By: Haley Castelvecchi
When I first arrived in Madrid, I knew I was going to have to take whatever job was offered to me. I didn’t have much experience except for my online International TEFL Academy certification course and some extra help from TTMadrid. To my surprise, I landed a job quite quickly with a consultant group that coordinated teachers and in-company classes. If you’re unfamiliar, these types of classes are when teachers travel to business and provide a lesson for adults during their normal workday. They are quite common here in Madrid, as knowing English is becoming increasingly important in many business jobs.
Now, I am working in an academy with children from ages 3 and up, to teenagers, to adults that are my age, and adults that are my parents’ age. I still do an in-company class as a supplement but they are no longer my main source of income in Madrid.
Here are the pros and cons of both types of jobs based on my experience.
1) Typically easier to get these jobs. They may or may not pay under the table which makes the hiring process quicker and easier, although they usually still require an NIE number (which you get with a student visa).
2) You have complete control to do what you want in class. I was not provided with that much material for my classes, which can be a con, but it was fun preparing lessons on my own and doing things that interested me as a teacher. For example, I created a lesson based on the MBTI personality test. It would be difficult to do something like that in a traditional academy job.
3) You can build your schedule how you want. Typically, you will have different hours in different places throughout the day, so if you’re lucky you will be able to make a schedule that fits other things going on (like Spanish courses).
4) Less pressure. The students aren’t paying for you to be there, the company is, therefore you don’t have to worry about them being super demanding. You can have a bit more fun in these classes. Of course they are still learning, but it kind of goes with the “complete control” point.
1) Very tiring. These classes are spread out throughout the city, sometimes very far away from each other or from where you live. You will be traveling all day which can be a lot, plus the weather is not always perfect.
2) No paid holidays. Maybe some people get paid for bank holidays, but my job didn’t pay me if I didn’t work. For example, there were no classes during the week of Easter, so I just didn’t get paid for that entire week. It was brutal.
4) No materials. Usually you have to make up your own lessons from scratch which can take a long time as a first year teacher. If you get lucky, you will have more conversation-style classes that don’t require so much prep.
1) Normal work schedule. You know what your schedule is going to be and that it’s not going to change. Instead of running around to different jobs all day, you go to one place, stay there to work, then come home. It’s more traditional.
2) Paid holidays. When there is a bank holiday (and there are many in Spain) you still get paid your monthly salary. This is a huge pro in my book. You can also qualify for health insurance if you’re hired legally with a social security number.
3) Better relationships with students. You get to know your students really well because you see them regularly for an entire year (the typically length of a contract). It’s rewarding to watch their improvement over that period of time.
4) Materials are given to you. I have books that I follow which makes it a lot easier to plan. Basically, my job is to make it fun and come off the page.
1) Harder to find. There are many academy jobs available but you have to apply for these jobs at the right time and have some more experience than you probably would for in-company classes. A lot of times they want to hire someone with an EU Passport rather than an American because it makes the paperwork easier.
2) More pressure. Kids may be unaware, but the adults are paying good money to be in your lesson so you want them to feel content and that they are learning. It can be stressful trying to create activities to make everyone happy.
Haley Castelvecchi is a 24-year-old from Chicago that has been living in Madrid, Spain, for nine months. She teaches in an academy and absolutely loves her students. She plans to stay for a year and a half in total.