The question I am most often asked by readers of this blog is how to go about finding work teaching English in Granada. I endeavour to keep my responses as personal as they are helpful so I’m not the sort to just copy and paste the same email over and over. However, I thought it was high time I wrote it all down in blog post form to save us all some time
Moreover, I will be leaving Granada for good soon so I also think it’s the right moment to pass on my English-teaching-in-Granada ‘wisdom’ (I don’t normally claim to be wise but in this case I feel pretty sure about myself having done it for 4 years!)
So, first thing’s first…
Why Teach English?
Everyone has their own reasons for getting into Teaching English as a foreign language, an industry better known as TEFL. Some do it in order to fund extended trips abroad; others do it for the chance to live, learn and become absorbed in another culture and language. Either way, it’s a wonderful way to spend a long period of time away from home and earn some money while you’re at it.
The job itself can be very rewarding, particularly when you come to the end of an academic year and see your students pass their exams, or when you are showered with gifts by kids who think the world of you. It also turns you into a bonafide grammar boffin and an excellent proofreader!
Most English teachers living in Granada are in it for the lifestyle opportunity it presents; we live well, earn enough, learn Spanish, experience new places, meet people from all over the world, have amazing scenery all around us, a vibrant and culturally diverse city and free tapas coming out of our ears.
From hiking, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, rafting, canyoning, snorkelling and camping in the sticks, the province of Granada is pretty much the perfect adventure playground. The city itself is teeming with bubbly people, fine and urban art, live music, gorgeous food, mind-blowing architecture and laid-back vibes.
Most English teachers find themselves so enamoured with the place that it often takes years to leave. I only ever intended to stay one year; that was four years ago, and I’m still here (barely). It’s just so damn perfect.
What do you need to work here?
There are too many TEFL courses to count these days. The most recognised (and expensive) are University of Cambridge’s CELTA course and the Trinity College accredited TESOL. These courses, either lasting four weeks (intensive) or spread over six months, are unique in that they provide course participants with classroom time, regular and strictly assessed assignments and – most importantly – actual teaching practice (nearly every day). Course fees may vary slightly according to where you do it but the average cost for either course is around the £1,000 mark.
Alternative online courses are of course cheaper but do not provide the crucial classroom experience that most schools and academies require teachers to have, even if just a little.
You can do the CELTA course here in Granada, with the Institute of Modern Languages (IML), although, as with any institution, there is an interview process to ensure that only people who really want to teach English are chosen. It’s rare to be offered a job with the same institution at the end of the course but not unheard of. If you want to stay in Granada and teach (which you almost certainly will), you’ll probably have to look elsewhere.
Teaching opportunities in Granada
The best way to find work as an English teacher in Granada is simply by turning up and dropping your CV in as many academies as possible. The better times of the year to do this are late May – early June (when academies begin the employment process) and early September (just before schools reopen and there is a need to fill remaining vacancies). Teaching English is a fairly transient sort of job so positions do tend to open up at any time of year, but then it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
There are two fairly large schools in Granada: CL and IML. The former tend to hire newbie teachers but rarely offer little in the way of proper contracts. The latter are a bit pickier and tend only to hire experienced teachers. The same can be said for other, smaller academies like Lexis, Little Britain and Granada Languages, although a year’s experience is usually enough providing your interview goes well.
There are plenty of other schools and academies that offer work inside and outside of the city centre. If you’re looking for something a bit further out in the campo then it’s worth checking out ELI in Huétor Vega and B&H Centro de Idiomas in Santa Fe, which both have good bus links to the city.
How much will you earn?
The average take-home monthly salary for English teachers in Granada is between €900 and €1,100, but it can easily be more or less than that depending on your hours. Most teaching positions offer between 18 and 25 contact hours – the best academies pay extra for preparation time and declare all your worked hours to the Hacienda so you are eligible to claim back tax at the end of the academic year (a welcome bonus before going home for the summer!) However, many academies don’t offer proper contracts, preferring instead to offer 3-5 hour contracts and the rest of the work paid cash in hand (yes, this is tax evasion, and undoubtedly the number one cause of Spain’s crippled economy). Avoid these agreements if you can, though you might find that you don’t have much choice if you’re just starting out.
Another way to do it is to go freelance. There is such a high demand for intensive exam classes in Spain now that private classes are virtually guaranteed if you’re interested in working for yourself. Some teachers prefer to focus almost exclusively on this, perhaps picking up an intensive class with an academy to keep something steady ticking over.
After a while teachers get most private work through existing students (other friends, family friends etc) and naturally build up a good client base, but at first it can be difficult to secure the hours you need to ensure a decent income. The best thing to do is make a profile on tusclasesparticulares.com, where work normally comes in thick and fast. It’s incredibly easy to set up your profile, although you will need to write it in Spanish. 15€/hour is about the going rate for privates; maybe a touch less if there is more than one student per group. However, bear in mind that it’s generally bad practice to undercut other teachers and ultimately undermines the profession. Try to sell yourself rather than your experience if you’re new to the job; don’t work for peanuts.
Another way to get noticed is to turn yourself into a social media powerhouse! You could start by setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account but if you want to see results then you’ll need to know a bit more about online marketing and personal branding.
Take Joseph, a.k.a. ‘Inglés Para Granada‘ as a model example. He has chosen a very good name with two crucial keywords and has sailed up the rankings because of it. Don’t, for instance, call your page ‘Dan the English Teaching man’ or ‘Hannah’s awesome English classes’ as this will get you nowhere. Think about what your keywords are, e.g. location, ‘inglés’, ‘Cambridge’, ‘examenes’, ‘clases particulares’ and go from there.
It’s also very important to know when and how to engage with your audience – what content do they want to see? What will they find useful and entertaining? When are they online? Facebook lets you observe the success of your posts, via click-through rates, number of engagements and overall reach. You can even pay to ‘boost’ your post and have it appear in the Facebook sidebar, though this is perhaps something best saved for later down the line.
You should also brand yourself as a person; not some anonymous, humourless ponce in a shirt and tie. Not only is it important to Spaniards that they learn loads but they also want to have ‘buen rollo‘ with their private English teachers, i.e. a laugh, a joke and maybe a cup of tea. Post photos of yourself and your students (with their permission of course) in and outside of the classroom. Create a warm online persona and sell yourself with it.
Are you interested in teaching English in Granada? If you have any questions that haven’t been answered in this post then please get in touch and I’ll do my best to help!