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Sacrificed my summer holiday to do a CELTA!

November 13, 2014
My CELTA coursemates and tutors.

The last time I wrote a blogpost I was working in an ailing academy with very little career potential and it was at that point I decided to do a CELTA course. The Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults is a highly respected (and bloody expensive) course that those who intend to stay in the profession for more than a gap-yah are highly recommended to do. Not only does it help you develop your lessons to a very high level, it also opens up 50% of jobs you couldn’t previously apply for (the other 50% opening up with 3-5 years’ experience).

It’s hard to positively describe what the CELTA course was like as it was so exhausting and challenging, yet thoroughly enjoyable. My only month off work was August so giving that up to spend 14-16 hours a day in a classroom or writing essays seemed idiotic but I knew it would be worth it in the end. I made some great new friends including both coursemates and tutors, all of which I’m still in contact with 3 months later, even though some now work and live in other countries or continents. That’s the joy of a CELTA course, it brings people from many nationalities (not just English), backgrounds and cultures and puts them in a ‘Big Brother’ scenario where you have to get on or bugger off. Luckily everyone was great and the month flew by!

My CELTA coursemates and tutors.

My CELTA coursemates and tutors.

As soon as this course was over I wrote to a few potential employers applying for various positions, specifically in International House, a widely respected language academy around the world. To cut a long story short, I’m now an English teacher at IH Sabadell, a 45-minute train journey from the centre of Barcelona, allowing me to stay in the city I love so much. I quite like having my personal and work life in different cities; when I return home after a long day I know I can completely disconnect after getting off at Barcelona Plaça Catalunya.

The IH Sabadell staff unofficial photograph.

The IH Sabadell staff unofficial photograph.

Anyway, as a result of working quite far from home, I spend my breaks chilling out, preparing classes and having the odd ‘Menu del día’ so I should have more time to write blogposts and I’ll put up any material I make for other ESL teachers.

Speak soon!

It’s been a while

July 17, 2014

Apologies yet again for not updating this sooner. I’d like to have and excuse on hand, such as how hectic it’s been or that I’ve not had chance to write anything, but the truth is just that I’ve been really lazy. Barcelona is an incredible city, unlike any other I’ve been to. The beach, the shops, the natural parks and ski resorts nearby make it the idea city. There’s nothing missing. Since moving here I’ve made many new friends (from Catalonia and abroad), visited the monastary in Montserrat (setting of Shakira’s Empire video), pulled an all-nighter at La Fiesta de San Juan, seen Lana Del Rey among others at Vida Festival and much, much more. I’ve attached a few of my highlights to the blogpost and I’ll do my best (as I always promise) to update this more often. I’m planning on going paragliding later this summer so I’m sure I’ll have either photos or an obituary for you to see. Until then, have a bon dia.

Tibidabo at dusk.

Tibidabo at dusk.

Tibidabo at dusk.

Tibidabo at dusk.

The view from the top of Montserrat.

The view from the top of Montserrat.

The monastery at Montserrat (with a lot of zoom)

The monastery at Montserrat (with a lot of zoom)

Parc Güell

Parc Güell

The Sagrada Familia on Catalonia's National Day.

The Sagrada Familia on Catalonia’s National Day.

Next to the W Hotel

Next to the W Hotel

Giving my friend Nelson a lift.

Giving my friend Nelson a lift.

My brother at the Camp Nou

My brother at the Camp Nou

Sitges Gay Pride parade!

Sitges Gay Pride parade!

The beach from the W Hotel

The beach from the W Hotel

The Magic Fountain!

The Magic Fountain!

Obligatory beach photo

Obligatory beach photo

There's a storm a brewin'

There’s a storm a brewin’

At the top of Mount Tibidabo looking out over Barcelona.

At the top of Mount Tibidabo looking out over Barcelona.

On the walls of Girona.

On the walls of Girona.

42 days to go!

July 19, 2013

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In 42 days I’ll be leaving Zaragoza and moving to Barcelona. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’ve lived in many places since I left home to go to university – London, Cardiff, Zaragoza and I’m ready to settle. Barcelona is a stunning, vibrant and lively city where something is always going on. The fact that it has a beach is the icing on the cake. 

My time in Zaragoza has gone so quickly. I remember arriving in late August and being terrified, thinking Zaragoza was a ghost town. Absolutely nobody was around and it was only later I discovered it was because everyone deserts the city in August due to the ridiculously high temperature. A few weeks later and it was bustling (albeit, not during siesta times).

I’ve learned exactly why employers look for people with experience. The TEFL course I completed was interesting but I feel I didn’t learn anything compared to what I gained actually teaching. I didn’t know any grammar rules, any official English exams, how to teach, or anything like that. Now, two years later, I’m a senior teacher specialising in exams and business English and I’ve even got experience teaching kids. After just 2 years, I and most of my colleagues would have no problems teaching any kind of class.

If you want to work in a particular city, get a TEFL certificate to show employers you’re interesting in teaching and you’re not a total newbie, go somewhere tolerable for a year, gain lots of experience, make contacts and then move to your preferred city. CELTA will definitely open more doors for you and can be seen as an investment but if you’re not sure whether you’re going to make a career out of it or not, £1,300 is a very expensive gap year. 

Please let me know of your own experiences – I’d love to publish other people’s blogs on here – especially if you’re teaching outside Europe as I’ve no experience of that and, like always, I’ll promise to write blogs more often. With my schedule as it is, it’s pretty difficult but I’ll definitely try to make a couple before the big move. 

Watch me on Spanish TV

June 6, 2013

From 09:18 you can see me holding up a picture of Margaret Thatcher. Famous!!!

Moving to Barcelona

June 6, 2013

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Hello folks, sorry for not writing for such a long time. I’ve been really busy here doing the social media on top of teaching and I haven´t found time to write much. 

Next week I´m hoping to buy a new camera so I´ll be sure to post some photos when I can.

The big news is that I´m leaving Zaragoza at the end of August and moving to Barcelona. I’ve been offered a job in a fantastic school on Diagonal, not too far from the Nou Camp and will be starting with them in October. It’s an amazing opportunity to teach English in one of the best cities in the world and I can’t wait to start. Unfortunately, this means leaving lots of friends and students who I’ve grown very close to but I’m sure I’ll be back visiting every so often. 

I’ve given a few students the address for this blog so if you’re reading this and I’ve been your teacher, say hi in the comments! 

If you want to find me on Facebook or Twitter, you can add/follow me at http://www.facebook.com/BenjaminAustwick on on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BigBigBen

Thanks for reading, I promise I’ll write more often! 

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year/Happy Kings’ Day

January 7, 2013

The holiday season has finally finished with today marking Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany to those of you in the UK) where three people dressed as kings parade through various Spanish and Latin American cities handing out sweets to kids and those with a sweet tooth. Unfortunately, the only thing I had was a hangover so stayed in and watched Dancing on Ice over the interwebs. I do have a day off tomorrow though, which is champion.

It’s been a quiet Christmas period. I worked most of it but had the last week off to relax and finally go back to the gym. It’s been too long old friend.

Anyway, exciting news as I’m now in charge of social media for the English School I work at. I’ve even got a really embarrassing video that launched our YouTube channel.

The Spanish version of One Direction is spookily similar…but better.

December 6, 2012

They can actually sing too…

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