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How To Make Extra Money While Living In Spain: 7 Tips For Giving Private Classes

18 Sep

If you guys are anything like I was two years ago you have spent the last six months (or longer) waiting eagerly to find out your placements, painstakingly waiting for your visas, and all the while dreaming about finally getting on the plane and arriving at your destination. For most of you the dream has already become reality (you’re in Spain!) and I’m sure you are all exhausted from looking for apartments and trying to get someone from your school to actually answer a question or two. And after the initial excitement wears away there comes the realization that you are earning 700€ a month… not exactly enough for those glamorous weekend getaways to Paris and Amsterdam.

I haven't made it to Paris (yet) but the private classes did get me to Amsterdam!

When I lived in Seville 700€ was definitely enough to live on and enjoy your free time. I can’t speak personally for other cities, but many have told me that they agree (especially in Andalucía!). To give you an idea, my budget was more or less the following:

Rent: 220€

Bills (My share of electricity and internet): 30€

Prepaid Orange Phone: 40€/month (and I hardly used it other than text messages)

Groceries: 120€/month including a few bottles of inexpensive wine here and there

Transportation to and from Carmona: 40€ (counting on the bus card discount and that I’d carpool a few times a week)

Eating out: 120€ (Going for tapas and drinks three times a week)

Going out: 100€ (This really depends on how often you go out, how much and what you drink, and if you go to places that charge a cover)

Total: ~ 670€

As you can see it is cutting it close, but you can definitely live in Seville with the grant money alone. However, I’m sure you haven’t accepted this job without contemplating traveling through Spain and other parts of Europe on your vacations or maybe you plan to take some classes or join a gym. Extra money is always appreciated and easily spent! Luckily it’s really easy to make extra money in Spain using little more than your good fortune of being a native English speaker.

A very common, in demand, and easy way to make extra money in Spain is by offering private English classes, or clases particulares as the Spaniards call them. This will make you more money than almost any other side job you have the luck of finding. But, as with any service you offer, it is essential to know how to connect with potential clients and market your services.

When I first arrived I had no idea how to find students. I was lucky to meet some veterans of the program who gave me some great advice and I had also just completed a TESOL course from SIT prior to arriving in Spain that really boosted my confidence in teaching. Before long I was swimming in clients, working too much, and eventually had to give away or refuse new students. Here I’ve summarized my advice for giving private classes in Spain. Hope it helps!

1. Decide what types of classes you will offer. Conversation? Grammar? Test Preparation? Business English? What do you know how to teach? If you haven’t studied grammar for years, perhaps you shouldn’t offer grammar classes right away. If you’ve never heard of the First Certificate don’t accept a student who needs help preparing for it! You will be doing your students a disservice and I believe it is unethical. Be honest with yourself and if you only want to offer conversation classes or pronunciation correction at the beginning make that clear to your students.

2. Sell yourself! There is a large demand for private English classes in Spain but no one can find you if you don’t advertise your services. Place advertisements on popular Spanish websites like loquo and mundoanuncio. They should introduce you and describe your experience and geographical availability. Don’t offer to give classes too far outside of your neighborhood because you will lose half of your pay in transportation and lost time. Remember that if you include your phone number people will call you… at all times of the day and they’ll start speaking to you in very fast Spanish. If your Spanish isn’t up to par consider including an email contact only. In addition to advertising on websites you should print out flyers to post around your neighborhood and at nearby universities, libraries, etc. It sounds a bit old fashioned but I got at least half of my students this way, and they all lived close by since I only put the flyers in my neighborhood!

*** I will send a copy of my own fantastic flyer to all who subscribe to Spanish Sabores this week (and if you’ve already subscribed just let me know that you want a copy of my template in the comments below!) ***

3. Screen potential students. This is important. If someone sounds very strange by phone or email they probably are. Use caution when agreeing to meet someone for the first time and don’t meet at their home unless you are positive of their identity and reputation. I usually meet my students in a café for the first class but then I do give the majority of my classes in the student’s home. I still think that it is risky that way, but my roommates, boyfriend, etc. always know where I am and when I should be home. If you start classes with someone and you just don’t feel comfortable, apologize and explain that you’d be happy to recommend another teacher. There is no reason to suffer when you are your own boss!

4. Network with past and current auxiliars in your city. Like I said previously, I had so many classes at some points that I had to give them away. I searched for willing teachers on facebook or through friends. I also got many offers from friends who couldn’t give a class or who had moved out of Seville and had a student to pass on. These classes are usually great because you know what to expect of the student, what they were already paying, and their level of English based on what their previous teacher tells you.

The first year I networked with many other auxiliars-- it was fun!

5. Know what to charge and be firm with your price. Ask other teachers in your city what they charge to get a general idea of what people in your region are willing to pay. Then, evaluate yourself as a teacher. Are you TESOL certified? Did you study English or Education in college? Are you a super talented teacher? Only you can self-assess yourself and put a price on your time. But don’t undercharge just to get some students quickly. Most people understand that price reflects quality and having 2 good students at 20€/hour is much better than 4 flaky students at 10€/hr. People will always try to negotiate with you, but stay strong and don’t sell yourself short; students will come eventually!

6. Don’t become a workaholic. Soon enough your afternoons will be filled with private classes and your 700€ will become 1200€ in a flash. It’s tempting to keep accepting classes, but remember that you are abroad to enjoy the experience too. Having money is great, but if you don’t have the time to take a flamenco class or go to a concert it’s not worth it. Leave yourself some free evenings and have a clear cancellation and make up policy with your students.

7. Embrace a relationship with your students but don’t become unprofessional. Some of my students have become great friends and others are like family. I’ve been invited to Christmas dinners and been given movie tickets and bottles of wine. You should embrace having a good relationship with students, as they provide a real glimpse at Spanish life and can offer you advice, experiences, and connections that you wouldn’t otherwise have. But be careful of becoming unprofessional. Class time should be serious and a friendship shouldn’t mean that a student starts canceling whenever they want or that you do the same. If you get to a point where class time isn’t spent on anything productive you have a responsibility to end the professional relationship and just stay friends.

Hopefully this helps everyone who would like to teach private classes this year. I honestly think that they are a great experience for teaching, getting to know Spanish culture, and meeting some interesting people. Does anyone have any personal advice to add? Or maybe a funny story about a past student (no names!)?


11 Best TEFL Resources

21 Aug

Since so many people found my post on advice for an auxiliar helpful, I thought that everyone would appreciate the links to my favorite TESOL/TEFL resources. Hopefully it’ll save you time and effort in sorting through the millions of websites out there! As I’ve mentioned, I arrived in Spain after taking a month-long intensive TESOL course through SIT. The course was very well taught and I learned a lot about effective teaching methods for small ESOL classes. But here in Spain I just wasn’t teaching that way. This is not a TEFL program! I faced classes of 30 or more teenagers, usually made up of completely mixed levels of English and definitely mixed levels of motivation! I was then told to plan hour-long lessons for these classes… what to do? (As I explained earlier I should have just said NO to start with; the classroom teacher should have helped me plan.) In addition, I also had some private classes at night that ranged in ages and levels from beginners to advanced and from children to adults. Basically, I needed a big variety of good resources.

The first year I spent hours and hours browsing the countless ESL sites out there. My estimate is that 90% are either copies of other sites or junk. Some people basically know that they can post about ESL, use SEO techniques to get their pages to show up in a search, and then swarm them with ads to make some $$ (at least that’s what I think.) But the quality of the majority is horrible!

So save yourself some time. Here is a list of my personal 11 best TEFL resources. I tried narrowing it down to 10, but just couldn’t! I’ve included a description of their content and how I used them. There are many other good sites I have also used, most I don’t have bookmarked, so feel free to do some searching yourselves too. Maybe I’ll post more in the future. For now, I hope these help!

BBC English: I have to start with the best. This is one of the coolest sites for learning English for all levels and ages. It is very interactive and has a variety of tools at both the student and teacher’s disposal. I always recommended that my students use this page at home for extra practice. I often used the “In the News” section either in private classes or I assigned it as homework. I think adults liked the “In the News” because it is real news reporting from the BBC and not “dumbed down” for learning.

Many Things VOA: While this website’s homepage has many categories, I mostly used the Voices of America content. These are podcasts and/or YouTube videos that you can listen to or watch (great if your school has Smartboards) or you can download them as an mp3. The content is great– current and relevant, but the narrator speaks annoyingly slow and is not natural. However, the other people in the series speak normally, making it a good mix! I really like the variety of topics and the fact that the videos have subtitles and podcasts have transcripts. The site also has quizzes and activities to accompany many of the podcasts, although I usually made up my own evaluations based on the class level. You could also go directly to the VOA learning English site, which is also great and has even more selection for advanced levels.

The Internet TESL Journal: This website is fantastic. It is well organized and has many useful categories. The most helpful for me were the lessons and games. I found the games easy to adapt and more creative than other sites in general. The lessons were easy to follow and interesting, with many different parts and optional activities. I used this site a lot when planning big classes.

TEFL Talking Points: This is another site that has a lot of content… but also a lot of ads! This specific part of the site brings you to its “Talking Point” downloadable worksheets. I found them very helpful when I didn’t have much time. I could build off the activities and extend them too. The themes are usually interesting and can promote some good discussions!

Breaking News English: Great site, though flooded with ads… but it is hosted by a veteran TEFL teacher, Sean Banville. Its objective is teaching English based on current events. Although similar to some other sites with the same idea, this one is really thorough, frequently updated, and varied. It is definitely worth checking out, and includes exercises in all competencies: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Oral Activities: Amazing site! No ads and all oral activities. This is amazing because auxiliars really shouldn’t be responsible for teaching grammar… ideally they should be promoting use of English and, above all, oral expression in the classroom. This site can help!!!

ESL Galaxy: This site has a lot of content, but I find all of their advertisements too distracting to spend much time searching. I did, however, often use this section with board games. It is nice to print out a board game sometimes because the students really enjoy games. This is the place to do it!

Macmillan Inside Out: This website provides tools for the Macmillan books and people using them. However, you don’t need to be following the book to find them useful! I used the resources that went with the Inside Out Book and… the American English Edition! (Yay!!!) The lessons range in level, change every week, and vary in topic. All are current and relevant and include some activities to go along with them. They are printable, photocopiable and free! This was a saving grace when I just didn’t have time to plan a lesson myself. Looking through the archives I always found an interesting theme!

ESL Base: This is a website I found by chance and, although you have to be a member to access the content, I signed up since it was free. Thank goodness I did. I would say it is one of the sites I have used the most, not because it has a ton of different resources, but because they are great quality. I love their activities for the conditionals and I’ve adapted a lot of stuff for both large groups and private classes. Awesome stuff!

America’s Library: This site by the Library of Congress is fantastic and also a great example of how your ESL resources don’t have to be specifically for ESL! If you teach 3rd graders, look for American 3rd grade (and younger) websites to find elementary school activities. It’s great because it is real content and not something specifically created to teach English. This site has lots of information for kids about the US, the different states, famous Americans etc. You can modify and come up with a lot of activities here.

ESL Flow: It’s an ugly site and there are some annoying ads… but it is useful! They divide their content into categories and then each category has a ton of links. Unfortunately, many are broken and it is totally hit or miss… but it is worth trying because some bring you to great resources that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Basically a mix of good quality links for every level and competency…when they work!

Ok, there they are. I hope they help you plan some classes, even if only your private ones. If you know of any other great resources please leave them as comments! Don’t forget to bring some of your own physical resources over too… anything written in English can be useful (food receipts, recipes, ticket stubs, birthday cards…) Suerte!

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