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?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Prague, Vienna, Budapest
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
In October of 2014, one of my best friends and I traveled to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. In each of the cities, I had the opportunity to meet an English teacher who was living and working aboard. This was a very foreign concept to me as I am from a small town in Nebraska where people are born, raised, and never leave. Naturally, I bombarded them with questions upon questions. How are you doing this? Do you have a teaching degree? Do you have an English degree? Etc etc etc... After falling in love with the European culture, I was determined to come back as fast as possible. This is when I started to research the TEFL certificate.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Would my lack of Spanish hinder my ability to teach English?
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Everyone thought I was crazy.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I chose to get TEFL certified so I could live, work, and travel in Europe for an extended period of time. After lots of researching, ITA intrigued me because of the various country Facebook groups in each country that allowed you to connect with people who were already living and teaching in that country, lifetime help with the job search and my amazing advisor, Havvah, for answering all my many absurd questions.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
The online course provided the flexibility I needed to complete the course and maintain my Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 job. My favorite part of the course was the practicum. I am a hands-on learner, and this allowed me to gain the experience and knowledge I needed to boost my confidence and allow me to believe this was something I could do. The tasks were time consuming, but great because I was able to start planning lessons and get feedback from an instructor who had already taught abroad.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training was exactly what I needed. In college, I earned a business degree which does not exactly teach you anything about teaching English abroad. This training gave me the guidance I needed to be confident while I embarked on this amazingly terrifying experience. Now that I am overseas teaching English, I am able to use some of the lesson plans I constructed during my training.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Spain in the city of Madrid because of the Spanish culture and the amazing weather.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I have been in Madrid for a little over four months and I plan on being here for four more months.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I did not have a secure English teaching job before arriving in Spain. The only thing I secured was a place to live.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I am working for an academy called Open Languages and giving private lessons.
How did you get your work visa?
I do not have a work visa. With that being said, it is very easy to obtain jobs in Madrid as long as you put forth some effort. LingoBongo has many job postings and tusclasesparticulares is also another great site for acquiring private lessons.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
When I first moved to Madrid I had an agreement with a family and I was to tutor their children in exchange for food and board. I truly enjoyed getting to know their very intelligent and talented children, but living with them for three months was too long. A month would have been perfect and would have allowed me to get my footing in Madrid.
After only a couple weeks of being in Madrid I had already lined up some academy jobs and was having to turn down some private lessons because I was tutoring the children of the family I was living with. Now I am on my own and giving private lessons and academic lessons for only ten hours a week and living comfortably in the city center. I have definitely learned many things since being in Madrid. For pay you can expect 18 to 20 euros an hour for private lessons and 15 to 18 euros an hour for academic lessons. The students I have taught have ranged from 6 years old all the way up to upper management at companies like Renfe and Barclay. For vacation time I would suggest trying to line up the vacations you want to go on with the Spanish holidays, of which there are many.
As for additional advice, don't be scared. This is something you can do; all it takes is effort and a great attitude. My friends and I all agree that "you have to fake it till you make it." No one knows what they are doing until they have actually done it.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
For the first three months I was living with a family, but when I decided to move out, I got lucky because my friend was also trying to move out of her place at the same time, so I just moved in. However, great places to look at are idealista, spotahome, and the auxiliares de conversacion en MADRID page on Facebook.
As far as living in Madrid, your experience can vary depending on your budget. Some of my friends with larger budgets than myself have spacious apartments with a balcony view and elevator to get them up to their floor. As for me and my budget, I found a cozy little apartment with three other roommates. It has all the essentials that I need, but it is not luxurious by any means. Generally speaking, it is a luxury to have a dryer and AC in the city center of Madrid, but this again also depends on your budget.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
LIFE IN MADRID: The culture in Madrid is wonderful! People are very friendly and helpful. They definitely run on the Spanish clock, so if you are meeting up with Spanish friends and they say 11 they mean 11:30.
NIGHTLIFE: As far as nightlife (clubbing), these people are party animals! Most people do not go out until 1 or 1:30 AM and they like to stay out till 5 or 6 AM. Madrid is full of events and there is always something going on: Intercambios, copas in the many plazas, festivals, hanging out in Retiro, El Rastro on Sundays, food markets, and many more. Join couchsurfing not only if you want to stay with someone for free, but to see the events going on in your area.
FOOD: Food you must try are croquetas, jamon, tortilla, the black ink sause with rice, and paella.
DATING: I do not personally have experience in the dating scene, but my friends have told me Tinder is the way to go!
TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES: As far as travel opportunities, the opportunities are endless. If you are looking to go a short distance, Blablahcar is the way to go! You can get to Valencia and back for 30 euros, round trip. For longer travels, make sure you check out skyscanner. For transportation within Madrid, I would purchase a metro card. Compared to other cities I have been to, Madrid's public transportation is clean and punctual.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
My monthly expenses vary from month to month, depending on how much I choose to travel that month. I try to be as frugal as possible, but sometimes it is hard.
Rent: 250 Euro
Utilities: 30 Euro
Food: 100 Euro
Social activities: 50 Euro
Transportation: 55 Euro
Phone: 90 USD back home and 10 Euros for my Spanish phone
Travel: anywhere from 300 to 500 Euro
How would you describe your standard of living?
On a budget.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Depending on how much you have saved, coming over and what your travel preferences are like, I would say at least 600 euros a month.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching English in Spain?
"If it's both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it." - Erada
Fake it until you make it. It's scary doing something new in a country that is also new, so you really have to put forth your best attitude and work at this. If you have an itch to move aboard then do it. Without a doubt this was the best decision of my life. I have made friends that will last a lifetime and they are world friends, people who I will be able to travel all over to visit. How cool is that?
Madrid was a great city to live in and will forever hold a special place in my heart. I would recommend this city and country time and time again.