Despite the downturn of the world economy in recent years, the ESL field remains strong in the country of Spain. Many English teachers flock to Spain, and particularly Barcelona, to both improve their teaching methods and find employment. Whether you plan to stay for only a year, or begin a career in teaching, Barcelona is an exciting destination to meet fellow educators, engage with potential students, and of course, have loads of fun.
Spain is arguably the most popular TEFL destination on the European continent, with Barcelona being the primary city for teacher trainees. With this, there are a variety of programs and courses offered that appeal to a wide range of educators, and it is important to find a suitable one for your needs.
120-Hour TEFL Courses:
The 120-hour intensive course is the most popular type for teacher trainees in Barcelona. Over the span of 3 to 4 weeks, TEFL students learn the basics of teaching methodology and practices, as well as language awareness (i.e. grammar and pronunciation). Additionally, many courses will require their teachers to observe an ESL classroom in action, and even take part in the teaching. Generally a course like this will cost somewhere in the $1,500 to $1,800 USD range.
150-Hour TEFL Courses:
For teachers to earn a bit more practice in the classroom, and really embed those new skills in their teaching practice, the 150-hour course is a great option. While only 30 hours longer than the standard 120-hour option, the extra week or so of learning will go a long way. The intensive training of a 150-hour course will allow your teachers to drill in the essentials of teaching English to non-native speakers. Depending on the program, your extra practice may not even cost you more!
Online TEFL + Teach Placement:
There are a few programs that request their teachers to complete a an online TEFL course prior to your arrival in Barcelona. Once you’ve finished the standard 120-hour course online, the program staff will help to place you in a school, where you will teach English for a set time. This may be over the course of a summer or a semester, but the program will take care of your job placement (as most have liaisons with certain language schools).
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look:
TEFL courses are offered year-round in Barcelona, which makes life much easier for the indecisive teacher or traveler. Most courses will begin in the first week of the month and end in the fourth week. Note that most Spanish schools and offices are closed during the months of July and August. So, if you are beginning your course or job search in the early summer, you may not hear back until September from schools or recruiters. Generally, try to start your search and TEFL course earlier (with at least 2-3 months before your desired start date).
Other than holding a TEFL certificate, the requirements to teach in Spain are a college degree and to be a native speaker. In addition, if you have prior teaching experience, that’s always a plus and will help you both in your interview and in the classroom!
Once you’ve received your TEFL certificate in Barcelona, the expectation is that you’ll stay to find a job teaching English! If your program offers teaching placement, they will assist you in the process from start to finish. However, if you are doing it independently, you must first decide if you wish to teach at a language school or other venues. At a language school, most students are young learners or young adults. These schools often help foreign teachers to apply for a work visa (which is great for those staying more long-term!).
On the other hand, if you prefer to teach adults, you may consider teaching business English through a corporation. Many large businesses, with international and domestic offices, will hire English teachers to teach in-house courses on business English or even conversational English. While these jobs tend to offer higher pay, your schedule may be a bit inconsistent and you may need to travel to different offices around town.
Cost of Living:
In Barcelona, you can expect to spend between $1,000 to $2,000 USD on start-up costs (i.e. initial weeks or months of rent, travel expenses, etc.). While most TEFL programs will provide housing in course fees, food prices are moderate. You can certainly eat cheaply, by finding local hang-outs and buying groceries. However, Barcelona is a large, metropolitan cities with a large tourist following. Avoid the main tourist areas, where costs are high. In addition, consider living with a roommate or host family to save on accommodations.