Teaching English to Adults in Spain
Mar 12, 2010 English Language Teaching (ELT) 2928 Views
Spain is one of the most exciting countries to live in with a rich cultural blend of Romans, Romans, and Moors creating a way of life the envy of most of Europe. It is no accident that more than 5 million foreigners choose to move to Spain. Teaching English in Spain is also a lot of fun, and can be a great way to make new friends whilst being paid to teach.
Teaching English isn't easy, nor does it earn much money, let's be clear on that before you get excited about living la vida espanol, the Spanish life, and earning a good income just from speaking your native language. Teaching requires a commitment to your students, and in fairness to them you should at least have some basic qualification such as a CELTA or TEFL certificate.
The majority of Spaniards under the age of 35 learned English throughout their school years, and if you ask them to read a passage they can probably understand most common English. Their major frustration is that most Spaniards have never practiced speaking English, so they lack confidence, and when they do speak they mispronounce words.
The system of learning in Spain is by rote, students are expected to be able to recite verb tables and the average student will probably know more language terminology than you. For some students this gives them a sense of understanding the rules of the language, but rules demotivate them as well. Students become frustrated when they can't remember something.
Instead it is better to put aside the books and marker pens, and simply sit with the student over a coffee and talk. I'm constantly amazed at how quickly my students graduate from simple phrases to complex sentences. Of course the students aren't stupid, they simply need an opportunity to use the English they know.
The way we learn and use language isn't logical, learning by rote, or choosing a conversation topic where the student learns several variations of the same phrase doesn't instill an ability to converse. It does help them to pass written examinations, but communicating in English is a far better outcome than being able to recite verb conjugations.
If you teach English, or if you plan to teach English to Spaniards in Spain, consider offering practical lessons instead of structured lessons, and each time you meet a student ask them about their week, talk to them about their job or favourite sport, don't be afraid to mention politics or religion, remember that when we communicate with friends or business colleagues we rarely stick to greetings and service related topics.