When I signed up for my TEFL course, I was really unsure what to expect. The course was a surprise in terms of how intensive it was and I was shocked (and very embarrassed) by how little I knew about my own language. The biggest surprise however, was what happened once I finished my TEFL course in Madrid – it was a roller coaster of good jobs, bad jobs and meeting some amazing people.
For many people who take a TEFL course they also have very little idea about what to expect when they graduate. My main experience is in Spain but from my discussions with my graduates who are now around the world, the market in rest of Europe is very similar to that in Spain.
When I tell potential trainees that the normal working week is between 20 and 25 hours and often a four day week, they think – that sounds easy, sign me up!! What’s important to remember is that as well as teaching the hours, you have to add on travel time and lesson planning. This will certainly make it into a full time job. Even if you only work 4 days a week, you are likely to leave the house at around 7 in the morning and get home after 10 pm which is by no means a part time job.
The typical schedules vary depending on whether you are teaching in company, in academy or private work. Later articles will discuss the pros and cons of the type of classes available.
It is also important to remember that when you are a newbie teacher, you can’t be as picky as the seasoned teacher. I always advise my graduates to be selective but to remember that you need to prove you are a good teacher by being organized, responsible and on time. Once the agency or school begin to see that you are someone they can rely on and you start to receive positive reports from your students, your schedule will begin to get better and better until you have your golden schedule (working the least amount of time for the most amount of pay with as many block hours as possible).
Whatever profession, this is always a sticky subject to talk about. Teaching rates are often quoted in hourly rates and new graduates can get very fixated with the hourly rate but there are many more things to consider than just this. This is an example:
You have been offered two jobs:
For job A you have been offered the following hours on Monday/Wednesday: 08.00-09.00,13.30-15.00 and 18.30 – 20.00. On Tuesday/Thursday you have been offered 07.00 – 08.30, 13.00 – 14.00 and 19.00 – 20.30. The rate is 18 euros net an hour, which would give you a weekly salary 288 Euros.
For job B you have been offered the following hours on Monday/Wednesday: 08.00-09.00, 13.00-16.00 and 18.30 – 20.00. On Tuesday/Thursday you have been offered: 07.00 – 08.30, 13.00-16.00 and19.00-20.30. This job offers a rate of only 15 Euros net an hour. But because of the block hours you take home 345 Euros a week. Over 4 weeks this adds up to a huge amount of money and you get home the same time each night for both jobs.
Make sure you look at the whole picture as some will offer higher hourly rates, other lower rates but more block hours; others will pay holiday and sick pay – consider all that is being offered before making a decision.
Finally, remember whether you are new to teaching or have been doing it for a long time, job satisfaction is the key to being a happy teacher. The TEFL industry can often be seen as a way to earn money until you find a ‘real’ job but for many of us who take it seriously and do well; it can mean a whole new career.