Teachers learn valuable skills in TEFL Iberia program

Aaron Bonner

In Barcelona, Spain, a group of aspiring teachers is having the experience of a lifetime.

TEFL Iberia is a one-month long program designed to assist those interested in teaching English as a foreign language by furthering their careers and giving them hands-on experience of teaching a course.

Richard Davie, the Director of Studies at TEFL Iberia, started the company in 2012. Davie said for a long time, it was run like a “one man show,” with only him to prepare the work for students.

“It took a long time to prepare the course, to put the website together and it took a long time to promote it, but then eventually we started to do some small groups and it grew from there,” Davie said.

TEFL Iberia now has 15 employees that help teach courses, but these positions aren’t just limited to Americans. The program currently hosts members from areas around the globe such as Italy, Poland and Scotland.

The company has monthly teacher-training courses in Barcelona, Spain. Each course is a full workload designed to help aspiring teachers learn how to improve and hone their skills to better teach English as a second language.

“Every morning, we have a class about either grammar or methodology or skills and techniques–everything you need to know to be a teacher,” Davie said. “In the afternoon, it’s lesson preparation and teaching practice.”

As well as teaching courses, teachers can observe lesson plans and give feedback to each other on ways to improve the courses. Each teacher is also given advice from a job preparation advisor to search for careers post-program.

Though TEFL Iberia isn’t required for those who are seeking a career in teaching English as a foreign language, the program is recommended for those wanting hands-on experience.

“If you go into a class and don’t know anything about teaching, its just going to be a terrible class,” Davie said. “There’s a very small minority of people that do it like ‘Oh, I speak English! I can teach it!’ and it’s a disaster. There’s quite a lot to it.”

Leah Rybak, an alumni of the program, looked back fondly on her experience.

“It was actually a lot more intensive than I anticipated, “I went to college for journalism, so I was like ‘Oh, this should be fine,’ but there’s a lot of grammar work, there’s a lot of teaching methodology work… There’s a section on teaching kids, but mostly you’re teaching adults.”

The class size is limited to 10-12 people, starting each teacher off at a beginner level English course, raising the difficulty up to advanced as the course advances. There are around 8 teachers in the program at one time, a part of the program Rybak saw as a chance to bond with fellow members.

“We really got to know each other as a group,” Rybak said. “They foster a lot of really good relationships in the community and you had a lot of support. We had one day where I taught a lesson and we went out, and we thought we all did really well, and the course instructors got drinks afterwards to celebrate.”

After taking the program, Rybak returned to the United States, getting a job in January to teach both kids and adults.

“I think if you want to learn to teach English, this program gives you all the tools to do that,” Rybak said. “I went to college already, but I had no idea how to teach, so it gave me the confidence to be able to actually teach. Where as there are other opportunities such as year-long programs, this gives you so much flexibility because you’re in [TEFL Iberia] for only one month and you can go anywhere in the world with your certificate.”