TEFL in Chile: English Teacher Colleen Hall is Enchanted by Everyday Life

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and fought with the shower: freezing cold, warm, scalding hot, and back to freezing cold. This event mirrors my fabulous day.

I will teach my first class of the day at the university. I am currently teaching English conversational classes at UACH (Universidad Austral de Chile) to students in the agriculture department. My class typically begins at 10 a.m; however, today I had to change it to 9 because I need to be at my other job, the English Summer Camp at Escuela España, by 10:15.

When it’s time to head to the English Summer Camp, I’ll take another taxi from Isle Teja to Escuela España. I would typically take the collective (or shared taxi); however, time is a serious factor today because I need to finish class at UACH and get to Escuela España within 15 minutes for camp. I’m not being lazy… it’s a necessity in order to save time.

The weather this time of year is hot, so I’ll wear my ESC T-shirt and a pair of jeans, but I will pack a pair of shorts for the afternoon. It’s usually breezy in the morning and becomes hotter as the afternoon approaches.

Living in this country could best be described as both enchanting and frustrating. I am 100% in love with Chile, but as we all know, miscommunications occur in every type of relationship. I compare the communication problem in Chile with the “Who’s on first?” comedy skit by Abbott and Costello. My gringo friends agree. It is both frustrating yet hilarious at the same time.

No matter how many times I see the fish market with the sea lions, sea gulls, pelicans, cormorants, and turkey vultures, I stop and stare, thinking: We pay to see this kind of scene at the zoo and here it’s just part of everyday life!

The students, overall, are kind and curious and open to learning new things about other cultures.

The worst part of my day today, though, will be motivating the students to finish the environmental project for camp. They really enjoy playing games and listening to music in English, but creating a project about recycling is not on their top 10 list of fun things to do. So, my partner and I will have to make it fun!

If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about teaching or living here, it would be the lack of environmental awareness. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and it breaks my heart that conservation is not a Chilean standard.

I’ll get home from work at 7:30 p.m because we will need to meet for dinner after camp to discuss the plan for tomorrow. By that time I will be exhausted but I will be smiling, as always! My days may be long, but they are extremely enriching.