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Teach English Online in Barcelona

Teaching English Online While Based in Barcelona

You finish your TEFL course at International TEFL Academy  Barcelona TEFL, receive your official certificate, and then you’re faced with the difficult task of deciding where to teach. Should I go to Europe, Asia, Latin America? I decided to stay and teach English in Barcelona, Spain?

It’s exciting, yet nerve-wracking, to dive right into a full schedule of teaching after your TEFL class. It’s not hard to find private clients to teach in Barcelona. There are many tools to help you find students & tutor groups (websites/Facebook groups, primarily), and ITA will help you here.

As a new teacher, I really wanted to put together a teaching schedule that was realistic and manageable to avoid burn-out or stress. I had heard about teaching English online and I was very intrigued about the possibility of having more control over my schedule and not having to commute. A guest speaker came in to talk about her experience teaching online being based in Barcelona. Who doesn’t want to work from home? I talked to friends who had experience teaching English online, and from there I was sold, and started the process of interviewing and vetting out online teaching companies.

I was surprised by how official the interview process was for these online teaching jobs. It wasn’t easy by any means and the entire process was very professional from start to finish. It took me about one and a half weeks from when I first applied online to being offered a job.

Fast-forward six months later and I’m still living in Barcelona, teaching English online to Chinese students, and loving every second of it! Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m living in Barcelona – the longer I’m here, the more I love this city. I truly think Barcelona is one of the best cities for teaching English abroad, especially if you’re teaching English online.

Schedule & Travel Time

I’m teaching in the Chinese time-zone, so my main working hours are from 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. I can wake up even earlier and work, which means I’m done working every day by 3:30 p.m.! So I have a lot of time for exploring, traveling, and experiencing everything Barcelona has to offer. Barcelona has plenty of activities to keep you busy- beaches, parks, restaurants/bars, shopping, and more.

Another great thing about teaching English online is the flexibility to travel while still working. I can hop over to other European cities in a matter of hours for the weekend and be back on Monday for work. In fact, I even left Barcelona for three months, went to SE Asia, and travelled while continuing to teach online. I chose SE Asia because I would be almost in the same time zone as my students so I could teach from 8:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. As Asia was still on my «countries to visit» list, it was a great way to make money while traveling, and I worked every two weeks for one week, while still having a flexible schedule to explore. Best of all, I was able to pay for most of my trip while continuing to keep my regular students and teach.

When I returned to Barcelona, I started working a more regular schedule and picked up right where I left off! I definitely knew I wanted to return to Barcelona after traveling; the city is magical and with summer just around the corner, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!

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Beware of cheap TEFL courses

3 reasons why a legitimate TEFL course cannot cost under €1,000

Google “TEFL certification Barcelona” and you’ll see an array of  TEFL classes ranging in price from €200 to over €1,800.

How can there be such a difference in price if all these courses offer the same thing, you think to yourself?

Well, at the end of the day, do they all really offer the same thing? 

Firstly, let’s think about the job you’re preparing for.

You maybe moving halfway across the world to work as a professional English teacher.

You are likely to be responsible for teaching around 20-30 hours per week. You’ll need to plan effective lessons so that your students progress in the language. You could be managing a classroom full of 20 students, and teaching things like grammar, vocabulary, as well as developing their comprehension skills. You’ll be in charge of tailoring class activities to your students’ needs, designing tests, and giving your students constructive feedback on their stregths and weaknesses. These are the basic skills you’ll have to master to excel in your new job abroad, and keep your students happy and thier motivation to continue high.

Now, what about getting a job?

Getting a job in Barcelona can be challenging. Are you confident that €200-€500 TEFL certification will make you a professional English teacher and then also include the personalized guidance, resources, and assistance you’ll need to get a job teaching English in Barcelona or anywhere in the world?

Bottom line, you get what you pay for.

Whether it’s a mobile phone, a pair of shoes, or a TEFL class, you get what you pay for. Like everything else in the world, if something seems too good to be true, especially when it comes to price, it probably is.

It’s that simple.

Here are 3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Evaluating the Cost of a TEFL Class:

  1. Who is Teaching the Class?

Is it a recent graduate? Is it someone who has taught English in China for a year? Or is it a professional, university-level instructor?

Just because someone is TEFL-certified and has taught English abroad does NOT mean they are qualified to teach you how to become a professional EFL teacher. Just because you graduated from Law School does not mean you can now teach Law classes at Harvard. They are not the same.

A university-level, professional TEFL training class should be taught by a highly qualified instructor with the equivalent of a Master’s degree in TEFL/TESOL, or a related field. You should expect to receive weekly feedback from your professor on your assignments, so you’re constantly learning and developing into a better teacher. Your instructor should also have a wealth of experience teaching English as a foreign language.

Be very, very skeptical of any TEFL courses taught by a “tutor” whose qualifications have not been clearly spelled out.

Key takeaway: You need to pay a university-level instructor like a university-level instructor. This hourly wage is significantly more than someone who taught abroad for a year in China with a TEFL certificate. A common reason why some TEFL courses are so cheap is because they aren’t taught by qualified professional instructors.

Tip! When you enquire about a TEFL class at a particular TEFL school or company, ask them straight up who teaches their classes and if they have a link they can send you that details their qualifications.

  1. Is the TEFL Course Accredited & Does It Meet International Standards?

If you are hoping to be able to secure a decent job at reputable schools as a professional teacher, don’t bother taking a TEFL class unless you’re gaining an internationally recognised and accredited TEFL certification that is accepted by employers around the world.

Like university-level instructors, the best accreditation costs money. The process of getting your TEFL class accredited is not exciting or glamorous and, be warned, a lot of industry jargon is about to appear. But stay with it, as this information is particularly important.

The initial TEFL class accreditation stage can take 6-12 months. From there, TEFL schools can expect to host staff from the accrediting organization while they observe live classes, review the curriculum and assessments, and the accreditors conduct interviews with TEFL class professors and students. Still with me?

From there, TEFL schools expect ongoing spot audits of student projects, lesson plans, and more. Time is money, as they say, and this process takes both a lot of time and a lot of money.

Then there’s the actual cost of each certification being approved, authenticated, and individually numbered by the accreditor. Any reputable TEFL school would be paying about €30-€50 per certificate. To cut corners (and costs) companies will buy an accreditation with a one-time €1,000 fee, for example, and then that school issues certificates without any real oversight (not good).

At the very least, when looking at the TEFL providers in Barcelona, make sure your class is accredited and has 100-hours of academic coursework and a minimum of 6 hours of practicum (live practice teaching with real EFL students). This is impossible to do in short courses, so avoid those cheaper courses you see being held in hotels over the weekend.

Key takeaway: Check the finer points of the TEFL course – do you get 6 hours of teaching practicum, with real students followed by feedback from an experienced professor who gives you points to work on in your next lessons, and develop as a teacher!

  1. What Support & Guidance Are Included to Help Me Find a Job?

What does that €200, €500, etc. TEFL class really include?

To sum up, at this point you’ve been taught by a university-level instructor, and you’ve also received an internationally accredited and recognised TEFL qualificcation all for a cost equivalent to an average road bike.

What should happen after your TEFL class? Are you sent links to a few job boards and told, «good luck!? Or are you working with a trained professional who is helping you create a customized plan for your job search so that you know where to start?

You need to know if you’re receiving any sort of post-course job search guidance. You need to know how much (if any) human interaction or personalized support is included in your tuition. Will you have access to networking opportunities or a way to connect with fellow alumni?

In short — are you paying for a piece of paper that you don’t know how to use, or are you paying for a professional teaching certification and personalized support & guidance that will lead you to a fantastic teaching job overseas?

You want to work with trained, professional TEFL advisors that have been and done what you want to do, lived overseas before, and truly live and breathe international travel. You want an advisor who is trained on the finer details of international teaching markets and can advise you on countries you’re qualified for, requirements for the position, salaries you can expect, and everything in between.

You should plan on being able to engage with your TEFL class professor for support during your course. Once you’re ready to begin your job search for your desired teaching position, you’ll need to work with an expert job search advisor to map out your unique job search.

This time and personalized guidance costs money. The world is constantly changing, visa procedures can change overnight, hot job markets and premiere schools ebb and flow, if you want to be in the know and be confident in every step of your planning, then you want to work with professionally trained staff.

Key Takeaway: If you’re paying €500 for merely a TEFL certificate that includes little to no personalized, expert post-course guidance then think twice. You’re seriously going to give up your current job and apartment, pack up all of your belongings, and get on a plane halfway across the world to start a brand new career without any professional guidance or advising?

Save yourself countless hours of frustration and Googling, and work with a professional whose full-time career it is to help you make this move abroad.

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Bringing pet to barcelona

Bringing a pet to Spain

So you gather up the courage to teach English as a foreign language in Spain. You confidently inform your parents, family, and friends. They have questions, but you have answers. Your mind is made up. You have mustered up the money for the deposit to secure your position in the course. But after you click the mouse to transfer the money to ITA, your four-legged, furry, love of your life, truly-man’s-best-friend, looks at you with those eyes (you know the ones) which seem to have a voice of their own … a voice that says, “What about me?”. Then I had the task of bringing my pet to Spain to accompany me on my new adventure!

Yes, what about your furry best friend? Your four-legged child? How can you possibly leave the country, for perhaps some undefined amount of time, without your Fido? I, too, was faced with these questions as I decided to take action on a long-time dream of living abroad and becoming multi-lingual. Fido, in this case, was my Peanut who I rescued from a pet shelter over 2 years ago. No one in my family or circle of friends was able to take care of him and placing him back into a shelter crushed my heart at the very thought. Honestly, I could not bear to move away without him.

So what did I do, you ask? Well, I found a way to bring Peanut with me. Now let me tell you upfront, what I am about to describe is a very complicated, detailed, time-sensitive, and expensive process. BUT, it is achievable. You can, most definitely, bring your pet with you overseas from the United States. When there’s a will, there’s a way!

The following are a list of considerations – not all inclusive, admittedly, but pretty close 😊

  • Veterinarian/United Stated Department of Agriculture(USDA) Paperwork: You need to prepare to have your pet’s Veterinarian complete a thorough check-up of your pet and sign paperwork. The USDA will have to review the Vet’s paperwork and notarize the paperwork. This paperwork is very time sensitive. If you are seriously thinking about bringing your pet, you should speak to your vet immediately! Do not wait! Your pet will need to be up-to-date on shots and must be micro-chipped with an identification number. Requirements vary for each country and will vary again depending if you decide to travel with your pet or send your pet overseas alone. Take a look at this website for more specific information regarding the process regulations and time-sensitive paperwork needed: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel
  • Pet-friendly Airlines: You will need to research the airlines that allow Trans-Atlantic travel of pets. Depending on the breed, size, and weight of your pet, you may be able to take your pet with you in-cabin under the seat. Make sure to research the specific size and requirements of pet carriers. This is very important! *Note: some airlines will not accept flying pets in-cabin on flights with layovers. Therefore, if you want to travel with your pet, you may have to pay more money for a direct flight to your destination overseas.
  • Emotional Support: Will you register your pet as an Emotional Support pet? With most airlines, Emotional Support dogs fly in-cabin with you under the seat for FREE or for a greatly discounted rate. There are reputable and legal websites that streamline the process of registering your pet as an Emotional Support animal. You will need to take a short quiz and pay a fee (normally under $50) for a licensed professional to complete the process and mail the certificate to you. No need to even leave your house for this!

As I had already purchased my airline ticket to Barcelona, which included one layover, the airline (Norwegian Airlines) did not allow me to take Peanut in-cabin with me. Norwegian Airlines also did not allow pets in-cargo. Therefore, I had to book Peanut a separate flight with United Airlines for him to fly in-cargo from Atlanta, Georgia to Barcelona.

  • Cost: The cost of the flight will vary depending on the airline you choose and the size/weight of your pet. Be sure to check all requirements outlined by the airline as there are VERY specific restrictions and instructions that must be adhered to. If not, the airlines could prohibit your pet from flying. In-cargo pet travel is safe, believe it or not, and there are attendants available to check on your pet. Again, be sure to inquire with the specific airline you choose about how your pet will be taken care of before, during, and after the flight.    
  • Spanish Customs: In the end, Peanut arrived in Barcelona safe and sound a day after I arrived. However, picking Peanut up from Spanish Customs was just as complicated as bringing him overseas. It took four hours to complete the process because everything in Spain moves slow! But, if you have all the paperwork mentioned above in order, it can be done without any hiccups.
  • Pet Shipping Services: Are you getting a headache after reading all of this? Well no need to fear! There are companies that will make the process extremely easy and take care of everything from appointments with vets and the USDA to picking the pet up from your house in the US to getting the pet through Spanish customs and dropped off safely at your residence in Spain. The catch here is the price. Expect to pay close to $1,000, if not more. Expensive but it may be totally worth the stress-free experience.

Spain is a great country for pets especially dogs. There are many restaurants and shops that welcome dogs inside and plenty of parks where dogs are welcome. Dogs truly live the “good life” here in Barcelona. The hard work of planning and preparing your dog for the long travel overseas is all worth it when you and your dog can both enjoy the beautiful city of Barcelona … together!

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things to do in Barcelona

5 must see fiestas in and around Barcelona

Calçotada season (Between November and April)

If you are a foodie, one of the more interesting events to keep note of in your calendar for February is the Calçotada season. This Catalan spread celebrates the regional gastronomy with a lot of largesse – prepare to be stuffed!. The festival was started by a farmer in Tarragona a century ago and has become a standing event of the calendar.  At the meal (the «Calcotada»), the first course is the «calçots», a cross between a leek and a spring onion. These are cooked over hot, wood chippings, then wrapped in newspaper, and finally served on a terra cotta tile. After taking off the outer burnt skin with the bare hands to expose the juicy, tender inside, they are then dipped individually in a romesco sauce made of garlic, red-peppers, almonds, olive oil as its core ingredients. Eating can be messy, hence the bib, an essential requirement if you don´t want to ruin your best shirt. They are washed down with plenty of red wine and cava. This course is followed by lamb or pork chops, and Catalan sausage and white beans. Make sure you work up an appetite before you sit down to a Calçotada – the food is plentiful!

Sant Joan (23rd-24th June)

A midsummer celebration that certainly does not depend on the sun for its light, this firework-filled party has to be one of the biggest parties of the year, with some intense over-indulgence to be expected from one and all. You´ll see everyone from children to grandparents celebrating late in to the night, to mark the longest day of the year. The beach is the place to be for this fiesta, and if you end up there, you´ll probably stay till dawn, watching the fireworks explode in the sky, and eventually experience the sunrise on the horizon of the Mediterranean.

Dia de Sant Jordi (23rd April)

Sant Jordi, or Saint George, as he is referred to in English, was renowned in Catalonia for his dragon-slaying-and-princess-saving ways and this sort of behaviour earned him the title of Patron Saint of Catalonia. To honour his colourful endeavours his festival is one of the most colourful in the city, with the residents turning Las Ramblas, for example, into an overgrown flower stand – the hope being that the gents will buy a rose for their lovely lady. Think of a less commercial Saint Valentine’s day! And, joyfully, there’s equality amongst the sexes here with the women purchasing a book for the men in their lives. This is a newer addition to the Sant Jordi tradition, and was created to commemorate one of the country’s legendary bards, Miguel Cervantes, who died on this date. Shops and famous buildings, like Casa Batlo above, are adorned to mark this special day and often host fantastic exhibitions and events.

Festa Major de Gracia (Mid-August)

Barcelona, like many other cities in the country, have what are called district festivals, and amongst those district festivals you have what is, without doubt, the King of the district festivals. With a strong carnival feel, Festa Major de Gracia is one of the most creative festivals too, with streets competing to the win coveted prize and, in doing so, producing marvels for spectators to feast their eyes upon. Incredible papier mache statues and structures, along with decorative lanterns and unimaginably complex woodwork pieces, turn this barrio (district) into something otherworldly. Every square means an open air concert and of course every little bar turns in to an outdoor festival food and drink stall with beers and nibbles at the ready. Prepare to marvel and party. For those wanting to avoid the heaving masses that night time brings, it is recommended to go on your rambles during the daytime. It’s well worth a visit!

Festa de la Merce (several days either side of 24th September)

This is the main festival of the city of Barcelona which has in origins in an unusual story…the deliverance of Barcelona from a plague of locusts (!) by Our Lady the Virgin of Mercy. Hence the name La Merce – to honour the Virgin the city celebrates in style with plenty of fire, in all its forms, and noise, in all of its forms. Both of these are a mainstay, but certainly on the 24th. A variety of Catalan traditions are enacted throughout this festival and one of the more intriguing to watch (or even participate in for the braver ones) is the Correfoc. The story behind this is that mischievous fire devils need to be ambushed by the townsfolk and banished. Yes, those are people running through the streets with fire in their hands being chased by monstrous creatures!! Come prepared with old clothing and head scarves – those participating in this spectacle  are expected to get as close as possible to the evil creatures and even ‘run with the fire.’

Castellers

You will also get the chance to feast your eyes on the incredible spectacle that is the Castellers or Human Towers – one of Catalonia’s most famous traditions. These are human towers (or «castles»)  that are made up of different levels of people until reaching insane heights that can reach up to ten stories, although this record has only been achieved three times in total. Each storey is formed without any mechanical help, and tens and even hundreds of people can take part in it. The “castellers” are the people who perform this daring activity, which is over 200 years old, and even young kids (who make up the top tier being lighter in weight) participate. Once at the very top, the child at the very peak makes a hand signal with four fingers in the air (said to symbolize the Catalan flag). He or she will on stay at the dizzy height a short moment and then climb down, as the castle is only considered successful if it dismantled without falling.  

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Visa information

What type of visa do I need to study and/or work in Spain?

EU Citizens – Citizens from the European Union nations are able to work legally in Spain without getting a visa. However you will need to register for a Residence Permit at the local Foreigners’ Office and apply for a tax number, known as an “NIE,” which you will need for official paperwork, taxes, etc. Typically, your employer will assist you with these matters, including your application for social security.

Student Visa – Those who plan to study in Spain at a recognized language school, university, etc. may be eligible to legally work in Spain while studying.  Typically, a student visa must be processed before departing for Spain.  Contact a Spanish Consulate for more information on recognized “study abroad” programs and what is required to obtain a student visa. We can help you find a suitable program that meets the necessary requirements which allows you to apply for a student visa.

There are basically three options for student visas, which start from when you first enter the EU:

a) A tourist visa which expires after 90 days (this is the stamp in your passport on entry)

b) Short-term student visa (4 to 6 months)

c) Long-term student visa (minimum 7 months). For our Student Visa Programs, click here.

With the short-term visa (b), you are not eligible to work legally, but can stay in Spain legally. With the long-term student visa, however, you are eligible to legally work for up to 20 hours per week, which is more or less full time teaching. This means you would need to be enrolled on an official course, recognized as such by the Spanish Ministry of Education, and studying for minimum of 20 hours per week.

Tourist Visa – Tourist visas are the most common for English teachers who are not citizens of European Union (EU) nations, including Americans, to work on in Spain as the majority of schools and employers in Spain will not sponsor a work visa for their teachers.  A 90 day tourist visa will be stamped in your passport upon entry into Spain and to teach English you will overstay it and work on an expired tourist visa. The vast majority of Americans & non-EU citizens who work in Barcelona do so as independent contractors & private tutors on a tourist visa.

Citizens of Australia, Canada and New Zealand years can apply for a one-year Spanish working holiday visa. Working holiday visas typically have restrictions and requirements, such as age limits (typically between 18 and 30 or 35), the need to prove one has sufficient funds, and more.