This week we sat down with Sarah, who’s been teaching English in Barcelona for four years, to hear all about her daily routine. If you’re considering a career as a TEFL teacher in Barcelona, this will give you an insight into what life is like!
What was your journey into TEFL teaching?
In my last year of university I heard from a few friends who’d moved to South Korea to teach English. They were having a really great experience, so I started looking into it. When I graduated I spent a year working in restaurants and saving up as much money as I possibly could, with the intention of moving abroad and becoming an English teacher. Initially I was going to do my TEFL course here in Barcelona and then move to South Korea, but as soon as I got off the plane that plan went down the drain!
Talk us through your daily routine – what’s your typical day like?
I only work in the afternoons, so I never set an alarm from Monday to Friday, which is perfect! I usually wake up at 9.30am and do whatever I want in the morning. I like to rollerblade along the beach, or go for a run around Montjuic. If I need to do grocery shopping I usually fit that in too. I just work in the one academy up in Gracia so I don’t need to do a lot of travelling between classes which is great. I usually walk or cycle up to work for 2pm. On average it takes me 15 – 20 minutes to plan a class and prepare the materials, so I do that when I get to work and then I have classes with a short break between them, maybe half an hour or fifteen minutes. I finish around 8.30pm or 9pm at the latest which leaves me plenty of time for Spanish dinner! I usually go to a friend’s house for dinner, or out with colleagues for a beer and some tapas. There are always people doing things and out and about during the week.
What’s your best teaching moment been?
That’s a difficult question! I’ve just started a class with a group of adult students. They’ve been studying English for years at the same level and they were quite frustrated, but after a few classes they told me they were really happy with the classes, that everything seemed really clear and they’d got their motivation back, so that was nice to hear! But I think my greatest teaching moment was a couple of years ago, when I was doing an exam preparation class with a student who was sitting her IELTS. She needed a certain mark to get into her Masters course in London. She’d already quit her job, sold her flat, been accepted on to the Masters – the only thing left to do was get this mark on the exam. We did an intensive course and we got to know one another really well because we were spending more than two hours together every day. It was tough but she worked really hard. On the day of the exam she called me, she was really nervous. In the end she got higher than the mark she needed and she was so happy! That was really nice.
And finally – what’s your favourite thing about living in Barcelona?
Everything! The typical things – you’re never bored. If you’re alone and you don’t have anything to do, you can head to the beach, or go for a walk in the mountains, or have a wander around the city. There are always cultural things going on, whether that’s little festivals or simply going to check out a church and then having drinks on a sunny terrace. If you have a good group of friends there are so many weekend trips you can take, to the Pyrenees or the Delta de Ebro, Valencia or Girona or up the Costa Brava. You can exercise all year round and sit in the sun in January. It’s incredible. My quality of life here is so much better than it was in Canada. The Catalans have a very big appreciation for day to day life. They work hard, but their priorities are friends and family and I think that really comes through in everyday life here.