Just imagine it. After completing all your assignments and passing all your tests, you’ve finally been presented with your accredited TEFL qualification. Along the way you realised that, actually, a lot of your pre-existing experience, from both school and work, will help you as a teacher. You’ve been trawling through the British Council and Cambridge English websites making a list of lesson plans that you like the look of, maybe you’ve even started to have your own ideas for classes. You simply can’t wait to get into the classroom for the first time (even if it still feels a little nerve wracking). Now comes the really fun part. Deciding where to take your new found skills.
Whether you studied a Trinity CertTESOL, a CELTA or a TEFL course online, in person or as part of a blended course, the world is effectively your oyster at this point. You have the knowledge, the experience and the qualifications to take you more or less anywhere you’ve ever dreamed of visiting. But the world is a vast place. How do you narrow down a list that could be as far reaching as China, Mexico, Italy and Greece? Well, you do your research, of course.
You speak to family and friends about places they’ve visited. You think back to the best holidays you’ve been on and try to match them with your interests and hobbies. And you read the accounts of people who’ve been teaching English in Spain, in Mexico, in China. In any of the countries that interest you.
I know it can be a little overwhelming at times, trying to narrow it down from basically unlimited options. But it’s all part of the fun. I went through the process a little over two years ago and, after a lot of soul searching, I made one of the best decisions in my life to come and use my TEFL qualification in Malaga. Here is my argument as to why you should do the same.
The City Itself
Malaga itself is one of those classically romantic andalusian cities. You know, the type that travel adverts tend to focus on. Its centre is a blend of grand, multicoloured pastel buildings overlooking bustling plazas and ancient monuments, such as La Catedral, the renaissance style cathedral that dominates the skyline, and La Alcazaba, the 11th-century Moorish palace which sits atop a hill overlooking the city. It’s a city rich with history.
Intersecting its main streets are narrow, winding alleyways full of tapa bars and mini markets that meander their way between the main squares and shopping streets. In fact, part of the fun of first moving to Malaga is learning the secrets of how its streets connect to one another. After only a few weeks, you’ll begin to feel like a real expert when navigating between your favourite bars and restaurants.
And, of course, we can’t forget that Malaga is a coastal city. Its port has recently been renovated to help attract the type of superyachts typically reserved for Monaco or Marbella, and there’s really no better place to enjoy Malagas spectacular sunsets than sat with your feet dangling over the water, the sun reflecting off its mirror-like surface as it descends beyond the horizon.
Just a few minutes walk round from the port, you’ll find a stretch of beach over a kilometre long with chiringuitos, traditional beach bars, spread along at regular intervals. These beach bars have fresh seafood available year round at very reasonable prices. My personal favourites are, of course, the local speciality espetos, sardines grilled over an open flame, and fideuá, a rich seafood dish similar to paella but made with noodles instead of rice.
It’s not just the seafood that’s good in Malaga, though. The city centre is full of excellent, traditional tapa places which in most cases are, quite frankly, outrageously cheap. Most of these tend to have very similar menus but each will put their own spin on the classic dishes so it can be fun to go from place to place trying to discover your favourites. And if you’re not in the mood for tapas, Malaga offers excellent options for basically any cuisine you desire, including a particularly great selection of Latin American restaurants. The discovery of arepas and tequeños has been a game changer for me.
Finally, we’ve come to possibly the most important reason for choosing to use your TEFL in Malaga. The people. In my two years here so far I hardly have a bad word to say about anyone. My students are wonderful (even the teenagers) and the locals are brilliant too.
I came here speaking barely a word of Spanish, just enough to get by really, and the people I’ve met have been incredibly kind and patient with me while I’ve been steadily improving. This generosity has really helped me to settle into life here and it’s been easier to make friends than I ever expected it would be. I sincerely feel that I don’t have enough good things to say about them.
There are many many other reasons that you might choose to teach EFL in Malaga – its stunning countryside, the laidback lifestyle, its endless blue skies – but for me, these are the most important. You can even study your TEFL qualification in Malaga to get a feel for the place before making your decision.
Of course, many of the cultural values will apply regardless of where you want to teach English in Spain. So if stunning sunsets and fresh seafood aren’t that important to you, maybe you’d prefer life in Córdoba or Granada, the ancient capitals of a lost Islamic kingdom, or the hustle and bustle of one the world’s current major cities, such as Madrid or Barcelona. Spain has so much to offer, I’m barely scratching the surface here!
Wherever you end up choosing, though, you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you’re originally from Ireland, Canada, South Africa, or anywhere really, gaining an accredited TEFL certification online opens up opportunities like no other. So if you’re on the fence about starting a course, my advice is get cracking with it. You won’t regret it!