Plaza Mayor Salamanca

4 reasons to take up volunteer tourism in Spain

Plaza Mayor Salamanca

The rise of the volunteer tourism market meant there is an abundance of volunteering programmes abroad for those keen to put the meaningful into travel. Spain has several companies seeking volunteers to educate Spaniards in the ways of the English language.

Here are four reasons why you should consider taking up their offer.

They are free

Unlike many companies that place extortionate price tags on their volunteering packages, English-language institutes in Spain such as Pueblo Inglés and Vaughn Town will charge you nothing for a placement – on top of that they will also provide free accommodation, three meals a day and transfers to and from the venue of the English-teaching programme.

What probably isn’t free is your bar tab.

They take you to places you won’t normally visit

You, fellow English teachers and students will be accommodated in locations well off the tourist tracks – the tranquillity may be intended to isolate Spaniards from opportunities to revert back to their native tongue, as most programmes have a no-Spanish policy, the choice of venue also means you can soak up the authenticity of Spain’s backyard.

La Alberca, only an hour away from Salamanca, regularly hosts Pueblo Inglés’s English-learning courses. The villa complex where the accommodation for attendees is located and the teaching takes place is mere kilometres away from the town centre; the flexible schedule – as long as your definition of ‘siesta’ doesn’t entail an obligatory nap – gives room for you to freely roam the area, seldom frequented by visitors. The magnificence of La Alberca’s medieval architecture and history are, in many ways, unrivalled by the likes ofMadridandBarcelona.

They give you an extensive insight into the Spanish culture

The teaching process consists of workshop as well as one-on-one sessions, designed to allow Spaniards to practise their English through casual conversations. Correcting grammatical mistakes and picking up on pronunciations aside, pay close attention to your students’ dialogues as there is a lot of information about their local culture and habits they’ll be divulging.

I once learned that the phenomenon of young Spanish adults living with their parents till their late twenties or even thirties was a social norm; on the same day I was vividly described to a festival, similar to the famed Tomatino, where villagers celebrate harvest by pelting potatoes at a vibrantly-costumed – and heavily-armoured – village elder.

No guidebook may give you such details the way these natives do.

You also get the chance to do a little bit of tourism. One thing that gets overlooked is to appreciate the beauty and history behind Spain’s wine-producing regions.

They are immensely rewarding

Fun. Hilarity. These programmes do tend to have those kind of effects.

The sheer quantity of interactivity between students and teachers is one of their greatest appeals; though theatrics and workshops with game elements are designed to swiftly improve Spaniards’ English, they are ultimately comic relief from the intense learning atmosphere and can be enjoyed by both students and teachers.

Witnessing the improvement of your students as they embark on the learning curve is enormously rewarding – it may be one of the biggest senses of satisfaction a traveller can ask for.

 

Sarah Wilkins loves to travel. Whether it’s hiking in the Scottish Highlands to exploring Australia’s Gold Coast, Sarah wants to see it all and hopes to spend a lifetime fulfilling her travel dreams.

 

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