Are you interested in making new friends? Experiencing Spanish culture? Learning or improving your Spanish? Then you will enjoy all the benefits of enrolling on a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Spain! With programs in major cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, you are sure to find the right course for you.
If you want to move abroad by yourself, it can be daunting to do it with no hope of an immediate social network. This is where TEFL is useful. A quality TEFL provider will assist you with important things such as accommodations and visas, and an intensive training program will prepare you to teach English. If you are a recent graduate, it is wise to start your TEFL course quickly, literally a few days after arrival in Spain. This gives you an immediate set of friends, job contacts and a base of knowledge about where to go for a doctor, dentist, bank, mobile, etc.
TEFL Programs and Opportunities
The TEFL industry, like any industry, has excellent quality providers but at the other end of the market there are lots of unqualified organisations. You’ve got to make sure that your chosen TEFL course is accredited. This means that it meets the standard 120 hours and 6 observed teaching practices TEFL criteria set out by the British Council. It should also be accredited by an external body that ensures it does what it says. Academies and language schools are looking for continuity and may not employ you if you’re only going to be in the country two months. Make sure you look for short-term placements, volunteer projects, or be willing to stay for the academic year.
If you are looking to teach English to start a career, think about the long-term opportunities your course provides. If you teach for several years, you may want to move on to training. Training options include class co-ordinator in a teaching agency or a director of studies. Another option for professional advancement is getting an online Master's degree from TEFL while teaching.
What your TEFL provider should offer
Make sure your TEFL course meets a set of standards. This will ensure good quality training and the support and assistance you need.
- The course should be accredited by an external body. Don’t be fooled by ‘internationally recognised’ – its marketing talk and nothing more
- The course has a comprehensive grammar programme. It is often the toughest area and you need to know what you are talking about when you enter the classroom.
- You do real teaching practices on site that are observed by experienced trainers. There should be a minimum of 6 teaching practices.
- They also prepare you for the market you are entering. In Spain, exam preparation skills and telephone teaching are essential.
- The TEFL course provider offers assistance with accommodation, visas, bank accounts and organizing your legal paperwork.
- They should have a comprehensive job support programme to help you get work after the course.
- The course should be demanding and intensive.
If you are a European Union citizen, finding work in Spain will be very easy because you won’t need a working visa. If you are a national from another country, then you will be faced with visa papers and embassy appointments. This can often be a long process so if you are planning to embark on these areas, you must be organised and start early!
The TEFL methodology is such that you never have to use the language of your students in the classroom. Knowing Spanish is not a prerequisite for TEFL in Spain, but it is useful to know basic phrases and vocabulary. This will make your transition to life in Spain much easier and you will be able to communicate with the locals.
What to expect when you get there
Any qualified TEFL course should be intense and fun. You should be nervous, excited, feel as though you are learning and gaining confidence. Most of all, you should be learning how to be a great teacher.
When you first start looking for jobs, don’t accept the first thing that comes your way. Often, companies (e.g. teaching academies) will try and give the most awkward jobs to the nearly trained. It’s completely understandable that as a new teacher you feel that you should take anything offered and be grateful for it. This is not true, particularly in Spain where there is a high demand for English teachers. As a new teacher, you have an empty schedule. Although it needs filling, you can you can wait a week or two for the right hours to come through. It will.
Remember that TEFL is a passport to a new life and this is exciting and thrilling. But before you pack your bags, be sensible in your choices to ensure your new experiences are trouble free and manageable. You won’t regret it.
By Victoria Galloway, TtMadrid Graduate, firstname.lastname@example.org