Spain is in the heart of Europe and is a hop, skip and a jump for those living in Europe and is easily accessible with low cost airlines. For those further afield the trip is worth the effort as Spain provides the perfect base to explore Europe by taking advantage of your 3 day weekends and a plentiful supply of public holidays.
The teaching English market is booming in Spain. The market has always been, and continues to be, strong for teaching adults but the market for children has exploded in the last 4 years with every parent wanting English classes for their children.
As with any course, ask, ask and ask some more. Any TEFL organization of quality will be happy to answer all the questions you have. Here are some pointers to look out for:
- The course should be 120 hours of contact time in the classroom
- You should have a minimum of 6 observed teaching practices on real students. The feedback you get from the trainers during your teaching practices is without a doubt the key to becoming a successful teacher
- If you need a visa, does the TEFL organization have a course that helps you obtain this and support you through the application process?
- The reason you are doing the course is to get a teaching job. Ensure that they help you get jobs once you have finished the course. Ask for specifics about what they do.
- The majority of TEFL courses focus on adults but there is a huge market for teaching children as well so make sure you have options to study TEFL with children during the course, or as an add on.
- Ask to be put in touch with a graduate who has done the course and has a similar age/background to you. All TEFL organizations are selling you a course so the information from graduates will be the most honest and insightful.
- Accreditation. There are lots of accrediting bodies so ensure the course is accredited by an external body. This will ensure the standards are high. ‘Internationally recognized’ is marketing speak and does not mean it is accredited. Institutional membership is something that organizations pay for but again is not accreditation. Spend an extra few minutes by emailing the accrediting body to make sure they are indeed accredited.
- Make sure you have a phone chat with the organization. This way you can get a feel for them and ask all your questions.
- Social media is your friend when it comes to checking out your TEFL options. Look at their Facebook page and see what they are up to, do the students look happy in the photos? Check out reviews that have been posted etc. The more research you do, the more informed your choice will be.
- Finally, think carefully about where you want to teach in Spain. You need to do a TEFL where you want to teach as they will have the local jobs contacts. Some parts of Spain have a much higher demand for jobs such as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Valencia. Other smaller cities and towns have much lowers costs of living but the work is harder to come by so again, do your research!
There are two basic types of TEFL in Spain. The TEFL Cert which focuses on adults with some components for teaching children and the TEFL Cert for Young Learners which focuses on teaching. Both courses are normally 4 week full time course or 8 week part time TEFL courses. Whichever TEFL you choose, the course is extremely INTENSIVE! You can’t do anything else but the course during this time so don’t think you can work evenings or weekends – you can’t. You need to focus on this course and nothing else if you want to pass. If you have family commitments or need to work, then consider doing a part time option which is normally split over two months.
A TEFL certificate course will include:
- Teaching skills: lesson planning, PPP methodology, error and correction, lesson planning, needs analysis, level testing, games, course planning, etc.
- The core knowledge: grammar, phonetics, reading, listening, speaking and writing
- Additional components: telephone teaching, intensive courses, interview practice etc
- Teaching practices: you plan a class and teach real students whilst a trained observer watches you teach and gives you constructive feedback.
- Support with accommodation, getting a bank account and phone, applying for a visa should the course need it.
When and Where to Look:
So we are back again to research – you really can never do enough. Most of the major cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Granada etc) and a few of the smaller towns offer TEFL courses. Most have courses starting each month. With the smaller towns you definitely want to be around for the beginning of the academic year (September). With the larger towns the words tends to be steady throughout the year as teachers come and go.
The normal requirements for accredited TEFL courses are:
- 21 years of age
- Clean criminal check
- University degree
- Proficiency level of English
However, most TEFL schools in Spain will take each person on a case by case basis. Work experience will be counted again studies etc. Non-natives are very welcome for most courses as long as your level is sufficient. Don’t be put off by what the website says, enquire and see what they have to say. Most jobs don’t require a university degree unless it is working for a university or sometimes with the military.
- Schools (Colegios): Many schools employ private teachers to teach English during the day and for their after school activities. Sometimes you will be the teacher and other times you will act as a teaching assistant. The money is normally very good and reliable but your hours can be split throughout the day. This is a good option if you want to travel as you get the school holidays.
- Academies: These are private schools that open normally in the evenings from 4.30 to 9.30. They have all the books and resources at the school and you stay in the one location. You will normally be expected to teach children (as young as 3 years old) and later in the evening, exam preparation courses with teens and the last classes are usually with adults. The money is regular and you normally get paid for holidays. This type of work is a great option if you are not a morning person!
- In-Company: This can be for business, general, or exam preparation, depending on the business and the needs of the students. Normally classes are from 08.00-09.30 and then from 13.00 to 16.00 and in the evenings teachers often get their own private classes or do telephone classes from their house using Skype. You normally travel to different companies and have a mix of one-2-one classes and group classes (max 6 students). Some people love the flexibility this timetable gives you so you can go to the gym, have a siesta or meet up with friends for a coffee. Others like to have a more ‘normal’ schedule and be in one place. This type of work is perfect if you want to teach adults and expand your CV/resume by teaching at some of the top fortune 500 companies.
- Summer Camps: These are normally during July and some continue to August. In July there tends to be very few opportunities for in-company and academy work but there is a huge market for summer camp positions (you should start looking around March time). Summer camps can be day camps or ones where you sleep over with the students – hard work but lots of fun! Some camps are to study English whilst other camps focus on music, sport, drama etc but with English speaking assistants.
How long is a piece of string!?! The rates vary greatly depending on which city you work in. The rates in Madrid are higher but so is the cost of living. In general you can expect to receive around the following:
- Schools: Between 800 to 1100 euros per month for around 16 to 20 hours teaching per week.
- Academies: Around 750 to 1350 for around 20 to 25 hours per week
- In-company: Normal rates are between 15 and 20 euros an hour (if you are self employed this goes up to about 23 to 26 per hour).
- Summer camps: Between 250 to 500 per two week session (sleeping at the camp and includes
- Private classes: 20 to 25 euro per hour is the standard rate for children and adults alike.