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, possibly more cheaply?
We talked to tutors and trainees at IH Barcelona in order to find out...
Updated: April 2019
"Actually, you don't want to just do a 'TEFL' course," says Roger Hunt, Director of Education at IH Barcelona, and one of our CELTA course tutors. "What you want is a CELTA course as it's one that gives you the sort of knowledge and preparation and assessed, practical teaching practice that will stand you in good stead when you get into a classroom -- and it will actually get you a job in the first place."
There are lots of "TEFL" courses out there, some of them significantly cheaper than CELTA, but they're not really qualifying you to teach English and they're not what employers (i.e. schools) in many countries are looking for (see the data in the side bar, right.) at the foot of this page.) It's not really a cheap course that you're looking for!
"It's worth also picking where you do your course carefully," Roger adds. "If your CV says 'Cambridge CELTA from IH Barcelona', then you've got yourself an internationally recognised qualification from a teacher training centre with a similarly great reputation."
A number of people -- both course tutors and trainees -- tell us that doing a course away from home means that there are few of the distractions of family and friends that you will get there, so that (particularly if it's the four-week intensive course you are doing) you can really concentrate on the course and the course alone for that month.
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, Manchester or Phoenix. 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.
One of our most experienced CELTA course trainers, Vicki Anderson says that doing the course abroad is "the first step on your journey" -- in English teaching, that is. Chances are, working in TEFL means you're going to be teaching monolingual groups, something you are not so likely to come across at home in Britain, where students of English tend to come from all over the world (though that in itself is a useful experience if you're looking for UK summer work). 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).
Another reason for doing a TEFL course abroad is that, when it ends, you're in situ when it comes to getting a job. In Spain, lots of TEFL jobs are filling locally, with people actually on the ground, available for a face-to-face interview much more likely to get the job than someone phoning from the UK or elsewhere but not actually available to start teaching on Monday! If you want a TEFL job in Spain, you've pretty much 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.
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, the first two of which you'll save if you do the course at home, assuming you're living at home with your family, that is.
If you book far enough in advance you can usually get a return flight to Barcelona, from the UK at least, for not much over €100-125, or less if you just book one-way. You might be able to find cheap flights to Girona or (in the summer) to Reus, rather than Barcelona itself, but note that they are both around 100 km away and so you'll have an additional coach (from Girona) or train journey (from Reus) to consider.
The IH Barcelona accommodation service is probably your best bet, with a room in a shared flat, usually within walking distance of the school, which is €400 for four weeks, plus a €75 booking fee. Particularly in the summer, you may also be able to find accommodation on our support forum, where prices are usually around that sort of figure, some more, some less.
Alternative accommodation can be found in hotels or hostels or on Airbnb -- but you will normally find this considerably more expensive.
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 will 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 considerably cheaper in comparison (a ten-journey ticket for anywhere on Barcelona's superb underground service currently costing €10.20).
Assuming you found a flight for €100, took our €475 accommodation option and spent no more on general living expenses than the €500 minimum we recommend you bring... that all adds up to around €1000. Not cheap, perhaps, but then you are coming to Barcelona...!
It's hard to put a figure on your likely cost of living as it will depend to a huge extent on your lifestyle. In April 2019, foreign residents in Barcelona suggested to us anywhere between €350 and €600 for a room in a shared flat, including bills, and somewhere between €500 and €800 for general living expenses.
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. Note also that Barcelona salaries tend to be higher than in smaller towns and cities in Spain.
An official survey in April 2018 shows that CELTA was the most frequently mentioned qualification in ELT job adverts in over 60 countries. It's requested by over 70% of employers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For UK summer jobs, 88% sought candidates with a CELTA qualification.
Further information about CELTA is to be found in our CELTA FAQs section.