To begin with, I taught two classes at Eurosur, every Tuesday afternoon and Friday afternoon. Both groups had a good grasp of English so I didn’t need to speak very much Spanish. At this institution, I taught American English, they have various text books for the different levels so I simply followed this. It was good fun listening to my students ideas on the slow city movement and saving the environment. All schools and colleges close for Christmas so I had a break for a couple of months.
The following year, I taught six classes. Some of them were at the same level so I taught the same class twice to different students. My Saturday classes, for instance, were at the same level. My morning class started at 07.30, never had I taught so early before but here in Encarnacion, it is normal to start school so early because it gets so hot during the day. This class was interesting, I had shy students, late students and too cool for school students. I had to speak slowly and clearly as some of the struggled a little with English. It was good fun getting them to work together in different pairs and moving them when they didn’t listen. Overall, they were a delightful bunch to teach. I had twelve or fourteen students each Saturday provided they all showed up. My afternoon class was much smaller, only four students but they were all bright and enthusiastic. We would sometimes go off on a tangent and talk about Paraguayan culture, marriage and family life.
Monday afternoon I had two students sometimes three. One of my students was only sixteen but she was very bright, my other student was twenty one. Tuesday afternoon I had four students, three of which were very eager to learn and we discussed our daily routines, movies and our lifestyles. Tuesday evening, I had around twelve students, most of whom were older than I and most of whom were working. This group was perhaps my favourite, they spoke limited English but were so keen to learn. We laughed a lot about the pronouncation of words and how words are spelt. Where Spanish words are written how they sound, English words not so which is what makes it so difficult. My Friday class consisted of three students, one of whom was extremely shy, the two boys were both intelligent and consequently they wouldn’t always come to class.
I learnt a great deal from my students; about their culture and life in Paraguay, their dreams, their fears and their goals in life. Some of them set the bar high, they would to travel or work aboard. They wanted to earn good money and buy a house in Miami. Others however, wanted to live near their family or move to the countryside in Paraguay. I encouraged all of them to dream and think big. I believe my students can do anything they put their mind to. They are young, bright and intelligent so there is no reason why they can not.
My students helped increase my confidence as a teacher. I was never made to feel uncomfortable or awkward due to my bad Spanish. Rather google translate combined with dictionaries meant we were both constantly learning the meaning of new words. My students were kind and patient with me. They respected me, they turned up to my lesson on time for the most time and were dedicated to learning something new. Unlike back home, where some teachers really struggle with their students, I never had to thankfully.
It was hard when I left, I had been in Paraguay and had taught many of my students for nearly five months. My last lesson with each of my classes was hard and a little emotional. Some of my students wrote me a letter while others got me a gift. Some cried and others wanted me to come back. It was hard, I felt touched by their kindness, warmth and love. Here I was, this lost, London, backpacker teaching them and they helped ground me and gave me a sense of purpose each day. I looked forward to each day, I thought of different ways to engage my students and to ensure they got the most from each class. I was never bored with my lessons and never dreaded going into class. I was sad to leave this all behind. This experience reinforced how much of an impact teachers have and I how could inspire and encourage my students to chase their dreams. Whilst I never completed any teaching qualifications back home, my experience here made me seriously consider doing just that. I love children and enjoy teaching so why not do both? I don’t know if I can say I was lucky or that I was in the right place at the right time. Liza needed help and I needed a job so we both gained. As for my students, I know they benefited too and hope one day to see them again.