If you haven’t already read how I ended up quitting my office job in London to go to Spain and teach, start here!
June 25th 2015, I left life as I knew it behind for what was meant to be a summer of teaching English and then a few weeks travelling around Spain, but after only two weeks of teaching, I quit.
My summer was amazing, however my TEFL experience was the worst!
Generally if something seems too good to be true, it is right? Well being my typical self, I ignored my intuition and went ahead with it anyway!
Firstly everything happened so quickly. I applied via email on May 13th, had a Skype interview scheduled for the 16th, this got cancelled and went ahead on the 19th, on the 24th I was told I had the job, handed in my notice on the 26th and 1 month later, on the 25th of June, I was on a plane to Spain.
The lack of organisation and information given started to worry me a little once I accepted. I sent an email over on the 25th to accept and received no reply. With only the 26th left for me to hand my notice in and get to Spain on time I sent a follow-up email asking to confirm that he (Danny) had received my original acceptance email to only get a 2 worded email back… “Got it!”.
Being used to working in London where more time everything is pretty professional, I asked for a copy of the contract, my accommodation details and also the address of where I would be working. I was told that you need to work in Spain for 6 months before receiving a contract and that if this wasn’t ok, he would give the job to someone else… RUDE!
I was told to book a flight and was left with quite a few questions that I needed answered, so I sent them over:
- Will someone meet me at the station to take me to the house?
- You asked if I could drive, will this be required of me as it wasn’t mentioned previously?
- What is the pay schedule? Weekly or monthly?
- What are the working hours for the additional lessons outside of the summer camp?
- Is there a break between 9:30-1:30 to eat or is that done before and after?
I also sent an email to the person (Eva) who was going to be meeting me at the station and received no reply. I emailed Danny a week later to confirm my arrival time and let him know that I hadn’t received a response, he said he’d pass the message on.
My departure date was getting closer and closer and I hadn’t heard from anyone so sent another email 3 days before I was due to fly with my last few questions as I was feeling a little uneasy at this point.
- Is the apartment furnished?
– Mainly is there a duvet for the bed?
– When is rent paid?
– Which room will I be in?
– How many people will I be sharing an apartment with?
- A telephone number for Eva who said she’ll be collecting me from the station. – She didn’t respond to my email.
- Contact details for someone other than Eva should I run into difficulty and can’t get in touch with her.
As if all of this still didn’t tell me I was making a mistake!!! I was told I would be given all teaching materials needed and I’m not required to bring anything with me… Did I not turn up on my first day to an empty classroom with nothing but a chalk board, 1/4 of a chalk stick, the topic ‘animals’ and 5 Spanish 10-12 year olds staring at me!?
After a week and a half of lessons where I felt the children weren’t learning much due to lack of guidance, materials and their behaviour, I decided to call a meeting with Eva to voice my concerns and see what I can do to make this a better experience for both the kids and myself… Wrong move!
Eva blamed me for not asking her for materials – I had asked another member of staff as Eva wasn’t in and was told that there were none, obviously I wouldn’t assume that she’s lying – because who would? So took her word for it and started bringing in my iPad.
She told me that ‘I wasn’t a real teacher’… No shit sherlock! and that I should have told her I had never taught before. As far as I’m concerned, that’s an issue she needed to take up with her boss Danny as he was made aware of this on several occasions, but again, it was my fault that she wasn’t notified.
It was also my fault that the kids, especially my 7-9 year olds, misbehaved and didn’t listen to me. It’s hard to communicate with children who are smart enough to work out that if they pretend they don’t understand you when you tell them to be quiet and sit down etc that they can get away with it. The Spanish teachers all still spoke to them in Spanish which made it 10 times harder for me to only speak to them in English. Had there been an English only policy, they would understand / not be able to pretend that they don’t understand basic English commands. Etc, etc, etc. Everything was my fault!
In the middle of a heated
discussion argument (when I calmly told her to lower her tone and not speak to me the way she was, I was met with the response ‘that’s just how I am’) she decided she had to leave and I should go on to teach my baby class… Sorry bro but that was not about to happen.
I told her she better stay as I was going home, put my backpack on, and shimmied my black ass out of there.
No way did I just quit my job in London to come and help you, you talk to me like I’m the help and you’re better than me, can’t hold a civilised conversation when I put my pride aside and came to you for help, get me so worked up that I’m about to cry and think you can bop on out of there and leave me to carry on my day singing songs and playing games with 2-3 year olds… GIRL BYE!
I would have loved to have come back and written about a positive experience, talking about how cute and sweet the kids were but sadly, that wasn’t the case.
I still have a copy of the notes that I wrote in my iPad with some of the things that I wanted to discuss:
- What is it that you personally think the children of each age should be able to do in my lessons? Everything I try seems difficult for them.
- I don’t feel as though ‘theatre’ is what I should be ‘teaching’ them. Their vocabulary isn’t good enough. They’re also not being taught everything correctly by the other teachers. Mario thought a seashell was an animal & wasn’t corrected until I stepped in. I also saw a grammatical error on a board in my first week. If the teachers still speak in Spanish to them how do you expect them to be able to communicate with me?
- Class 2 – their attention span is so low. While they were all sitting yesterday some still spoke while others were answering. Some didn’t bring in pictures like they were asked to. All they ask is ‘can we play?’ Pablo took a banana yesterday & used it as his willy to ‘bum’ Alejandro, that’s not acceptable.
- Baby class – Paula didn’t contribute, they don’t seem to be able to understand my instructions even when I demonstrate what to do & try and use Spanish to get them to do it.
- Class 4 – They also just want to play. You said they can’t use the toys in the classroom & they don’t listen. Tony climbs on tables, Paula & Sonia can’t share.
I’m sure not every TEFL experience is like this and maybe with a bit more training I could have done a better job but it definitely made me have second thoughts about doing it again!