I chose to be a Language Assistant because I wanted to see Mexico in a different way.
The best advice I had before departing was from my lecturer at university who said I should go to Mexico with an open mind and to enjoy every minute. That’s what I did and it certainly made things more enjoyable.
When I arrived in Mexico we spent a week at the British Council, learning basic teacher training tips. I found this really useful, but it was sometimes difficult to put the advice into practise when I was at school!
I worked in two different places. During the mornings in a secondary school, working with eight groups of around 40 children, I used to play games with my students, do exercises from the textbook as well as cultural activities (we had a pancake race, for example)
In the afternoons, I’d work in a specialist language college, working with much smaller groups and mainly doing speaking activities. Along with the other assistants in Toluca we organised English speaking events for other schools in the area to take part in.
The main challenges of the assistantship were mainly the lack of structure that exists in Mexican secondary schools and, where I was, a bit of a lack of enthusiasm for the subject. On the other hand, it was incredibly satisfying getting around these problems. By the end of my time in the schools the children would often happily try and talk to me in English.
People always say to take small things with you like postcards as materials for the classroom, and I agree. Make sure you take lots of things like photos (of really mundane things like phone boxes and supermarkets!)
I think I adapted very well to life in Mexico. I chose to live in Mexico City and commute to Toluca the days I was working there (perfectly possible, as the journey is around an hour) I made plenty of good Mexican friends, mainly by chatting to anyone who would listen to me. I think it’s good to accept any offers you’re given. It’s the best way to truly see the culture; family fiestas were always great fun and some of the food I got to try was amazing.
I travelled a lot in Mexico, I tried to go in all directions and from the centre in was very easy. I went to Guadalajara, Guanajato, Veracuz, Xalapa, Valle de Bravo among other places. Mexico has so much to offer and there is some truly spectacular scenery to see. Be sure to check out the dates of festivals and carnivals, as it’s probably the best way to see some otherwise sleepy places.
The programme has certainly shown me what the world has to offer, and I’m sure having worked overseas might help in getting some jobs. Don’t be nervous about going too far away on the assistantship. Mexico is amazing and the programme gives you a great excuse to go. Do it, don’t think twice!