Living in Spain

To teach or not to teach

Seven years a go I got on a train from Waterloo, London, to Paris. I was on my way to Madrid, to start a teacher training course – teaching, I thought, was the best way for me to earn money when I got to Spain. On the train out of Waterloo the woman sitting next to me noticed to teaching theory book on my lap and guessed what I wsa heading off to do. She had been teaching in Grenoble for years, and now occupied a fairly high position in a language school. “If you are just doing it for the money, if you don’t think it’s your true vocation, then whatever you do, get out of teaching after a year,” she told me, as we headed for the channel tunnel.

Those words have reverberated around inside my head ever since. “Get out after a year…” I never did, and although most of my work is now translation, I still ‘teach’ four mornings a week. Well, I sit in front of underpaid, exhausted media professionals who are all fed up with their jobs. And we chat, or do the occasional exercise. Still, I think the end of my teaching career is nigh. Perhaps another 6 months at most. I will miss going to the company in the mornings and chatting to the friendlier ones, I can’t ditch the teaching until something comes along to replace that aspect of ‘work’ – being a full time lonesome translator would be hell.

But the point was, to teach or not to teach. If you move to Spain you will invariable end up teaching if you can’t think of anything else you are qualified to do – and even then you will probably ebd up teaching for a while anyway. It’s a fine job, incredibly satisfying when you entertain, and maybe even educate, a big group for an hour. But if you’re not convinced, don’t worry, there are ways out. English teachers in Spain become IT professionals, tour guides, entrpreneurs, local newspaper editors, professional chefs, cameramen… translators… Once your Spanish is good enough, and if you’re determined enough, you can get almost the same job as any Spaniard.