What’s Granada like?
Granada is a remarkable city. It’s not particularly large (around 240,000 inhabitants) but it’s full of things to see and do. The Alhambra Palace, a Moorish citadel, is the main attraction, but part of the joy of Granada comes from simple pleasures: strolling around the winding streets with the distant sounds of flamenco guitar, meeting friends for a beer and tapas in one of the hundreds of bars scattered around the city, or just gazing at the backdrop of the wonderful Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Life in Granada is fairly relaxed with a reasonably low cost of living (free tapas). The university of Granada is a popular destination for Spanish and international students and this keeps the place buzzing with a youthful vibe. There are entertainment and cultural activities for every taste here, ranging from classical concerts to flamenco shows to stunning theatrical events (Federico Garcia Lorca, arguably the most important Spanish poet and playwright of the 20th century was born was a Granadino) to every type of music from punk rock to techno.
For nature lovers and adrenalin junkies, Granada is ideal. It’s close to the mountains and the beach so you can go skiing in the morning and watch the sunset on the beach in the evening.
Where to live
Granada is divided into neighbourhoods (barrios). When I first moved to Granada, I was lucky enough to work in the Albayzín, the Medieval Moorish heart of the city. It’s a World Heritage Site and in some aspects hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. There is a substantial community of English speakers here bumping elbows with local Granadinos.
For a more lively barrio full of students, Realejo is a good choice. There are lots of great cafes and bars here, with some incredible architecture.
If you really want to avoid English speakers and immerse yourself in Granadino Spanish, you would be advised to live in working class barrios such as El Zaidín (where the football stadium is located) or La Chana. Accommodation is cheaper here and you will get a real feel for Granadino life.
Some teachers prefer to live outside the city. Transport links to the city are generally good and you can find some real rental bargains in satellite towns and suburbs such as Maracena, Armilla, Atarfe, and Santa Fe. Living in these smaller towns will test your Spanish but you will get to know local people who will beg you for classes when they find out you’re an English teacher.
Working in Granada
Most English-speakers work as English language teachers in Granada. Some of them have opened up their own schools or work on a freelance basis, but the majority find work in one or more of the hundreds of English language academies around the city and the surrounding areas.
Lots of teachers supplement other activities with teaching hours. It’s the kind of place that brings out your creative side. There are lots of start-ups here and co-working spaces, so you can spend time on your own professional projects in between English classes.
How to find work
In the city, there are a lot of academies but there are also a lot of teachers. Even though there is just enough work for everybody, you will stand a better chance of finding a well-paid position at a decent school if you get the right qualification.
Choosing the right TEFL / TESOL course is not easy, but you should aim to enrol on one which is accredited. The two main accreditation bodies are Cambridge university and Trinity College, London who moderate the Cambridge CELTA and the Trinity Cert TESOL.
If you need to get qualified, doing your teacher training course in Granada is a great idea. You will be able to gain experience with Spanish students and get advice from your trainers and local teachers about which academies to apply to and which to avoid. Many teachers finish their course and walk straight into a job.
In Granada, teachers are generally hired after a face-to-face interview. Academy owners prefer to know that you are based in Granada and plan to stay for the academic year.
Your next step is to make a list of academies, especially those near where you live, and send an email announcing your availability. It’s a good idea to follow that up with personal visits to the academies. Granada is a casual and relaxed city, so you don’t need to dress formally; smart casual is the preferred interview attire here.
The best hiring time is either May and June (when schools are looking for teachers to commit to the next academic year) and September to early October (when schools are rushing around to fill vacancies). January is also a good time because some teachers don’t return after their Christmas holiday.
However, there is so much demand nowadays that it is possible to find work throughout the year but you might take a while to build up your hours.
If you do get a full-time contract, you are likely to earn between 900 and 1200€ a month for about 25 hours of teaching. Most teachers teach a combination of kids and adult classes. Certificates are highly valued here so you will end up teaching lots of exam classes too, especially Cambridge and Trinity English exams. The majority of kids and adults classes take place (logically) after school or work, but you may be offered some early-morning classes and lunchtime classes.
Many academies will terminate your contract in June so you might need to look elsewhere for the summer months. The good news is that there is plenty of work in the summer teaching intensive exam preparation courses or at summer camps.
Be aware that the summers in Granada can be unbearably hot, with temperatures edging over 40 degrees. Lots of teachers from Europe look for summer jobs in the UK at this time, although you may need a Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL to apply for them.
What about giving private classes?
Many teachers supplement their income with private classes (clases particulares). Getting your first paying students is not too difficult if you advertise online with an ad (preferably in Spanish) on one of the popular teaching websites (tus clases particulares.com). The traditional approach of posting flyers around the city may also work, especially if you target the area where you live.
If you keep your first few private students happy, they will spread the word for you and you’ll be contacted by lots of adults and even parents wanting private teachers for their kids. Make sure you don’t undervalue your services here; students should pay more for private classes, especially if you have to travel to their home or workplace. An alternative is to offer classes at your home, in a local cafe or quiet place, or even online.
Unfortunately, Spanish students are not always the most reliable so I recommend using a contract with a cancellation clause and asking them to commit to a set of lessons (5 or 10) rather than allowing them to pay on a lesson-by-lesson basis.
Many teachers get paid cash in hand for these classes (I’m not condoning the practice, just stating a fact) but you will need to do things legally if you work with businesses. Going to local companies to teach can be a good move for some teachers, especially if you have your own transport. You might decide to become a freelance (autonomo) teacher, which means you will be able to charge over 20€ for your hourly rate.
Teaching freelance in Granada is not as common as in bigger cities like Madrid or Barcelona as there are not so many companies here willing to pay higher rates for in-company teachers. You should also know that freelance teachers have to pay about 280€ a month regardless of their earnings in their second year of working as an autonomo. In the first year, you only have to pay about 50€ for the first 6 months as you build up your business.
Granada is an ideal destination for English language teachers. You won’t necessarily get rich here, but there is plenty of work, the students are lively, and teachers love living in a small and beautiful city that has something for everyone.
In fact, many come here for a few months and end up staying for years. It’s that sort of place.
At Teach English Spain, we run Trinity Cert TESOL courses in the centre of Granada.
By Dylan Gates, Teach English Spain, Granada.
If you have any questions for Dylan or also have experience teaching English in Granada and would like to add some additional advice for prospective teachers please leave your reply in the comments section at the bottom of the page.