Deciding to move to Barcelona and teach English for a living is a bold decision. It feels very empowering to choose a different path and go off on an adventure to a foreign country, but everyone has those 2am panics about making such a big decision. This post is for all those new teachers – we had all these worries once too!
You’ve spent a good chunk of your savings on a TEFL course, but languages schools are all closed for August, nobody is responding to your ad for private classes and you’re starting to think you would have been better off getting a job in a youth hostel. Our advice? Don’t panic! There’s a steady demand for English teachers in Barcelona and your TEFL course provider should be able to point you in the right direction for work contacts. Things tend to pick up in the first few weeks of September and if you get out there and are proactive, chances are you’ll be standing in front of a class by the end of September – a much better option than dealing with drunken teenagers in a youth hostel, trust us!
Is it intimidating walking into a language school and asking in bad Spanish if they have any vacancies for English teachers? Yes. Will it make a difference to your teaching ability? Absolutely not. The received wisdom is that English is best taught in an immersive environment – in the long run it’ll be better for your students if they can’t fall back on their native language when they’re in your class.
Having your TEFL trainer observe your teaching practice during the course is a bit like having a driving instructor – you know that if you’re about to crash, there’s someone there who’ll slam on the emergency brakes. The thought of standing in front of a class alone, without this safety net, can be terrifying. But take heart – you’ve taught classes already, you’ve learned about classroom management and you’re more than capable of managing a class – otherwise you wouldn’t have passed your course.
Don’t get us wrong, there are horror stories out there. People who aren’t paid for their work, people who are fired at the whim of a DoS, people who end up doing hours and hours of unpaid marking and preparation. But there are ways you can avoid this – do your research before you take a job at a school, negotiate a balance between private classes (better-paid) and academies (more reliable). And remember, be assertive – you’re a well trained and qualified TEFL teacher with a valuable contribution to make.
This is one that comes up time and time again. There are many opportunities in the world of TEFL. Some people go on to be teacher trainers or department heads, others go down the academic path or become Directors of Studies – and these opportunities are available in your home country too. After all, there are a lot of immigrants and refugees in English-speaking countries who need to learn English. But even if you move into a completely different area, having experience in TEFL shows future employers that you are creative, organised and good at communication and leadership – all valuable qualities in any role!
Contact us for more information on teaching English in Barcelona.