Teacher Spotlight: Kamalia Alcantara

Programs for this blog post

Teach In Spain Program

Authored By:

CIEE Teach Abroad

Name: Kamalía Alcantara
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
CIEE Teach Term: Oct 2017-June 2018, Teach in Spain Immersion
Location in Spain (Neighborhood or Town): Salamanca, Madrid

Why did you want to teach English in Spain? What did you hope to learn, gain and contribute? Honestly, I wanted to immerse in a different culture and improve my Spanish speaking/understanding skills. I wanted a change. I wanted to see more of the world--yet still somehow positively contribute to it. What better way than to teach in Europe!

I hoped to learn more Spanish, gain more friends and cultural capital and contribute my expertise in American culture and language and share my passion for education to a new generation of young Spanish citizens, empowering them to achieve upward mobility for themselves and their future families.

Tell us about your daily routine as an English teacher. What was a “typical day” like? I don't have what you might call a "typical day" since my schedule is different Monday-Thursday, but--I will give you a snapshot! My full day contains 6 classes, 45 minutes each: 9:00am-11:15am (3 classes), 30-min break, 11:45am-12:30 (1 class), 2-hour lunch, 2:30-4:00pm (2 classes). Thursdays I only come in 9:00am-12:30pm and I'm OFF on Fridays! Typically, I go into school at 9:00am and wait with my 2nd or 4th grade students in line, talking to them, hugging and kissing them back. I might be asked to lead class and reinforce their learning on sea animals, vertebrates, or body parts, or I am tasked with choosing 2-3 students at a time and playing an English game with them at the back of the class or helping them read while the lead teacher teaches. I may also accompany the 2nd graders on their bi-monthly field trips! 28 out of my 30 2nd graders LOVE to learn English with me & each morning I am bombarded by tiny laughing humans with surprisingly strong hugs. 

If you want an in-depth look of a typical day, ninja jump HERE

What is the funniest thing a student said while you were teaching? Oh gosh, I stay cracking up daily from my students' antics and the things they say.  I literally "LOL" 2,908 times per day... The funniest...is always when they ask outlandish questions about my life in the U.S. Randomly, while I was teaching 2nd graders about invertebrates and vertebrates, one of them raised his hand and shouted out (in his cute heavy Spanish accent, half in Spanish and half in English), "Teacher, have you eaten dinner with President Obama?!" or when I told them I partially grew up in California, they all assumed I was a former actress... ???

What advice would you give to an incoming CIEE teacher in Spain? Make friends, try new foods and new activities, celebrate Spanish culture and still celebrate your holidays in your own way, see Europe and Africa (it's affordable!), be flexible--it can be both frustrating and fulfilling to work with the Spanish students, admin and teachers, DO take selfies, post and share pictures...but try with all your might to be present and let yourself learn, grow and empower others. 

What are your plans after your teaching commitment in Spain? After my Spanish journey comes to a bittersweet end on June 30th, I will return home to Phoenix. I plan to continue my passion of narrating Audiobooks and voice acting, continuing to blog about travel and cultural resources and traveling the world when I can! 

Do you have anything additional you’d like to share? Want even MORE reasons for teaching abroad? Here are 9 reasons you should DROP EVERYTHING and teach abroad!