Lauren participated in CIEE's Teach in Spain 4-Week Immersion program in 2015 and was kind enough to share her experience with us! In our Immersion programs, you will arrive in Spain in late summer and stay with a host family while taking Spanish classes for either two weeks or four weeks. Afterwards, you will find your own accommodations and complete a full academic year of teaching English as a Language and Culture Assistant.
My name is Lauren and I participated in CIEE’s Teach Abroad four-week immersion program for the 2015-2016 school year. This was my first time in Spain! CIEE program coordinators met the other participants and I at the airport and assisted us with getting connected with our host families. My host family was an older Spanish couple. They had several empty apartments in the same building and used them to host CIEE participants. They didn’t have any children of their own and told my roommates and I that they considered us to be their children. They were very friendly and caring! They assisted us with navigating the metro and helped us make appointments to get our TIE cards. They showed us around the city and took us to their favorite landmarks. My host mom, Maria, brought us dinner every evening around 8:00pm. She and her husband, Carlos, stayed with us while we ate dinner and gave us the opportunity to practice speaking and listening to Spanish. I enjoyed spending time with them! The dinners usually consisted of meat, vegetables, bread and dessert. They provided yogurt, fruit and croissants for our breakfasts. We were responsible for our lunches. Most days, we would go out to eat with other students at Tandem after Spanish class. I shared the apartment with five other girls. There were three bedrooms, so each of us had a roommate. We all shared a single bathroom. Getting ready in the mornings was sometimes chaotic due to the high demand of the single bathroom, but we made it work!
My roommates and I took Spanish classes at Tandem. We had class Monday-Thursday but at different times due to our different levels of Spanish. I took a placement test the first day at Tandem and was placed in a class that was appropriate for my level. The placement test was having a conversation with a teacher in Spanish. Prior to arriving in Spain, my Spanish background included taking Spanish courses in high school and college. I didn’t consider myself to be fluent but felt that I had a good grip on grammar and vocabulary.
The classes at Tandem were different from the classes that I took in college. Classes at Tandem were conversation based and talking was required. Being an introvert, this was extremely intimidating for me! In time, I became more comfortable with my teachers and classmates and didn’t have a problem participating in class. The teachers were welcoming and encouraged asking questions when clarification was needed. They assigned homework every class. We would go over it the next class period. While some students disliked the homework, I found it to be very helpful with practicing the grammar concepts! The classes at Tandem helped me to have more confidence in speaking the language. They also helped me become more accustomed to “Spain Spanish” and Spanish culture. I feel that they were very beneficial and would recommend the four-week immersion program to anyone who hasn’t been to Spain before and feels that they need to brush up on their Spanish!