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Teaching English in Barcelona

Teaching English in Barcelona

Working in Barcelona as an English teacher. Some advice and tips about being an English teacher in Barcelona.

Job websites English teachers Barcelona
ESL English schools Barcelona
English teacher TEFL training Barcelona

There are two main types of English teaching jobs that are usually available to English teachers in Barcelona. “In-company” teaching, or teaching in a language school.

In-company classes

Teaching in companies can be specifically teaching business English, but for the most part in-company classes are general English lessons, so you do not need any particular knowledge of business English or a even business background to be able to teach company classes. Many business executives will already know the buzz words and jargon in English and are looking to improve their general knowledge and fluency. In-company classes can pay more than teaching in language schools, but the downside is that you have to travel quite a bit to get round the city to all the different companies.

When company classes are outside the city centre, you will sometimes get paid for travel. But if the companies are in the city, don’t hold your breath. Luckily, Barcelona's public transport network is cheap and reliable and you really get to know all the barrios (neighbourhoods) of Barcelona.
Class sizes in companies can vary a lot – from a single student (usually some kind of big boss – El Jefe!) to larger groups. Classes are often scheduled to disrupt normal business as little as possible, so English classes are usually first thing in the morning, in the lunch hour or after work.While teaching in companies weigh down your pay packet a bit,  and does bring a large measure of independence, the downside is that you have little daily contact with fellow teachers or your bosses, so it can get a bit lonely and the schedules can change quite a bit.

Teaching English in a language school

Working in a language school in Barcelona usually means much more regular schedule with block hours in the afternoon and evenings (no morning classes as a rule). You will often be teaching children and teenagers, who are taking extra classes after school. A teaching post in a school brings you much more contact with other teachers (and your own Jefe!), and you will feel more part of a group, which helps cheer you up, when you pay is less per hour. Some schools have specific teaching methods that you are required to follow. This can be good while you are gaining confidence and experience as a new teacher, and it won’t require much effort on your part.  But as you get more experience it can become stifling and boring if you are a creative teacher, who likes to devise new exercises of your own.

When to find work as an English Teacher in Barcelona

What is the best time of year to find a job teaching English in Barcelona. Although not as seasonal as orange picking, English teaching does have a annual cycle. Whatever type of teaching you want to do, the easiest months to find work as an English are September and October, when the summer if over and  many Spaniards and Catalans sign up for a few hours of English for the winter semester both in companies and in schools. These classes can run until Christmas or even until the Spring.
Those that did not get round to signing up in the autumn, stick their intention to learn or improve their English at the  top of their New Years resolution list and start classes in January and February. These classes then usually run until Easter. After Easter it slows down and from July until around end of August there is little work to be found.

Good things about teaching English in Barcelona 

>  It's probably the easiest and most popular way for English speaking foreigners to earn a decent living in Barcelona.

>  You meet a lot of new friends if you take the English teacher training course in Barcelona. There were several other people on my course, who stayed in Barcelona and were in the same boat as me, so that was a great way of getting new friends and having some support at the beginning.

>  In terms of job security, there is an ample supply of  students. Young people in Spain do learn more English in school nowadays, but the vast majority of Spaniards and Catalans in Barcelona do not speak a word of English. There is however a growing recognition that English is the language of the future for tourism, travel and business, so many are keen to learn.
>  The holidays are great! Teachers might be accused of complaining about pay, but we never complain about the holidays. Two to three months during summer and a good couple of weeks at Christmas and another week for Easter. Of course it would be better if we got paid for the two month summer break! ;-) Don’t hold your breath for that one either.

>  Another very positive aspect if you are planning a future in Barcelona is that you really learn a lot about the Spanish/Catalan daily life and culture from your students, and if you are lucky (and a good teacher), you can often find good friends among your students, especially in the schools.

Not so good things about teaching English in Barcelona

>  The hours are often erratic (especially with in-company classes). English teachers often start classes at 8am, and finish the day as late as 10pm, but will have random breaks during the day.

>  It isn't the worst paid job in Spain, but it isn't the best paid either. You will usually earn more,  when you have more experience, but don’t bother standing in line for the Gucci sales, because you still only afford the key ring! But the good thing about Barcelona is that you can really have a very good quality of life with very little money, so if you love teaching, then the money is fine.

>  It is difficult to find a permanent position with a good contract. There is a lot of cash-in-hand paid classes.

>  If you are from outside the EU, you will find it considerably more difficult to find a teaching job. Many of the language schools prefer teachers with work permits for Spain, simply because the more paperwork you have, the less paperwork for them. Understandable I suppose.  If you are not an EU citizen, then you will probably find it quite difficult to get a work permit. But this doesn't stop a lot of non EU teachers from living and working here for many years. You might want to try some schools in the suburbs outside Barcelona or start by offering private classes.

>  Despite the lovely long holidays, it is also a negative point that there is very little work for English teachers during about 3 months in the summer. Things start slowing down in July, come to a complete stand still in August, and then slowly get started up again throughout September. But you do have the option of working on a summer camp with children for a month, either in Spain, or other countries. Also some schools run intensive courses throughout the summer.

P.S. A good tip is to learn some Spanish. Your classes can be entirely in English using immersion methods, but for socialising and applying for teaching jobs, job interviews a basic knowledge of Spanish is definitely a bonus. 
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Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 12:10