Last July marked the fourth year to pass me by since my graduation in 2008, meaning that I have now been a graduate for longer than I was a student. Yet I am still to take my first leap into the cut-throat world of Britain’s job market. Instead, I have since been occupied by the unwavering and ever-flourishing obsession for exploring and learning about other cultures, and over the last two years, this preferable lifestyle has been better facilitated by my current line of work, TEFL.
For those of you (a distinct minority I assume) unfamiliar with this acronym, that stands for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’. The job brought me to Spain in September 2010 and consequently Granada a year later. Since my arrival, I have met and inevitably had to explain the nature of my abode to rather a large number of people (mainly students), due to my constant meeting with them, and frankly the ensuing response has always been something along the lines of “God. That sounds amazing”. And to tell you the truth, it is.
Okay, perhaps its not the most lucrative of job opportunities out there, but whether you’re in it for the long run or just for a brief spell, there is, in my eyes, simply no better way to immerse yourself in an alien culture while sustaining a steady income.
I teach 20 hours of English to a variety of levels and ages per week, I don’t start work until the afternoon and I am paid a respectable sum for my efforts at the end of each month. I have what I consider to be a fantastic social life, spent with friends both in and out of work- allowing me the opportunity to converse in ideal amounts of both English and Spanish, and I am even able to nip up to the Sierra Nevada to feed my snowboarding addiction at least two or three times a month, without worrying too much about the cost!
Don’t get me wrong- by no means does the job come without its responsibilities: consistent high-quality planning, frank assessments of students’ work, and technical expertise, are but a few standard requirements. It does, however, allow for a stress-free and leisurely lifestyle that when laid bare in words, never fails to provoke wild outbursts of jealousy from whoever’s asking.
Take two friends of mine for instance, both Erasmus students, both American, and now (sadly) both returned to the US. The pair of them were so impressed when I revealed to them the nature of my livelihood that they have since decided to do a TEFL course following their graduation, with the intention of coming back to look for work in Granada. It was this spot of inadvertent preaching which led me to write this post, in the hope of convincing more to do the same.
So, these courses then. They usually last for about four weeks (intensive) or six months (part-time), and can be done just about anywhere on the planet for a fee within the region of £1100. This price tag may seem excessive but keep in mind that a higher fee generally reflects a higher standard of quality training. The most prevalent and globally recognised courses are the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) and the Trinity TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), both of which are held in equal regard, though the CELTA is probably favoured by employers due to the ‘Cambridge’ affiliation.
If these options weigh too heavily on your purse then there are always plenty of other cheaper/shorter or ‘online’ courses to choose from. But be warned- though there are many Language Schools out there who will take on teachers with these sorts of qualifications, the majority of them do not, as it is often the case that these courses neglect to provide trainees with actual observed teaching practice.
There are several centres in Granada that offer the practical courses via the intensive format, and a great deal more throughout Andalucía. However, due to the fierce competition for TEFL jobs in Spain, schools are usually swamped with applications- hence the need for a more personal touch and a healthy dose of lateral thinking.
As for availability of work, there are masses of language schools to choose from in Andalucía; here in Granada there are several highly reputable academies, though to my knowledge most only hire teachers who hold either a CELTA or TESOL certificate. Most of the work in Andalucía can be found in Seville, where some schools even offer the possibility of employment following the obtainment of a CELTA in their own teacher-training academies.
Whether you’re a student who is desperately looking for a way to ‘extend’ (as my Erasmus friends put it) their time here in Spain, or just a regular somebody looking for something completely different, know that TEFL can provide you with boundless opportunities and take you just about anywhere you want to go in the world. Have yourself a browse for current job postings on tefl.com to see where you could start your adventure.As for me, life here in Granada has just about everything I need: great job, great friends, blue skies, sun-kissed beaches, snow-capped mountains and then of course there’s all this free food I keep getting. You do the math.