Course taken: 120-hour Premier Online TEFL Course
Location: Madrid, Spain
Job title: Freelance EFL teacher
How did you get into TEFL? What was your previous career?
I’ve worked in music, hospitality management, I.T, and software development.
Describe a typical day
Start at 8am with a group class, then a few hour long individual classes in company offices. I usually tutor teenagers studying for GSCE/ A-level in the evening four nights a week until around 8-9pm. Between 5-10 hours of teaching spread through the day would be typical, and sometimes involve substantial travelling time inbetween, depending on the location of my student’s office or home.
Usually aim to finish early on Fridays, around 3pm. Otherwise I use this time to recover any cancelled or postponed classes from through the week.
I’m technically self-employed so language agencies subcontract me to teach their clients and pay by the hour. Being employed directly by an agency means you accumulate holiday pay etc. but pay a higher rate of tax and social security. Being self-employed means less tax (9%!) and better hourly pay but less certainty for the quiet spells in Christmas, Easter and August.
What is the best thing about teaching English as a foreign language?
For me, it’s a shortcut to learning more about your chosen country because you’re able to balance earning enough to live well while working hours that suit you and leave you time to explore. Most of my students are really interesting people – cultured, well-read and travelled, with successful careers and fascinating tales to tell so it’s a lot of fun getting paid to talk to these people.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you TEFLing?
I introduced myself to a student once- “Hi, I’m Gordon. Nice to meet you”. He said, “Como? Macchu Picchu??”
What is the most exotic thing you have eaten?
Probably the razor clams I tried to cook once. Had no idea what I was doing. They kept crawling off the grill so I just kept prodding them back on until they eventually stopped moving. This was in Glasgow though, so maybe it doesn’t count.
How’s life outside the classroom?
There are around 15,000 bars in Madrid, and apparently some other things to do too.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Nearing the end of the list of bars in Madrid! More seriously though, still teaching English. I’m looking into the idea of a co-operative with other teachers so maybe that’s the way forward.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to people who want to get into TEFL?
Probably… to enjoy yourself, but be a pro at the same time! Dress smartly, be on time, do your homework on lesson plans. Your students will notice and appreciate it from the very start.