TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
Kings Park, NY
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Dominican Republic, Mexico, Haiti
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I had just completed my undergrad and was not ready to continue with school to complete my masters. After many years of consistent schooling, I needed a break and a little change. I had always wanted to go abroad, and learn and see more of the world. So I heard about teaching English abroad and knew right away that is what I was going to do. Once I finished college, I took the online TEFL course, worked, and made all my plans to be away in Spain for a year! It was the best decision I ever made and I do not regret anything!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I had so many mixed feelings running through my mind, but I told myself that everything would be okay! I was nervous about finding a job, a place to live, and leaving without a work visa.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching English abroad?
At first, not everyone believed I was actually going to leave. But once they saw how serious I was, everyone was nothing but supportive and excited for me.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
After a lot of research on different companies, I choose ITA because the online course was very convenient for me and less expensive. Also, everyone had nothing but great reviews about their experience going through this company as well.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
I found the course to be very flexible. It was perfect since I was working and doing the online course at the same time. The instructor was very helpful and always there to answer any questions. The tasks were very easy to follow and understand and the difficulty of each was just right. The practicum (student teaching) was good once I was able to find a place to complete it. But even though that was the "worst" part about the course, it was not bad at all. Overall, the online course was perfect for me!
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
With my TEFL training, I learned about topics I had always overlooked as being a native English speaker. The core helped go more in-depth and explain ideas I was unaware of. The tasks and readings were very helpful and gave great ideas that I carried with me when working with my students. It was easy to look back on the work you completed and readings you've done in case you get stuck on anything. The ideas of lesson plans and activities with the students was the most helpful for me.
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 wanted a Spanish speaking country and Barcelona is somewhere I always heard about, and it had the water and mountains.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
My stay in Barcelona was for one year.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
After arriving, I started my job search online and with many emails and resumes sent out, I got an offer from a privately owned school and got the position!
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I worked for a couple who opened their own English teaching center. They focused their classes around fun and wanting to learn English and not all books and grammar lessons. The school was mostly with children, but also included some private adult classes
How did you get your work visa?
I was VERY nervous about working without a work visa or just being in the country without a tourist visa (after 3 months)!
However, like everything I read during my research, it all worked out perfectly fine! You'll find your share of schools that require visas, but you will also find your fair share of people who do not require a visa or working papers. They easily just pay you cash or "under the table". Its not a big deal and if you are not able to find a school to work with, there is always doing all private classes on your own where the students just pay you cash. Believe me when I say, do not stress over the visa situation! I did, and in the end it was for no reason.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I really enjoyed my school because I worked with children from the ages 5 to 18, plus adults. So I had a wide range of students, and each one of them was special and different in their own way! I worked five days a week and with English classes, you will learn that they usually take place later in the day after school and work. Therefore, I worked from the afternoon to evenings, which I actually enjoyed because I had the morning to do whatever I wanted! I had vacation when the public schools had vacation. Even though there are not as many as I am used to in the US, there was still enough to enjoy some time off and travel a bit.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
I came with my cousin, so we had a flat together in a part of Barcelona about 15 mins outside the city center. We were recommended to a woman who was looking for people to rent to her flat. We got lucky and it all worked out perfectly. But it really is not difficult to find somewhere to live. There are always people looking for roommates.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
I lived in Barcelona, Spain, which is different from other parts of Spain, because Barcelona is a part of Catalonia. Here they speak Spanish and Catalan. Barcelona has become a very touristy place; however, it only gets super crowded from May to end of August. Barcelona literally has everything! The mountains to the beaches and all that's in between. There are plenty of festivals to enjoy and nightlife to enjoy. There is ALWAYS something to do! Never a dull moment in Barcelona. The food is also very good and many different typical things to try and enjoy. Traveling to other parts of Spain and Europe was also very simple and convenient.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
I wouldn't say Barcelona is an expensive city to live in; however, if you eat out and go out everyday, then obviously you'll be blowing your cash right away. But it is very easy to live comfortably here and still enjoy social life and traveling.
How would you describe your standard of living?
My flat was perfect for my cousin and I. We had a room for each of us, a living room area, kitchen, and bathroom. Was it a house that we are used to in the US? No. But we learned to adapt, and realized it was not bad at all and all we needed.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Monthly, I think if you're earning 1000 euros a month, you can pay rent, food, utilities, etc. plus be able to enjoy a social life. If you're into traveling often, I think earning between 1500-2000 euros a month will be better.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
DO NOT STRESS ABOUT NOT HAVING A VISA!!!! That was my biggest fear of all, and I was completely fine without it. I was able to travel within Europe, find a job, and just live my life in Barcelona. Do not worry if you do not speak Spanish or Catalan as everyone here also speaks English. I would definitely recommend teaching in Spain and better yet Barcelona!
Check out more firsthand accounts from ITA alumni teaching English in Spain!