Organizing any residential school activity off site away from the “safe zone” of the controlled school environment is a challenge. A great way of off-setting both a lot of workload and filling the experience gap is to work with a skilled and experienced tour company. However like any competitive field of work, there are those companies who are good at tours and should be trusted and those who aren’t so good.
So how do you know who to entrust with your tour? It isn’t easy but here are some pointers that will help you to spot the good and the bad tour providers.
Be wary of choosing the “cheapest”
It will be tempting to gather multiple quotes and then choose the best offer. However beware of this approach. Whilst price must be a decision factor in any tour, it should never be the foremost. Quality has a certain price and 9 times out of 10 a more expensive but quality programme will save in peace of mind, in parental complaints and potentially in the long run in preventing add on costs. Not to mention it will be more likely to really fulfil the set educational goal of the trip. If a company over-states being the cheapest, my tip would be steer clear as at best their focus is more on sales than production and at worst they are dangerously cutting too many corners. Saying this you can find bargins but make sure to check the bargain has never come at expense of a core programme feature.
Don’t choose a “yes” company.
Whilst admitedly when going through the tiring process of organizing a trip it can be a relief to have a trip provider always telling you “yes” to your every request, this actually could be indicating something to worry about. “Yes” answers without additonal “but if” information may mean you are organzing a trip with someone very willing to promise things but perhaps not so likely to deliver. A good quality trip provider won’t just tell you “yes” (or “no”) rather what they will do is tell you honestly about the impacts of requesting additional things, be that on the programme or in adding cost. In short you shouldn’t look for the company that promises perfection, you should rather look for the one who impresses you that they know best how to protect the quality of their core tour features.
Ask “what if” questions?
“What if” questions are a great way of spotting the difference between a tour provider who knows how to sell a school tour and one who actually knows how to organize and deliver one. You should be giving importance to seeking to find the latter. “What if a child falls sick?” What if an emergency happens in the accommodation in the middle of the night?” How well the tour provider answers these questions will tell you a lot about their actual experience and even more so about the ethos of the company. You should be seeking a tour provider who has experience dealing with the unexpected and in planning how to prevent problems. These are core features of a quality tour provider.
Choose a tour provider who puts the kids first.
Whilst we teachers are no different to anyone else and love our personal perks, you should nonetheless be wary of choosing a company who sells you a tour overstressing what “extra things” teachers get. Teacher perks might be nice to receive but it shows where a company places its focus and at the end of day a poorly organized tour with great teacher perks will almost certainly cause you more stress and strain then the benefits you got from the perks. A company who puts kids first will be on top of safety, will have plans Bs in case of bad weather and will usually be run by group of educational people who know the core aspect of teaching is putting the educational and safety needs of the children first.
Judge a company on the quality of their organizational documentation, not on the gloss of their catalogue.
Whilst it is the nature of the world that all companies and people need to sell/promote themselves and their products, we should see selling catalogues for what they are which is a way to catch our attention and get us to make contact. However where we should start judging a tour provider is on quality of their programme documentation. Do they provide quality comprehensive risk assessment on request? Does a quote come accompanied by well thought out and minutely timetabled programme? Does the company have class/workshop material? It is this organizational level documentation that tells you a lot about the company and the way it operates and you should be looking to be impressed by that side more than by the initial gloss.
Ask for a recommendation from someone who has done the tour or search for quality reviews.
We live in the age of 4 stars being the min for any service we consider. However we should pay more note to the comments people write than the gradings they give. Any quality provider will be able to point your towards an impartital teacher who has done a tour with them before. Ask that person the things you need to know and check the tour is a fit for your school. Consider asking them about the staff in the company as this will tell you a lot about tour company. Also ask the teacher openly if anything went wrong and seek to judge the answer by how well (or not) the tour company dealt with the situation that came up, as in many ways how it dealt with a challenge tells you the most about quality and committment of the tour provider. You can also ask similar questions on teacher forums.
Trust is what matters most
Whatever the type of tour you do off site: an outward bounds adventure trip, a residential language tour or sports tour it is advisable to find a specialised tour provider. You need to spot the difference between those who care about your kids and you and those who just want the money. Most of all make sure you trust the company and the people who run it as no tour will be perfect but if trust them you will find they will always be there to help and sort out anything that comes up.
Aprendí muchos buenos hábitos para trabajar y ser más independiente, incluso escribi un mission statement y usaba “power statements” para enfocarme a desarrollar profesionalmente en las cosas que más me hacia falta. Tres “power statements” que voy a llevar conmigo para seguir haciendo en mi vida después de Spark son:
“I wont let doubt stop me”. “I will set my self goals and reflect on them”. “I will always find at least one positive thing in every situation“.
If you want to take a day trip to Jerez de la Frontera, here are 4 beautiful and interesting places to visit that are not far away from each other.
Very beautiful Islamic-style gardens recreate the ambience of Islamic times, geometric flower beds, fountains and well preserved Arabic Baths. There you can also see the Palacio Villavicencio.
» Prices: excl. camera 5€ / incl. camera 7€
» Calle Alameda Vieja, s/n, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
2. Tio Pepe Bodegas
One of the oldest Bodegas in Jerez. If you want to see it and drink some wine, every hour from 12pm on, there is a Tour through the Bodega. The Tour and wine tasting lasts together about two and a half hour.
Jerez Wine and Brandy Tour + 2 wines = 15.50€
Jerez Wine and Brandy Tour + 4 wines = 18.50€
Jerez Wine and Brandy Tour + 2 wines and Tapas = 18.50€
Jerez Wine and Brandy Tour + 4 wines and Tapas = 21.50€
» 19 Calle Puerto, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain . Alameda Vieja
3. Alameda Vieja
Separating the Alcázar from the Tio Pepe winery is the Alameda Vieja, one of Jerez’s most attractive parks. Its central boulevard runs parallel to the Moorish fortress walls and leads up to a bandstand where live music is performed in the summer.
4. Plaza del Arenal
To beautifully start or end your day, only a few minutes away from all places named above is the old town’s principal square, the Plaza del Arenal. Surrounded by bars and cafés with outside terraces, this is a great spot for breakfast or early-evening drinks. At the plaza’s centre, colourful flowerbeds surround a statue of Miguel Primo de Rivera.
You are thinking of traveling to Spain to learn Spanish or improve your skills? Here are some reasons and tips why it is a great experience studying Spanish directly in Spain:
Staying in Spain can give you a much more intense and interesting time learning Spanish, and having fun while learning it.
1. When surrounded by natives and the spanish language constantly you pick up the language way faster and therefore begin to understand the language better.
2. Of course you should not just run into it and travel to Spain, live in an apartment and wait for the spanish language to come to you. If you really want to learn Spanish in Spain you should consider searching yourself a language school. In Spain there are many official language schools to help you learn Spanish and English, one of them being Spark with it´s classes for Students, Adults and School Groups.
3. In addition to that you can stay with a host family. Through a host family you can dip in into the Spanish Culture, their family lives and finding friends. You are also forced to speak Spanish constantly or at least try, because in a host family communication is key.
4. Lastly, you have to have a look at the regions of Spain, because some are good for learning spanish and some have a really heavy accent or speak their own language and you might not understand a thing.
In these beautiful 5 cities learning Spanish is easy, as the people speak clear and understandable Spanish:
Salamanca –> University city
Madrid –> Capital of Spain, metropolis
León –> Captial of Province León, historical architecture
Córdoba –> Capital of Province Córdoba, was a very important Roman city
Carnival is mainly about costumes and masks. It is a celebration of joy, music, dance, processions, banquets and theatre. It is held in February until the beginning of March, dependent on the region.
In Spain they organise the celebrations for the whole peninsula, but the most famous and impressive places for carnival are Sitges, Cádiz and Tenerife.
The most outstanding event of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival is for example the Carnival Queen’s Election Gala. To become Queen, the candidates dress in majestic costumes that can weigh between 150 and 200 kilos!
Fallas de Valencia:
From the 1st to 19th March, València is overturned by Fallas celebrations, a festivity that combines tradition, satire and art.
From the 1st to 19th there are beautiful fireworks coloring the sky, that explode with really loud noise and are therefore named Mascletà. The best part is the Nit del Foc, a unique firework display celebrated in the early hours of the 18th.
Fallas originally were human-looking piles made out of wood, old belongings and rags, but now, the creators spend much time, effort and money into their Fallas. At the 15th and 17th of march the Creators present their work and judges select the most beautiful, which win awards. There are always more than 750 monuments set up in Valencia.
Las fallas end with the Cremà on the 19th March, where all the Fallas must be burned from 10pm to midnight. The sky lightned up by all the fire is very impressing and should be seen once in life.
La Feria de Abril de Sevilla:
This festival is the spring festival and usually takes place on the first Sunday in the week after Easter. At 12am the festival begins with lighting up the gate. Then about 25,000 light bulbs go on at the entrance of the festival area – the starting signal for a week full of streets with stands, lanterns, horse carriages and about 500,000 visitors.
time, the city is transformed into a magnificent sea of colours, with music and
the joy of living in the foreground.
What I am going to achieve during my time at Spark:
In my four weeks doing the work and study programme , learning work skills and practising Spanish language, I will become confident in speaking Spanish and having accomplished a good job.
I will achieve my goal to improve my Spanish every day, even if it takes me out of my comfort zone, by speaking to my host family daily and talking to people I might not know, no matter if it will only be the cashier. I will maintain regular use of Spanish and English as those will help me in my future life.
By doing my tasks organised and with motivation I want to prepare myself for future jobs and help Spark in terms of decoration and eg. helping with classes through my English.
Through organising and planning these tasks mostly by myself, I will learn to become independent and overall more organised.
When returning home I will be proud of the things I’ve accomplished, being a more confident, organised and well prepared person as well as being overall more positive and motivated.
10 Power Statements I will use on this process are:
1. I will ask and learn instead of saying “can’t” 2. I will be responsible for my own destiny 3. I won’t fear failure, as through failure I will learn 4. I will set myself goals and reflect on them continuosly 5. I will establish and stick to good working habits 6. I will do my responsibilities with motivation 7. I will spend my time wisely 8. I won’t put myself into any category 9. I will find positivity in every situation 10.I will always push myself to be better
The challenges of first organizing and then taking a primary or prep school on a school trip abroad can at first seem overpowering. The prep work is time-consuming and arduous, the difficulty of taking kids through the airport is real and the worry that accommodation or activities might not fit required safety standards is constantly in the back of the mind of any trip leader. However it is not all doom and gloom, and most challenges can be planned for and overcome by working with quality language trip providers, and there are even more positive reasons than challenges that more than justify the workload. Here are 10 TOP reasons why it is worth it:
1 A change of scene
Young people are at their most energetic stage of life and need new and intriguing stimulation. Taking a group abroad and getting them learning in a completely new place is the perfect way to reward them after a year’s hard study; and if learning can incorporate activities like visiting new cities, sampling foreign cuisine or kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean, so much the better! Get students engaged and energised so they can return to their studies next year with a fresh perspective and new dedication. A trip abroad can both act as a motivator to the kids in lead up and a fantastic memory afterwards.
2 Forging new connections
In a new environment, outside of the classroom, students have the chance to build stronger friendships with each other than they would normally have cause to do — travelling together, sharing dormitories and participating in exciting activities are all great bonding experiences for young people. Moreover, they will not just create more special bonds with other students, they will also build up their special connection with their own teachers as the shared experience has a unique way of creating mutual empathy.
3 Inspiring a future
Students study foreign languages for different reasons, but actually seeing a language like Spanish in action in its native country can be enough to inspire a lifetime of passion for foreign languages. Prep school students aren’t necessarily thinking much about their futures in secondary and tertiary education and beyond, but what if an inspiring trip abroad is the key to unlocking a student’s love of a foreign language and leads to further visits, modern language A-levels, a degree and an entire career? You never know what formative experience at prep school could shape an entire lifetime.
4 Fun for you
Never doubt just how much fun it can be to lead an expedition abroad! A bonding experience like travel always forges stronger connections between students and teachers, and aside from that you’ll get plenty out of the trip on your own terms: with exotic food to sample, exciting new cities to explore and, if you come to Spain, constant sunshine. A well organized trip abroad can be rewarding for hard-working teaching staff.
Students enjoy Spanish food!
Spanish food is renowned the world over, with tapas (small sharing plates) being particularly popular. From satisfying tortillas and patatas bravas for hungry stomachs, to the deliciously refreshing gazpacho and salmorejo so popular during the sunny summer months, there’s plenty here for even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy – and you never know what they’ll soon be asking their parents to cook up when they get home! Learning about different food is important to opening young student’s minds.
6 Investing in students
An advantage for any school is being able to say on a prospectus that it takes its students abroad during the summer to study foreign languages; a special cutting edge for a primary school as not many have the confidence to do so. This is a perfect way to show parents exactly how much you care about students experiencing the real world of the language and becoming committed and invested future citizens of the world.
7 Begin a new tradition
Building a firm working relationship with a language school abroad can be the start of a long and happy partnership. A trip abroad can become a staple of the school year, something that young students and their parents look forward to as a major event in the school calendar. A successful trip abroad, and the stories and pictures that come from it, can even act as motivation for younger kids and their parents if they know they will get to the tour themselves when they are, for example, in year 5-6.
8 Their place in the world
Very little can better help a student (or indeed anyone) understand their own place in the world than travel. To see how the citizens of nations half a continent away bear themselves and live in ways both similar to and different from one’s own country is to see better the diversity and unity of the world, and the opportunities there are to engage with such a world in the future.It is highly beneficial to start students with this “openness” at a young age.
9 Real language exposure
Seeing a language in its natural environment is the key to getting students to think of it as an important and useful skill for the modern world, instead of simply a subject to be memorised from textbooks. And all the textbooks in the world can’t show students how a modern language sounds spoken by natives, sung on the radio or graffitied on walls. Bring your students abroad and they’ll see just how potent language really is.
10 Holiday time
Finally, any good school trip abroad will factor in plenty of time for students to simply enjoy themselves in an educational setting, be that time on the beach, enjoying each other’s company or visiting historical places like the port from Columbus set sail to the Americas. The more students associate learning with enjoyment and cultural enrichment, the more eager they’ll be to throw themselves back into their studies when they get back and face the year ahead.
A school trip abroad — to learn a language in its natural environment, to experience the sights and sounds of another place entirely, and to see the world from a different perspective — can truly be a highlight of a young prep school student’s year. It can be something they look back on for many years afterwards with a smile and fond memories; and in some cases it can be the catalyst for some later life decision like studying a language at university so that they can be like their fun teacher who took them abroad to Spain all those years ago. 🙂
En mis tres semanas aquí en el Puerto de Santa María, me quedé con una famila de acogida. Allí, me dí cuenta que la gente española es la más amable, pero con mucha energía. La madre era tan cariñosa y la hija también, que era muy atenta. Me encantó mi estancia con esa familia.
Además, todos los días tuve algunas clases de español con Esther, dónde aprendí un montón de español. Al principio, solo podía hablar en español con pocito fluidez, sin embargo ahora, despues de las clases, me siento mucho más seguro de hablar en español. (Gracias Esther!!). Lo practicé durante mi work experience también, por ejemplo comprar nueva pintura, que mejoró mucho mi español.
Casi todos los días, despues de las clases habían actividades culturales que los disfruté mucho. Fuimos a Ronda, San Lúcar y otras ciudades preciosas en Andalucía. Eso despertó mi conciencia cultural y era lo más divertido.
Finalmente, despues de las clases normalmente hice mi work experience, dónde pinté dos paredes y también reparé algunas mesas que eran averiadas anteriormente. Eso mejoró mi independencia y por lo tanto, ahora soy mucho más autónoma ya que tuve que encontrar soluciones para algunos problemas, como la condición de la pared.
Mi primer pintura es una corazón que contiene todas las cosas típicas de España. La segunda pintura es una puesta del sol con una ciudad por la noche, en la azotea.
Hay tres power statements que me ayudaron mucho y que voy a usar en mi futuro despues de spark también:
I won’t fear failure as without failing I won’t learn.
I will set goals and reflect on them continuously.
After having completed this work experience and spanish programme, I will have learnt to be more responsible and independent as these are the key features for my self-development, reaching my full potential. I will have achieved this by working on my organisation skills, such as planning my projects – mural decorations of the school. This will help me in future to be able to manage my time better, organise it and thus being more responsible. My fellow staff, my director and most importantly myself will see me, Kajsa, as an organised, responsible and kind person with a positive attitude and mindset.
Furthermore, I will have improved my working skills in the process of the development of my communication skills, such as using the English language in a professional context and also being able to work as a team together with the other staff as I will have worked with principle in order to put team need in front of my own. My creativity will have also been promoted by doing several projects connected to interior design here at spark.
Moreover, I will have obtained cultural awareness and especially appreciation of both Cadiz and El Puerto de Santa Maria by including these two cities into my projects. By this, I will inspire others to admire the beauty of Spain in general, but especially El Puerto de Santa Maria, so that they will say “because of your painting, I realise how beautiful this city is”. Therefore, I will have reached my goals to decorate and paint the school´s wall, finishing my project, and by that helping others finding their admiration for this place.
My fellow students and staff and my manager will have always see me as a cooperative, polite, motivational and positive student who carries out her projects with passion.
Lastly, I will have improved my Spanish speaking skills by interacting with the team, the students and the teachers and especially by living in a host family, giving me the opportunity to practice my Spanish all the time. Therefore, I will have also learnt that I shall not fear failure as without failing, I will not learn.
In general, I will have established good working habits, I will have improved my Spanish speaking and I will have developed myself to reach my full potential.
Durante las tres semanas de período de prácticas he aprendido muchísimo. Para mejorar mi español, estuve con una familia española muy buena. Ellos no podían hablar mucho inglés y debido a ésto, tuve la posibilidad de hablar y prácticar mi español todo el tiempo. Además las classes con Marina fueron otro punto a favor para mejorar mi español ; por ejemplo, aprendí el diferente uso de los verbos ser y estar, los tiempos verbales y a pronuciar la letra „r“ (excepto la palabra „Tururú“):).
También he realizado diferentes trabajos como pintar y servir comida a estudiantes. Puedes ver fotos abajo de mis tareas de pinture. Como resultado, he ganado mucha experiencia.
Ha sido una experiencia muy gratificante e involvidable que sin duda me encantaría repetir.
During my two months working as Spark Secretary, I will challenge myself to become braver and more confident and will act in a way that will make me proud of myself when I return home. These are my personal “whys” which I will use to motivate and encourage myself throughout my time here.
This personal motivation will fuel my work and allow me to accomplish my professional objectives with passion and excitement, looking after students, keeping Spark clean and happy, and ensuring that all school trips here go smoothly.
I will take every opportunity to learn more about how to do my job well and willtake initiative where I can.
I will find inspiration from my past successes and aim to improve on them in future, while accepting that I will make mistakes and that this isn’t a problem if I learn from them and don’t make excuses for myself.
I will be more confident every day.
At the end of my eight weeks here I want to be thought of as someone who was helpful and approachable, as a confident employee, as someone who could be relied on and took his responsibilities seriously, and a hard worker. In order to do that, I will push myself out of my comfort zone, take every opportunity I can, constantly ask myself what I can learn today to make me better at my job, work hard even when tired, and look after myself in my free time so that I can focus on my job when working.