicaragua.
How did you like the course?
I liked the course very, very much! I enjoyed the interaction with other teacher trainees. I liked being challenged by a new pedagogy, looking at the mechanics of the English language and methods of teaching language and language study applications. Heather was a tremendous teacher with great energy and engagement and was a great, great resource. Carmen, the morning instructor, was very patient, and was a great combination to the team. Jon had the steady hand, a wry eye for humor and a unique admixture of realism and the avant-garde. They were a wonderful professional and personal combination and students there are lucky to have their leadership. I very much enjoyed the Nicaraguan EFL students at the school as well.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
It re-inspired me to look at careful lesson planning and thoughtful reflection about how one teaches and manages a class and curriculum/course of study. It was a valuable experience in looking within an acquired skill that one takes for granted (English as a native tongue as opposed to a consciously and systematically “learned” skill) and what is the basis for all knowledge acquisition (the facility for language).
The class and certificate allowed me to go back and teach in my own community to non-native English speakers – something I wanted to do as an income supplement after retiring, but also to make a difference in the future communities and citizens of the USA.
TEACHING ABROAD IN LEON, NICARAGUA
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I spent three months in Nicaragua – one in intensive Spanish immersion with a local family in Granada, one in Leon on a 190 hour on-site TEFL certificate program, and one traveling the county.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
Would love to return on a yearly basis and teach for a few months each year.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Was just hired in my own community by the local community college to teach non-credit ESL. I am currently in my last semester at my current university before retiring.
COUNTRY INFORMATION – FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:
Granada – The oldest city in the western hemisphere settled by the Spanish, it has a ton of History, and it is a great central location to other cities and other geographical wonders (Laguna de Apoyo, Ometepe, Leon, Pacific coast, Managua, etc.). It also has great restaurants, and is very popular with tourists.
Leon – Has great energy, nightlife, university-life, and is culturally rich. Leon has the most options for a well-rounded experience in Nicaragua.
Matagalpa – The pearl of the north has a cooler climate with the higher elevation in the mountains. It has a really good “feel.” It is a smaller city with a more intimate atmosphere.
Ometepe – Nicaragua’s Gem, this place is magical. Mark Twain wrote about it in Travels With Mr. Brown. You can hike either of the two volcanoes, Concepcion or Maderas. You can also swim, rent scooters, or see some of the 1700 Petroglyph’s on the island.
Nicaragua is “rewarding;” though a poor country, the people seemed resilient – they had a certain fatalism tempered with humor and inner toughness. They love family, parades and genuinely are very hospitable, particularly if you try to speak Spanish and smile. They are proud of their sports and literary figures. Nicaragua has a very interesting quality about it – you can’t go there with an “entitled” attitude. You get a lot when you give a lot. I had studied and worked in the Old World (Germany) forty years ago. This was very different. I felt more of an emotional connection in Nicaragua, more of a human touch/connection. It’s hot, but that’s part of it…and you meet others who have the spirit of “adventure” who like roads “less traveled” …you sense a bond there, kindred spirits…hard to measure these kinds of intangibles simply with words.
You can travel to most cities fairly easily by bus. You have to get over an overly developed sense of personal space however when you are traveling.
What are your monthly expenses?
You could do with $500 month. $750 would allow travel and have plenty of fun.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I had a private room with a fan that was with a local family. Shower with no hot water, small private bathroom, kitchen privileges.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
With smart money management and knowledge of city – $500/month
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN NICARAGUA
What advice would you give someone planning on considering teaching abroad?
Lots of study ahead of time to build both context and anticipation for the TEFL course. I would also recommend some Spanish language study – the basics at least. Suspension of judgment – willingness to live according to new customs and conditions. Lots of humor. Go with the idea that with every experience, good or bad there comes a new “story” to tell and/or use to understand the human condition!
Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Nicaragua – yes.