Why take a TEFL course in Spain?

Why would anyone want to take a TEFL course abroad, in Spain or any other country, when you can do a TEFL course in the UK (CELTA, for example) in the UK or the US – and (at least in the UK) probably do so more cheaply, too?

To find out, webmaster Tom Walton talked to tutors and trainees at IH Barcelona...

Where should anyone wanting to start out in English language teaching take their TEFL course -- in Spain or the UK, or elsewhere, for that matter...? Roger Hunt, Director of Education at IH Barcelona, and one of our CELTA course tutors, says you should come to International House Barcelona to be trained by the experts - us! (Well, I guess he would say that, wouldn't he?). But he has got a point - wherever you do your course, make sure it's somewhere reputable like IH; there are plenty of centres in the UK and Ireland, for example, that hardly merit that description. "Cambridge CELTA from IH Barcelona" is going to look better on your CV than a TEFL "certificate" from a school no one has ever heard of.

A number of people - both course tutors and trainees - said that doing a course away from home means that there are few of the distractions of family and friends that you will get at home, so that (particularly if it's the intensive course you are doing) you can really concentrate on the course and the course alone for that month.

A wider range of people

Abroad, you also tend to get a much wider range of people taking the course than you do if you take the course back home in, say, Surrey or Ohio. One of the things that our CELTA trainees all seem to remark on is how different all the other trainees are, and that working together in a small cooperative group atmosphere is one of the things that helps pull them through the course successfully.

Vicki Anderson, one or our most experienced CELTA course trainers, said that doing the course abroad is "the first step on your journey" - in English teaching, she meant. Chances are, working in TEFL means you're going to be teaching monolingual groups - something you are very unlikely to come across at home (in Britain, for example), where students of English tend to come from all over the world. And, for getting a job afterwards, it's good to be able to say that you've taught monolingual groups in the country (as you will be doing in teaching practice on the CELTA course itself).

Better job opportunities

Another reason for doing a TEFL course abroad is that, when it ends, you're on the spot when it comes to getting a job. In Britain and the US, outside of the summer, there are very few jobs in TEFL, and very few reputable language schools abroad will employ you on the basis of your CV and a telephone conversation. If you want a TEFL job in Spain, you've got to be out here.

And then, finally, there's Barcelona itself. Quite a lot of our trainees come because they have an interest in Spain, some because of a particular interest in Barcelona - but they all find Barcelona the most amazing place. It's exciting, there's so much going on (a bit too much in the way of distractions from your course, say some...). There's so much art and culture that, yes, in the end you probably end up understanding why the local people like to think of it as the culture capital of the entire universe.

If you've never lived abroad, anywhere, for longer than a week in Mallorca, then it's a life experience you've just got to get yourself.

The cost of doing a TEFL course abroad

One reason for doing your CELTA course at home is obviously that it might be cheaper. A look at the maths...

How much more expensive will it be to take a TEFL course in Spain?

Well, two big considerations are obviously your flight and then accommodation and other living expenses - both of which you will save if you do the course at home, assuming you're living at home with your family, that is.

Flights

Flights, particularly from the UK, are no longer really much of an expense. EasyJet, RyanAir, and Jet2 are among the airline companies offering cheap flights to Spain, which can be as low as €2.99 (!!) if you fly off-season to somewhere like Girona or Reus, rather than Barcelona itself. Both are within 100km of Barcelona, and can be reached by bus or train. For cheap flights to Barcelona itself, we recommend EasyJet, though even companies like British Airways can be cheap – if booked well in advance.

Note that your €2.99!! flight to Reus probably involves an additional amount in airport taxes - read the small print.

Accommodation

The IH Barcelona accommodation service is probably your best bet for accommodation. For trainees, we offer accommodation in rented rooms, usually within walking distance of the school.

Alternative accommodation can be found in hotels or hostels - but you will find this considerably more expensive, with the cheapest costing around €18 a night (that's about €540 a month).

More details of accommodation.

General living expenses

The general cost of living for the duration of your course shouldn't be excessive. Eating out, smoking and drinking, for example (not that you should be doing much of the latter!), you should find considerably cheaper than in the UK or Ireland.

Getting around the city on public transport you will also find astonishing cheap in comparison (a ten-journey ticket for anywhere on Barcelona's superb underground service currently costing €7.95).

So how much will a month on a CELTA course in Barcelona cost me?

Assuming you got on the cheap return flight to Reus (€2.99 + €15 airport taxes), came to Barcelona by train (€11.70 return), took our €400 accommodation option with its €75 booking fee, and spent no more on general living (which included food!) than the €350 minimum we recommend you bring… that all adds up to at least €800. Not cheap, perhaps, but then you are coming to Barcelona...!

Long-term cost of living

Barcelona certainly isn't the cheapest Spanish city to live in - quite the contrary, in fact - but people who come here from large cities like London, for example, still find that it's cheaper.

However, note also that Barcelona salaries tend to be higher than in smaller towns and cities in Spain.