So I’ve been thinking about what I want to get out of my overseas experience. In order of importance:
1) I want fluency (or close to it) in Spanish
2) I want to meet people, friends and such
3) I want to travel
3) I want to teach English, preferably to children
So my new plan is to try to find an affordable language immersion program in Latin America, enroll it in this year, and be a language assistant/English TA in Spain next year. While my schedule teaching in Latin America would allow room to take Spanish classes (in Latin America, most native English speakers teach English to adults, so a typical schedule is a class at 8am, 12p, 5/6p – 9/10p), I think it’d be challenging, and a bit expensive, to teach English and take Spanish classes concurrently. From what I read on ESL/EFL boards, salaries in Latin America basically just cover living expenses. There’s not really enough money to save, which means there wouldn’t be enough money to take Spanish classes…at least, not the type and amount of classes I would want.
Something that’s difficult about pursuing the language immersion course path is I don’t want just any ol’ person teaching me Spanish. On the ESL/EFL boards I frequent, it’s not uncommon for someone to say, “I don’t have a college degree. I don’t feel like paying to become certified in ESL/EFL. Where can I go teach?” So basically, someone who thinks that they can teach English because they can speak it. I DON’T want the Latin equivalent of that. I ask challenging questions that your typical native speaker has trouble explaining, at least in my experience. And I want to ultimately speak Spanish like an educated person, not just like any old speaker who hasn’t even read a novel in Spanish, or written a university-level paper. So I need to find a program that’s affordable with educated teachers who are, hopefully, trained to teach Spanish to foreigners.