I get the same question quite often when people learn I am living in Nicaragua, and they always ask how I ended up here?
In determining the path I was going to take to gain my TEFL certification, I received an email about the volunteer project International TEFL Academy Nicaragua has with a local organization, Proyecto Barrilete. The volunteer project strives to help meet the nutritional, educational and physical needs of children who have no, or limited family support.
After completing the four-week TEFL certification course with ITA Nicaragua, I was able to gain teaching experience through the volunteer program teaching English to the children of Barrilete. I participated with fellow teachers, both new and seasoned, and was able to implement techniques I had learned in the TEFL course, as well as new techniques that I am still using in the classroom today. The children of Barrilete have enriched my experience in Nicaragua and drawn me closer into the culture.
During the program at Barrilete, we work with the children on basic English skills through a variety of techniques. We spend the afternoons with the children rotating through different stations to work on a range of skills. The English teachers participating in the program plan the daily activities prior to teaching each day, and determine who will teach which stations. Typically on Fridays, there is a more fun, relaxed day where we bring fruit and play games with the children to build on the relationship we form with them.
Even after my initial three-week volunteer program commitment ended, I still continued to participate in English classes with the children as often as I could. They each hold a special place in my heart.
It gives you a rewarding introduction to teaching English in Nicaragua, and I would recommend anyone to participate in the program. Whether you are looking to gain more experience before entering the classroom in a structured environment, or would just like to give back to the local community, the volunteer project with ITA Nicaragua achieves both. This is the primary reason I chose the Leon, Nicaragua campus of International TEFL Academy for my certification, and I have not looked back! I am currently teaching English for another local NGO in the afternoons called El Ayudante, and at a local bi-lingual school called Mi Mundo in the mornings.