Granada to Glasgow: What is it really like teaching care home residents in a foreign country?

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After moving from Granada to Glasgow for her university exchange year, Elvira volunteered her time to teach Spanish at our care home classes. In this months blog, Elvira takes us through her experience teaching Spanish for the first time and doing so in a care home of a foreign country!

The first time I knew I was going to teach Spanish language in a care home, I felt scared. My first thoughts were; How will I be able to do that? Will they understand my accent properly? Would I understand their English?

It was going to be my first time teaching a class and teaching in a care home of a foreign country. I was scared but I took it as a personal challenge and I decided go out of my comfort zone. When I was on my way to my first class I couldn´t stop overthinking about everything that could possibly fail, so I tried to calm down and take it as a practice run: If anything doesn’t work with them today, I will correct it for the next class. Today is just my first one, mistakes are allowed.

One hour later, after finishing my class, I couldn´t feel more happy. I was so excited, it was not only my first class, it was my first awesome experience in Scotland, even the sun was shining more after my class!I met the best students a teacher could ever have. They were so kind, always helping me with the language and answering me with lot of smiles. The class was better than I expected, you are always better than you think you will be, and they made me feel part of their family from the first minute. They gave me a lot of love and in turn, I gave the same to them!

Every class with them is better than the last. The students learn a lot because they enjoy learning, and I feel that I learn more with them than they do with me. Every lesson has such a good environment and a positive energy because of them - we have a lot of fun!

I discovered their love for music and I love music too, so we enjoy learning Spanish through music and with little games as well. I like when they listen to a song that I play for them and they remember an experience that they had while playing this song a long time ago in their lives, and I hope to remember this memory that I have created with them when I listen to these songs in the future!

As a language tutor, you feel that you are being part of the student’s daily lives. They use the Spanish words during the week when you are not with them at the class and they also organised a Spanish party with Sangria and Spanish decorations! I was so surprised and happy, they always make the classes count!

The hardest part of my tutoring experience was saying goodbye in the last class. We were all very happy and sad at the same time, but I am sure I will return to the care home to visit them in the future. I started missing their jokes at the same moment that I left because I knew my experience was officially over, but now they are part of my “Scottish family” so I will see them all soon!

They have learnt the numbers, the colours, Spanish songs, food, expressions… but it was myself that learnt the most important thing: age doesn’t matter when it comes to learning!!

I would recommend this experience to everybody at least once in their life, it really is worth it. Thank you to Lingo Flamingo for making it possible!!