Future Educator’s Abroad Experience Will Benefit Teaching Abilities

AUBURN – Emily Littleton always considered herself a bit of a self-reliant and free spirit, so she did not think twice about taking a five-month abroad trip to South America.

Her tenacity was rewarded through her abroad experience. She traversed over the heights of the Andes Mountains, through the deep Amazon jungle all the way to the bottom of the world in southern Patagonia.

Despite some reservation about missing her family and not yet being fluent in Spanish, Littleton was gung-ho for the adventure, which she took in the spring of 2011. "I've always been a pretty independent person, so it wasn't very daunting to me," she said.

She spent a semester in South America through an International Studies Abroad trip spending half a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and half a semester in Lima, Peru, studying the culture, language, literature and language and history of the areas.

Littleton, a senior Spanish education major, believes being fully immersed in a language and culture will be a great help to her when it comes to teaching her future students about the same language and cultures.

"Eventually I would like to teach high school Spanish, and to be a good Spanish teacher, you need to have to experience in all kinds of different Spanish culture. It was incredible to have that experience," Littleton said.

There was ample time for her college classes and studies as well as time for some field trips and travel. She was able to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world's new seven wonders of nature; the Mendoza wine and vineyard country; Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world; the remains of the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu; and the Amazon rainforest where she fished for and ate piranhas.

She also happened to be in Peru during the country's national election season, which provided her a unique opportunity to learn about Peru's government and political climate. She still keeps up with news from the country and what the Peruvian president has accomplished since the election.

Later, Littleton was also able to spend two weeks of the 2012 summer in Costa Rica with a foreign language education exchange program where Costa Rican teachers visit Auburn and study how classrooms in Alabama and Georgia function while Auburn students in foreign language education visit Costa Rica.

"We go and visit all the teachers who came here. We visit their schools and participate in their classrooms," Littleton said. "It was incredible. We even got to do a presentation on communicative language teaching theory to teachers who were getting their masters at the university there."

All of these educational, cultural and spiritual experiences combined to create an unforgettable time of growth and learning for Littleton. She especially loved meeting people, both the natives of the countries and her fellow travelers from the U.S.

"Any time you spend abroad is going to change your worldview and open your eyes to a lot of different opinions," Littleton said.

Now she cannot wait to return to South America this summer. She's going to teach English as part of a service and learning trip to Chile.

Her future students no doubt will get to hear some incredible stories when she introduces them to Spanish language and culture.

Last Updated: January 22, 2013

Emily Littleton Abroad