Notes From The Field: First Day Of A Spanish Teaching Adventure

This is a guest post written by TEFL teacher, Steven Wheeler.

As I was looking out at the roaming green hills of Cantabria and watching the rain hit the train window, I wondered why people thought Spain was so sunny.

I was on my way to my first TEFL job in Santander, Spain and there was a mixture of excitement and nerves flitting through my body. I had previously taught in London for a couple of months and I fell in love with teaching English: the different people you meet, the cultures you discover, and the friendships you make. However, along with this – like with any job—comes a little bit of stress in attempting to organise the chaos that is in front of you. I would arrive to Santander in one hour and the next day I would go to my new job, but luckily I wouldn’t be teaching yet. The real problem was, as of yet I only had a phone number of a landlady who could speak no English and a vague address of the school.

The sense of adventure was flying through me and the amazing scenery outside of my train window was nothing like I expected it to be. Northern Spain is a beautiful, lush place and is more culturally akin to Britain and Ireland with traditional music using bagpipes and fiddles. As I stepped off of the train I rang the number I had and used my limited Spanish ability to have a conversation with the landlady. Eventually she figured out where I was and collected me with my two big backpacks. She was a lovely lady who lived in a flat with her son and had a room to rent out. The original plan was for me to just view the room, but it was already very late so that plan changed quickly. Luckily, the room was nice. It had no internet, but it was full of old-fashioned Spanish books and had a small TV and a very inviting bed. She cooked me egg and chips and we had a conversation in very slow Spanish where she informed me that my school was not far. After this conversation I made my way to bed.

The next day, after I figured out how to work the shower, my “Spanish mom” (as I referred to her) took me to the bus stop and told me the bus that I needed to get on. I naively thought that Santander had a metro system at which she laughed sympathetically; I had been spoiled by London it seems. The bus made its way along the coast of Santander and I took in the beautiful scenery that surrounded this magical place. It was no longer raining; rather it was 25 degrees Celsius in late October with many people on the beach playing volleyball and surfing.

I got off the bus stop and saw my school standing there. I nervously made my way up the stairs and was greeted by the familiar face of my new boss. The rest, as they say, is history. I went on to teach for many months at this school and I adored my students. Spanish people are great to teach, they are full of life and sparkle and they already know many of the grammar lessons you can throw at them. They really benefit from the communicative approaches we have within TEFL, as it allows them to express themselves fully.

If you are thinking of coming to Spain and teaching English as a foreign language, do it! I promise you this is a wonderful and diverse country that is more than just flamenco and tapas. Get out here and start teaching!