Travel Thursday!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the last installment of Duke’s adventure teaching English in Spain!

Day Five: 80 Hours of Teaching English

Yup, that’s what our certificates say. 80 hours of volunteer teaching with VaughanTown. This program has been great. Although I had previously received my certification to teach EFL, no special degree is needed for the program, just a desire to talk. Very simple.

I wish I could report something more profound, but the program promised exactly what it said it would deliver. The lure was that I would get to learn about Spain through actual Spaniards, and the program would pay for all my expenses…and yeah, it didn’t hurt that they put me up in a chateau-like hotel built around a monastery, with 3 square meals and, as you now know, plenty of wine. In my mind, I’m still waiting for a bill to be sent to me.

I kept joking with the Spaniards and other Anglos (English speakers) that GLN could have a DukeTown in DC and I would bring them to the nation’s capital to learn how to walk and talk fast…as if they were pretending to run a bill through the Senate. Joking.

The great success was that, although we were all commanded to only speak English while with the program, I had a couple of key moments where I could stretch my language skills and learn more about my Spanish surroundings. Here are 10 highlights of things I was able to accomplish in Spanish (but that I’ll write in English):

10: Ordered Baileys from the Santa María Paular hotel bar.

9: Asked for directions in the Madrid subway (although the only thing I understood was derecha).

8: Snuck into the sleepy, cobble-stoned town of Rascafría with two Spaniards.

7: Met with an old college mentor/buddy who now owns a language school in Madrid.

6: Got lost in a taxi cab that took me to the “other” Hotel Senator…but I now know there are two.

5: Asked for the keys to the hotel gym from the reception desk.

4: Went shopping with two American women and was able to squeeze out a couple of small conversations. These women had great style.

3: Ordered hot chocolate from a famous cafe just off the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, a plaza which has a huge cameo in a “Learn Spanish” CD I once purchased many years ago to play while driving.

2: Asked the hotel to change their (English) instructions for how to log onto the WiFi.


1: “No más vino.” A phrase I’m sure I must have have uttered several times during each dinner.

If you have some time that you can take off from work, check it out. It’s called VaughanTown. 80 hours is no joke, though. You’re literally talking from early in the morning until late at night; it’s a loquacious man’s dream.

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