Teaching English in Madrid: Alastair’s Story

Ever considered teaching English in Madrid?  Then take a look at Alastair’s story: after finishing a master’s degree in journalism, Alastair moved to Spain to pursue a career as a travel writer whilst teaching English in Madrid, where he now lives with his American girlfriend.  Here, he provides an honest insight into what life is like as a TEFL teacher in the Spanish capital…

For anyone struggling with the idea of leaving your home country to pursue a new and alien life abroad, believe me, I know how you feel.  For most, the main hindrance is the idea of leaving everything behind – your friends, your family, your pub quiz team; if you left, who would there be to get all the clutch answers wrong?

Well have you considered taking a little bit of it with you?  If you have a partner or long-term relationship holding you back from “upping and leaving”, try looking at it as something you could do together.  Believe me, as well as travelling the world together, the pros of double-TEFLing are manifold.

Travelling to Madrid to teach English abroad: the pros

For starters, if both of you do your parts properly, you’ll make double the contacts and find twice the resources you would have than if you were alone.  The more students you have, the easier it is to attain extra, so with this factor already doubled by your Team English compañero, bumps in the road become a lot easier to negotiate.

Home sickness and culture shock is a real problem for many TEFL teachers abroad, and having a familiar face to go through it with, can really ease the strain.  Don’t worry too much about cultural creature comforts either: Tetley’s is available all over the world.


A word of caution, if like me, a big reason for your move is to learn a new language, consider living separately.  You won’t learn the language nearly as quickly as if you were living with native speakers who don’t understand a word of your mother tongue.

If you think taking the pressure off such a big life change is worth the price of involving someone you care about, you’ll both seem super interesting to everybody back home (especially the quiz team!).

Why did you decide to start teaching English?

I wanted to give myself guaranteed income while I learn Spanish and freelance as a travel journalist.

Did you do a TEFL course before you started teaching?

No, I did not.  I never trained for the TEFL certification, but it helped that not only do I have teaching experience, but I’ve just finished a master’s in journalism; and the demand for native English speakers is huge in Spain.

My girlfriend has the certificate from an online course, and taught in South Korea for a year before moving here.

Where are you originally from?

London, although I always tell my students I was born in Germany (they are amazed by Germans).

What attracted you to Spain?

I want to learn to speak Spanish (also my girlfriend was living here).

What age kids/adults are you teaching, and what are they like?

I teach kids from age 7 up to bigger kids of 50+ – the kids – as you’d expect – are cute; and the adults are interesting.  Basically, all of my students are all really funny.

How are you finding the experience of teaching in Spain?

Rewarding, as it’s a great way to get to know a culture.

How would you rate the experience out of 10 and why?

8.73 – Spain can be infuriating, but the Spanish all understand why.

What would be your advice for someone thinking of teaching in Spain?

Don’t hesitate for another second, and call me when you get out here.


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