Thursday, October 18, 2007

Top 5 Reasons NOT to Be an English Teacher in Madrid

And now for a dose of reality. (For those of you who missed my post yesterday "5 Reasons to Be an English Teacher in Madrid", check it out below).

1) It’s a great way to learn Spanish. Whether it’s free Spanish classes through the academy you work for or just taking advantage of students who are too lazy to speak English in class, you should have ample opportunities to improve your Spanish skills. – The reality is, few English academies bother to give their employees Spanish classes. I mean, you’re supposed to be speaking English with the students. And while you will find yourself speaking a lot of Spanish with beginner students, the bulk of your day will in fact be spent in English. And if you’re working a full teaching schedule, it’s hard to find the time or energy for real Spanish classes.

2) There are 14 official holidays each year in the Comunidad de Madrid, many of which create puentes – 3, 4, or even 5-day weekends! Plus you usually get a week off at Semana Santa, two or three weeks for Christmas, New Year’s, and Los Reyes, and a couple months in the summer. – Sounds great, right? It is, until you think about the fact that you only get paid for the hours you teach. So with so many official days off, plus lots of student cancellations, you can expect to lose out on hundreds or even thousands of euros in pay each academic year.

3) Madrid’s a capital city full of museums, different neighborhoods, nice parks, movie theaters (including many in English), and lots of shopping. So there’s plenty to do between classes. – Yes, Madrid is full of lots of great things to SEE – from the outside, if you’re an English teacher. If you’re just here for a year, you may be OK. But stick it out past your first summer of no work for 3-4 months (depending if you do summer camps), and you’ll soon learn what it means to be POOR.

4) There are hundreds of English academies, so it’s rare to be out of work (unless you want to be). There are also tons of Spanish people out there looking for private tutors for themselves or their children. – True, there are tons of places you can teach English. Unfortunately, most of them are poorly run, pay you a pittance, and expect you to spend 4-6 hours a day in public transportation (unpaid) to impart the same or fewer hours of class.

5) If you just want to take a year off to travel Spain, it’s a good way to pick up some extra cash while you enjoy your year abroad. – BUT, if you want to live in Spain for several years, I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT. Now, a lot of people will disagree with me on this. You CAN get lucky and find a good gig that gives you decent hours within city limits at decent pay and with some sort of consistency to your wages (despite holidays and student cancellations). But my own experience and that of my friends has been that the first year was good in terms of traveling, going out, and enjoying Madrid – because we were happy to use our credit cards. By the end of the first year, up to our ears in credit card debt, we accepted the reality of our financial situation and became resigned to lives of poverty.


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Unpaid said...

I taught English for six months at PopEnglish ( )
They company seems very nice at first- the website is well-designed and the office is clean and spacious- but the director is very unprofessional- gave very short notice before class cancellations, rarely responded to e-mails or phone calls, often paid late. I finally put in a months notice that I was leaving and he stopped paying me altogether. He nows owes me over 800 Euros and refuses to answer my calls or e-mails- other than calling to cuss me out once last month for quitting and to threaten to turn me in as an illegal.

If you choose to teach English in Madrid, be prepared to deal with scam companies and dishonest employers.

musica said...

Wow, I'm sorry you had to go through that! I remember seeing ads for PopEnglish in some of the glossy magazines around Madrid, and they did look very professional and modern. It's a shame it's so hard to find honest, straightforward employers in the Madrid EFL world!