Volunteering as an English Teacher in Argentina
Written by: Charlie Gordon
The first thing you notice when you speak to the other volunteers on different placements in Argentina is just how different some placements are to others. Northlands for example is in Buenos Aires, a huge and very wealthy school with loads of facilities and the volunteers there are only required to speak English to the kids who are completely bilingual from a young age. San Luis, however, which is where I am, is a much smaller and poorer primary school, it has only been around for a couple of years so the students don’t speak English too well, so it’s put my Spanish to the test. So there’s a lot of variety of what you could be doing in Argentina even within the same field of English Teaching in one country.
Day to day life in my placement involves getting up around 6:45 and having breakfast with my host family, and then they take me to school for about 7:30. I sit and chat with Vitoria for a bit (a Canadian girl who is teaching in the same school as me) and we always get an enthusiastic welcome from the kids as they arrive to school, especially the ones that we respectively teach, which is lovely! We’ll eat breakfast with our class, and then teach for the morning. I’m an assistant so I don’t take classes on my own, but I help out whenever they do an activity, check a lot of work, do a few presentations maybe about where I’m from, or something related to the topic they’re studying. We have a break in the morning and then we’ll eat lunch with the kids as well which is provided by the school and is very nice. Carry on teaching in the afternoon after switching classes, and it’s overall a lot of fun, a completely satisfying experience, and in my placement especially the kids love us, they’re so enthusiastic it’s great! School finishes at 4pm so me and Vitoria get the bus into San Luis centre, may occasionally wander around some shops or stop in a cafe for a coffee or some food, and then head home.
I personally have some free time when I get home because my host family work until relatively late. But when they come back we’ll eat dinner together, luckily my host mother is a brilliant cook, and I’ll normally play some FIFA with my host brother Facundo who’s 19 (I struck lucky there). Then off to bed.
That’s my stereotypical day on my placement in San Luis, obviously some days there are more things going on than others, but every day has presented a new challenge and not once have I been bored. It’s a constant learning experience and I’m loving it. As for the weekends, Argentina is basically your oyster, especially when you have a 3 or 4 day weekend as we have done a couple of times already. I’ve been here for 2 months and I’ve already been to Buenos Aires 3 times to meet up and stay with the other volunteers (who are absolutely awesome by the way), and also to Mendoza. Being on placement day to day is what it’s all about but when a weekend comes around and you know you’re going on a 12 hour overnight bus trip to meet your friends in such an awesome city as Buenos Aires, that most definitely helps to put the cherry on top of such an already sweet cake.