History students thrive on teaching placements in sunny Spain

From bustling Barcelona to rural Igualada, two De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students are reaping the benefits of year-long teaching placements.


Kayleigh at the top of Tibidabo, the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola, overlooking Barcelona

History BA (Hons) students Kayleigh Cardy and Cory Hancock are developing valuable workplace skills as English language teaching assistants, while immersing themselves in Spanish culture.

The placement was organised through DMU’s Erasmus+ programme, which is offered through university’s award-winning overseas opportunities scheme #DMUglobal.

Participating students can receive funding to do a work placement for two to 12 months in Europe, after their second year of study and receive support from #DMUworks, the university’s careers programme.

Based in Barcelona, Kayleigh is working with children as young as one and up to 16, learning to tailor her teaching from simple songs and games with younger pupils to speaking practice with older students.

The 20-year-old from Braintree in Essex said: “The experience has been one big highlight. Seeing the students improve and knowing that I’m contributing to their education and future is so rewarding.

“It’s been so much more than a placement. I’ve travelled, I’ve learned about a whole new culture and I’ve grown as a person. It’s highlighted what I can achieve when I set my mind on something and I feel better prepared for my final year of university as I’m more independent and confident.”


Cory taking in Barcelona’s panoramic views from Bunkers del Carmel, an anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War

Kayleigh decided to do a year’s placement after a trip to Thailand with #DMUglobal, the university’s international experience programme. During her seven-day stay she had the chance to work as a language assistant in a school in Bangkok.

“I became passionate about teaching abroad, something I hadn’t considered as a potential job before. For me, there was no better time to try it out properly than while at university, where I could get support if I needed it,” she said.

“The placement team has been extremely valuable. From helping prepare me for the interview stage to being the first people from back home to visit me in Barcelona, they have been a very big comfort and it’s great to have understanding professionals to talk to about my experiences.”

Cory is teaching 11- to 16-year-old students in Igualada, a municipality in the province of Barcelona. He works with groups of four to five students at a time, supporting them with their spoken English.

“I wanted to do a placement to broaden my cultural awareness and I’m really proud of the way I’ve adapted to Spain, overcoming the language barrier to gain in-depth knowledge of their education system,” said the 21-year-old from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.

“The experience has made me far more organised and responsible than I’ve ever been, which is a strong position to be going into my most important year at university.”

Thanks to a workplace module on his course, which supports all second-year students to gain work experience in a professional environment, Cory had previously completed a six-week placement at Leicester City Football Club (LCFC).

Working closely with the club’s historian in the archives, Cory had the chance to try his hand at a range of tasks from providing up-to-date team stats and taking part in an event for fans to sorting newspaper clippings about former players and sitting in on interviews with them.

He said: “As different as my two placements have been, I learned transferable skills at LCFC that I’ve been able to apply to my teaching. They’ve also both taught me to be resilient, which is a crucial life skill.

“I definitely believe that DMU is setting me up for future success, whatever my career might be. I’ve had so many opportunities to develop my skills in different areas and I feel very grateful.”