Useful tips for EFL teachers in Madrid.

The advice given is aimed at those of you who are considering EFL work in private companies as opposed to a more academic environment such as a school or college.

In spite of all the bad economic press Spain has received recently, there’s no doubt that EFL teaching in Madrid is still alive and kicking. With a population of over six million people (province of Madrid) and home to as many multinationals as you care to name, Madrid is a great location for a serious EFL teacher looking for interesting work.

Accommodation

The first thing to know is that you stand little or no chance of getting a job in Madrid unless you are on the ground, have a mobile number and are available for an interview. In order to get settled in the city, you’ll need a place to call home. Google is the best place to begin your search. There are a number of websites (see below) that will be able to attend you in English. A room can go from anywhere from €300 to €450 per month and you might get your own place for €700 per month in one of Madrid’s southern satellite towns such as Moratalaz or Rivas. Prices get higher the closer you get to the centre of the city and get even higher in the northern outskirts.

Tip: A lot of teachers resident in Madrid will rent their room out for the month of July and/or August to get some extra cash while they’re back in blighty with the family. Renting one of these rooms can be a great idea to get a place to stay temporarily before you have to sign the inevitable one-year-minimum contract in a new room or house. A couple of months should be enough to get yourself settled and maybe even a few classes lined up. Google ‘temporary rental, Madrid, summer’.

Getting around

Madrid has a top class public transport service made up of an extensive Metro network, light rail and local lines so you are never really too far from anywhere. It’s relatively cheap and very efficient.

Tip: Get yourself a monthly travel pass. It will save you a lot of money and is very handy. You can use it for all forms of transport within the zone you have purchased. Be careful not to get your pass until you know what zones you’re going to be working in. In general, Zone A (€54.60 a month) should cover most of your needs. Remember: public transport will be your way of getting to class on time so knowing the lines well will save you time and make you money.

Interviewing and job finding

So you’ve got a place to stay, you know your way around a few metro lines and you have an interview lined-up. You will rarely be interviewed directly by a company looking to give its employees English classes. In general, one of the many language agencies in Madrid (‘Academias’) will be acting as a go-between. You may be working for two or even three agencies throughout the academic year so do your best to get on with them and be punctual with your monthly invoices and attendance sheets etc. Agencies love a good teacher and will want to hang on to him/her.

Tips: Get your price right: If the agency is hiring you on a contract and is paying for your health insurance and welfare contributions, you will get a much lower hourly rate than if you are being paid for ‘loose hours’ (handy if you’re just looking to cover some dead time but have neither of the two aforementioned perks). The current hourly rate can start as low as €12 per hour and go as high as €40, the top end usually reserved for experienced teachers with good contacts and no middlemen involved. When negotiating an hourly rate for loose classes, make sure the agency tells you your net rate and puts it in writing to you before you commit. You also want to be covered for cancelled classes and time-wasters. Be realistic when negotiating but don’t go too low: it could then take you forever to make a decent salary.

Your students

Madrid’s workforce is extremely varied and you may find yourself giving classes to blue-collar factory workers in one of the major industrial estates around the city or you could end up in a plush office, teaching the CEO of a Spanish bank or law firm. Whatever the case, don’t waste your students’ time. Students will complain if you’re five minutes late or if you come unprepared to class. You will find most Spanish students to be good students in class but don’t expect them to do any homework. They are usually highly motivated and grateful to have the classes.

Tip: Get a laptop and use it in class. Win your students over by using audiovisual material (YouTube, TED and very short minute clips from documentaries etc.) when you can. If you don’t have portable Internet, ask the company for a Wi-Fi access code. Concentrate on generating fluid conversation (what most students want and need) with error correction and be sure your students are correcting their errors and learning new words and terms on a daily basis.

Useful links: For classes, accomodation and other useful classifieds for the newcomer: www.lingobongo.com. For more information on Madrid’s public transport, you can get all the information here: http://www.ctm-madrid.es/ (available in English).

Once settled in Madrid, you’ll wonder why you didn’t come sooner!

By Brendan Ryan
EFL teacher, 21 years in-company language training experience in Spain. Currently organising intensive courses with sport and working over Skype.
Online: www.2geckos.es

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