Kenzie Helmick’s Study Abroad Experience in Madrid

I recently reached the half-way point of my month-long study abroad program in Madrid, Spain, in which I am taking 2 courses – a language course and a history seminar class taught exclusively in Spanish – and have participated in two excursions to Toledo and Valencia through International Studies Abroad (ISA), a program affiliated with Rollins.

This program also marks my fifth month living and studying in a Spanish-speaking country, as I spent four months in Chile through another study abroad program with School for International Training (SIT) before, just three short weeks later, arriving to Spain.

I specifically chose to participate in two language-exchange programs back-to-back in order to have a more intensified, language-learning experience in which I am immersed in my language of study for as much time and as consistently as possible. I first realized the importance of this thorough immersion through my first program in Chile, during which I spent the final month working on an individual research project, interviewing, writing and working exclusively in Spanish and traveling alone. Within these two and a half short weeks, my Spanish improved more than it had in my first month studying.

As a result, I have dedicated my time here in Spain to living and speaking with locals and the language as much as possible outside of the classroom. Instead of staying in a traditional dorm or residence hall in a university, I am staying with a local host family, an 82-year old woman named Irene and her fulltime living assistant, with whom I talk exclusively in Spanish. Outside of class, I am participating in a program of “intercambio,” in which individuals from Madrid, and students from the ISA program, are able to meet and practice their Spanish and English. Finally, with the friends I’ve made from my classes, students of other study abroad programs from Brazil, Holland, and Thailand, I speak exclusively in Spanish, even though all of us know and understand English.

With this constant practice, and my previous background living in Chile, my Spanish has continued to improve exponentially. Of course, it’s hard to continually be conscious of this growth, yet there are times in which I realize the improvement I’ve made, either by surprising myself with a new phrase or word remembered or understood, or complex conversation maintained, or by the words of encouragement given by my professors or homestay. It is these moments that continue to encourage me to push myself out of my comfort zone and speak, and speak often, with others.






Carlye Goldman Reflects on International TEFL Academy experience

From June 4 to 29, 2018, I completed a 4-week TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Barva, Hereida, Costa Rica. Post-completion of the course, my TEFL certification permits me to teach English anywhere around the world. Being a Social Entrepreneurship major with no authentic teaching experience, I was intimated by the idea of becoming an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. However, I was surrounded by 19-other passionate TEFL trainees coming from all different backgrounds, which was an inspiring and comforting factor. Even though, all of us being a wide range of ages and possessing different credentials, we all shared a common goal—the desire to become effective and successful ESL teachers.

Being a part of the 4-week course gave me the opportunity to teach 6 different teaching practicums to real ESL students. With no teaching experience at all, I was timid to execute my teaching practicums with full confidence. However, International TEFL Academy Costa Rica (ITA) prepared me sufficiently and teaching in a real ESL setting became to seem so natural to me. Teaching students older in age than me was daunting and yet so inspiring. I learned so much from them, as they did from me. They yearn to speak English better than I can. They would elicit as much information out of me to expand their English vocabulary and grammar knowledge. I learned that teaching starter students, typically high school students, is such a challenge, yet so rewarding. With ESL, we are taught to not provide any translations to vocabulary words of the students’ native tongue. This is how they learn best. The ITA philosophy of teaching ESL is just incredible—English only with immense Student Talk Time. The teaching style is effective, and reliable 100% of the time.

Carlye Goldman Teaches English as a Foreign Language in Costa Rica

It was Tuesday, June 12th—my very first teaching practicum ever. I was placed to teach at Hogares Crea, a conservative boys home. Their level was “starter,” and they were a group of six, rowdy teenage boys. They live there, therefore, they choose whether or not to be in English class that day. The ones who show up want to learn with all their might. The boys do not know a lick of English. “Starter” students typically have some basis of the English language, however, the knowledge that these boys displayed was slim to none. So, I provoked my adaptability for the entirety of the 45-50 minute lesson. Using filler words or phrases such as “now, we are going to…” is purely noise to them. The aim/objective of my lesson was for them to understand the present simple tense, positives and negatives. Something that seems so basic to learn, is not so basic when you have never taken an English class in your life or English is not your native language. Just getting one grammar point across was my new goal: the importance of placing an “s” on the present simple verb for third person singular pronouns. Baffled looks on all six of their faces, the philosophy of an ESL lesson underscores the importance of speaking. Just getting them to generate present simple sentences was a battle but they needed it. The more Student Talk Time produced, the more they remembered the grammar point. The more I talked “at” them, they absorbed nothing. Consequently, this was my first exposure to teaching a starter class, and in its exhausting, all-consuming procedure, I loved every second of it.

Observing my experienced teachers, Luke Panek and Melanie Lubinas at ITA gave me the tools needed to successfully perform the teaching practicums. After observing, the implementation phase was the most beneficial part of the learning process. Then, being observed from multiple experienced teachers fresh out of the TEFL course, I received such incredible feedback to use in my additional lessons. If and when I so choose to live abroad and teach English, I am well equipped to do so. I plan to teach English online following the course to gain more practical experience, while I finish my undergrad degree. I can wholeheartedly say that I am confident in my ESL teaching abilities to teach English to foreign language learners.