• Spain's news in English

'This is the perfect time to teach English in Spain'

Alex Dunham · 24 Sep 2013, 10:20

Published: 24 Sep 2013 10:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in the south of England and started my career working for an important marketing agency in London.

How did you end in Spain?

I took a summer out to do a backpacking trip around Europe and when I was in Spain I realized that I loved the life here. I needed a new challenge in my life so I decided then and there that Spain was the country for me!

I knew I was going to move here permanently so I tried to learn the language back in London and researched teacher trainer courses. Then in 2006 I packed my bags and said "¡hasta luego Londres, hola Madrid!"

Did you have any previous teaching experience?

I wanted to come to Madrid with some teaching experience so I worked at Callan language school in London for a few months which gave me invaluable experience on how to give dynamic classes.

What qualifications do you think are the best to have?

I did a Cambridge CELTA teaching course as soon as I arrived in Madrid and I would definitely recommend either that or the equivalent Trinity course. Having a languages degree would also be a plus but is not required.

What sort of classes do you teach?

I teach executives who need English for work on a Professional English Master. I also give private classes in companies and to individuals through my own business, So English, 95 percent of which is business-related.

What do you like about teaching in Spain?

For me, the best thing is being able to choose my hours as I am self-employed. Being in Spain means that my free hours can be spent in the sunshine or meeting my friends who also have flexible schedules. I also love the human connection that is involved in teaching as I am a real people person! No day is ever the same.

What are the biggest challenges and drawbacks of your job?

I would definitely say that one of the biggest challenges is making sure that the student's specific needs are satisfied so they really feel they are taking something away from every class. The main drawback to teaching is all the paperwork, namely report writing every term if you work for a private school.

Also the fact that you have to factor in a lot of unpaid holiday if you are self-employed which can be up to two or three months per year!

What are Spaniards like as pupils?

They are extremely warm and welcoming and a lot of fun! They generally don't take themselves too seriously which means they'll give anything a go. Although this does mean that we teachers need to crack the whip a little more when it comes to using the correct grammar and doing homework!

What do they tend to find hardest about learning English?

Pronunciation tends to be quite challenging for them, often because nobody has ever taught it to them before. And when they get to a certain level, the main difficulty is normally learning the dreaded phrasal verbs!

How important is speaking Spanish if you're an English teacher in Spain?

It's not essential but it helps you to anticipate the difficulties your students are likely to have. That said, not speaking Spanish can be an advantage as your students won't revert to it when they don’t know a word, or try to use you as a walking translator!

Do you see teaching as a long term career?

Absolutely. If you take your teaching career seriously, there is always room for personal and professional growth by trying new methods and developing new courses.

What advice would you give anyone looking to start teaching English in Spain?

First of all, you won't regret it! Try to find a language school that is supportive and that will give you guidance if necessary. You can find private students when you are more established. Michael Swan's Practical English Usage is essential for getting up to speed with English grammar.

Story continues below…

Check out The Local's top tips for teaching English in Spain

Can you make a decent living as an English teacher in a big city like Madrid?

Definitely but it depends on how seriously you take it. Once you get a name for yourself, it’s not hard to get a loyal client base.

What sort of hourly rate should prospective teachers expect?

This totally depends on your level of experience. In my experience, after tax new teachers can expect to start at about €15 per hour. Very experienced teachers normally take home around €25-€30 after tax.

Teaching English in Spain has a bit of a reputation for being an easy job. What are your views on that?

We're hardly saving lives so compared to brain surgeons our job is a walk in the park! That said, if you want to do it well, you need to know the language inside out, be innovative and have excellent classroom management skills, so it’s not as easy as you might think.

Would you say now is a good time to kick-start a teaching career keeping in mind Spain's economic crisis and massive unemployment rate?

Yes, this is the perfect moment! Due to the economic crisis, Spanish people need a competitive edge more than ever and being able to speak English is very desirable, if not indispensable, for getting a job. Spain needs you!

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's Podemos sees golden opportunity in Socialist woes
Pablo Iglesias is ready to step up in opposition. Photo: AFP

As Spain's conservatives prepare to re-take power after 10 months of political limbo, anti-austerity party Podemos has set its sights on replacing the divided Socialists as the main opposition force.

Wildlife ranger accused over decapitated bison in Valencia
The headless corpse of Sauro was found last month. Photo: Carlos Alamo / Reserva de Valdeserrillas

The case of the beheaded bison at a wildlife reserve in Valencia just got a whole lot weirder.

Spain jobless drops below 20% for first time in six years
The unemployed queuing up outside a Madrid job centre. Photo: AFP

Spain's unemployment fell below 20 percent for the first time in six years, official figures showed on Thursday.

'Saints not ghouls' insists Spanish church for Halloween
Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

Spanish bishops are urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as "saints, virgins and apostles".

Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Russia withdraws request to refuel warships in Ceuta
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was due to dock in Ceuta

Russia has withdrawn a request for its aircraft carrier group to be refuelled at the Spanish port of Ceuta, authorities confirmed.

Bulls replace guard dogs at scrap yard in Valencia
Two bulls will be patrolling the scrap yard in eastern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

Guard dogs were not proving enough of a deterrent to thieves at a car breakers yard in eastern Spain so the owner has brought in a pair of fighting bulls.

Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available