Coming to Costa Rica has been an amazing opportunity, perhaps the biggest I have ever had the privilege of being presented with. Before coming, my main objectives while being here were to take classes pertaining to what I’m studying, travel a lot, hopefully become fluent in Spanish, and absorb and learn about the culture in Costa Rica. Upon getting here, I began to think how I wanted to do something more to take advantage of this great opportunity, more specifically something with volunteering. Not long after being here I heard about the English Extension Program at Veritas. If you haven’t already heard about it, it’s a program offered at Veritas where university staff, students, and even family members are given the opportunity to take classes to learn English. There are twelve levels offered: Basic I-IV, Intermediate I-IV, and Advanced I-IV.
So far several weeks in, it has turned out to be a great experience. We started off with a couple training sessions in the beginning where we learned about things like teaching methods, how to structure classes, and appropriate ways to correct students. We also were required to shadow one of the classes. The class that I shadowed was the Basic I class. While in the class I was first struck by how interesting it is to see the learning from the other side; I have been in many Spanish classes as a student, so it was interesting to view the class as a teacher while the students were learning a language that I’m fluent in.
When I first signed up for this, I thought that we would just be tutoring the students and helping out in a class with a teacher, but it is much more than that. There’s no teacher, and we are the teachers of the class. At first, I found this to be a little intimidating. We had to create lesson plans from the material that we were given and make sure that our students were learning as best they could because they’re paying for these classes. After a few classes, it began to get easier and easier. My teaching partner is Mariah, and we have one student in Advanced I who is actually a security guard at Veritas. I often see him around campus, and he practices his English with me and I practice some Spanish with him.
I signed up to volunteer in the English Extension Program mostly for fun and to be able to volunteer. I’m currently studying biology in hopes of becoming a nurse, but this experience has given me a love for teaching and showed me a career path that I may consider in the future. This experience has taught me that it can be a great experience to try new things, which I would definitely recommend taking advantage of opportunities such as this that come your way; it has given me some new friends, great teaching experience, and a possible new career path.