TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I had always wanted to live abroad and finally had the opportunity to pick up and move. Teaching English (combined with some freelance writing I do) seemed to be the prefect combination.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I was concerned about finances, language issues, logistics of travel, finding a job, and housing etc.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My friends seemed to think it was a logical thing for me to do as long as I planned well; they were all excited for me (and a little jealous).
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I liked that the TEFL certification was offered online. I read good reviews about the International TEFL Academy and decided to go with it. My contact at the academy, Ian, was really helpful and encouraging so I decided to enroll. At the time I was working and didn't want to travel to get certified. I also didn't want to do the certification upon arrival because I wanted to apply for jobs before hand and settle all the logistics of housing asap. The course was thorough and gave me all the information and resources I needed, while also being flexible to fit my work schedule at the time.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I enjoyed the course; it was informative without being straining or boring. The additional resources were helpful as well. The practicum was really critical for getting hands-on experience; I did my practicum at a local school that teaches EFL classes for free to immigrants. I got to work with upper level English learners, mostly adults from varied countries (China, Korea, Russia, Afghanistan, Nigeria..) My practicum instructor was great, using a variety of methods like singing, acting, and games to engage the students, and needless to say, the students had a lot of fun and learned well.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I am no longer teaching, but while I was, it helped me have a better idea of how students learn, how to engage their attention, and most importantly, how to be natural and listen to what they are communicating to you.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Spain in the city of Barcelona. I didn't want to sign a long term contract because I wanted to go to grad school in 6 months, so I chose somewhere with beautiful weather, exciting culture, and a demand for freelance English teachers.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I used websites like http://www.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I did freelance private lessons only.
How did you get your work visa?
I worked as a freelancer, both writing articles for a company in the US and teaching English to private students. Because I wasn't working for a company, the visa issue wasn't as relevant for me. The best way to apply for a work visa is to get a student visa before coming to Spain, which will allow you to freelance teach while also taking classes at a local university. Prepare beforehand though; it takes a while.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I had roughly 5 classes/ week (in addition to my writing job); those classes varied from 1-2 hours each. I also taught some online Skype classes, which is something to consider if you don't want to spend too much time on buses and trains. I didn't end up saving much because I wanted to travel as much as possible. When freelancing, you can choose your vacation time. Most of my students were pretty flexible and often were taking vacations themselves. Keep in mind that freelancing can be unstable; sometimes people cancel classes etc. so make sure you budget well and take on as many students as you need to keep everything balanced. I had no problem finding students, and once you get referrals it gets easier.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
I actually rented through Airbnb. I knew I wasn't going to be staying that long. I wanted somewhere to go immediately upon touching down, and I didn't want to deal with the bureaucracy of Spanish utilities, especially as a non native Spanish speaker. It was more expensive possibly, but worth the lack of anxiety. Other people found rooms in houses and simply paid their share of rent to their roommates, also avoiding the bureaucracy hassle by living with someone who's 'already done the hard work'.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
Public transportation is amazing in Spain. If there's not a train that goes there, there will be a bus, and it will be cheap and on time (usually). Barcelona is great for walking, sunbathing, vibrancy and culture. Of course the food is amazing, and there are lots of little vendors on every corner so fresh food is abundant. There's a great expat community, and you can get by just speaking English, but it's best to try to learn the language! Travel is super easy, amazingly easy compared to the USA, and you'll never be bored.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
I think a room in an apartment usually ranges from €300-€400 euro/month ($315-$425 USD) . I had my own place, so it was more expensive. I used Orange as my phone provider: I bought a sim card and used their pay as you go plan which was great for me, and less than €15/month ($16 USD). I walked and used the metro most often. Buy a T-10 card (10 trips for €1/ea) to get around the city easily. Buses are usually fairly cheep as well. There are tons of things to do and people are out and about the city at all hours of the day and night. I'd say budget more than you expect, like €5,000 if possible. It can be difficult to find a job in the beginning sometimes and you don't want to be down and out. It might take a few weeks or sometimes months if you don't come during the 'hiring seasons' of September or January.
How would you describe your standard of living?
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Spain is cheap and the standard of living very high. Once you cover your rent and utilities, it doesn't cost much to enjoy all the things the city has to offer. I'd estimate €1000/month ($1050 USD) would be fine, but it depends on your housing situation.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Do it. You'll have an amazing time. The people in Spain are deeply friendly and you'll learn much more from simply watching and being around them than you can imagine. You'll have new experiences, memories, and best of all, no regrets about not doing what you always wanted to do.