Teaching Abroad: Is It For Me?

Authored by:
Alexandra K.

Alexandra K.

Hey Everyone, 

Happy February! Since I haven't written in a while, I've decided to use this blog post to discuss the highs and lows of the application process through CIEE and hopefully answer some questions about the experience. It's crazy to think that a year ago I was in your position. So… let’s begin with the ABC’s of applying. 

As most of you already know, CIEE is primarily for U.S. and Canadian Citizens but double check the qualifications as your country may also be accepted. CIEE is an external organization that works closely with the ministries of education in numerous countries. While CIEE offers other "Teach in [xyz country]" opportunities, I am going to speak only about the "Teach In Spain" for a year program. 

This year's application deadline for the 2020-2021 academic year is March 1st, 2020. While it may seem like everyone can apply due to the no prior Spanish or Teaching requirement, knowing Spanish or taking a class while in Spain is definitely recommended. As someone who studied Spanish on and off for 6 or so years, even though I am at a B1 or B2 Intermediate level, I bought a Spanish textbook/workbook to complete and review in my free time. It definitely helps you when times are stressful in the beginning and you have to find your own housing and talk to the landlords who may or may not know English. 

Just like it says on the Teach in Spain main webpage, https://www.ciee.org/go-abroad/work/teach-english-abroad/programs/spain/teach-spain  the program fee is $2,200 USD which is kind of expensive but at least the orientation and hotel price is included. The compensation in Spain is 1.000 Euros ($1,150) each month. Depending on your rent, no matter what… you are going to need to bring your own money. Whether you get help from family or are digging into your savings, there's no way you can live off the 1,000 Euros and expect to save money to bring home too. As a part-time Language and Culture Assistant in the Community of Madrid, AKA an “AUX”, you will help Spanish students develop their conversational English skills by assisting and preparing engaging activities and presentations. Depending on your school as each one is different, you will spend 16 hours a week in the classroom and work four days a week. Typically you will have one weekday off in addition to the weekend and if you are in primary and up, you may be responsible for test preping students during the exam season in the Spring. 

While the majority of people take Fridays off, it’s not uncommon to take off Mondays. In fact some people find it better for traveling. Usually people budget to travel once a month outside of Spain and maybe one trip a month within Spain. It’s best to create a bucketlist and do your research. Don't stray from your bucketlist or else you will want to go literally everywhere. While that's okay make sure you book trips at least 2 months in advance. Hostels are also a great way to travel for cheap, meet young travellers your age, and to see Europe. However, if you are like a friend of mine who doesn't like them nor trust them make sure you book very far in advance for the best deals. But seriously... don’t be too quick to travel out of Madrid and leave all of its’ city secrets undiscovered. In my free time, I am playing football 3-4 times a week and traveling all over Madrid for the games in addition to my 6 month gym membership. As someone who gets homesick, you need to stay occupied and keep your moral up. Remind yourself why you applied, why you are doing this, why you came here, and think of what you are going to next. If you are fresh out of college like me, find the inspiration you were looking for and do something spontaneous. Remember you will be on your own for a lot of this journey, so if you have studied abroad, teaching abroad will be most likely easier for you compared to someone who hasn't been abroad for at least a semester. Explore outside of your comfort zone, and identify your interests independently. We are too young to be tied to a desk job right away!

 

Qualifications: (IMPORTANT)

- Native English Speaker

- A bachelor’s degree in any field (if you are a Senior in Uni, then proof of Spring 2020 Graduation)

- Citizenship in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa

- No age limit (Basically 20/21 and up, because you need a degree)

- No Spanish language requirement (But recommended by me)

- No previous teaching requirement (But recommended to research or take the TEFL Course)

 

Final Recommendations:  Apply sooner rather than later. Prioritize school location over all else. Don't have too many high expectations. You are contracted October 1st 2020 most likely to June 30th again like this year, so make sure to leave dates around it open and flexible as you don’t know if you will be needing more time. If you do get accepted, look up your placement immediately and make sure you are happy with the daily commute. If not live close to the city center, but make sure you have a metro and train line that can give you an easy trip every morning and afternoon. Furthermore, when everything is set, secure that visa appointment ASAP because getting an appointment at your consulate in the summer is chaotic, stressful, and nearly impossible. Finally, don’t be hesitant to email and reach out to your school right away. Even though they may be on Summer break, give them your WhatsApp and see if your bilingual coordinators can give you the name and number of the previous auxes so you have some real insight into the school from their perspective. At the end of the day, It’s your own experience. It won’t be easy but you will learn some important life lessons and expand your personal growth. Good Luck!

@aklm_photography

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