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Patrick is from the UK, and is currently living and working in Andalusia, southern Spain. Here he gives his reasons why becoming a language assistant abroad is an option that any English speaker should consider.

1. Gain valuable transferable skills

Let’s start with perhaps the most obvious reason. Preparing topics and working in a school environment has given me more confidence to deliver presentations. My creativity, adaptive skills and communication have developed due to the practice that the programme provides, and the help from experienced teachers. My level of teaching has advanced, and if you can work with students in a foreign country it actually makes the prospect of working with children who speak the same language as you appear less daunting.

A view of my school on a crisp, spring day / Great times with helpful and knowledgeable teachers

A view of my school on a crisp, spring day / Great times with helpful and knowledgeable teachers.

2. Learn a new language

I could barely say ‘how are you?’ in Spanish before I settled in Spain, but now I have held (well... appeared to hold) all sorts of conversations in Spanish. It’s something that takes time, but there is no better way to learn a language than to go to a country where it is spoken. In addition, learning a new language opens so many new doors. Spanish is a language that is spoken all over the world and will be a handy tool for my future adventures.

3. Improve English

On the flip side, working with English teachers from Spain has improved my understanding of my mother-tongue, English. This was one benefit that I did not initially expect from teaching in Spain. Through working with intelligent teachers who have a wide understanding of English grammar, I have been able to learn some details about English that are not explicitly taught in schools in the UK.

4. Appreciate the weather

It’s no secret that the weather in Spain is fantastic. Seeing pictures of the gloomy clouds from the UK, the sunny Spanish countryside where I am living is massively preferable… at least in my opinion! Being able to enjoy the weather at the beach in October (OCTOBER!) isn’t bad, either.

5. Feel the reward

Since coming to Spain, I have been able to help the students with real-life scenarios in English, such as ordering food at a restaurant. These types of activities can be applied by the students when they travel themselves. Having the freedom to produce a personal lesson plan provides you, as a teacher, with the hope and satisfaction that it will have practical uses outside of school.

The entire school celebrating the National day of Peace in the Plaza de Espana and post-match photo of a staff versus students football game

The entire school celebrating the National day of Peace in the ‘Plaza de España’ / A post-match photo of a staff versus students football game in the school playground.

6. Travel

Through living in Spain, I have been lucky enough to visit a handful of Spain’s more interesting places. I have been able to experience the festivals of Seville; I have visited El Rocío, a beautiful, historical town with so much character; La Mezquita the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba; as well as some excellent beaches on the south coast; and many more places that simply wouldn’t have been possible without choosing to take this year abroad.

7. Live the culture

Before I arrived in Spain, I was relatively ignorant to the ways Spanish people approach religion, food, drinks, sleep, sport, etc. There are more differences than I imagined, and after living here for nearly seven months I have learnt to appreciate and understand them in some way. I feel more open to new experiences than when I first arrived and whilst there are differences in our cultures, there are lots of similarities too. The children live and breathe football here in Spain. Every week without fail I’ll hear something about my team, Liverpool, with some typical Spanish humour.

This is just a selection of the benefits I have experienced working abroad as an assistant teacher. I feel incredibly fortunate to have lived here with such unbelievable people, and I would urge anyone considering working abroad to go ahead and do it.


Youth story by Patrick Burton, submitted via Erasmus in School. If you would like to find out more about Patrick’s placement watch his video.


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