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viability of becoming an ESL teacher in Spain at midlife?
February 27, 2012 2:31 PM   Subscribe

After some recent immersion in learning Spanish, watching Spanish films and going to Spanish conversation Meetups, I have realised I might want to have a go at teaching English as a Second Language in either Barcelona or Madrid. I have a few questions about the feasability of this at my age (42) given that the Spanish economy is not in great shape and my resume has a massive hole in it.

I am 42 and living a very quiet and not very exciting life in Glasgow, Scotland. My main hobbies are reading, going to the cinema and surfing the net. I have 1 close friend I go to the cinema with once or twice a month and a girlfriend I have been with for a long time but I feel our relationship is dysfunctional and I have been chronically ambivalent about, never quite being able to commit to it fully. In the past my favourite memories have been of holidays learning Spanish in Barcelona, Peru and Buenos Aires. I have a marketing degree and worked until age 35 when bipolar forced me to give up working. So I have not worked since then although I had good work experience before including some public speaking as part of my job. When I last saw my psychiatrist he sounded very encouraging that I had not had a manic episode since 2005, saying the longer it went on the better the chance I might not have another at all. I do still suffer from low-level depression which I am doing self-help CBT for and finding that helpful. So my questions are:-

1) I have 12 years of general office admin/ marketing/ basic and now outdated web design experience. I would therefore be doing a monthlong CELTA programme in Spain to get my skills to where I could compete for a job. I am sure I could do it and understand the material as I did well academically at University and have also picked up Spanish well. However what could I put on my resume to cover that gaping hole since 2005?

2) Is there much age discrimination amongst those who hire for language students (I only want to teach adults not children)? I am 42 and look middle-aged I am balding and weigh around 220 lbs. My teachers when I studied in Barcelona were mostly female, in their 20s and very attractive. How much of an issue will that be in Spain and how to overcome it?

3) Between living in Barcelona or Madrid, which is most appropriate for someone of my age? I have heard Barcelona people can be a bit wary on non-Catalans, and I imagine they often speak in Catalan when socialising. I am willing to learn Catalan but would I find people friendlier in Madrid, in particular people around my age range say 35-45? I also get the impression a lot of Barcelona people have all their friends already and aren't especially looking to make more, is this a myth and if it isn't would I be better off in Madrid? All else being equal I prefer Barcelona I love the lower summer temperatures, the music scene and the fact it has a beach.

Many thanks in advance for anyone who can offer any help with any parts of the above questions.
posted by anonymous to Education (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't think it matters too much what you look like; I've seen English teachers in Barcelona at all points along the age and attractiveness scale. Having said that, I'm sure you know there are fewer people of your size walking along Gran Vía than there are on Sauchiehall Street.

As you say, the job market in Spain isn't pretty at the moment and Madrid and Barcelona have always been tough places for a new teacher to break into. The good jobs are all held by people who have been teaching there for decades and so it will be a very slow climb up the ladder. Note that your academic strength, although it will be very helpful, is not sufficient to guarantee you'll be a great teacher. Have you considered volunteering with refugees etc. in Glasgow to find out whether teaching suits you?

As for your time not working, honesty is the best option. You couldn't work for medical reasons during that time, but your doctor now says that your prognosis is excellent. End of story.

By the way, do you know this year's IATEFL conference is being held in Glasgow next month? If you've got the spare cash for a pass, you can learn a lot about the world of EFL by attending and if you get chatting to people in the sessions, you might well meet someone who teaches in Spain and can let you know the low-down.

Post in this thread via the mods or MeFi mail me if you have any follow-up questions.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:59 PM on February 27, 2012


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