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Calling all future Spanish teachers – study abroad and become bilingual!

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > The Importance of Studying Abroad to Teach Spanish

Do you see yourself one day working as a Spanish teacher?

Goal number one – become bilingual!

You’ve gotten good grades in Spanish class, you’ve watched all of Almodovar’s films in the original language, and you make the most out of any encounter with Spanish exchange students at school…

But have you really mastered Spanish as much as you wanted to?

A language is a living this and it evolves. It can be spoken in multiple countries, but there are often significant differences that arrive between countries!

So before you become a Spanish teacher and begin passing on everything you know about the language of Cervantes to your future students, it’s a good idea to take off on an adventure and really immerse yourself in the language you love so much…

Find out ways you can teach Spanish without a teacher’s certification

The top 11 reasons to study Spanish abroad!

Are you a real explorer? Do you like heading off into the unknown?

In Spain, you’ll love nights with other students splitting tapas and a good Rioja

Spending some time studying abroad is a key part of any future Spanish teacher’s training, as they learn to use the language in context.

It’s natural to have second doubts when the time comes to go, but in order to avoid backing out at the last minute or not making the most of your opportunity, choosing to study abroad is a step that should be made after careful consideration and plenty of motivation

Becoming more comfortable expressing yourself orally in Spanish, improving your linguistic knowledge, perfecting your grammar, discovering Spanish culture and another way of life…there are all kinds of benefits to immersing yourself in the deep end in a Hispanic country.

First, ask yourself why you want to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country and what you hope to get out of it.

To help, here are our top 11 reasons to study abroad in Spain or Latin America:

  1. You’ll quickly improve your language skills and become bilingual! And you could even teach Spanish without teacher certifications when you get back as a private tutor!
  2. You’ll learn to use Spanish in your day to day life and learn more informal registers of the language, how it’s really spoken, and learn useful vocabulary.
  3. You’ll go from theory to practice as you begin having conversations with native Spanish speakers.
  4. You’ll possibly meet the love of your life – there have been many study abroad romances that have lasted for much more than one semester!
  5. You’ll learn about new cultures and enjoy discovering new things.
  6. You’ll get the chance to taste all those Spanish foods and regional specialties you learned about in class.
  7. You’ll gain self confidence…anything seems possible and the world is your oyster!
  8. Each day seems new and unique, and far from the day to day drudgery of home. (That’s the advantage of the unknown, everything is new again!)
  9. You’ll get some sun (Spanish speaking countries are almost uniformly hot countries with mild weather. Aside from the hills of Bolivia, of course!)
  10. The experience will be a great thing to add to your resume.
  11. When you get back, you’ll be able to tease all your friends – “Sorry? You’ve never been to Mexico? Spain? Guatemala? You don’t know what you’re missing!”

We should add that spending some time studying abroad is also a key part of the preparation to become a Spanish teacher

Where should you go to study abroad?

Learn the language of Dali in Ibiza…but you’ll need to master your inner party animal as well!

So you’ve made your decision! You’ve decided to head abroad and perfect your Spanish language skills, with the goal of becoming bilingual, and eventually returning to teach Spanish.

Now you just need to decide which destination is the best for your study abroad adventure!

Study Spanish in Spain for the easy option…

If you aren’t used to traveling on your own and have never been to a developing country, it’s probably best not to set off on a backpacking adventure through Latin America. There’s an easy destination, where things will still be plenty different but you’ll still be able to minimise a bit of culture shock: Spain.

There are many different options to study Spanish in Spain. However, you do need to make sure that if you’re trying to become fluent in Castilian Spanish, not to go to a city where they only speak Catalan. But of course, as a Spanish student, you already know that…

Spain is in Europe, which means it is across the Atlantic from home and will take at least half a day’s travel, even if you live on the East coast. However, you can be assured that transportation is safe and frequent, and the savvy traveler can find fairly cheap tickets if you need to fly home while you’re studying abroad.

You can board the plane in total confidence, feeling excited about all the possibilities for your future life in Spain. Most colleges will offer a study abroad program in Spain or have a partnership with a school there, but if your college doesn’t already, a quick google search should help you uncover plenty of options.

Do you have the essential qualities that every Spanish teacher must possess?

Head to Latin America for those with the adventure bug!

Are you looking to test yourself beyond immersing yourself in a foreign language, and want a bit more adventure than studying abroad in Spain?

Then you’ve got plenty of choices – Spanish is the 3rd most spoken language in the world. It’s the native language of over 470 million people worldwide, and there are 21 countries where Spanish is the official language, mostly in Latin America.

What are the advantages of studying abroad in Latin America?

The cost of living in Latin America varies a bit from country to country but is generally about half that than in the US. It’s not a negligible factor when you’re trying to work out how long you can afford to stay in your host country.

Spanish classes in Latin America are also very affordable, and it’s a great way to deepen your Spanish language skills learning from native speakers.

And if you can’t afford to stay for a whole semester, you can also find intensive summer courses where you live with a host family, to really throw yourself in the deep end.

Among all the countries you have to choose from, here are our top 2: Mexico and Guatemala…

Suggestion #1: Master the Spanish language in Mexico!

Discover the culture of ancient AmerIndian civilisations in Mexico.

Mexico is a truly globalized country and boasts the largest population in Latin America, making it a great choice to improve your Spanish language skills:

  • a rich and varied culture
  • a cosmopolitan population
  • a rich patrimony
  • beautiful countryside and beaches in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean…

In order to go to Mexico, all you need is a simple tourist visa which you can buy on arrival, as long as you stay for less than 180 days.

If you’re staying for any longer, you can apply for a student visa if you’re enrolled in a local university. Mexico is one of the cheapest countries in which to pursue tertiary studies.

Whether you’re headed to Mexico through a study abroad program at your college or to figure it out when you get there, there’s plenty of choice among language programs, study abroad programs, and professional internships for American college students to choose from.

It’s also always possible to just sign up directly with a local university. In order to do that, you’ll need to begin the process at least a month in advance in order to complete all the necessary steps and forms. Once you’re there, and in order to help yourself catch up, you could also choose to take Spanish classes online…

Discover also how you could incorporate technology into your Spanish teaching…

Suggestion #2: Perfect your Spanish in Guatemala!

If you loved your classes on Mayan civilization and history, why not head to Guatemala?

It’s an amazing destination, one of the top tourist spots in Latin America!

Most of the population are direct descendants of the Mayans, and many of the country’s cultural traditions have been remarkably conserved. You’ll also discover lakes and volcanoes, beautiful countryside and numerous archeological sites…

You’ll be able to share stories of the country’s culture and history with your future Spanish students.

You don’t need a visa as a tourist and can stay for up to 90 days. However, if you’re staying for any longer you’ll need to get a student visa.

Delving head first into such a unique country, far from your previous experiences, can definitely help you build the foundations necessary to become a Spanish teacher!

Find out what skills you will need to become a Spanish teacher…

How should you organize your study abroad to a Spanish speaking country?

In order to head off without scaring your parents, it’s best to take care of the details of your study abroad experience.

Here are a few things for you to think about…

The first thing to do is to have a talk with your college advisor and school’s study abroad program to find out what possibilities other students may have already done and any established partnerships between schools.

  1. Study abroad

Studying abroad through your college is a great way to immerse yourself in a foreign language while also knowing that things like tuition and credit transfers won’t cause any nasty surprises.

The advantages:

You don’t lose your year of college and you know that all your credits will transfer.

Before you leave, you’ll need to organize all the bureaucratic admin for your study abroad experience!

2. Volunteer Abroad

Choosing to volunteer abroad is a great activity to immerse yourself in Spanish language and culture while also learning and helping others.

There are many different programs out there, and each one will work slightly differently. Be careful that you aren’t signing up for a ‘voluntourism’ program – usually, high costs are a good indicator that it might be less of a volunteering immersion experience and more an opportunity for private school kids to pad their resumes.

The advantage of volunteering? Many programs, like WOOF, will cover your living and lodging costs while you’re there.

For future teachers, it is also worth checking out Peace Corps openings for teachers in Latin America, and seeing if the State Department runs any other relevant programs in your country of choice.

Discover our best tips to become a self-taught Spanish teacher

3. Become an au pair in Spain

Do you need a break from school? Are you taking a gap year before or after college?

If you want to become a Spanish teacher, there’s a great way to spend your time off – head to Spain and become an au pair to learn Spanish!

You’ll easily be able to master the language. Immerse yourself in the culture of Spain, and take part in the daily life of your host family for a full enrichment experience.

What’s the advantage? As a future teacher, you can also practice working with children and helping them with their schoolwork.

Whatever way you decide to go, you’ll need to carefully consider all the logistics and admin of your choice. Take your time to organize your experience abroad carefully so you can be sure to make the most of your time.

Teaching a language in a public school, language school, or as a private tutor, whether for Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, or Arabic, means sharing your language skills and teaching students about the target language’s rich history and culture! With time spent abroad, you’ll be able to speak from your own personal experience. At superprof, we would of course advocate tutoring as great alternative jobs for teachers.

After you’ve studied abroad in Spain or another Spanish speaking country, you’ll have all the experience you need to share your knowledge of the Spanish language with others! You can still teach Spanish even if you don’t have the teacher certification for your state.

Now discover our complete guide to becoming a Spanish teacher…

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