Posts Tagged ‘language’

From Career Breaker to Expat
Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Having spent the majority of my twenties studying for my international business degree and climbing my way up the career ladder in a London marketing agency, my opportunities for ‘real travel’ had been limited to a few, weeks in Thailand, India and Morocco with the rest of my trips abroad taking the form of long weekends escaping London to visit European locations like France and Spain.

Like many people I had always been torn between two lives; my career ambitions and longing for stability and a comfortable life was constantly battling against my love of travel, living life to the full and breaking the mold. I decided at age 29 that it was now I never. I needed to stop fighting the latter and give my adventurous side a chance to explore. So, I agreed to a six month sabbatical with the director of the marketing agency and headed to South America, planning to travel for three months, (and here’s where my sensible side refused to totally give up the fight!) and put the rest of my time to gain a skill, trying to learn Spanish in Buenos Aires.

My first three months went by like a dream. Traveling with friends, acquaintances and total strangers, I fell in love with South America, its incredible landscapes and fascinating variety of cultures, whilst also becoming increasingly obsessed with getting to grips with Spanish. When I landed in Buenos Aires, my home for three months, my quest to learn Spanish intensified. Taking private lessons at Expanish, reading books, watching films and translating articles.

After a month and a half, and with the clock ticking on my time in Argentina, I began to worry about going home, and then my worry turned to panic and sleepless nights.

Going home is always tough but it’s an inevitable part of traveling and just something I was just going to have to deal with. But this felt different. I had an incredible three months of traveling behind me and had made some headway in my quest to learn Spanish, but the thought of going back to England, back to the same job, sitting at the same desk made me feel as if it might all have been in vain. I didn’t feel ready.

Once I admitted to myself that I didn’t want to go, my ambitious and sensible side began fighting back. I had to find a job and learn Spanish properly. So that’s what I did. I got a marketing position in the Spanish school I had been studying at and spoke to my very understanding boss back home, informing him I wouldn’t be coming back as planned.

Making the final decision to stay wasn’t easy, as one would expect I went through many periods of doubt, questioning my decision, speaking to my friends back home on Skype to get their advice and questioning my new found friends in Buenos Aires. But ultimately the decision at this stage was one I needed to make myself.

The numerous questions going round in my head included:

– Why am I giving up such a great job back home?
– Will I still have a career when/if I decide to go back?
– How will I deal with missing my friends back home who are so important to me?
– Will I be able to make new friends?
– How will I cope with the huge salary cut?
– When will I next see my family?
– Can I cancel by British Airways flight?

However, once I had secured a job, and a flat, and made the final decision to stay, the transition from being a traveler on a six month sabbatical, to an expat living and working in Buenos Aires, became a whole lot easier. I was on a high, exhilarated at the thought of living in such a wonderful city on the other side of the world. Having time to explore it properly and become a local was exciting. Enjoying the beautiful weather, days by the pool, evenings on roof terraces meant I felt like I was on holiday all of the time, even during my walk to work. I was doing something I had always wanted to do but never thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I struggled, I missed having a solid group of friends, learning Spanish became challenging and frustrating, and the low wages and relatively high living costs in Buenos Aires meant I had to go back to basics. No more Saturday clothes shopping trips and nightly dinners out. But I have never once regretted the decision. If, and when I go back to London, I will go back a more confident person, with many new and wonderful friends and some great work experience under my belt. Plus I can speak Spanish, which has opened up a whole host of living and job opportunities!

Becky Hayes is a Londoner living in Buenos Aires and working for Expanish Spanish School in Argentina.

Immerse Yourself with Personalized Spanish
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

If you are thinking about taking a career break to travel and Latin America is on your itinerary, you might consider taking a few days to learn the language and to learn more about the environment you will be visiting. Personalized Spanish in Costa Rica offers a language and cultural immersion program that gives you the opportunity to do just that.

We invite you to take this first step with us!

Traveling in Latin America needs some preparation. Learning how to communicate in Spanish while exploring Latin countries will open many new opportunities for personal growth. Our program allows you to have a meaningful experience that will be key during the rest of your trip, allowing you to better understand and participate in local cultures.

Personalized Spanish is a school that goes beyond any other Spanish schools; class sizes of three or less allow us to provide maximum personalized attention. You will not only learn vocabulary, useful expressions and grammatical aspects of the language, you will have a real experience into Latin American history, culture, and flavor.

Our typical day begins with morning coffee and discussion of Costa Rican expressions, current weather and news. After a couple of hours of class in the morning, everybody comes together to socialize in the main patio over tropical fruit drinks and snacks. We return to classes for another two or three hours and then enjoy lunch together. Afternoons are used to visit nearby historical and cultural places of interest guided by of our school teachers.

If you choose to stay with a local family, your host family will be waiting for you with a nice cup of coffee, delicious dinner and conversation when you arrive home in the evening. We offer weekend trips to enjoy the rest of the country, including visits to historic sites, national parks, volcanoes and beaches.

Costa Rica is well known for its stable democracy and peaceful traditions. It is also safe for travelers to visit and is one of the planet’s most biodiverse countries.

Stay with us at least a week to get you started, or stay for a longer period in order to get deeper into our cultural experience.

Before jumping into Latin America, we recommend you:

? Learn historical, cultural, and basic languages concepts.
? Learn about fiestas, social, political and religious life.
? Sample a variety of our food and drinks.
? Recognize the many cultural differences and patterns in Latin America.

Other school services may include:

? Airport pick up, internet access and wi-fi and international calls.
? Specialized services related to volunteer placement in local organizations such as schools and churches.
? Home stays, including two hearty meals, laundry, private room and wi-fi.

For more information please contact us:
Phone: Miami (786)245 4124 or Costa Rica (506)2278 3254
Facebook: Personalized Spanish

Special offers available through March 13, 2013:

? Personalized Spanish offers you the opportunity to register for two weeks in our Standard Spanish and Cultural Immersion program and receive a free adventure weekend for one person that includes: visiting the world famous Arenal volcano, relaxing in a hot spring and feeling the adrenaline rush of a zip line.

? Get two free hours of  online Spanish classes when you sign up for our 10 hour Spanish Online Program (12 hours of classes for the price of 10!)

Teach English Abroad & See the World
Monday, February 6th, 2012

Do you want to spend six months or a year living and traveling abroad, but don’t have $10,000 or $20,000 to fund such an adventure?

Would you like to live as a local in Tokyo, Rome or Buenos Aires and get paid?

Do you dream of walking to work every day along the cobblestone streets of Prague or Florence, or through the colorful street markets of Bangkok or Saigon?

Do you want the satisfaction of performing a valuable public service while traveling the world and experiencing the adventure of a lifetime?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then teaching English abroad could be right for you.

From Seoul and Shanghai to Milan and Istanbul, hundreds of millions of people study English, creating an unprecedented demand for more than 250,000 English instructors. While many confront the most challenging job market in generations, gaining an internationally recognized TEFL certification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) provides both viable and accessible job opportunities as well as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the world while gaining invaluable work experience.

Teaching abroad allows you to experience a foreign country as a local where you can become an integral part of the community, interact with local citizens on a daily basis and build friendships that will last a lifetime.

In addition, it provides a perfect vehicle for the international travel that you seek. For example, as an English teacher in Czech Republic such great destinations as Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Poland will be within easy reach. Or consider teaching in Vietnam, and you could easily find yourself taking holidays in China, Thailand, or perhaps among the entrancing ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Where Can I Teach?

A native English-speaker with a university degree and a TEFL Certification will have the potential to teach English professionally in up to 100 countries around the world from Latin America and Europe to the Middle East and Asia. Even without a BA, you can still teach in roughly half of the countries of the world including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, China, and Spain, as well as many countries in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

How Much Money Can I Make?

In most countries, particularly in Europe and Latin America, most first-time English teachers make enough to pay their bills and live comfortably with enough money to sight-see, travel and enjoy the country where they live and work. For those looking to make extra money, consider Asia, where English teachers typically save 30%-50% of their salary after expenses and in China and Korea, schools typically provide teachers with airfare and free housing. The most lucrative destination is typically South Korea where a first-time English teacher can save $10,000 – $15,000 a year and that can easily fund 3-6 months of travel in Asia or anywhere else!

The first step is to just be bold enough to make a call to a TEFL school and a dream of living abroad can come true.

About the author:
Bruce Jones is founder of International TEFL Academy based out of Chicago, IL, and was a sponsor of our Chicago event. He started his TEFL certification school after his 2-year, 20 country journey backpacking around the world from 2001-2003. His vision was to help inspire and assist others to live abroad and see the world. You can see his journey on his personal website MyWorldTour.

Studying Spanish in Argentina
Monday, July 4th, 2011

Briefcase to Mochila: Getting the Most out of Studying Spanish in Argentina

Sarah Gottlieb and her husband Gabe initially were planning on working for a year abroad in order to travel more when they thought, “What if we just travel for a year instead?” Nine months of planning, three yard sales and two RTW tickets later, they were off and flying. While naturally curious, Sarah found herself lacking the bravery she wanted to be able to live up to the adventures the year threw at her. She began writing stories of her battles with eating bugs, swimming in anaconda infested waters and fighting thieves in Buenos Aires at Fraidypants Princess Travels the Globe. Gabe and Sarah have recently finished their year abroad and are residing in Los Angeles.

Sarah Gottlieb

My backpack had hardly touched the floor in our new apartment in Buenos Aires when I was already illuminated by the friendly glow of my netbook, searching for a school to enroll in. I was eager to hit the books after so many years in the workplace and wanted to take advantage of every second of Spanish that I could absorb. Being a little older than your typical study-abroad student and already fairly fluent, I was a bit leery of the private language mills with their revolving hung-over students. My goal wasn’t to be able to say, “I’d like a shot of tequila please”; I wanted to speak with confidence about things that probably hadn’t happened in the past, but might have—in other words, to finally master the subjunctive mood.

I soon had a spreadsheet full of different programs ranked by cost per hour, students per teacher, reviews, and length of program. But after narrowing down the choices, I still wasn’t happy with the results. I was afraid that my classmates would all be Americans and the classes were surprisingly more expensive than I’d expected.

I made one more stab at trying to decipher the public universities’ Web sites and discovered a program for foreigners at the University of Buenos Aires. In theory, it was exactly what I was looking for. I’d be surrounded by local students, with a mix of international teachers, local prices, and local professors. Unfortunately, the Web page didn’t offer much information other than an address.

The next day I felt like I was traveling back to the ’90s having to go physically downtown to speak to someone in person about signing up for classes. As luck would have it, they were testing for the new semester that week. Soon I was squeezed into a desk chair nervously biting my pen and berating myself for not thinking to brush up on grammar! After finalizing my enrollment with an ATM withdrawal, I walked back to my apartment and savored that special in-love-with-a-foreign-city romantic feeling. Soon I’d be reading Borges while sipping a cortado, in the very same corner café where he wrote the lines.

The UBA (pronounced “ooh-bah”) classes proved to be everything that I was looking for. The professors were dedicated, educated, and professional and the subject matter was intriguing. They had classes about Argentinean immigration, oration, film, etc. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about a new culture while living in it.

My classmates were the mix that I had hoped for, with students from countries like France, Brazil, Germany, UAE, and New Zealand. It also happened to be the cheapest cost, at $3 per hour of learning.

Sarah Gottlieb

While I knew classes were the first step to getting myself thinking in Spanish again, I had told myself ten years ago while living in Spain that if I ever studied abroad in the future I’d get a tutor and make more of an effort to set up intercambios – language exchanges. Thanks to Lonely Planet Thorntree I found Maria, a private tutor teaching out of her apartment, who was part of Ñ de Español. She was able to really target major problems that I had, help me with my accent, and give me an insider’s perspective on life in Buenos Aires.

I used Conversation Exchange to set up a number of coffee dates with other local women who were looking to speak better English. We’d chat about family, food, Grey’s Anatomy, our hometowns, and anything we shared in common for a half hour in English and then in Spanish. I made a bunch of nice friends and loved venturing out to different neighborhoods and cafés to meet with friendly Porteñas.

I can’t stress enough how rewarding it was to take a portion of my trip around the world to work on a skill that I’d wanted to improve. I highly recommend setting a goal or two in the middle of a travel sabbatical; incidentally, it has made me a more valuable “briefcase” as I reintegrate into the workforce.

ESL Certification: Teach Around The World
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

This week Alisha Robertson told us her tips on how to incorporate teaching ESL into your career break travels. She mentioned that she actually got certified to teach ESL while she was still living in America; but what does that certification entail and is it really necessary?

[singlepic=1863,275,,,right]First of all, certification normally comes in a couple different forms – CELTA (Certificate for English Language Teaching to Adults) is the most known and recognized. It’s a certification offered by Cambridge University and known throughout the world. Most places require that you have a certificate in order to teach at an English Language school. Keep in mind that certification is not necessary for volunteering, however it does help your effectiveness!

CELTA certification is the same all over the world. It consists of 4 weeks of learning content. It can usually be done in an intensive one month of classes or in night classes over the course of a number of months. It’s not a cake walk – there are homework assignments and instructors are grading & constantly critiquing you.


What to Do: Teach English As a Second Language (ESL)
Monday, August 9th, 2010

There are many ways to travel. Teaching ESL within a local community and really connecting with the people and the culture through education taught Alisha Robertson more about her location and herself than any other experience. She shares with us what inspired her to teach ESL abroad and gives advice if you wish to pursue this path as well.

[singlepic=1859,275,,,right]Teaching English abroad is one of the most amazing travel experiences. I always recommend taking this approach into consideration when someone is pondering the idea of long-term travel. Teaching ESL allows you to connect with the local community in a way that is much different than being just a traveler. You are also able to make money for your travels while giving back, and you truly get to experience life as a local.

For a year I had the opportunity to teach Business ESL in the northern part of Chile in the coastal city of Iquique and in the Middle of the Atacama Desert. During this time, I was able to meet some of the most amazing people, and build friendships with many who I still keep in touch with today – friends who I will always consider a part of my extended family.

When I decided to move away and told my friends, family, and co-workers the questions were endless. Where are you going? Isn’t that dangerous? How long will you stay? How did you find your position? Where will you live? and the list goes on and on. Now that I have returned, I find that the questions are still endless, and many are interested in how they too can sustain their travels through teaching abroad.


Culture Shock: Language Barriers
Monday, September 21st, 2009

Many people seem hesitant about traveling to foreign countries because of language barriers, but those same barriers can actually enhance the experience. August Flanagan offers some tips on how you can still experience a culture when you don’t speak the language.

A couple of years ago I wandered into the bus station in Vientián, Laos, and promptly hopped on the wrong bus. I eventually got to where I was going after 26 long, uncomfortable hours. For those 26 hours I was alone on a bus where not a single person spoke a word of English.

[singlepic=1539,300,,,right]When I look back on the experience what I remember most is not the 26 hour journey, or the fact that I was completely lost and had no way to communicate with anyone. Instead, I remember how much I bonded with the people around me during that ride.

At one stop I worked up quite a sweat helping the bus driver unload several tons of tile, stowed in the underbelly of the bus (for my effort I was rewarded with a hearty pat on the back, some words of thanks, and a big bottle of ice cold water).

At four a.m. when I awoke to find the bus stopped on the side of the road, the driver asleep in his seat, I climbed off the bus and stood huddled with the only three other men who were on the bus at this hour. While they smoked cigarettes and told jokes I found myself laughing at words I did not understand, and genuinely enjoying myself.

Over the years of traveling I’ve had a lot of similar experiences – ones that have taught me that there are a lot of ways to communicate and share with others. Speaking a language is just one of these ways. Here are a few of my recommendations on how to travel, experience a culture, and bond with others, without ever speaking their language.


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