I wanted to travel, that much I knew. But how could I get paid while traveling? And how could I also add to my resume while seeing the world? Some friends of mine recommended teaching English abroad, and I’m glad they did. The flexibility of the job and the work itself sounded ideal. After doing a little research, Spain also seemed like a perfect destination. The demand for teachers is high and the country itself is a good place to both explore and be based.
After deciding I wanted to teach, I’m glad I went to the expense and effort of taking the TEFL Barcelona course. First of all, it refreshed my rather rusty knowledge of English grammar. They explained grammar in a useful way, a way that I would be able to easily use with my students. And the course also gave me real life teaching experience paired with the critique and encouragement of well-experienced teachers at the same time. It took away (most) of the fear that comes with standing in front of a group of adults who are staring at you, expecting you to teach them something. The course was also very helpful in terms of career guidance. They gave such blunt and helpful information.
Since finishing the course, I’ve had a lot of success teaching. I completed the course in November, which meant waiting a month until the next semester started. (Spain takes a month long Christmas break.) But once everyone was back from holidays, work was not an issue to find. It was harder to find housing than it was to find students. I advertised English classes on tusclasesparticulares, which is where most of my students contacted me. And on days I wasn’t being contacted, I was contacting potential students.
Being in Barcelona means there are a lot of people wanting to learn English, but it also means there are a lot of people teaching English. For a while it seemed that everyone wanted the same one-hour slot in my week. And if our schedules didn’t line up, they moved on to the next teacher. After a few weeks of setting up classes, coordinating schedules, and getting rid of students who weren’t going to take it seriously, things fell into place and I had a group of consistent students I could count on.
I decided to go the route of teaching private lessons, over teaching in an academy or for a business. I decided that, because I didn’t want to be bound by a contract. I wanted more flexibility and higher pay. With teaching private lessons come some frustrations and it is a lot of coordinating schedules, but there are a lot of people wanting and needing to learn English and when you get a good student, they’re great, most have even become friends.
Most of the difficulties of teaching happened in the first month or so, but then I adapted. I dropped students who consistently canceled or were late without notice. I asked for payment at the end of every class. And I became much, much better at communicating and keeping a schedule.
It hasn’t been all easy. Planning lessons can be draining, commuting can be draining, teaching can be draining, but it is rewarding. Helping someone to be able to communicate, to express what they’re feeling, or to pass an exam is a good feeling. It is exciting to be able to see them improve.
After the course, I decided to stay in Barcelona. I originally thought I’d leave as soon as the month was over (I’m not a big city person), but I’m glad I stayed. Within the month of the course, I had already made some connections and friends. And as I mentioned, housing was hard to find. My level of Spanish is low and I wanted a short-term lease in a fully furnished apartment. You won’t just find that overnight. It takes time. My advice would be to start looking for housing within the first two weeks of the course.
Also, Barcelona itself is a wonderful city. There is so much going on here. Almost every weekend there are multiple events to choose from. From food truck festivals to concerts to the beach, they are all fun. And I love being able to walk everywhere and along the way stop in to enjoy the cafes and restaurants. And really Barcelona isn’t too big. With the help of friendly people, it becomes homey quickly
Overall, I am very glad I took the TEFL Barcelona course. By no means was it a waste of my money. I’ve already made more than the cost of the course back. If you’re debating taking the course or not, do it. Within the course you will learn a lot about teaching, English itself, and the best way to go about getting employment. There is plenty of work in this field and it truly is a wonderful experience.
By Jessie Conroy
For more information on our TEFL courses visit teflbarcelona.net