Carla Castiella

Teach Enrich Empower

Turtles, palm trees & Covid - A Mexican teaching adventure

When I travelled to Guerrero, Mexico in February 2020 to teach English, I never imagined a pandemic would sweep the globe. But thanks to that, I learnt to adapt in an ever-changing environment.

My name is Carla and I am 27 years old and I am originally from Barcelona, Spain. I have always loved the English language (I used to read any book written by an English author) and when I was 18 I decided to live in the UK. Since then, my English has greatly improved and now I feel I am ready to teach the language I love.

I work in healthcare and social work (I am planning to get my NVQ5 next year) and last year whilst working for the NHS, doing nightshifts, I actually found I had time to start studying what I always wanted to do, a TEFL language course.

I actually did it! And as soon as I finished, I started looking for TEFL volunteering opportunities to begin my practice. My partner and I found an NGO in Guerrero, Mexico, and so in Feb 2020 we moved there for 6 months!

“My advice to anyone wanting to do this: don’t be afraid!”

During our first months at the NGO we became coordinators at a turtle sanctuary. Not only did we have to take responsibility for the 14 locals that volunteered there, but also for the school excursion (from the local area) that visited. Within our first month, I was teaching twenty-five primary & secondary pupils (with parental scrutiny) about turtle & environmental conservation, creating beach activities to spark their imagination.

 It was during these moments of teaching that I realised this was the perfect environment for me. I found it was a relaxed and easy way to immerse myself into being a teacher. Thanks to my TEFL course, I found it easier to communicate the necessary information to the pupils through various games and quizzes.

 At the same time, I also got the opportunity to teach English in the rural community. This first started with a small group of children which would meet up after school. Being after school, the kids would understandably get tired quickly. So I would try to give most of the information at the beginning and halfway through it I would make my lesson more interactive so they could absorb the information I had given them earlier, in a way which would stimulate their minds.

 Sadly, shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Mexico. At the beginning of April, we all had to adapt. We were living in a small enclosed community, so we closed our doors to outsiders and tried to keep things going.

Because of this, I had to change my teaching plans. I decided it was safer to teach small groups of adults (one to two students at a time). This allowed us to implement the necessary measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Of course the virus made everything harder, but thanks to those lessons I learnt how to provide personalised lessons adapted to the needs and wants of the students. An example of this was a student that only wanted English that applied to his work. With this information I created a lesson plan, alongside basic grammar to keep him motivated. He soon realised that the words and phrases he was subsequently learning could be used in all aspects of his life.

 I had the best experience. I continued teaching until the end of July 2020, returning to the UK in early August. Since my time in Mexico I am now more motivated than ever to continue teaching. I am currently looking for teaching work online so I can continue to improve my teaching skills, bringing a personalised approach to whomever requires some additional help.

 My advice to anyone wanting to do this: don’t be afraid!

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