Notes From The Field – Interview with Santiago IDELT student, Caitlin Peterson

Caitlin Peterson is an enthusiastic student of our Bridge IDELT course in Santiago, Chile. We asked her the following questions about a week into the 4-week program to capture her first impressions of the TEFL course, her trainers, and Chile itself.

Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up, where did you go to school, what languages do you speak, etc…?

I was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona (and still live there!!!).  I just recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where I majored in Spanish and minored in Latin American Studies.  I am really proud to say I’m (mostly) bilingual!!!

How did you first hear about TEFL?

I’ve heard about TEFL since high school, but most recently, before Bridge, I heard about it from a few friends that have taken on-site TEFL courses and I volunteer at a literacy center in Flagstaff.  I’ve even taught a few ESL classes there and when I get back home I’m starting to teach one as the official head teacher!

Why did you choose Santiago for your course?

My university studies perked my interest in all Spanish-speaking countries, but having been to Mexico and Costa Rica, I wanted to experience living somewhere new. I’ve always wanted to visit South America and when I figured out I wanted to take the IDELT, I had it narrowed down to Santiago and Buenos Aires.  I chose Santiago mostly because I have many friends who have studied and lived in Chile (and even a couple from here!) and I’ve heard nothing but great things about the people, the culture, and the scenery that Chile has to offer.

What are your thoughts on Chile, including Santiago, Chilean culture, the people, etc…?

I haven’t had time to venture outside of Santiago just yet, but I’m hoping to get to Valparaíso & Viña del Mar before my month in Chile is over!  My thoughts on Santiago so far are nothing but positive! I’m very surprised how clean the city is, how many things there are to do and how easy it is to get around.  Speaking Spanish definitely helps, and even though the language is a little different, I still manage to understand most of what is being said.  My host family is so nice! They’ve really made an effort to make sure I’m comfortable, happy, and have everything I need.  I really have nothing but good things to say, and I’d recommend this experience to anyone!!!

What is your impression of the IDELT?

My first impression (before the course had even started) was that I wouldn’t have any trouble at all since I’ve been teaching some classes for a while now. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were a lot of different teaching techniques that I didn’t know about.  The course is challenging, but not too hard, and its structure makes it very easy to follow.  The assignments and tasks that are completed every day are fun and the techniques are definitely going to be useful in the classroom.  I love taking this course on-site because I get teaching practice with real students.  I feel like I can relate to them because I’ve also studied a foreign language and I know how hard (and sometimes frustrating) it can be! The two trainers are also great.  They’ve taken the course before and are there for support and guidance whenever we need it.