Why is Madrid the Perfect Place to Teach English?
More than any other place in Spain and possibly Europe, Madrid is the one European capital city that has an insatiable appetite for English and devours English teachers (not alive!). The reason for this is that as the Spanish themselves say, “Ingles es nuestra signatura pendiente” or “English is the course we never passed” and lucky for us as English teachers! That is why Spain, especially Madrid, is a Mecca for English teachers, because of the massive demand from over 300 English schools and agencies in Madrid. Moms need English, Dads need English, all the kids for sure need English and even sometimes the abuela (grandma) needs English. Businesses can’t operate without English, and you can’t go on holiday outside Spain without knowing English. And unlike countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and others around Europe, who seem to be born Bilingual, the Spaniards find English difficult. In all humility, we must not forget that the Spanish empire lasted for 300 years (100 years longer than the British) and after English, Spanish is the second most important language in the world. So the British attitude is why bother learning another language. And the Spanish would like to have the same attitude, but can’t! This explains why the British are the worst language learners in the EU and fortunately for us native English speakers, the Spanish are the second. And so this is where YOU, the English teacher, rush to the nearest phone booth (if there are any left!) and with two hands, rip off your shirt or blouse and reveal the emblazoned S on your chest, which that stands for SUPER PROF. Then you open the door, take three steps and with ESL books under in hand, fly off to the rescue!
Indeed, teaching English in Madrid is a colossal industry that still continues to expand, with 300 plus English schools such as Canterbury, academies, agencies, offices, company groups and finally a gigantic market for your own private classes with infants from 2-3 years old, small kids from 4-8, older children from 9-12, teenagers, university students (there is a whopping 17 different universities in Madrid) and finally adults from 21 to even 75 years old. The sky’s the limit! Thanks to this endless list of teaching alternatives, the teaching business is open to English speakers from all occupations in life, with any type of experience. This is why it is so easy to adapt your life experience to teaching English and we at Canterbury will take you and mold you into an exemplary English teacher based on what you have already done in life up to now. And then we give you a job and get you another job! No doubt about it… a double whammy!
We have just had an approved TEFL applicant for the Canterbury English TEFL who is 85 years old from the USA and he goes out to jog every day! We also have twenty year old American college students who teach classes with us, so I would say after twenty years of experience, the range is from 20 to 85, with anything in the middle as just dandy!
First of all, at Canterbury you already start the program landing a job with us on day one, so we are talking about your second job. Just like your fingerprint, no one life experience is the same. Each person is unique and each background is unique. And that is exactly what schools are looking for, unique and interesting teachers with a varied background in life, who has been molded into a teacher by the CE TEFL program and who will offer that life experience through the kaleidoscope of teaching to the students or clients of that English school. Yes a varied background is a big plus in the teaching industry and a big plus in getting your second job. Interesting people make interesting teachers! And that is what we as employers are looking for.
You arrive at the school to be interviewed. There is a line of teachers waiting to be interviewed for the dream job and you are the last in line! What are you going to do. First don’t panic, breath slowly in and out, and change any negative thought to a positive one. Exude confidence and repeat in your mind constantly, “this job is for me. I am the perfect candidate for this job” When it’s your turn, the key buzz words are
a) DYNAMIC. I am a dynamic teacher. My method is dynamic. My classes are dynamic. My students love my dynamic way of teaching.
b) NEW CHALLENGES. I love new challenges.
c) NEW IDEAS. I am constantly trying out and new and creative ideas in my classes.
d) CONCLUSION: I am a dynamic teacher who loves new challenges and am always using new ideas in my class.
As long as you get these three buzz words (dynamic, challenges, ideas) into the interview, this will set you out from the rest of the people, so that you who were last in line, is the first to be hired!
You might think that this is SO OBVIOUS, that it’s so dumb to even mention it, but you won’t believe the people who traipse into an interview badly dressed or dressed in a mediocre way. As the hopeful, mediocrely or badly dressed candidate traipses into the recruiters office, the interviewer welcomes them with a smile, but is thinking, STRIKE ONE! The famous Columbian sculptor Fernando Botero, a while ago, had an exposition of his 21 colossal statues around the center of Madrid and the one that had the most votes would be given as a gift to the city. Surprise, surprise, surprise, the one that won the popular vote was a naked woman lying down, admiring herself in a mirror. So what does that say about the Madrileños! You are what you wear. You might think to yourself, “I’m just gonna be little old me in tennis shoes and jeans!” If you want the job, be you at the High School Prom or be you at a wedding (better than a funeral). And hey guys, at the very least, you should have a tie on, and women the equivalent. If you want the job, be respectful to your future employer and dress well, cause they are going to trust you with their clients and the Madrileños, and the Spanish in general, are very image conscious.
Bring your Magical Teaching Material Folder to the Interview and Exhibit
Great teachers like great magicians have great props. And props are teaching materials. So come to the interview with a folder that is adapted to the job. If the job is kids, have teaching materials, visual games such as snakes and ladders, handouts, etc. that are adapted to children. If it is for business classes, have business English props, business books, handouts, telephones skills in hand. An Australian teacher, Doug, once came to an interview and had a beautiful folder, very well organized, flashy with color photocopies and each section labeled in a plastic slip. We went through the folder, and it was so good that he was hired to be our teacher trainer. It was obvious that he was a professional. His teaching materials folder, the way he dressed and the ease with which he talked about his teaching materials and how they related to his classes got him the job.
We can say that these elements are some of the essential things that will make you stand out from the crowd and show that you really know your stuff and make you look like an exceptional teacher.
The Canterbury Top Gun Candidate Do’s and Don’t
Boy Scout Motto: ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
You never know what’s going to happen in a class, so flow, flow, flow with the current, but be prepared for anything. You have just been assigned a group of six business executives and you have prepared the class for exactly six people and even one less will mess up your lesson plan. But, as we often say to ourselves and to fellow ex-pats, after throwing up your shoulders and hands…. This is Spain! Which means, anything that can happen will happen. On the first day, only one person shows up to the class, and they have exactly the opposite level that was written on the class detail sheet by some hurried English academy secretary, who’s never been near the company that you are teaching in. Ooops, as Robert Burns so knowingly said, the best laid plans of mice and men….. However, because, even if you weren’t a boy scout, you have been trained by the Canerbury English TEFL to ALWAYS BE PREPARED. With a flourish, you bring out your magical, mystical materials file and adapt your class to the circumstances with a game, an article an exercise that helps you give the one student a great class. And, as Spain is a Mediterranean country (where we live a good Mediterranean life!) and everybody knows everybody else’s business, the other five students are there for the next class, because your student has spent the coffee break making everybody jealous about you and the great class you gave!
You’re girl/boyfriend just gave you the boot. The hot water heater just broke in the middle of winter and you had a cold shower. You just stepped on frozen doggie crap on your way to your 8 am class on a Monday morning, still hung over from the debauchery of just another Saturday night in Madrid….but no matter what… DON’T LET YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AFFECT THIS CLASS! It’s not easy, and you probably want to throttle something, but this is the perfect opportunity to show that you are an artist in the game of life. After you quickly clean your shoe in the bathroom with soap and water, you put your professional English teacher mask on your face and you put all negative thoughts out of your mind. You can replace them with loving thoughts for the whole of humanity and then forget about everything else and just engross yourself in the class. One of the reasons why English teaching is such a great profession is that there is never a dull moment. The chess board of your life and your classes changes from one day to the next. As the Chinese say, Wei-Ji or Crisis-opportunity! Every crisis that you have means that you have at least one opportunity for growth, prosperity and love…. Keep a smile pasted on your face (as the British would say, keep a stiff upper lip), because your clients are paying for your services, so give them an academy award winning performance, combined with good positive energy that will win your students rapport and good will. Then you can go home and collapse on your bed and have an 11 am siesta (very common in the English teaching profession!)
DO: BE EARLY AND BE ORGANIZED
Arrive a few minutes before the class and have your class handouts on the desk ready to go. The attendance sheet is ready to be signed. Your lesson plan is in your head (or written on the inside of your palm!) and you greet the students by their names as they arrive with a smile. Keep a record of what you taught in each class and preplan the weeks and months ahead for each group of students that you have. You will probably need to fill out an end of the year teachers report for each group, so you need to know what you did to fill it in correctly with concrete and not vague information. Remember, you will have a mixture of different groups, ages, levels, learning objectives, lesson plans and the only way to keep the jigsaw together is to keep everything organized and written down in a teacher’s diary. Being prepared, also means giving homework to those enthusiastic students who want and have time for homework. Because you are organized and you write things down in your teachers diary, you will remember what student you gave what homework so that you can ask them for the homework and correct it in class with them. With the students who are too busy to do homework, you can mention it once in a while, but you know they are probably not going to do it. Being organized means remembering all these details and being organized means living a stress free life!
As curiosity killed the cat, so does unreliability kill the English teacher. Unreliable teachers get fired as soon as they are branded unreliable by office staff. The big boss, a man of few words, comes in, gets out his gun-shaped lighter, lights up his big Cuban cigar, and presses the intercom button and in a low, dangerous whisper, says, to one of his staff members, the most terrifying words out there to an English teacher. They are just two words, but they are deadly: TEACHER CHANGE, and follows up with another two words which are the nails in that teachers’ coffin: BLACK LIST. With those two plus two words, the unreliable teacher is smoked off the face of the English academy for life. And the reason is that an unreliable teacher is a disaster for an English school, because it means that the English school loses clients. That means you’re fired, but we’re often fired first. Usually what academy administrators see most is the interface between the English school and the teacher. We may not know exactly what’s going on inside the class, but what we are most interested in is that the client is happy and to make the client happy, you HAVE TO BE RELIABLE. But what is unreliability. Unreliability is getting to class late, not preparing correctly for a class, not taking attendance, not following academy interface instructions, missing class without calling the student(s), forgetting you gave them homework, not having the right materials for a class and a long etc. not to mention coming in with a hangover, alcohol on your breath, smelly, badly dressed or you have just plain bad breath (take a breath mint before each class)…… and the list goes on and on. BE RELIABLE and it will be a pleasure for us and other academies to work with you.
If you have any more tips on being a good English teacher let us know at email@example.com