Sam Williams: final footprinter report

Footprinter Report Graphic

Arriving back home after twelve months away was a strange feeling indeed. In some aspects it feels like yesterday since I was here but when I think back over the highlights, the challenges, the general experience and what I gained from it, I realize that it feels like a long but very rewarding year away.

I can split my work at the school into the two halves of the year. I can now see that the first half of the year was not as enjoyable as the second. The reason for this was that at the start the teachers were unwilling to give me  responsibility in the class room and I found myself standing around a lot feeling like a spare part.  However, this part of the year is eclipsed by the second half of the year. When I returned from the Christmas holidays I found that a new head of department had been hired and she had totally changed the teaching style and she had the correct drive in the right direction. From day one I was put in charge of the majority of the designing and creation of the materials for the new programme called “Corners”, whereby the children would come along to the English room and sit in small group of 5 or 6 and work in the different corners. There was a reading, writing, grammar and speaking corner.

The reason I enjoyed this half of the year so much was because I was in direct contact with the students  and having an impact on their learning and understanding. Because I was creating the majority of the worksheets for the classroom it was rewarding seeing the children work through the materials and learning from it. Although, sometimes less rewarding when they would tell me how boring the worksheets were without realising I had made them!

I gained an enormous amount out of the project working at the school and I can only hope that the children and the school gained something from me being there. I created a large bank of materials for all age groups of the school. This is a resource that the teachers will be able to use in the coming years. Furthermore, I hope that some children will be spurred on to study English further than high school. In a country like Chile, the ability to speak English puts you above the rest and on a track to a much better career, something which is vital to the children of that school.

I was also involved in coaching pupils in competitions outside of school. I helped coach a group of boys who took part in an English speaking debate. I was particularly proud of those boys because they did very well. I helped pupils who participated in spelling bees and talks as well. These were really great experiences because I was working practically one-to-one with the students and saw them putting what they had learnt into action.

Part of my experience here was living with a Chilean family. This was an excellent experience, naturally not without its difficulties but overall it was the best way to be introduced into the warm, welcoming Chilean culture. Moreover, living with a family who speak absolutely no English is probably the best way to learn a language. One of my proudest achievements this year is getting a grasp of the Spanish language. It was a slow, painful and vey frustrating process but  I know it will be useful in the future.

Although I am glad to be home, I look back at this year with nothing but happiness and excitement.  It was a fantastic year, one that has matured me and opened my eyes to different cultures. I met so many interesting and brilliant people who have all taught me an enormous amount, whether it is about politics, music or Chilean culture. This year has definitely lit a fire inside of me to continue seeing the world as much as possible and to have as many experiences such as this one because that, as I have learnt, is what matters.

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