In early 2020, 45-year-old Ed decided it was time for a change. At the start of the year he was stressed out working for a large multi-national corporate organisation, but by the end of it he was in sunny Spain teaching English at a language academy in Granada!
The coronavirus pandemic has been very disruptive for EFL teachers around the world. Ed had originally intended on heading out to Spain in May after completing his 120-hour course, but the pandemic delayed plans by three months. By September, though, Ed had a job at a language academy and was building his own business as a private tutor locally and online.
We asked him a few questions about his TEFL journey so far!
What motivated you to want to start teaching English?
After working in an office environment for over 20 years I wanted to do something completely different. I’d always enjoyed doing presentations and running some training courses at work and always received great feedback on my approach. And being a native English speaker I thought it would be good to combine these skills in a new career.
Are you enjoying living in Spain?
Absolutely! It’s been my dream for many years. Despite the current restrictions (which have tightened considerably since I arrived) it’s a wonderful place to live.
What is it like at the moment living in Spain during a global pandemic?
I arrived in July during the de-escalation phases. Other than people wearing face masks life was pretty normal. Restrictions have recently been tightened and mobility has been reduced considerably. Non-essential businesses in Granada Province are closed. Despite that, I am able to teach online and enjoy playing tennis and cycling within the bounds of the municipality where I live.
What is it like to teach English abroad?
It’s fantastic, I am learning so much about Spanish culture that I didn’t already know. The course I am teaching requires the students to give opinions and find out others’ opinions, so it’s great for me to ask them what they think of their culture, the British culture, and things like stereotypes and how true (or not) they are!
How did you secure a TEFL job?
I joined a local TEFL teachers group on Facebook and saw that the academy was looking for a native speaker to teach C1 level students. I had a very informal meeting with the school’s director and started work a couple of weeks later. I am also doing private lessons online, and have a number of local students lined up to start face to face lessons once COVID restrictions are relaxed.
What does your day-to-day life look like at the moment?
I teach at a language academy twice a week and have a number of local private clients. I plan my days around my TEFL work and generally spend the morning doing lesson prep activities and admin work. My afternoons are spent playing/practising tennis (which I have always loved and now have the time to pursue once again) and cycling on my road bike. Southern Andalusia has amazing scenery and lots of hills!
What does your teaching day look like?
No day is the same. If it’s an academy day then I will have already prepared my lesson plan before-hand. When I was working in the city of Granada (before we moved the lessons online) I would drive to Granada from home (about 25 mins away), arrive at the academy and set the classroom up – some days I used some videos so had to get the TV working, other days we practised listening so I made sure the equipment was working. Technology never failed to present a few problems but it all worked in the end. After class I would go for a coffee and tostada (a typical Spanish tradition) and practise my Spanish with the waiters! My afternoons would generally be spent on some leisure activities as I enjoy cycling and tennis. On a non-academy day, I generally spend the mornings doing lesson planning and/or teaching my private clients.
Who are your students? How old are they?
I have a variety of students ranging from teenagers to early 40s. They all have different reasons for wanting to learn English – I carry out a needs-analysis during our first meeting to ensure I am teaching the right level and for the right skills (be that listening, reading, writing or speaking).
How have you found your experience as an EFL teacher?
I’ve only been teaching for around four months but so far it has exceeded my expectations. I’ve met a lot of really lovely and engaging students and I love the fact that I am helping them to achieve their goals of improving their English language skills.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking for work?
Yes, be open and flexible to opportunities and you will find there is plenty of work out there. Being a native speaker is an added advantage as a lot of academies are looking for us!
How long do you plan to teach English abroad?
For as long as possible!