Travel Teach & Play publishes a new interview with a globe-trotting English teacher every week. This week we spoke with Nicholas Brenneman, who has spent the past 3 years teaching in Chile and also runs a successful language-training company with global reach.
How long have you been teaching abroad?
Since February 3, 2014
Which countries have you taught in so far?
I have only taught in Chile but I also teach online to people all over the globe.
Tell me a little about your background. Where are you from?
I'm from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. I have a degree in Political Science from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have worked in MANY different areas but the best jobs I have had so far have been teaching and working as a white-water rafting guide.
How did you first get started teaching English abroad?
I studied abroad in Chile in 2013. I loved the experience and the country so I decided to return. After I graduated college I went back to white-water rafting and studied to become certified in TEFL.
Who was your first employer in Chile?
The first company to employ me [as an English teacher] was EF Education First.
What was the first night in your new home like?
Honestly, I don’t really remember. I returned to Chile to work after studying here. I already knew people and rented a room from friends for the first few months.
Describe the first time you set foot in an English classroom.
I was a little nervous, but then I realized that my students didn’t really know anything. I was the “expert” on the topic. I quickly adjusted.
How do you plan your lessons?
Most of my classes are private lessons. I create my lessons based on the needs of my student. I still do some work for EF and they prepare all the lessons which is really nice.
What course books do you use?
It depends on the class, the level and the native language of the person I’m teaching. Right now I am using the Straight Series with one of my students.
What advice would you give to another teacher?
If you are teaching English you SHOULD have a background in at least one other language. It’s very hard to relate to a language learner if you haven’t had the same experience. You should also work on the way you speak. Try to practice eliminating your local accent and stop using common slang.
What do you do in your spare time?
I actually started a business with colleagues of mine here in Chile. We created an Online Spanish Immersion School to prepare people who want to go abroad for professional reasons or for travel. Most of our students are teachers and nurses.
We are www.HolaSpanishWorld.com
@HolaSpanishWorld on Facebook and Instagram.
Our school is PERFECT for people planning to teach English in Latin America or Spain.
Basically, all of my time is now consumed by Hola Spanish World.
How would you describe the local nightlife?
Santiago is great if you like clubbing. I am a low-key guy so I prefer having a beer with friends at a pub or someone’s house.
Have you engaged in a romance with a local?
Yes, I have. It’s still going very well lol. It’s a key factor in why I decided to stay in Chile.
What amenities are nearby?
Santiago, Chile is a major city. We have it all. Just to clear any misconceptions, life here is “first world”. In the Americans, Chile is number 3 for quality of life after Canada and the United States. It’s number 2 in safety following Canada.
What are some things Chile does really well?
- el 18 de septiembre / fiestas patrias
- asados (BBQs)
What are some annoyances you find in Chile?
- Lines, for everything
- People here don’t always mean what they say “I’ll call you tomorrow” (never gonna happen)
- they put salt on EVERYTHING
- there are a lot of street dogs
What advice would you give to a teacher who just arrived in Chile?
First, don’t expect a job before you get here. It’s very difficult to do and you’ll end up being underpaid for your work.
Start learning Spanish, like yesterday.
Remember that this isn’t the USA and the world standard isn’t the US or whatever your home country maybe. You need to adapt to where you are, not the other way around.
Any other tips or comments you would like to add?
I strongly recommend teaching abroad. Try not to get stuck in the English crowd. You will lose SO MANY cultural experiences and not develop a true perception of the country you are in. The best to avoid this is by studying the language with preparation before you arrive.
You WILL NOT become fluent in a language in a year so be a realist in your personal goals and the goal you set for your students!
If you are planning to move to a Spanish-speaking country you NEED to check out HolaSpanishWorld.com contact us explaining your needs and we will get you on the right path to make the most out of your experience abroad!