Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East
Spain is one of the few nations in Europe where learning a second language has been considered a luxury, or not at all important given the total size of the Spanish speaking world. However, English is now the most widely spoken second language in Europe and Spanish people are desperate to learn to be economically competitive.
The opportunity to earn a part time income teaching privately has never been better in Spain, and especially in the smaller towns where there aren't any native English owned language academies. Most Spaniards understand that learning English from a native speaker is going to help them more than a fluent second language speaker.
This is because most Spaniards under 40 learned English at school, but their education system emphasizes grammar, verbs, reading, writing, and listening, and almost ignores speaking. Consequently Spaniards know about the rules of the English language, but are very reluctant to speak.
A native English speaker with a TEFL or CELTA certificate is therefore able to attract a good number of students willing to practice speaking English, and best of all, you get paid for simply speaking your own language. The student benefits because they begin to feel that everything they learned wasn't in vain.
I like to give the analogy of unlocking a chest of treasure to my students; I even keep my front door key in a spare pocket when I first meet a new student, this gives me the chance to symbolically unlock my fist and allow my hand to spread out. The symbolism isn't lost on Spaniards who are almost always quite motivated to begin after they understand that they know how to speak English, they just need a professor to help them find their feet again.
For new teachers of English as a second language Spain is on one hand very difficult, and on the other very exciting. Most language academies are inundated with applications for English teachers so obtaining a contract can be very difficult, though teaching privately can be very easy.
Here's what you need to know. Most students will prefer to study with you in the late afternoon or evening, a few will be happy to meet you in the mornings but you should probably expect that your mornings will be free whereas your evenings will be solidly booked.
You should also know that most Spanish towns of any size will be home to an Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (EOI), which is great news for private English teachers because once again, speaking English isn't a major part of the curriculum. Even better, most students at the EOI school will be adults and many will understand the need for additional private tuition.
Finding students for practical English lessons is easy if an EOI school exists in your town, however getting to know the teachers at the EOI is recommended because they too understand the benefit of their students practicing English outside of their regular class.
Many teachers at the EOI would be delighted to have a native English speaker join them occasionally in class, but remember the curriculum and skills requirements for teachers probably means you'll never be paid for your voluntary efforts.
New privately tutored students of practical English are unlikely to stay with you for more than a few months. Once a student feels they are making progress in the oral examinations they are likely to think they no longer need your services so be prepared for high turnover of students every 3-4 months.
To be successful as a private English teacher you cannot afford to be complacent, and should plan to advertise your services all year round. During the summer months you may find you attract more teenagers than adults since summers in Spain (June-August) are traditionally when schools have their long break.
Teaching English in Spain can be incredibly rewarding, and is a great way to make new friends. Some of your students will be happy to invite you to meet their families and join when they socialize, though you should be aware that a developing friendship between you and a student can cause confusion if the boundary between teacher and student blurs too much.
Andy is a CELTA qualified English teacher in Spain, and has been teaching for three years around Europe. He specializes in teaching practical English to students who have already studied English academically but have a need to speak English for work or holiday. In addition to writing about teaching English, he also blogs about his hometown on his Ronda News website, as well as offering reviews of Ronda hotels http://www.rondatoday.com/.