Moving to Madrid

The TEFL Certification

My move to Spain began with a Google search:

“how to move to spain”

Seriously. Simple and to the point. I knew that was what I wanted to do, I just had no idea how to actually go about doing it. That search led me down a rabbit hole of job opportunities, visas, cost of living spreadsheets, apartment searches, and even healthcare options. After hours deep in the trenches of every blog, Facebook page and Reddit thread I could find, I’d finally figured out my first step: getting TEFL certified.

Why get certified?

I quickly discovered that teaching English was the best way for an American to make an income while living in Spain. But how could someone with no teaching experience or related degree actually land a job? I felt sorely under-qualified and unprepared to take the leap into this entirely new career. So, I took the logical next step: make myself as qualified and as prepared as possible.

After searching through some options, I found a company that offered TEFL, or teaching English as a foreign language, certification courses online or in-person, in an exotic locale of your choice. I could even get certified in Madrid if I wanted! This company had thousands of alumni and a huge network around the world. They even had a thorough job index for countries and cities popular with their alumni. I decided to do my 200-hour certification coursework online so that I could continue working at my full-time job while I took the next step toward my goal.

What is the course like?

The online course required about 10 hours of my time per week, which I could do on my own schedule. There was some theory and research study required for the certificate, but most of it was real-deal lesson planning and practice creating effective classes and activities for different kinds of students. Lesson plans, quizzes, and essays were required to be completed once a week.

Finally, the course capped off with 20 hours of required practice teaching. Me, in front of real students, actually teaching. I remember thinking that this would be an insurmountable requirement. Who would let me teach? Who would want to be taught by me? The answer: a lot of people. In other words, everyone I asked. Gang, there is a huge demand for people who can teach English as a foreign language, abroad and in the States. The hardest part is getting over the fear of doing it, but trust me, you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.

Do I have to?

The truth is, it’s certainly possible to get a job without having a TEFL certificate in Spain. Academies look for a number of qualifications when hiring teachers—a TEFL certificate may or may not be one of them. The company that hired me actually didn’t require it. That said, I know they chose my resume from the pile because of that little golden nugget right at the top. So, just because an academy doesn’t require it does not mean that it’s not a game-changer. Is it necessary to have in order to get hired? Depends. Will it make you a more desirable candidate? Every time.

If you want to learn more about the company I went with to get TEFL certified, get in touch with me on Instagram.

This post is part of my “Moving to Madrid” series, where I go over the practical details of how I pulled off my move to Spain. Read more of these posts here!

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