Tara Martin | Web Editor-in-Chief
Spanish teacher Kyle Nelson taught English in Fuenlabrada, Spain to students ranging anywhere from sixth to twelfth grade.
“My job was basically to develop American culture lessons and also help them with speaking, practice, and pronunciation,” Nelson said.
While by sixth grade, most students in Spain are almost bilingual in Spanish and English, Nelson said that a language barrier did still exist to some degree.
“Students could not understand my accent, which was very interesting,” Nelson said. “I also speak very fast and so the first couple of weeks, I really had to slow it down.”
As the students adapted to Nelson’s accent, he followed suit with the more relaxed environment of the school.
“Kids call teachers by their first names, that’s just the culture over there,” Nelson said. “It took me a bit to kind of embrace the culture of the school, because it is so different than what I’m used to.”
Though he acknowledges that it would be quite the undertaking, Nelson does wish American schools could follow Spain and other countries’ lead in some areas of education.
“Content-wise, I really wish that we could implement a lot of more of a bilingual program and getting kids to to learn a language earlier,” Nelson said.
English 9 teacher Tara Welches completed a portion of her student teaching in Auckland, New Zealand for a duration of three months at Henderson Intermediate School.
Immediately upon her arrival, Welches said that her host family began showing her the native New Zealand culture.
“Our students did to the haka for us, which looks like this very almost violent and aggressive dance, but it’s this traditional Māori greeting dance,” Welches said.
While in New Zealand, Welches said that her coworkers at the school put a large focus on immersing her in the culture of the country and less so about her classes. Much of this included pulling her and fellow student teacher Mrs. Kirkpatrick out of class to attend every field trip.
“There is more of an emphasis on a whole child approach as in they care about really integrating extracurriculars into the school day [in New Zealand],” Welches said. “You were pulled out of your school day to go play a game against the other school, but can you imagine if the basketball team just left during math and science and english class, in the middle of the day, to go play?”
Welches has seen America, Australia, and Europe more than once. Even with all this traveling, she said that New Zealand is her favorite.
“Without a doubt, New Zealand has my heart because of the people and the culture and the landscape,” Welches said. “There’s nothing like New Zealand.”
French teacher Mara Sigmon spent a year teaching English in Amiens, France. Leaving behind her old job in America, Sigmon said that the French school system took some adjusting to.
“They have different school times, they have different school teachers, just the way that people teach over there is different too,” Sigmon said. “They’re definitely more strict over there and I’m not a very strict person. That was difficult for me to get used to.”
After living abroad, Sigmon said that her time in France was beneficial in more ways than just purely educational.
“It definitely taught me to be more independent living on my own, especially in a foreign country away from my family and my friends and everything that I knew,” Sigmon said. “I learned how to rely on myself and how to get the things that I needed and wanted.”
Despite the abrupt life changes that comes with an international move, Sigmon said that she would recommend the experience to anybody interested in living overseas.
“There will be rough times, it will be difficult. You’ll miss your family and you’ll miss your friends, you’ll miss everything that you’re used to, but you learn so much about yourself in the process,” Sigmon said.