Teach Enrich Empower
Teaching, Travelling and Training in Between Siestas and Sangria
My TEFL experience began with a simple desire to travel. I always had a strong desire to see the world but never thought about teaching English as a means to travel, plus I never had any formal training in teaching.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and quickly grew tired of my job at a digital advertising agency and staring at a computer screen for 40-50 hours per week. In college, I wanted to do a semester abroad, but unfortunately the right opportunity never presented itself. I had several friends who taught English in Thailand immediately after college and after one of my best friends moved to Madrid to teach English, I decided there was no reason why I also couldn’t move to a foreign country to teach.
Moving to Spain was slightly less intimidating for me than moving to a country like Thailand or Korea because I had studied Spanish growing up and through my junior year in college. So even though I hadn’t formally studied it for the previous four years, I thought Spain would be a great destination. How hard could teaching English be? I had spoken it my whole life and I graduated from a well-respected journalism program at the University of Kansas. Turns out I was wrong, teaching English is way different from speaking English. Moving to Spain was a big adjustment. I had moved around several times to different states growing up, so I wasn’t a stranger to making big moves, but this was my first International move, so it was a bit intimidating. The Spanish know how to relax – which can be a blessing as well as a curse. There are lots of holidays and I only teach four days per week, so every weekend is a long weekend, which lends itself to traveling around Europe. The slower pace of life is a blessing and “tranquila” as the Spaniards say, but a curse when you try to go to the pharmacy/lunch/post office/anywhere you can think of and it is closed from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. However, I have fallen in love with Spain and won’t be ready to move back anytime soon.
“The TEFL Academy course greatly benefitted my lesson-planning”
I started teaching at IES Carmen Conde in Las Rozas, an affluent suburb northwest of Madrid in October 2016. I was assigned to teach English, music, biology and physical education classes. Carmen Conde is a secondary school, which is basically 7th grade through senior year of high school – to give you an equivalent example using the US system. I met several other English teachers in Madrid who had been part of the auxiliar program (The Spanish ministry of education’s program to use native English teachers to help in English classes and other subjects that are taught in English) who gave me horrified looks when I told them I had been placed at a secondary school… “oh no! Spanish teenagers are the WORST.” I was quite nervous before I began but I found that most of my students had a really good level of English and (for the most part) were respectful and well behaved. I was placed at a great school and I get along very well with my bilingual coordinator and all the professors who I teach with. Most of my students are also interested in American culture so it was easy to have conversations and get to know them. I’ve written several letters of recommendation for students who are applying to do exchange programs in the states as well.
The English classes that I taught during my first year went fine, but I sometimes felt that I wasn’t explaining things in an engaging way. I think this was partly due to the fact that I had never had any prior teaching experience and because a lot of the English grammar can be confusing. The concepts I was teaching had always been second nature to me and I didn’t 100% understand how to explain how to correctly use them, especially to someone who didn’t speak English fluently.
I learned about The TEFL Academy program when I saw an ad online for their online program and I knew it would be a great opportunity to improve my teaching skills that would benefit me as well as all my students. The course was easy to follow and taught me very valuable knowledge about teaching English as a foreign language and has greatly benefitted my lesson-planning and teaching overall. I would absolutely recommend The TEFL Academy to anyone interested in learning more about teaching English. It gives you practical advice and information that you can use immediately. I am more than halfway through teaching my second year in Madrid and am planning to teach at my school next year or to do a master’s program here. If you have always wanted to travel but aren’t sure how to support yourself, don’t hesitate to do research and use your native language as a way to help you see the world.
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