Interview with Tania, Teaching English in Argentina

Written by James O'Hara
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Where are you from, and what made you pick Buenos Aires?

My name is Tania Fernandes, I am from Kent in England. I have always wanted to travel to South America, I have decided to go in alphabetical order and decided to start my journey in Argentina. I had learned Spanish for 7 years in Secondary School and I hadn’t put it into practice since learning it, so I wanted to venture off and try out my Spanish too.

Is this your first time volunteering, and why have you decided to volunteer with Voluntario Global?

Everyone took a gap year back at school, and as you work you get to find out people helped build schools and volunteered overseas. I go to church, and there is always fundraising at church and raising money for trips to places like Madagascar or Australia to volunteer. I always wondered why haven’t I done something like that. So last summer, I decided to do something that was more than just going away on holiday, I wanted to visit South America and help where I could .

Where are you Volunteering?

I am volunteering at the Teaching English project, where I am helping children become more fluent in English, mainly with the pronunciation of the words. Due to the certain way they pronounce words in Argentina, it seems it has been helpful for the children to have English speaking volunteers.

What has surprised you during your time volunteering?

Of course! The level of English the children already have is very surprising. I almost didn’t expect them to know as much as they already do. In terms of teaching the children, it seems I have just reinforced what they have already learned from the other teachers, who are amazing! I am very fortunate, as I believe I have learned more from the children than they have from me. The children I work with range from 12 to 20 years old, but other classes are as young as 4 and 5 year olds, which I think is great for them to be exposed to English at such a young age. Also, they are learning at a very affordable level, where as other schools and colleges charge a lot of money for these sorts of lessons.

What has been your favourite part of volunteering at this project?

Getting all the questions from the children at every age. Some of them will ask the most random things like ‘what is your shoe size?’, but there has been plenty of questions they have asked which have made me think. ‘If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?’, ‘If you weren’t living in England, where would you live?’ Certain things have made me think, and it’s great to be able to do this with the children.

Have you travelled throughout Argentina during your stay?

No, unfortunately I haven’t been here long enough to have travelled through the country, I have just spent my 4 weeks getting to know Buenos Aires and all the cool areas surrounding the city. If I was here longer, I would have done much more travelling and visited other areas, which other volunteers have. I have enjoyed my time here, so there is always another chance of me doing that.

What has been your favourite experience while in Buenos Aires?

I love how into sport they are in Argentina. Being able to visit two famous football stadiums has been a dream for me. I love it. Buying football shirts for myself, and to take home to my family has been great. I realized how much I enjoy football, I think I may have even forgotten how much I enjoyed it until I visited Buenos Aires.

What is one aspect you will take away from your time here, either personally or professionally?

I have been teaching for 15 years at 10 different schools, and I have always changed where I worked because I felt that I got to a point where my learning practices were being restrained, and I didn’t have the freedom to teach the way I wanted to. Since being here it has taught me that I am able to teach my way, I can be the teacher I want to be. I have only been here for 4 weeks, but the way they do things in the project is just so different, but I feel reassured that I am doing things in the right way.

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Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.


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