Emma and Ian
Dates employed: September 2014 until June 2017
LIVING AND WORKING IN ANDÚJAR
- The Town
Andujar is a small, friendly town. In the spring and summer there is always something going on. There are many fiestas including the Romeria. The cost of living here is low and the cost of a wine or beer with a tapa is around 2.50 euros. There is a lot of opportunity to practice and learn Spanish, it’s very easy to set up a language exchange with somebody and there’s also an “intercambio” group that meets up on a Thursday night.
2. Getting Around
Public transport is not too bad. You can get to Jaen, Malaga, Cordoba and Madrid quite cheaply and easily. It´s very easy to take advantage of any bank holidays or to just go away for the weekend. The Malaga bus is particularly handy as it leaves early on a Saturday morning and gets back into Andujar late on a Sunday night. The buses to Madrid are also very cheap and there are about 5 each day. If you can afford it, buying a car is a fantastic idea as there is lots to explore. Spain is such a diverse country in terms of scenery and temperature. In February, we went to Ronda and drove through snow covered mountains in the morning and ended up at the beach in the afternoon wearing just a T-shirt!
3. The School
Our experience in the school has been nothing but positive. We were both fresh from our CELTA when we applied and had heard horror stories about some academies in Spain. As we were newly qualified we were almost expecting that we wouldn’t be able to find a decent school that would take a chance on us. The support we had was phenomenal! We were helped with finding an apartment, guided through the paperwork we needed to complete and helped with settling in to the job and life in Andujar.
4. Materials and Resources
There are so many resources available it´s almost daunting to a new teacher. From folders to containing ideas for those first classes in September, exam preparation books and plenty of extra materials to use in class such as plastic food, telephone, and toy animals with the smaller children. There´s anything and everything a teacher could need and more.
5. The Staff
The support has been fantastic. If you are ever stuck for an idea, there is always someone who has a solution for you. Everyone helps each other and you really feel part of a team in ECI.
Most of the students are motivated and willing to learn. If you do have a problem, you are encouraged to speak to the parents in order to resolve it. The classes are very comfortable and all have interactive white boards and internet connections. The levels that you teach are varied. Every teacher has a preference to what ages and levels you prefer and ECI will try to accommodate you, however, the majority of classes are usually children.
7. Teacher Training
If you want to improve and develop there is ample opportunity. If you have any specific area you want to improve in, just speak to someone. We had the opportunity of watching some classes when we started and something small like this helped so much with our confidence. We also had the chance to go to the FECEI conferences in Madrid and the ACEIA conferences in Seville, these were invaluable! We also had numerous other workshops both in house and in Jaen.
8. Finding a Flat
When we arrived, our Spanish was almost non-existent. Having to deal with the language barrier when looking for a flat would have been immensely stressful. We expected that this was something that we would have to do for ourselves. However, Julie helped us find a flat and checked everything was legitimate with the contracts. Then, after we bought a car we started looking for a new place with a garage, this time Lorraine (director of studies) helped us. Everyone in ECI is willing to help you out if you need it.
9. The Cost of Living
Cost of living as we’ve said above is much lower than the UK. To be honest, our wages in Spain are less than what we earned in the UK but our disposable income is so much higher! We’ve been able to go away for the weekend at least once a month, buy a car, return to the UK every Christmas and have decent holiday in the summer whilst working here. Obviously, there are two of us in our household and this helps a lot.
10. Health Cover
Health care from what we’ve seen is great. Booking a doctor’s appointment is very easy and can be done online. Medication has to be paid for and isn’t free like in some parts of the UK but it is very cheap.
Other relevant comments:
As we’ve said above I feel very lucky to have had the support we’ve had these past three years. We will be very sad to be leaving the school and Andujar. We’ve made friends here that we are sure we will keep in contact with in the future. Thankyou ECI for your support and helping us develop as teachers.
I came to teach in ECI Andujar in April 2016 for three months to cover a maternity leave.
Everyone at the school has been very friendly and welcoming. The support from management and colleagues is total and the atmosphere is friendly. The teaching resources are extensive and the classrooms are well-equipped with interactive whiteboards. It’s a really nice place to work.
Andujar is a small town with a lovely historic centre and all amenities. There are lots of shops and supermarkets and a riverside walk. It’s easy to get into the hills on the edge of the Sierra Andujar if you like walking.
There are bus and train connections to Sevilla, Córdoba, Malaga and Madrid as well as local towns.
In the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve joined a gym, found a wonderful Spanish teacher close to the school and been invited out for drinks and excursions. There is also an English conversation group in the town where you can meet local people to chat in English and Spanish.
Dates employed: Nov 2015-June 2016.
Amy is moving back to Britain to do a PGCE
-Andujar is a typical small Spanish town with plenty of bars and shops. People here are very welcoming and patient with my Spanish.
– Though there’s not much to do in Andujar it’s easy to make weekend trips to other cities in Andalucia such as Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Jaen, Cadiz etc. Bus and train tickets are reasonable and easy to buy online.
-The School is in the centre of town with bright classrooms and a whole library of resources.
-The staff are incredibly supportive and friendly, if you have a problem they’re quick to help and offer advice. We usually go out for a drink together after work on a Friday and often do things at the weekend which is a lovely way to relax.
– I teach a variety of ages and levels which keeps things interesting. They all follow a course book but I supplement with resources from the staff room. The students are lovely, they are very sweet and eager to please.
-I’ve really enjoyed the training on offer with ECI, I have been to three ELT conferences this year. It’s a great way of learning new things and getting ideas for the classroom. There are also internal sessions which are great and particularly helpful for exam groups.
-Julie found several flats for me to view when I arrived in Spain which was a great help. I live in a flat above a Spanish family who are wonderful and always inviting me to do things with them and making food for me!
-The cost of living is much lower than back home and I manage to save each month as well as go on regular weekend trips.
I’ve loved teaching here, working with a variety of levels has broadened my experience and there are plenty of opportunities for professional development. Everyone is super friendly and it’s great working in such a collaborative and supportive environment.
Deciding on a private language school in Spain can be a daunting experience. With so many to choose from it can be hard to separate legitimate business from less reputable employees. For me, the priority was finding a place where I could be an actual teacher and not just a glorified babysitter or tape-recorder. El Centro de Ingles was definitely the best place for me.
You certainly get a great variety of classes at ECI: at 6:30pm I’m teaching six year olds in their first year of English; one hour later I’m teaching advanced adults. We teach eight or nine different groups a week, so that’s sixteen or eighteen lessons (always 21 hours) to plan. However all the classes use textbooks which are accompanied by great teacher resource books and the school has more resources than you could ever get through. There is an established culture of sharing at ECI and if you’re stumped for an idea, somebody else will have one. One thing I was really keen to add to my CV was experience teaching internationally accredited exams like Cambridge and Trinity. I have been able to get that in spades!
I have seen photos and videos of the “classrooms” that some teachers in Spain get to enjoy; good luck doing any kind of movement in those tiny spaces. At ECI all are classrooms are big enough to deserve the label ‘classroom’ and have windows and a/c. Your classroom is yours for the year, and comes with a work laptop that is also “yours”. Anything that breaks is quickly repaired. These might seem like small things but it’s worth checking whether the school you’re thinking of applying to includes them. The staff is a nice mix of new teachers, more experienced teachers, and downright veterans; married couples, those with families, and singletons. We work hard and you are held accountable for the progress in your classroom and fulfilling administrative requirements, but in return absolutely everything is legal and above board and you will never have to worry about what you are being asked to do and whether you will get paid. If anything becomes a problem – professional, pastoral or personal – you will find a supportive and accommodating atmosphere at ECI. Definitely expect to add some professional development to your role when working here. There are weekly meetings, which often involve a teacher training element, and the opportunity to attend conferences. In my second year I was able to expand on my role to include delivering some teacher training.
Andujar is a city. Yes, a city! I didn’t believe it either when I was corrected for calling it a town. You definitely need to put the qualifier “rural” city before that to give you a better idea of what to expect. You can comfortably run around the circumference of Andujar in about 40 minutes and everywhere is accessible by foot, even the big supermarkets. The benefits of this include a community feel – expect to see someone you know every time you go out – and lots of independent businesses. But don’t expect any items on your usual city checklist; a Carrefour, a Lidl, and a McDonalds are the only big name hitters. If you do crave the metropolis, Seville, Madrid and Cadiz can be reached by public transport for a weekend away, especially if it’s a long weekend. I’ve even managed to make it to Barcelona. Nights out in Andujar tend to be of the bar-hopping tapas variety. Buying a car in my second year gave me so much more freedom and it was a non-negotiable for staying on in Andujar. I definitely think you need to factor this into your decision to come to ECI: can your budget run to a car? Will you be happy with occasional car hire? Or are you prepared to save money but forgo experiencing a lot of what Spain has to offer?
If you want more from your weekends then just relaxing and tapas, Andujar has some great road-biking and mountain biking potential. The city doesn’t have the dramatic mountains found in other areas of Spain (the town itself is unnervingly flat!) and the land in every direction as far as you can see and beyond is given over to olive production. But the Sierra is a drive or a committed morning’s bike ride away for some hiking. Jaen – a 40 min drive or one hour bus ride away – has some impressive limestone crags for climbing. El Chorro is a two and a half hour drive away (not really accessible by public transport for a weekend) and has enough world-class climbing to keep you occupied for years. You can also rock climb, hike and ski in Granada, which you can get to by bus for the weekend, or very easily by car. As Andujar is so flat, running is a good activity. There are always races of various lengths in nearby areas including Cordoba and Malaga. There is a very strong contingent of those who live for the active lifestyle in Spain but you have to seek them out, especially in Andujar. With a little bit of effort and confidence and you can meet up with people who share your cycling/running/climbing/skiing passion and will be happy to act as your guide. If you have a car, the world is your oyster.
Unlike my co-workers, I chose to wait until I arrived in Andujar before finding a flat. There are a few websites which can give you an idea of what’s available but I didn’t want to commit to a rental without seeing the place for myself and understanding its position in Andujar. It wasn’t a problem as a teacher at ECI very generously let me use their spare bedroom when I first arrived, and I was out and into my own place just under a week later. Most apartments cost around 350 Euros per month but the quality (and the tastefulness of decor) differ a lot, so decide on your priorities.
Aside from rent, my monthly expenditures include the internet and mobile phone bundle (about 45 EUR per month), a bi-monthly water bill (about 60 EUR) and a bi-monthly electricity bill (about 100 EUR). My electricity bill is based on no air-con in the summer and no heating in the winter. I’m from Yorkshire and I’d rather wrap up in a blanket than spend the money! Look to spend around 35 EUR a week on food if you like cooking for yourself. Fruit and vegetables are cheap.
The general consensus is that it is difficult to save money in Spain, but living in Andujar helps as there isn’t much to spend money on. Prior to living in Spain I lived in Asia, so for me the cost of living is high. I also live on my own which means my experience is different to those teachers who are in couples. I would say it is definitely possible to put something aside, but it is hard. It is especially hard to save if you start to do anything at weekends as even with my frugal sense of adventure, petrol, camping fees and perhaps a museum entry or similar, soon add up in Spain. My advice? Get a roommate, it’s the only real way to make any significant savings here.
And now for the TLDR generation… Andujar in a nutshell: small, quiet, olives. Possible necessities to make the most of it include a car, a sense of adventure, drive to learn Spanish, patience, a hobby for those quiet weekends. ECI: lovely school and facilities, helpful staff and senior management, caring atmosphere, oodles of potential for building your CV.
Vicky Woollven (teacher at ECI Sept 2014 – June 2016)
Dates employed: 09/2014 – 30/06/2016
LIVING AND WORKING IN ANDÚJAR
- The Town
Andujar is a lovely town, very traditional with a great community atmosphere. It’s the type of town where everybody knows everybody. It isn’t jam packed with things to do, so would certainly suit someone who is ready to get stuck in with the local community. There are plenty of religious festivals and events throughout the year that are wonderful to experience – especially the Romeria in April.
Within the town everything is accessible by foot and if you happen to have a lot of shopping there is a local bus which runs from the centre up to the big supermarkets. If you’re going further afield, there is a train station and a bus station which have fairly regular links to Cordoba and Jaen and a few of the other major cities. Once you get to Cordoba, Spain is your oyster as there are trains to pretty much every province.
3. The School
The school is located right in the centre of Andujar, perfect for nipping out for breakfast or a coffee in the morning. The school is split over two buildings, the main school and the annex. The classrooms are modern and bright, with everything you need.
4. Materials and Resources
All course books come with a wide variety of resources, almost all the books have ipacks and the classrooms have interactive whiteboards. Teachers are given a laptop that is “theirs” to use – so that’s useful for designing and organising your extra resources. The staff room is fully equipped with so many books and resources that I guarantee you’ll find whatever it is you need.
5. The Staff
The staff are so supportive and there is always someone who can help you with an idea or solution to a problem both in work and outside. There’s a real community feel amongst the staff and there’s always somebody to do something with. I’ve made some great friends during my time here that I’ll be sad to leave behind.
Each teacher will have a variety of ages and levels, from young learners to exam classes. This means that everyday is different and enjoyable! There are no more than 12 students in each class. Spanish students tend to be very passionate (noisy!) but generally are very keen and willing to learn.
- Teacher Training
There is a wide variety of training both internal and external, with sessions paid for by the school, in Madrid and Seville each year.
- Finding a Flat
Finding a flat is very easy during the summer, there are flats or houses to suit most budgets and generally come with all the appliances and necessities you need.
- The Cost of Living
The cost of living is very reasonable, especially being able to have a drink and a tapas for less than €3 after work! The most expensive things are the utility bills, normally electricity comes every two months and water every three. On average, I would say they run a little more expensive than the UK, whereas your groceries and day to day life will probably be cheaper here.
- Health Cover
You are fully covered on the health system, I have experienced both visiting the GP and attending A&E. Appointments are easy to make however you may occasionally have to wait longer and you certainly will need to establish your place in the line – Welcome to the Spanish queuing system!
Robyn Tahnee Moss