Last summer I made countless applications before I won, what I feel like was the best option available. Burgos was a big enough city, but small enough to not feel overwhelmed, it wasn’t too touristy but I could get by on my basic knowledge of Spanish. Plus a bonus was that there were so many more native speakers than I expected!
There are loads of options for working as a native speaker abroad. Not just in Spain of course, but all over the world. Here are a few tips of mine to help you when in the middle of applying for an English teaching job. Things that I found useful and learnt whilst I was sending out CVs and doing so many interviews with so many different companies.
Explore all Options
When I was looking for ESL jobs, I was using the tefl.org job page, the EURES website (where I eventually found my Burgos gig), and a couple of others. It’s also worth looking through the British Council and the country you’re looking at’s Ministry for Education, as many work through their scheme. At the start I focused too long on just tefl.org, but when I expanded my search I suddenly came across lots and lots of other teaching positions at schools and private English schools all over Spain.
Get TEFL Certified
Or another form of ESL certification, but TEFL tends to be the most recognisable. You can either study for the qualification online, as I did, or through a class. They also advertise offers and discounts throughout the year which are useful to get a more valuable certificate than just the standard cheapest. This will boost your CV and your chances of finding a placement. Some companies that place their native speakers in school demand the 120 hour certificate, or make you undertake it with them (I have the 100 hour so for one company I nearly had to redo it). It’s a worthwhile investment, plus it’s very useful if you haven’t worked as an English teacher before!
With my TEFL certificate, I chose the option that also included a grammar course. This I found to be a life saver, as I could barely remember grammar from my school days, but of course students of English need to study this a lot! I was asked about grammar a lot in interviews, and of course in class I had to help with grammar (and sometimes drew an embarrassing blank…) It’ll make you stand out in interviews if you know what you’re talking about, and its a subject that’s not so hard to revise.
Apply to all Positions
When I was sending applications to Spain I was applying to places in small villages, and places in cities. Naturally I was hoping to get a city rather than a tiny village of about 20,000 inhabitants, but I also wanted a job! Even if you are less than enthusiastic about a certain placement, it won’t do any harm to apply because any interview is good interview practice! And who knows, even if you don’t get what you expect it could still turn out to be one of the best experiences of your life! It’s the old trick of not putting your eggs in one basket: be slutty with your CV, and you’re more likely to get results!
Big Up Any Experience with Kids
If you’ve worked with kids before in a school or anything, then brilliant. If like me you never had, you can still use any experience you have. This can include babysitting, or perhaps looking after younger siblings. Anything that involves responsibility towards youngsters can be used to make you sound as impressive as possible!
Prep for Questions
An interview tip for any job really! The questions are often just a repetition of what all schools ask so you eventually rehearse answers, but they can sometimes differ. In some interviews they tested me on my grammar knowledge, in others they were more interested in how I would give a class (so make sure you have a few fun ideas in your head- TEFL courses help with this!). Some, who were looking for someone as quickly as possible were more interested in how soon could I fly out. Just make sure you present yourself with a friendly and bubbly personality, with a good knowledge of the language, and of course ENTHUSIASM.
Show an Interest in the Country
Of course you pick a country because there is something that draws you to it. But it’s good to show this in the interview (they might even ask you). Everybody loves it when a foreigner is interested int their country and culture (I LOVE explaining weird Britishness to anyone who’ll listen), so a little bit of flattery and genuine interest will certainly help you make a good impression. For me, explaining how I wanted to work on my Spanish, and talking about my previous visits to Spain helped with keeping the conversation flowing in interviews.
So there you go! I hope this helps anyone thinking of teaching English abroad. Trust me – it’s a lot of fun! The interviews aren’t so bad either, they’re done over Skype (so make sure your internet isn’t playing up!), and as long as you come across friendly and fun you can’t do wrong!