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Experience an international atmosphere and explore a new culture while enhancing one's teaching skills through the CAPS program offered by Home to Home in Spain. As a Conversation...
Home to Home Reviews
Staff was incompetent - be careful!
Submitted by Ann | August 07, 2017
I applied for CAPS in February, hoping that I would get a final decision within a month or two. I finally got the decision in June after months of emailing CAPS and asking them for updates. They always replied later than they said they would. If I was going to get to the next step in a week, it would be two or three weeks. That kind of thing. I applied for my visa in July, but was denied two times. The first time, the consulate told me that CAPS had not gone through the proper channels in Spain and that the local authorities had not been notified. When I was denied a second time, CAPS changed my location and I finally got my visa. By that time, I had driven to the consulate two extra times and missed my flight. All told, I ended up spending more than $1,000 in part because of CAPS staff making mistakes. When I went to their office in Spain and told them about extra expenses, they told me that I should be grateful for the chance to be in Spain, that they had done a lot for me, and that they could not reimburse me for anything. I did have a good experience in Spain, but I felt burnt by CAPS. They were not willing to admit that they had messed up or even try to make up for it. I had excellent host family experiences. The school placement was good. I would recommend giving other conversation assistant programs a try before going with CAPS.
A surprisingly terrible company.
Submitted by G - United Kingdom | March 29, 2017
CAPS Mislead me and numerous other people before the program started, highlighting minor things and hushing down major things. Catalan was presented to us as a second language but as the company knows very well every single household will continuously speak Catalan instead of Spanish. Secondly, extra curricular classes were absolutely essential, without doing the extra hours after an 8 to 5 day would have left me without any money to have any social life at all. Thirdly, when a CAPS representative came to our school, she ignored every single one of our problems we brought up and left in a kind of "Case closed" scenario. Fourthly, we could not arrange a meeting with the CAPS boss without having 10 or more of us head out of the city to their offices. We were told the meeting won't take place if there aren't enough people, the day before the meeting an email was sent saying there were not enough people to have a meeting so yeah, HUGE avoidance of responsibility right there.
Fifth, we waited for maybe 2 hours at El Prat on our first day without a CAPS representative turning up and when they eventually did and took us to a hostel, they attempted to trap us like mice, I swear to god they locked the gates and said we couldn't leave. Of course we escaped and brought wine back but that isn't the point. Many, many more things that accumulate to them not giving a flying duck about you. My experience was amazing because of what I put in, it had absolutely nothing to do with this terribly, piss poor company.
Being here has changed my outlook on life
Submitted by Leah Allen - Mare del Diví Pastor, Capellades, Barcelona | June 16, 2015
When I started this program I knew I wanted a different experience but I wasn't sure what I was going to get. In Canada my life is very busy and tiring working with preschool and nursery children, being involved with my family, friends, the gym, and other events! Being here has changed my outlook on life and I am having an amazing experience so far!
I have made so many friends from the program and others from my town and other programs similar to CAPS. I feel that I am very lucky to be in the host family that I am in because they are very nice. I am grateful they are letting me stay with them for the whole time! They treat me like I'm part of their family, let me do whatever I want, have showed me around, and we have brought English into the family because since I've been here they have been speaking English a lot more. They have also been helping me to learn Spanish and Catalan. We spend a lot of time together for example during meals (I even introduced them to some Canadian food and we made a meal), movies, meeting other family members and generally showing me around.
My town is very small but it's nice with very friendly people, and beautiful areas to hang out in and walk around, such as the mountains and the centre. At school I'm also having a wonderful experience. My tutor and the other English teachers are really nice and are always helpful. I am involved with students form the whole school. The children and teachers mostly speak Catalan and Spanish, however the students and English teachers speak English with me. I am primarily involved with three English teachers and the classes are with students aged between 3 and 16 years of age. All the kids are very sweet, nice and fun!
I have had the chance to experience some very interesting and amazing Catalan traditions with my host family. They have become my extended family, the food and the holidays have all been great! I spent Christmas time with them and their extended families. The Catalan Christmas traditions were wonderful as I saw and ate many different foods and witnessed the Three Kings party, among other things. Despite being busy with school and the family, I also have a lot of time to do my own thing. I have visited Madrid, spent many Saturdays exploring Barcelona, met people from England, the US, Canada, and we have a lot of fun together. We go shopping, visit many tourist sites, and try a few restaurants in Barcelona. In my town I completed a 5 kilometer run with a friend on Christmas morning, and a 13 km run up Monsterrat which is a very famous mountain in Catalonia. I have also found the time to take up zumba and an aerobics classes.
This experience has been amazing for me so far and I love it! I will have a lot of memories that I will always look back on. I'm really looking forward to what I'm going to experience over the next few months! I would recommend this program to anyone who is looking for a new and exciting experience!
I grew professionally and as an individual
Submitted by Charlotte Fereday - La Presentacio, Reus in the province of Tarragona | June 16, 2015
When the Conversation Assistant Programme advertised itself as “an experience of a lifetime”, they were not lying. I arrived on carnival weekend which was absolutely fantastic. I was hit with culture through dance, music and confetti all in the beautiful streets of Reus. I could not have asked for a more spectacular welcome that instantly trampled any worries I had.
Living with a host family has been a wonderful opportunity. My host mum is a teacher at the same school and my next host family has students, at the school. By the time my first few days were over I already felt like a member of the family, laughing and joking every day.
Every evening, over dinner, we discuss many things from our day at school to cultural differences we find funny and interesting. I help them with their English vocabulary and pronunciation and they return the favor by helping me with Spanish and Catalan. The family is very welcoming and friendly, and I felt comfortable with them straight away, they always give such kindness and hospitality and I feel very lucky to have been placed with a family as wonderful and lovely as this one. I will truly miss them when I move on to my next host family.
Col·legi La Presentacio, is a beautiful school established by a group of nuns, and caters for Pre-School, Primary and Secondary meaning one hour I am explaining idioms to a secondary class and the next hour explñaining emotions to a pre-school class. Every day is new and exciting, the students always want to learn and practice their English with me and I am often caught in the playground chatting to the primary classes. My classes are half the size of the normal classes allowing me to focus and help individual students with my lessons. I have really enjoyed being involved with a wide range of ages (5-17) as it means I can create a range of diverse lessons catering to the different ages and levels. It has provided me with the opportunity to experience being in a classroom setting with different ages and develop my skills.
The teaching staff at the school, are more like a little community than co-workers. Every day they each take the time to check I am well, to suggest new places to visit and to ask me any cultural or language questions they have. I have been fortunate enough to have 3 tutors: 1 for Pre-School, 1 for Primary and 1 for Secondary. That has been a great help as each of them provide me with constant support, whether giving feedback about my activities or helping me to develop teaching techniques. Not only do I have 3 tutors but the headmaster of the school has been fantastic. She picked me up from the airport, handled my NIE paperwork, assisted in opening a bank account and supports me both professionally and personally. Every weekend she offers to spend the day with me exploring Catalonia. Thanks to her undying support and caring attitude, I easily settled into my host family and school.
This CAPS experience thus far has already granted me the memories of dancing in the street dressed as a pirate, walking along the glistening beach of Salou, celebrating my birthday in style, climbing a mountain in Picamoixons and strolling through the forested beach of Tarragona. This is not a tourist holiday, this is the wonderful life of Catalonia where I have grown professionally and as an individual and for that I am forever grateful.
An eye-opener for me
Submitted by Ciara Gormley - Highlands School El Encinar, Madrid | June 16, 2015
I am currently a Conversation assistant in the school of Highlands, in El Encinar, Madrid, Spain. It is a Catholic primary and secondary school merged as one. I aid in 1st and 2nd of Eso (or year), with ages ranging from 12, 13 and 14.
I chose to join CAPS as part of my 6-month work placement for university, as I am only in second year and am studying English. When I first heard of CAPS, I thought it was an amazing opportunity to travel, gain work experience and learn more about a different country and culture. I can say that I have experienced all of these things to far, from not having a kettle for tea to learning how to make delicious Spanish omelette, though I do still need practice! I think that although living with a host family may seem daunting, it really is the best way to become immersed in a new way of life. I found that Spanish people are very warm and friendly, and so I felt welcome into my host family straight away. I previously stayed with my first host family from February to April, and I am now with another as part of my contract. Both are wonderful families, and I love taking selfies with the kids!
In regards to be a conversation assistant in the school, I have really learned a lot in the past 3 months. I feel that this invaluable experience has readied me for life after I graduate, and if I do decide to go teaching abroad, I won’t have any fear of doing so. Spanish children are not shy and quite forward in asking and answering questions, which is great as having a silent classroom is everyone’s worst nightmare! The kids are also bilingual, so sometimes it’s quite funny to hear them chat in ‘Spanglish’ when they cannot remember a specific word. It took me a while to learn 8 classes of names also, but one learns them all eventually! The kids also find my pale complexion hilarious, and enjoy comparing skin colours. In class I go around and help them to better understand certain topics, like explaining certain terms in History, Skills or Science. I sometimes take some students by myself and we practice discussing certain topics, or else they go off topic completely, but once English is being spoken I allow it. The rest of the teachers in the school are very friendly to me also, and those who I am involved with most offer me guidance, which I greatly appreciate.
I got to know some more Irish and Spanish people over here by joining a GAA Football team, the Madrid Harps, which I am so glad that I did. Sport is honestly the best way to get to know people who are similar to you, regardless of whether you play or you’re an enthusiastic supporter. I would recommend joining a club of some sort, or even going to events that your embassy in the country holds.
I will admit that I was quite nervous when I first arrived, but right now I don’t regret any of it. This has been such an eye-opener for me, because I can see now that I am capable of travelling and living in a new country and carving a life out for myself! As my old school principal said; ‘Feel the Fear and do it anyway’. I now have no fear and am definitely making it my mission to return sometime after my contract ends!