“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
I truly believe that anybody who is lucky enough to get to teach at some point in their lives is going to grow enormously from the experience. Teaching is not a job for everyone. Teaching is performing, it’s being able to enthuse and energise a room. Teaching is being able to leave your worries at the door and paint a big fat smile on your face even when you’re having a really bad day.
Teachers should be confident, dynamic, engaging, able to laugh at themselves and help students not to take themselves or their mistakes too seriously either. The best teachers will know how to make their students feel comfortable so that they can participate with confidence, not shy away while the more confident students take over. Teachers are good listeners, excellent motivators and often a little bit cuckoo.
Teaching English in Barcelona, Spain
What’s to love?
Do you like the hustle and bustle of a major city which never sleeps? Are you able to bat off the constant assumption by locals that you’re a tourist on holiday rather than an ex-pat paying your taxes just like them? Do you love the combination of sea, city and mountains? If so, then Barcelona may be just the place for you! There are countless teaching opportunities in Barcelona from language academies, local schools and universities to more alternative options such as Vaughn Radio. This is an English radio company based in various cities across Spain including Barcelona, Madrid & Alicante. English teachers are chosen not on their qualifications but on their personality and attitude. The station offers standard teaching roles as well as a variety of other career paths including radio presenting.
Teaching English in Salamanca, Spain
What’s to love?
When I moved to Spain for the first time, I headed to the beautiful, historic city of Salamanca, where Spain’s oldest university is situated. It’s a stunning town famed for its sandstone buildings including ‘la casa de las conchas’ (literally ‘the house of the shells’). It’s also well-known for it’s impressive but curious cathedral with astronauts and ice-creams carved into its façade. Teaching in Salamanca is perfect for anyone who is also looking to learn Spanish whilst they’re here. Salamanca is one of the most popular destinations for international students to study the local language and it is one of the most neutral accents in Spain. It is also incredibly cheap to live here. Most tapas will cost between 1-2.30 euros and many bars even have a blanket ‘1 euro for anything’ rule. Being a popular student town, it’s a great opportunity to meet other young people too.
Most teaching work in Salamanca is academy-based and salaries for a 22-25 hours teaching week usually come to about 1,000 euros per month. However, housing is extremely cheap, with rooms in shared flats averaging at around 200-250 euros per month.
What’s not to love?
Beware of academy bosses though, and sadly this goes for a lot of Spain. If you can find an academy which has a nationwide presence, I’d recommend these as smaller academies often offer terrible (and often illegal) contracts, poor pay and dodgy management. I learned this the hard way in Salamanca, where my (English) boss had no system for providing cover if a teacher was ill so would use emotional blackmail to try to get teachers to come in. She also regularly underpaid us and would subsequently blame it on her ‘accountant’ – a scape-goat commonly used for money troubles in Spain. We weren’t offered any teacher training or development at the school but we had all the resources we needed. Being left to our own devices allowed us at least to have relatively large scope for teaching methods in the classroom which meant we could teach how we wanted.
Teaching in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain
What’s to love?
This is not Spain, it’s the Basque country and you better make sure that’s what you call it, if you want to stay on the local’s good side! If you’re a foody, a surfer or a nature lover, come no further than San Sebastian for this is definitely the city for you! Famous for its pintxos (essentially Basque ‘tapas’ but more elaborate and expensive), its unpredictable weather, its direct and down-to-earth people and its huge surf scene, San Sebastian is quickly becoming the hot, new tourist destination of Spain.
What’s not to love?
However, its also one of the most expensive cities to live in too! The starting price for a room in a shared flat here is often around 400-450 euros per month and increasingly, landlords are kicking out long-term lodgers over summer so they can hike up the prices for Air B&B guests. However, don’t let that put you off. You have France just thirty minutes away, great transport links, mountains and coast on every side and the whole region is rich in history and tradition.
Types of English Teaching in Spain
Teaching opportunities vary enormously. Lacunza is the biggest and most well-known academy with numerous branches around the city and nearby villages. It prefers all teachers to have government accredited qualifications such as the British government accredited CELTA/ CertTesol or the Australian government accredited CERT IV in TESOL. Teachers who stay longer than a year also get a summer salary which is rare here.
London School of Languages is the only Cambridge Celta-training centre and academy here so a good option for anyone looking to train up first and get their TEFL certificate in Spain. Many teachers here also become self-employed which is an option for those who don’t wish to be confined to the long, late hours in academies.
Local schools such as Suma Aldapeta also employ English teachers for their extra-curricular English classes for pretty good pay and not many hours. All of these schools mentioned offer materials, books and training. London School of Languages includes a weekly two-hour training session as a compulsory part of the teacher’s timetable and Lacunza regularly holds training sessions too.
Other Types of Teaching
What’s to say your teaching in Spain has to be limited to a language academy or school? I have friends who have successfully combined their love of teaching with their other passions to offer children and adults the chance to learn new skills through English. And guess what? It works!
Take my friend who has recently opened up his own English boxing club, where kids from as young as four up to retired adults can get a great workout while improving their English at the same time.
Or there’s my other friend, who has set up her own English yoga school, where yoga is the focus but it is delivered in English.
My great passion is singing and performing, so as a self-employed teacher, I am able to adapt my classes to the needs and interests of the student. For instance, I have a 14-year-old wannabe actress and singer, whose English classes are almost entirely focussed around acting, script writing and interpretation. Definitely not conventional, but she’s never loved English more nor got such good grades at school. After all, isn’t this what teaching is supposed to be? Making lesson content memorable and engaging enough that students will naturally remember it?
For me, teaching opens up so many opportunities from academic management in academies to ESL writing and course creation. The best teaching is when you give someone the tools they need, the desire to learn and the encouragement to grow.
Written by Naomi Falgate for Teacher’s Friend