A New Direction

 

I am a planner. Always have been, always will be, which is surprising considering the idea of knowing exactly where I’ll be next year (or in 10 years) is terrifying to me. I wanted to break free from the normality of life and its expectations. The normal progression we are expected to follow in order to become a ‘proper adult’. I knew for a while that I needed a big change in my life, particularly the opportunity to experience a new culture, language, and most importantly, the chance to…………. My friend had completed a TEFL course and lived in Barcelona for a year when I started to think, ‘maybe I could do this too?’ I’d been to Barcelona on holiday before and fell completely in love, always wishing to return. So when it came to choosing a TEFL course, it was only natural to investigate Barcelona and my friend’s recommendation, TEFL Barcelona. I knew immediately this was the course I wanted. The offer of practical experience was exactly what I was looking for, and the beautiful building the school is housed in was definitely another draw! From the moment I applied I was made welcome and provided with plenty of information and book recommendations to start preparing for the course. As the months flew by, I grew more and more excited (and nervous, let’s be honest), to start.

So on one bright, beautiful day in July I took my one way ticket and boarded the plane for Barcelona. The flight felt surreal, as if I had somehow stepped in to an alternate reality. I’d never flown on a plane by myself before so the experience, whilst terrifying, felt surprisingly empowering. The ham & cheese toastie I ordered certainly helped. (Sidenote: Brits- get used to a look of confusion on any Americans face when you bring up cheese toasties. They are adamant “grilled cheese” is the better term. Secretly, we all know the truth.) I had assumed there would be a mix of British and American students on the course, but this course was overwhelmingly American. I’ve made some fantastic friends and it’s been interesting to discover the small quirks and differences in our cultures and our shared language. Cheese toasties vs grilled cheese being one of them, I’ve also had to explain what a jumper is (sweater), dungarees (overalls), aubergine (eggplant), and courgette (zucchini). But I’ve also learned more about American college culture and the myth of fried sticks of butter has been dispelled (they’re sold only at funfairs, folks, they’re not a common thing.) If I had decided to do a TEFL course back in the UK, I would never have met such wonderful people who have shared in a mutual broadening of knowledge of experience. A wonderful aspect of the course was the grammar. As a native English speaker, we don’t learn our own grammar at school. It’s a difficult thing to describe, but we grow up hearing the various tenses used and in what context, which leads us to intuitively understand how to use the language. The only thing we can’t do is explain why or how. The Americans had a fantastic advantage over the other British student and me in that regard. For them it was a refresher, for me, it felt like working backwards to unpick everything that felt natural. Yet I’ve grown to truly enjoy grammar and delving in to various engaging methods to teach it. With each practical experience of teaching we did, the more I wanted to understand the grammar points. I loved the collaborative nature of the course, it was really one big group of people working together to learn and help each other. The tutors became part of that group so quickly and I was quite sad when the course finished that we wouldn’t all be going to the school and seeing everyone every day.

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One fear of mine was that my style of teaching might not be the ‘right’ way to teach. That there would be a particular recommended style one should mimic. However, through observing both experienced teachers, and my fellow students on the course, there really is a place for everyone’s own style. I’m quite calm and more traditional in my style, it’s what’s natural for me and that’s just as valid as teachers who are very energetic. So no matter your teaching style, there is a place and job for you in Barcelona. A friend contacted me about a possible job at the language school he works at. I emailed the director and we arranged an interview. I’m pleased to say that a week later I started teaching English! It was the most nerve-wracking experience but I enjoyed it so much. The last few months I’ve really grown in to the role, there’s been fantastic support offered by the other teachers. Despite all the materials available at the school, I couldn’t resist snapping up a few bargains advertised on facebook. One ex-English teacher was selling a National Geographic ‘Life’ book, which looked really interesting. It’s proven invaluable and has come in handy for preparing lessons so many times. What I love about my language school is the flexibility; generally the students will often follow a book, but there are many opportunities to incorporate extra materials or do themed lessons. With my 12 year old’s we did a Halloween theme back in October. We did a spooky story gap fill, word building using themed words and listened to a bit of music too. The past few months have been a real challenge but I’ve discovered things about myself which I didn’t think possible. For one, I have far more patience than I ever thought possible. Teaching feels so normal and natural that even on the occasions when the children aren’t in the mood and act up, I never feel truly irritated or angry. I’m firm but I never lose patience with them. I love teaching them and it undoubtedly sounds cliché, but when they respond and produce the language on their own, it feels so good! I feel so proud and it’s wonderful to see their progress. I teach adult students too and it creates a good balance. Having a mix of ages and abilities allows me to adapt my teaching style and different activities. I’m often asked which age group or which ability I prefer teaching, but I truly have no preference. There are so many benefits to teaching each, and each provides different challenges. Maybe I will feel differently this time next year, but for now, I wouldn’t change my groups for anything.

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The most frustrating part was before the job began and that was the time that I look back on with little fondness, and I now fully understand what other English teachers have told me. The dreaded NIE. The thought of applying for a NIE still gives me shivers. It’s worth the hassle because once it’s done with, it’s done. I needed the NIE and social security number in order to be taxed which means no paying for a doctor’s appointment. However, it was quite stressful. Everything shuts down in August and using the website to apply for an appointment took weeks and weeks. There was the consistent message, ‘there are no appointments available’, every single time. Then I heard of a mysterious app to download…..I found it on the google play store and downloaded it to my phone. It still took two weeks of checking every day with the same annoying message ‘there are no appointments available’. Finally, one Monday morning I woke up at 6am and for the next three hours I refreshed the page over and over and over…success at last! I had my choice of not one, but TWO appointment times. I felt ever so special. I chose on for the week after and got started on putting my documents together. I triple checked the website ensuring I had everything I needed. When I turned up to my appointment I was quite excited to finally get the NIE. I waited an hour and a half after my supposed appointment time before my number was called. I was at the desk for only two minutes before they turned me away saying I needed x, y, z. They’d added more things but hadn’t put it on the website. So it meant another trip back the next day. This time the only thing to report was be careful where you walk! Part of the NIE process is to go to a local bank who will stamp your form and you pay your processing fee, then return for your NIE card. A key feature of Barcelona is the numerous trees along the sidewalks. They tend to have either quite shallow or ridiculously deep ditches a few inches around them. I, being the sophisticated person I am, walked one leg in to one of the ridiculously deep ones. It couldn’t bring my mood down though, because at last I had my NIE!

It hasn’t all been work and stress though! I’ve had a lot of fun during my time here so far. The end of September saw the beginning of the festival, La Merce. On the Saturday many of the art galleries are open for free to the public. I went to MACBA, Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, with a couple of friends. There was an exhibition all about Punk music and it was fascinating to see the various installations. The art scene in Barcelona is so rich in unique history, there are a fantastic number of galleries for any era or form of art you’re interested in. The highlight for me was a free, yes FREE again, gig by well-known artist Manu Chao. I went with a couple of friends and it was the most incredible atmosphere. So much excitement, so much energy and life…..it felt amazing to be there seeing it live. Everyone was just enjoying themselves and dancing. Even a little rain couldn’t stop people from enjoying the party! My favourite fact I’ve learned so far in Barcelona is exactly to do with the rain around the time of La Merce (living up to a British stereotype, I think?) Every year it rains during La Merce because it actually used to be the time of Santa Eulalia, but her festival is now in February. Santa Eulalia was so upset her festival was moved, that every year when La Merce begins, she can’t stop the tears from falling. Despite invoking the emotional turmoil of Santa Eulalia, I admire the local enthusiasm when it comes to festivals and traditions. There is always something happening, no matter the day of the week or the time of year. I follow quite a few Barcelona groups on facebook and there’s always another event to add to the calendar! Even without organised events, there are so many activities and things to see. I live near Parc Ciutadella and there’s a beautiful fountain to visit and a small lake where you can rent a rowing boat.

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After a row around the lake, another couple of delights I’ve shared with my friends are discovering the local food and beaches. If you come to Barcelona, you have to have tapas and paella. Fortunately, I don’t think I will ever get sick of tapas. I could eat tapas every day and still want more. I just love it. The variety of foods to choose from, the patatas bravas of course, bacalao (salt cod), and manchego cheese are just a few of the wonderful options. I am quite proud of myself for becoming fluent in ordering tapas and drinks. The downside being the staff think I truly am fluent which is not the case yet! Paella is another favourite of mine, obviously, but there are also a surprising amount of places to get burgers. I’m certainly not complaining but I didn’t realise just how many there would be there. My friends and I have gone on quite the culinary adventure around Barcelona, trying Mexican food, burgers, pizza and tapas. We’ve also found a few gelato places that are lovely too. The food by the beaches tends to be more expensive so for now I haven’t tried them. The beaches themselves, oh this was definitely a huge factor in choosing Barcelona. To be a short metro or train ride away from a beach is just too appealing an opportunity to miss. Coming from Birmingham in the UK, having the choice of beautiful beaches has been wonderful. Now that it’s nearing Christmas, it has been a while since I last went but the temperature stayed delightfully warm for a long time so there was plenty of opportunity to visit. I’m so grateful for the times I’ve shared with the friends I’ve made. Simply spending time together at the beach, or on the times where we don’t want to spend money eating out, combining some money to cook a big meal together. I was really excited to be able to share one of my favourite comfort foods from back home with my American friends; the humble Shepherd’s Pie. I moved to Barcelona because I needed a change and I certainly achieved that. What I have found too, is a renewed appreciation for Britain, especially our funny words and phrases, our love of idioms, metaphors, phrasal verbs and collocations. So many students will happily spend time asking you questions about the UK and the little quirks of our culture.

It’s quite funny how being British makes people really want to know more about you. I’ve found no matter where I go, I end up in conversation with someone who, as soon as I say, ‘Soy inglesa’, from then on only wants to talk about Britain. I met a woman at the bus stop after work, who was carrying an enormous suitcase and asked for my help to get it on the bus. I said I would help and once on the bus, we started talking. It turned out she’s French and had just moved to Barcelona that day and was on her way to her apartment. Once she found out I’m a teacher, she wanted me to teach her English! The same thing happened at a language exchange I went to. I went with the hope to practice Spanish and help people with English. However, as soon as people hear English and English teacher, all they want to do is speak English. I went the whole night speaking around 4 sentences in Spanish. Whilst I’m very proud to be an English teacher and to have earned my qualification, it’s a good idea to not always tell people what you do for a living! But in another respect it is quite nice too. My one student wants her English classes taught in the context of British culture. The classes are relatively new so we haven’t done much but we will be looking at the history of tea soon! Whilst I have this renewed appreciation, I know my time in Barcelona is far from over. There are still so many things to see and do. There is a lot of exploration to do beyond Barcelona too. For now I see myself staying for two years and then who knows? With the TEFL certificate there are more opportunities available than ever before. I’m thinking of South Korea, or perhaps a Nordic country. What I am most grateful for is that the option is there. The ability to travel and experience new countries is far easier with the TEFL and it’s a decision I’ll never regret.

By Erin Shakespeare

For more information on our TEFL courses please visit teflbarcelona.net

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What to expect from a TEFL Barcelona course

When traveling to Barcelona and enrolling in the TEFL Barcelona Course, it is difficult to know what to expect. Of course, you can read everything ever written about traveling in Europe, and investigate the experiences of the wanderers before you, but there is one thing missing from any and all research you could possibly conduct: YOU.

Before I delve into the many ways this venture can be an amazing personal learning experience, I think it is important that I cover some of the basics of what you should expect from the TEFL course itself! The course is extremely thorough, and you can expect to gain all the necessary skills, initial experience, (and later, employment advice/support), that you would need to successfully find, and sustain work in the English-teaching sector (both in Barcelona, and all over the world).

The training program can be thought of as being divided into two distinct segments: first, a focus on building a solid foundation of knowledge for effectively teaching ESL (both in terms of understanding the English language itself, i.e. grammar; and in terms of different teaching strategies). Second, a unique emphasis on providing students with real, in-classroom experience with real students, and the necessary skills for successfully communicating with students, (including lesson planning and extensive, personalized guidance, support, and feedback, both from instructors, and peers). The course is designed to challenge you, however, it also is conscious to build upon language, teaching, and communication skills in a natural, holistic, and realistic progression that can be adapted to suit your personal learning pace with readily-available help from the SUPER easy-going and personable staff (really, people in Barcelona are SUPER easy going!

Now, onto the ways in which YOU, personally, will likely be challenged through travelling to Barcelona and partaking the TEFL International Course. Again, these experiences and ideas I discuss here are going to vary from person to person, however, I think there are definitely some more general experiences that many people have in common, and things that you can begin to look forward to experiencing first-hand!

Firstly, you can expect to be challenged socially, and culturally. From the moment you arrive in Barcelona, you will be immersed in a unique, and prominent culture that is prideful about its traditions (for example, the friendly Spanish social greetings, later meal-times, longer meal times, and even, a more casual clothing attire!). This will be extremely nerve-wracking, but also beyond exciting! Many students of the TEFL program stay with host families (English speaking) – this is definitely an opportunity to take advantage of, as it will give you a fully immersive experience and provide you with a built-in local contact (it’s also great value for money!). Personally, getting to know my host (who also just happened to be an English teacher), and her family, was one of the most memorable parts of my Barcelona experience- we still stay in contact! What’s more, I was lucky enough to have a flat mate who was also participating in the TEFL course (although everyone on the course gets their own private bedroom) – this was great as I had someone to explore the city with!

In class, you will get to work with extremely friendly and supportive local students (with varying levels of English capabilities), which will provide you with another awesome opportunity to engage with the local culture, which is RICH in many ways (food, entertainment, nightlife, art, history, etc.). Beyond this, Barcelona is an International Hub – you will certainly have the opportunity to meet, and get to know people from all over the world, and with hugely wide-ranging backgrounds: this will serve you with a fresh, and broader perspective. Simply within our TEFL Barcelona course group, we had students from the United States, the U.K., Eastern Europe, wider-Spain, France, Puerto Rico, Andorra, and myself, from Bermuda. Generally speaking, if you are willing to put yourself out there, relax, and go with the flow, there is SO much for you to experience by yourself, and alongside new friends. It is truly an incredible experience to be a part of bringing together so many different backgrounds in the same moment, and it is an experience that can easily turn friends into lifelong family.

You can expect to be challenged academically, and organizationally. As I have already suggested, this course is not just a walk in the park: it involves developing a thorough understanding of how the English language works, and furthermore, having the confidence and ability to use this knowledge practically, and TEACH others how to understand and use the language for themselves. (English grammar is not as straight-forward as you think it is!) You will learn how to develop efficient, and effective lesson plans, and most importantly, learn how to stick to them! Your course instructors are going to push you to your full potential, and demand the absolute most from you, but they will also provide you with all the guidance, support (both professionally and personally), and detailed, personalized feedback you will need to be successful (although, as with most things, the more you give, the more you get!) Personally, I can say with confidence that the lessons I learned from, and the friendships I developed with the TEFL Barcelona tutors will have a lasting impact on my societal, academic, and educational outlook.

All the classes you teach are in English, so you will have to learn to communicate clearly and confidently with those that are still developing their English language skills. This will be an extremely personal and academic challenge as you will become increasingly aware of the language you use regularly (and perhaps, its greater societal/linguistic implications), and consequently, develop the ability to adapt your own language usage on-the-spot, to fit any given situation (whether it be in the classroom, to accommodate a range of abilities, or simply wider, every-day application). In one of the lessons I taught, I went through 7 or 8 different explanations/definitions/examples to describe a term before the student understood what I was trying to communicate. Your vocabulary will certainly be tested, as well as your ability to communicate coherent ideas (often in their most simplified form, which means you really have to know what you’re talking about). Most importantly, your resilience will be tested, alongside your ability to remain calm, and work through, and maintain control of any classroom situation (or any situation which may be culturally implicated in some way).

As I have outlined, through your experience in Barcelona and the TEFL Barcelona course, you will have the chance to challenge yourself socially, culturally, academically (linguistically), and organizationally, as well as embrace the opportunity to test your confidence (particularly in unfamiliar situations) and finally, assess and develop your communication skills…. and more! For many, these various proponents of the cumulative experience prove to be challenging, but also HUGELY fulfilling (again, both professional and personally). How will you ever know what you are capable of and what you can achieve if you never test yourself, and step outside of your comfort zone? TEFL Barcelona is the perfect situation in which to explore the world, AND yourself. I have focused a lot on the challenges you may encounter during your time in Barcelona and with this course, however, ultimately, these challenges will boost your confidence, provide you with perspective and unique experience, and allow you to test, discover, and develop your current, and emerging abilities in a safe, nurturing environment.

If you don’t know what to expect, you are in EXACTLY the right place, because you are in the perfect position to be surprised by the potential of what’s around you, and surprise yourself with what you are capable of. That being said, it can be useful to prepare: read about Barcelona (the places and the people), research the curriculum that will be covered in the course (and start reviewing), read past student’s testimonials to gain confidence, and take time to familiarize yourself with the city to get a head-start (maps are your friends). Do all of these things in order to get excited about the possibilities, but most importantly, go in with an open mind! Personally, I did not know what to expect from my travels to Barcelona, or from the TEFL Barcelona course, but ultimately, any expectations I could have ever had were exceeded. It was truly an amazing opportunity in which to grow in many ways, and also get to know myself better. I know the impact of my experience in Barcelona will be lasting (both personally, and professionally), and I hope to return to Barcelona to continue with English teaching soon after I graduate from University in the coming year!

 

By Katie Ewles

 

For more information on our TEFL courses please visit teflbarcelona.net

Why I Chose TEFL Barcelona

Moving to Barcelona was a spontaneous decision for me. I quit my jobs and moved away from everyone and everything familiar. While hard at times, it was completely worth it. Barcelona is a vibrant and bustling city with mountains, beach and countryside all within reach. The people are friendly and the whole city is walkable with bakeries, bars and cafes lining every street. The people here are passionate and lively. If there is a holiday, people participate whether that means handing out roses and books on Sant Jordi Day or setting up Christmas markets all around town during December. If there is a Barcelona match, the city erupts with cheers when they score. If you are looking for a city with plenty to do, see and taste, Barcelona is an excellent choice.

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Taking the TEFL course was a great way to ease into a new city and culture. You bond with your classmates and receive a lot of hands on practice in the classroom. The course prepares you by reteaching forgotten grammar, providing useful teaching techniques and exercises, and actually allowing us to teach 1-2 classes per week. If you are wanting to teach or simply live abroad while earning some extra money, this course is well worth it.

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I took the class in November, so finding work in December proved to be a challenge because everyone was on holiday. If you are wanting to travel before filling your schedule with students, December is an ideal month for that. However, once January rolled around, students started pouring in. I found all of my students on Tus Clases. Most of my classes are one on one, and most of them have been fairly consistent. The only reality of teaching on your own and not through an academy is the inconsistency. Life happens and students cancel and you don’t get paid. It can be frustrating at times, but if you bond well with your students, it makes it all worth it.

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Housing is something you should start looking into right when you get here. It can take a few weeks to find a place, so if you are looking ahead of time, you could have a home right when you finish the course rather than living in a hostel.

Barcelona has so many things to do. You can go to a football match. Chill at the beach. Hike or climb at Montserrat. Eat at one of many delicious restaurants. Relax in a cafe. Check out the various food and craft markets that happen monthly. Visit the National Art Gallery or Sagrada Familia. There are so many neighborhoods to explore with trendy shops and bars like Gracia, El Born and Sant Antoni. Soak it all in.

Finally, make sure to travel. There are so many beautiful places in Spain and beyond. Look for the cheapest flight and make it your next destination. Also, take time to learn Spanish (or Catalan, if you are feeling like a challenge). It is so helpful as a teacher to understand what it’s like to be the student learning an unfamiliar language. It is also exciting to be able to communicate with your barista, landlord, or friends in the countries language. Teaching abroad has been an unbelievable and rewarding experience that I will never forget, and the TEFL course made it possible. If you are considering it, DO IT.

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By Hanna Guenther

 

For more information on our TEFL courses visit teflbarcelona.net

Time Well Spent

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When it comes to most decisions, I like to be organized and well informed; it allows me to approach the situation feeling safe and confident. When I decided to sign up for a TEFL course and commit myself to a year abroad in Barcelona, there was only so much I could prepare for. I researched a bit about everything –medical insurance, housing, weather and appropriate clothes- and I made sure I had everything from home that I could possibly need. Beyond basic knowledge of where the school was located and who I’d temporarily be living with, there were plenty of unknowns I had to face going into this experience. I didn’t know where I’d end up living, who my classmates would be, or where I’d find a job, but I told myself- I’ll have time for that.

The first month was almost too blissful. I had been staying with a wonderful host, my friends were mostly English speakers, my days were scheduled, and this felt very normal and comfortable. Not to mention, many hot afternoons spent on the beach. As a newly certified teacher from the U.S, the TEFL course was intended to be an extension of my education, another enhancement to my resume. The moment we were introduced the phrase ‘engage, study, activate,’ I knew that this certification was going to offer me a new perspective on language teaching that would revitalize my teaching practice. Even after taking several language-based educational classes for my degree, I found that this course and its instructors were more active in creating a learning environment that promotes language use! I was being challenged in a new way and it truly showed me the success of a lesson that is done entirely in the target language. Take it from me, I was in the country’s number one education program, and I still feel like my teaching really improved as a result of this course. It’s amazing what four weeks can do!

After years of taking classes year round, working a job, or jetting off on adventures, I was suddenly unemployed, graduated, and living on my own. I finally managed to find a room to rent in Raval and was going on a few job interviews per week. I didn’t have any assignments to complete or hours to work, let alone a designated wakeup time. I felt free, and lazy, and anxious. I was so used to having things to do or somewhere to be that the amount of time on my hands was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do with myself! It began to set in that I could actually take time to rediscover who I am and the creative side of myself I had neglected over the years. I decided that I needed to do MORE. More reading, writing, and engaging with others. More coffee, more lounging at the park, more trips. But most importantly, more of what I wanted to do, and less of what I felt like I needed to do to achieve something. Why couldn’t becoming a better version of myself be my biggest priority right now? I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.

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It’s been over seven months since I’ve been here and I have four more to go. I laugh when I think back on how I thought a year would be long enough. I’ve been undermined by Barcelona and I already know I’ll regret leaving this place. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs while living here, but it’s all a part of how my experience is being shaped. I worked as both a teacher and a nanny in the fall, but I am currently just teaching at an art-based English school in Grácia. I teach afterschool programs and private lessons that implement art as a way of engaging students in language. The lesson plans are creative and I plan to use these ideas in my future teaching. I work with mostly four to ten-year-olds, but I have a few adult students as well. I have found different advantages and disadvantages in working with small groups of students versus private lessons, which has been very insightful. I am used to working with a different age group in a definitive classroom, so traveling to different places and teaching in a variety of environments has been a new experience. I’m excited that I’ll be able to bring a unique perspective to the classroom when I return to the U.S. I’ve enjoyed seeing myself develop as an educator and know that I will be a better teacher because of my time here.

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If I’m being honest, I work approximately 9 hours a week. My job is one of the few that pays really well, so that, along with money I’ve loaned from my parents, has allowed me to survive just enough while I’m here. My nanny job allowed me to save enough to travel here and there, so I decided to give myself a break for once and work just enough to keep me afloat. I’ve learned that investing in myself as an individual, beyond a student, a teacher, a daughter, a friend, and a friendly face, is the best thing I could do at age 22. I don’t want to have any regrets. And so, I’ve spent my time doing what I love. I’ve gone on several trips, even indulging in a few weekend travels on my own, which is by far one of the best ways to self-reflect. I’ve read about three books per month, going between travel novels and Barcelona based fiction. I’ve been writing more, and sending letters and postcards to my loved ones back home. I’ve been working out and experimenting with cooking more at home. I’ve been creating an online teaching portfolio and organizing my lessons. I’ve been going to intercambios and doing yoga on the beach with my friends. The life I have right now is simpler and I’m trying to relish in that simplicity while I’m still here.

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Barcelona is intoxicating for me. Some days I am out exploring a new neighborhood I haven’t been to and other days, I’m just as content to lie around all day and spend time with good friends. I feel happier because I’m finally in touch with the part of myself that was drowning in work and school for so many years. Why go back, you ask? Curiosity, I suppose, is the best answer. I deserve to follow through with my first love, teaching Spanish and bringing culture into the classroom. I want to share my experience with students and invoke that same curiosity in them- to see the world for themselves, in order to understand their place in it. I already know how much this year will remain a part of me, but time is slipping away, and I’m trying to use it thoughtfully. My greatest comfort is knowing that my time here hasn’t finished- once you learn the existence of a place that has the capacity to change your life, it feels as though you’ve intuitively been searching for it all along and you can’t help but return time and time again.

By Diana Sanchez

Recommendations:

Book: The Idle Traveller- Dan Kieran & The Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Street: Carrer d’Astúries for organic stores and bookshops & Carrer d’Blai for tapas

Sundays: chai tea in Ciutadella and fleamarkets in Raval

Good Eats: Pizza Circus $ Milkbar $$ Flax and Kale $$$

 

For more information about our TEFL course in Barcelona please see  http://www.teflbarcelona.net

10 Reasons To Join TEFL in Barcelona

Never in a million years did I think I would become an English teacher. To be honest becoming a teacher was the last thing I ever wanted to do. I was worried that I would not know how to teach anything to anyone. I was worried I didn’t know any grammar (which I didn’t) and that students would call me out on it. I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to plan a lesson. Well, I actually didn’t know any of those things but thanks to the TEFL course I was taught all of it in a month. Here are 10 reasons to join TEFL:

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Reason 1: You’ll become a better English speaker

To be honest my confidence with English grammar was very low considering the last time I learned it was 10 years ago in school. The TEFL teachers will help you to re-learn all English speaking rules and grammar so you feel confident teaching it to others.

Reason 2: You’ll meet friends from different countries and states

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Everyone in the program is new like you, scared like you, and just as excited to be living in Barcelona. I got so close with the people from TEFL that we even traveled to different countries together and now live together.

Reason 3: You’ll experience a new culture by living in such a vibrant city

Barcelona is one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever lived in. The food is amazing, the beach is close by, the nightlife is great, and siestas are real.

Reason 4: You can travel around Europe on the weekends

Usually TEFL teachers work Monday-Friday so many of us enjoy traveling on the weekends. A flight to Paris or Milan can cost as little as 20 euros round-trip! In 5 months of living here I have already traveled to 6 different countries.

Reason 5: You’ll gain references from professional English speakers

Not only are the TEFL teachers there to help, they want you to grow and be successful. They have a lot of insight about teaching abroad and can help you find jobs if you need them.

Reason 6: You’ll live a couple miles away from the Mediterranean Sea

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Bright, blue waters, beach volleyball, and mojitos delivered right to your towel. That is all.

Reason 7: You’ll gain self-confidence both in teaching and in your personal life

Teaching in front of people can be scary for the first time but after awhile you start to get used to being the center of attention. Support from other teachers as well will help you feel more comfortable as time goes on.

Reason 8: You’ll build your resume with a unique experience overbroad

It’s been said that employers love seeing ‘TEFL Certified’ on your resume because it shows that you are a risk-taker, you’re adaptable, and you’re more used to hearing and working with other languages.

Reason 9: You’ll learn to adapt in any situation

There has been times where I’ve spent hours preparing a lesson and then showed up to class and my students didn’t understand it. It can be frustrating at times but I’ve learned to think on my feet and tweak the lesson so that the students could understand it better.

Reason 10: You’ll grow up

Cheesy, but true. Not only will you learn to adapt yourself to a new environment, culture, and language but you’ll also learn how to take responsibility for your lessons, how you structure your classes, and how you organize your week. I was never organized before I became an English teacher and now I’ve learned (the hard way) that organization and teaching go hand-in-hand. Not only that but feeling homesick is normal. I’ve been able to lean on my friends that I’ve made from the course and have realized that I really can make it through anything. All in all, it’s a wonderful experience and you shouldn’t think twice about doing it. It’s worth it!

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By Anna Preston

 

My Teaching Experience After the TEFL Course

When meeting new people, inevitably they always ask me, “So, why did you move to Spain?” and my response seldom satisfies my interviewer. It wasn’t planned. I came for one month to learn to speak Spanish and how to teach English. One

A few of my favourite school inmates... Miss Laoighse, Miss Luz, Miss Bernadette and Miss Lisa. We all worked together.
A few of my favourite school inmates… Miss Laoighse, Miss Luz, Miss Bernadette and Miss Lisa. We all worked together.

month quickly turned into “just three more” but here I am, almost seven years later, listening to the sound of daytime fireworks signalling the continuing party of my local Fiesta Mayor. Accidentally moving to Spain has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life and the root of many challenges and experiences in my life.

My first teaching job (that lasted 4.5 years) landed me in the deep end of education. Having done a TEFL I had hoped for a job teaching adults or small groups of willing students, however my enchufe had other plans for me: a local, very Catalan, Opus Dei school including infants, primary, secondary and bachillerato. As the new and exciting native toy, I was given classes from every age group across the school …..and it was terrifying!

After only a month of intensive TEFL training I found myself teaching full curriculum based classes of teens, pre-teens, teenies and teeny tinies. Being thrown unceremoniously into this situation was the clichéd sink or swim challenge. Yes, I swam, but I have to admit I definitely got pulled under and more than a few times. Every single day I taught, I learnt something new and finally I learnt how to keep my head above water. From my learning curve, one area always stands out.

Imagine, you are giant standing in front of an enormous black board that starts at your ankle and stops at your shoulder. Before you is a sea of 22 tiny uncertain faces, all silent from the shock of this unknown giant who walked in and started singing – shakily – in an unfamiliar tongue. You wave a few colours at them and try another few songs and then a story or two. After half an hour, you walk out of the mini kingdom and burst into tears at the relief of it being over. That was my first ever class with two year olds (P2), my first ever time working with children and in fact my first ever time spending that long in a child’s company (let alone 22 all at once).

Cheeky monkey:  I made one for each student in every class of P0, P1 and P2 for the end of year.
Cheeky monkey: I made one for each student in every class of P0, P1 and P2 for the end of year.

Over the next four years I progressed to being the sole English teacher of four P2 classes, three P1 classes and even two P0 classes (4 months old being my youngest ever student), planning their English program and being loved unconditionally by more than 150 infants who would throw themselves at the door at the mere sight of me and my stuffed monkey (that’s a whole other story). The experience was a bit of everything. Admittedly, I had some children who would stare at me and dribble or wet themselves, but others would leave you speechless. One child once led me to a new classroom poster just so he could show off the vocabulary he had been learning with me since he was in P0. That resulted in me successfully teaching a 2yr old how to say “I like blue” in his third language. Another boy, 1 year old, could say all the colours of the rainbow and everything I had hidden in my bag. One day, as I was chatting to his tutor, he walked up to me and said, “come on miss lisa, sit down….”

Speechless and proud.

If there is one thing I have learnt in the past seven years, it is that you have to be flexible. You can’t put limits on what you students should or can learn, they will always surprise you. You can’t be rigid with the teacher you are, certainly be a different teacher with each age group but maybe you can go one step further and

A doll a student’s mother made of me.
A doll a student’s mother made of me.

be a different version of yourself with each class. Finally, don’t put limits on what you yourself are capable of. If I had had the choice of whether to teach young children or not, I would never have said yes. Luckily for me the choice was not mine and it was all at once an infuriating, incredible, crazy, rewarding, unpredictable, wonderful and irreplaceable experience.

By Lisa Hughes

Monday Week 4

I sip at my British tea with Cataluñian milk and try not to think about how tired I am.

This afternoon was my Materials Project, the final class out of six. It went well they say, but I cannot help to feel it could be better, aware of the errors and keen to continue the climb.

I lift up my head, shoulders back and think of the revision to do. The day after tomorrow is the final countdown exam AHHHHHH EXAMMMMMMM!!!!! I see Lisa in front of me, her blue scarf slightly slipping down her left side; she smiles and continues writing on the board until we understand. She reassures me that everything will be alright. We will not fail, they will not allow us to fail, they believe in us,that is obvious to see.

mondayweek4imageVerbs and tenses and conjunctions and gerunds and all those other folk walk in and around my mind, I shake them around until they are in a fashion I recognise while Erwins` soothing voice calms me right down.

I can hear my house lady, the one organised through Lime; I sit in my room that is my space to hide but knowing that if I open the door she will be right by side. I have heard of other experiences not through Lime, unnecessary stress at this valuable time; I am pleased that my sailing has been calm the whole time.

My thoughts turn to the passive and see Jamie right there, his neatly trimmed beard and checked shirted regularity reminding me of structures and clarity.

I procrastinate a moment and check into the virtual world, now interview offers mix with tense times.

I take to the balcony looking out at the view, a city so grand a city for me so new. I breathe in and out again a few times, a new ritual before giving classes that’s helped me get through.

Look at where I am now, where I wasn`t before, filled to the seams with new knowledge and also new friends.

From this city I have so much to learn but now, also so much to teach. I breathe in and breathe out, a new favourite of mine and know that everything will be fine…

By Anna Elizabeth Davis – Barcelona, Spain – 02022015