My decision to move to Barcelona and do the TEFL Barcelona course was made in December 2016 while I was recovering from laser eye surgery. My vision was blurry and I was house-bound due to the multiple eyedrops I had to use every hour or so and this gave me a lot of time to think and reflect upon my life and where I wanted to be! After living and working in London for six years, never really finding a job that stuck and spending all the money I earned to cover my extortionate monthly rent, I looked upon my friends that travelled with envy and realised that I wanted to do something similar. Knowing that I didn’t have enough savings to wander the earth without a job, I started looking into ways that I could earn money abroad while also being able to travel and see new places. One of my good friends from primary school had been living in Barcelona for a year as an English teacher after completing the TEFL Barcelona course so I decided to speak to her about it. Her life sounded wonderful; she was living in a beautiful city, experiencing a different culture, learning a new language and doing a job she loved. I’d visited Barcelona a few times in the past and I knew it was a city I was keen to know more about. Having had no prior teaching experience, I was keen to know how much the course prepared her for working as a teacher. She managed to fully soothe my anxieties by telling me about all the practical experience you gain during the course; by the time you start your first job you’ll already have taught numerous classes, which sounded ideal to me! My boyfriend and I had signed up to the August 2017 TEFL course by Christmas and the decision was made; we were moving to Barcelona.
August came around quickly and before we knew it we were packing all our belongings and flying to Barcelona. We’d found a lovely flat in Barceloneta (the beach area) through Air BnB and, despite it being absolutely beautiful, it cost a fraction of the rent we were paying in London (living in London really warps your perception on what is expensive!!) We started the TEFL course a week after arriving and it was full-on from day one! Almost immediately we were observing classes and being given career advice; I was learning so much about what it meant to be an English teacher as well as diving into the crazy realm of English grammar rules. I made friends quickly on the course; after going out for delicious tapas on the first evening and spending long days figuring out grammatical tenses and phrasal verbs, we were firmly bonded. It was great to have such strong support because we soon started teaching practice classes and observing one another. I was incredibly nervous before teaching my first class; it was an advanced class and with words like ‘hirsute’ in the set reading (that I had to look up in a dictionary!), I was worried that the students would see right through me and realise my inexperience. However, as cliché as it sounds, my fear dissipated as soon as the class took their seats and I began to teach. Prior to the class, we were all given an hour to prepare our lessons, which was incredibly helpful and I used every second to make sure I was prepared as I could possibly be. The class went as well as it could have done, and I soon realised I had nothing to fear; the students and my observers were very supportive and, I must admit, I even had fun! Which was something I really did not expect, especially from my first class. But I have always been a ‘people person’ and as soon as I started interacting with my students, getting to know them and covering the content of the lesson, I found myself laughing and relaxing and to be having a wonderful time.
I look back upon August 2017 with hugely fond memories. The TEFL course was intense and a lot of hard work, but it was also great fun and such a good experience. I made some friends for life and I learned so much about the English language, I gained valuable skills and, on top of all of that, I received a qualification that allows me to work anywhere in the world!
After completing the course, I continued to live in Barcelona for a further five months. One of my concerns before undertaking the course was how easy it would be to get a job afterwards; Barcelona is a popular place to live and I’d heard that the job market was pretty flooded, so I was expecting it to be difficult. I started sending job applications at the beginning of September, as well as creating a profile on tusclasesparticulares.com, and very quickly I was being invited to interviews. I decided that I would prefer to teach in a language school and have regular hours and a contract rather than teach private lessons, so that ruled out a few of my offers. I went to five interviews at different schools and was offered positions in all of them, I decided to take a job at a language academy in Poble Nou where I would be teaching a range of ages and levels; from six years old to adult company classes.
While the kids’ classes were challenging at first (I had never had any experience teaching children before and it is an entirely different experience to teaching adults), I grew to enjoy the high energy of the classes and I became very fond of the children. As the weeks went by, I learned what methods worked to encourage them to concentrate and work hard. I studied drama at university so I was keen to incorporate the creative arts into my classroom so I would often use roleplay, song and games with the children, which really worked to keep them engaged and enjoying English. My adult company classes were less of a challenge but they were a real pleasure to teach; my students were all very advanced and I was given a huge amount of flexibility so I could tailor the classes based on their interests and what they wanted to learn. We would watch a lot of TED Talks and discuss some interesting and important issues. I feel as though I learned from them as much as they learned from me sometimes!
I was teaching 18 hours a week, which meant I had plenty of time to explore Barcelona while earning enough money to live and enjoy myself. I had Fridays entirely off work, which meant that I could explore further afield and go to other areas of Spain. During my time living in Barcelona I had many weekends away, my favourite being Valencia, but we also explored Zaragoza, Tarragona, Sitges, Montserrat and Figueres. It was with a heavy heart that we made the decision to leave Barcelona, but I will always look back on my time there with very fond memories. My experience living and working in Barcelona has transformed me into a more confident and well-rounded person, my Spanish vastly improved and I return to the UK not only more employable than when I left, but also happier for having challenged myself, experienced a new way of life and seen more of the world. I now have the qualification and experience to work in any country in the world, which is a privilege I’ll always be grateful for.
By Hollie Brader
For more information on our TEFL courses please visit teflbarcelona.net