My Typical Day In The Teach In Portugal Volunteer Program

Authored by:
Sarai P.

Sarai P.

I love my experience so far with my school. It’s a public school that has been around for quite some time. It is situated on a block with several different buildings where the kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school are all right next to each other. It’s very laid back and stress free. As a volunteer you aren’t responsible for anything like grading or lesson planning, things like that. Your role is to pretty much talk and interact with the students as much as possible, be caring and have fun. You’re there for them to hear a native English accent and to practice their English with you! The ‘HOW’ is up to you and your teacher!

I ride to school with the family in the morning and arrive at 9:00 a.m. My first class doesn’t start until 9:30 so I have down time where I’ll do some activity planning or just enjoy a coffee before class starts. After the first class, there’s a short break where the teachers may have a meeting. Then I’ll have my next two classes, followed by an hour and a half lunch. There’s a lunchroom where lunch is provided but I usually go for a walk to a cafe or a nearby park. Some days I’ll have a class after lunch, otherwise I’m typically done by 1 and have Fridays off!

Most classes are done partially in English. Most of the Teachers speak English fairly well and there are two additional ‘floater’English teachers (not foreign teachers, they’re Portuguese) that spend an hour with a different class each day. In these classes,very minimal Portuguese is used. Sometimes I’ll be with them toassist with their lesson, and other times I’ll be in the regular class with their main teacher - all the teachers are wonderful!Every one of them is very accommodating, welcoming and are always open to new ideas.

I have a kindergarten class and two second grade classes where the average number of students is around 26. You might already know this is pretty typical for a public school. Their speaking level varies on the beginner scale, but they have an impressivevocabulary. Working with the Kindergarteners is a blast. They have loads of energy and the class is a little faster pace with lots of different hands on activities to keep them engaged. A bit more discipline is needed for this age of course but you don’t have to worry about any of that. We’ll usually spend some time in a circle on the floor doing an activity or having free conversation,and other times we’ll be at the group tables painting, coloring, and getting messy. The second graders have a bit more structure. Here, we spend more time at their desks working in the workbooks they have for their different subjects, while the teacher lectures at the front of the class.

For each class I’m allotted an hour. Depending on the schedule, what class, teachers’ needs, and so on... I have done things from assisting the little ones with different crafts and projects, to teaching mini English games. Whenever it’s work time in any class, I’ll try to get around to each student and ask them a question about their work or about their weekend too! With the ‘floater’ English teachers, I’m more actively walking around and checking the students work, while answering questions. Sometimes the teacher will need help with grammar for simple phrases or pronunciation for some words. The kids are very well behaved, are kind to one another and eager to learn, making every day a breeze! They’re happy and excited to have you! They’ll give you hugs and will want to talk your ear off, even in Portuguese!

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