Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL for short…phew) might just be the greatest career you’ve never considered. The perks and positives of this much overlooked employment choice are many; there’s a sense of freedom in being able to work anywhere in the world; the money, if you get your location right, can be lucrative; and it can be a rewarding, fulfilling and sociable job to boot. That said, it isn’t simply a matter of putting on a shirt and reciting your A,B,Cs; the job requires confidence, professionalism and dedication to succeed.
If the living abroad aspect of TEFL particularly appeals to you, and the idea of putting down roots on the continent in the land of Sangria and siesta has got you boning up on your future perfect continuous tense, then read on; our 5 IDEAL things to consider when teaching English as a foreign language in Spain.
TAKE YOUR TEFL COURSE IN SPAIN
To teach English as a foreign language anywhere in the world, you’ll often (though not always) need a Bachelor’s degree from university – this is usually for visa purposes, rather than an explicit demand of the language school – as well as an ESL qualification, such as a CELTA or TEFL. These qualifications are much the same, and most educational institutions across the world will accept either.
The good news is that in order to teach English as a foreign language in Spain, you don’t need a degree. And if you haven’t yet taken the necessary qualifications to teach English in Spain on home turf, then why not embark on that study programme where you want to live? There are many TEFL courses in Spain that offer teacher training courses to help you along your way, gaining you the necessary qualification and skills, as well as helping you acclimatise to the weather, culture and new way of life in the country. Doing it this way round will help you put your best foot forward when you first enter the classroom.
Now you’ve earned your qualifications, it’s time to earn your stripes in the classroom. But beware; discipline and dedication take very different forms in the TEFL world, particularly as you’ll usually be teaching adults, and most certainly be educating with an ‘extra curricular’ hat on. Spanish timekeeping tends to be a bit looser than the tardiness we expect in Britain, and as such, you’ll need to make it plain from the offset that you expect punctuality from your students. Otherwise, things will be lax from day dot, and a tone will be set not conducive to study.
That said, the Spanish value (and thrive on) spontaneity, so be prepared to be flexible in your teaching style. Don’t stick too rigidly to those lesson plans, and move, groove and adapt to the needs of the class as you go. The students will appreciate this approach and respond to it positively. Though this might mean your lesson plans take a looser look, with room for deviations backwards, sideways and in front, once you’re accustomed to this style of teaching, you’ll find it suits the Spanish learning style perfectly. Strike a fine balance between control and fluidity and both you and the students will be richly rewarded.
DIFFERENT DIALECTS & LANGUAGE NEEDS
Catalan, Basque, Galician, Andalusian…there are more different dialects in Spain than you can count on one hand, and each region has a personality and pride all of their own. Learning styles, study methods, and particularly, pronunciation will vary hugely. It’s important to be aware of the quirks of the Spanish language which will interfere with their English learning and the regional and dialectical concerns which could affect students’ language acquisition.
Pay particular attention to the overuse of ‘how’ when forming questions (in place of ‘what’ and ‘which’), as well as plenty of countable/uncountable noun confusion, and issues with ‘ing’ and ‘ed’ adjectives. These are just a couple to look out for, rather than an exhaustive list, but it’s important to be aware of common errors of Spanish learners and to bone up on some foreign language learning facts before taking your first class.
Though English teaching jobs in Spain offer a decent quality of life, fantastic cuisine, lively culture and more, it’s important to be realistic about the money involved. The average wage for a TEFL teacher in the country is between 12 and 16 euros, and the cost of living much higher than many other countries which attract thousands of English language teachers each year. As such, it would be foolish to head to Spain to teach English thinking you’ll be living the lap of luxury; a savvy approach to budgeting is a must. In adopting a conservative approach to your finances, you’ll be able to enjoy an amazing country with enthusiastic students for years to come. Good luck!