The Traveling Saleswoman
Back in September my TEFL course trainers had advised that 20 hours of work a week is what an EFL teacher should aim for (15 to begin). And much like you are probably doing right now, I scoffed at the idea of working so little. Well, now that I’m up to 25.5 hours of work a week (and absolutely overjoyed and grateful to have all those hours), I have come to understand the recommended weekly dosage. As in my former work-life, the hours “on the job” only reflect a small portion of what the job actually entails.
As a freelance EFL teacher in Barcelona, a great deal of time is exhausted getting to work each day and navigating from one class to the next, walking, hopping on and off buses and ducking in and out of the metro. While the “commute” can get old at times, it has many benefits: It keeps me active, I get to know the city and it allows me to stay up-to-date on my favorite NPR and Eric and Kathy podcasts. The greatest part for me though is getting to be outside so much to enjoy Barcelona’s heavenly weather and eternal sunshine. But with being dressed up, racing from one location to the next, between office building and apartment building, making small talk with doormen and secretaries, unpacking and repacking my supplies, I entertain myself with the image of being a traveling saleperson – of English.
Besides the commute, the other contributing factor making 20 hours “full-time work” is the planning. I have about 20 lessons a week to prepare – while many can be involved and time-consuming, sometimes it just involves playing a board game or an activity online. I love challenging myself to reach each student and personalizing the lessons to their interests and language needs. The most important point for me is that I love what I’m doing and I feel so fortunate to have such fantastic students that I usually feel like I’m getting paid to hang out and have fun.