Barcelona life – five months in

Summer in Barcelona. I’m sitting in the sunshine outside a slightly shabby Cerveseria grandly named ‘Bar Berlin’, having a cheeky beer between teaching classes, and it occurs to me I haven’t written anything about the place for months. In fact, not since that first day of the CELTA course.

Well, that’s the way of good intentions, isn’t it? They get lost when life gets busy. And busy it certainly has been. I’d been hoping to blog regularly on my life here, but the CELTA course was so demanding it took all my creativity just to keep up with the constant demands of writing lessons, writing assignments, and beginning my experiences actually teaching.

Oh sure, there was time for the occasional tapas with my classmates, the occasional party, the occasional sneaky liaison with complete strangers I met on Grindr… But by and large, I was too drained to actually write about it much. That’s my excuse, anyway…

So here I am, five months later, and what a rollercoaster ride it’s been. There’s never a dull night here; if anything, I could party every night, if it weren’t for the human weakness of hangovers and the need to actually work in the daytimes…

They weren’t lying when they labelled the four week CELTA course as ‘intensive’. If anything, that was a bloody understatement. For four week, you live and breathe nothing but learning to teach English. Every day, you have lectures and participatory exercises in the basics of teaching – phonology, methodology, classroom management, and so on. And most days, starting with the second, you actually teach students. No mucking about, you’re straight in at the deep end.

I did a lesson entirely in mime…

Which was at first daunting, then a surprising amount of fun. I’d forgotten how much I love talking about the English language, and more than that, how much I love being the centre of attention in a room. Teaching gives you all of that, and you get paid for it too!

A bit, anyway. I’m not going to pretend this is a well-paid profession. But you get enough to pay the rent, and to live, and to enjoy yourself… possibly too much, in my case 😊

The school where I did the course, Oxford House, is sometimes disorganised but gives you some useful services. One of these is that, even before you’ve qualified, they’ll put your ‘New Teacher’ CV on a Dropbox, and mail all the language schools in the area once a week to let them know new ones are there. So if you get in there early enough, you’ve got schools offering you work even before the course is finished!

Me, I had agencies chasing me down pretty much straight away. They all specialise in providing English teachers to businesses – adult education. I haven’t actually taught kids yet, though I’d like to give it a try (despite what my friends with experience of that have told me).

They’re all pretty shambolic on the admin front. The first agency I signed up with took so long assigning me classes that I’d got a contract with another one before they got back to me. Learnlight, the agency I’m with now, have been good at providing work, but their online learning content is riddled with the sort of errors that would have been splashed all over the news if they’d been present in a Cambridge Assessment exam paper. They do correct them when you feed back about it, mind.

Anyway, now I have enough classes to earn my keep, a good social circle, and a seemingly endless round of parties and events to go to. And I thought, it’s about time I started writing some of this down. Especially since I might forget some of it in the mists of hangovers!

So, over the coming weeks, expect post after post on the various aspects and experiences of Barcelona. The job, the nightlife, the cars, the pets, the sights, the people. The close knit circle of English teachers (everybody knows everybody). My trips to Sitges, including my first experience of going nude on a beach (may have to censor some of the pictures on that one)! Since this is me, let’s start by talking about the beer…

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