There are lots of TEFL courses in Spain. If you want to train to teach English as a foreign language, you are not short of options.
You have decided to take a face-to-face course (4 weeks) because you know that online courses do not give you the practical classroom experience that you need to work with real students. You have decided you want to take an accredited course (one which is externally moderated) as employers prefer to hire teachers with training from a reputable organisation, such as Trinity College London. And you want to take your course in Spain because that’s where you’d like to live and work.
Your next decision is where to take the course. Madrid? Barcelona? Seville?
Have you considered Granada?
Lonely Planet consider Granada to be one of the greatest cities in Spain. Read more here.
Granada is a smallish city in the south of Spain with a population of about 250,000. The magnificent Alhambra Palace looms over the city against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The city itself is fascinating; a blend of ancient monuments and youthful exuberance which entices visitors young and old.
We think it’s the perfect place to take your TEFL course. Of course, we’re biased…but we’re going to try to convince you anyway.
The Alhambra Palace
The 19th century American writer Washington Irving, author of The Tales of the Alhambra’ approaching Granada:
The Alhambra, built by the Nasrid emirs in the 13th and 14th century, is one of the most famous and visited monuments in Spain. It’s a must-see for every visitor to the city and transports you back to Moorish Spain. It does get very busy however so try to schedule your visit in the morning or late in the evening. Just wandering the gardens around the Palace is enough to calm the spirit (the free option) but we suggest you book tickets for the whole ‘Alhambra’ experience.
Getting lost wandering around the Albaicín (Albayzín)
The Albaicín, a medieval barrio (neighbourhood) on a hill facing the Alhambra, is the perfect place for a stroll. It’s a World Heritage site and a treat for the senses. It’s narrow, winding streets open out on hidden plazas far from the hustle and bustle of the city. This is the place to indulge in your flamenco fantasies. There’s nothing better than a break for tapas in one of the many terrace bars, listening to flamenco buskers and infusing the jasmine-scented heady air of the place.
Tapas crawls around the city
While the cuisine of Granada doesn’t have the Michelin-star prestige of San Sebastian or Barcelona, it is known all over Spain for its tapas culture. Unlike most cities in Spain, tapas are free with every drink in Granada. Moreover, most bars don’t just shove a few olives or a slice of jamon your way here; tapas are substantial and varied.
I first came to Granda in 1999 to study Spanish for a couple of months. I waddled back to the UK packing a few kilos around my midriff – courtesy of the local cafes and bars.
Here is a list of great tapas bars in Granada.
Skiing in The Sierra Nevada
If you like mountains, you’ll love Granada. The Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain range in mainland Spain (its highest peak is 3,478 m or 11,411 ft) which makes it a popular destination for skiers and climbers and walkers. At just over 30km from the city, it’s easy to get to by car or bus. If you have the legs and the lungs for it, you could even cycle there.
Cocktails at the Beach
If mountains aren’t for you, don’t worry. Granada is only an hour away from the Costa Tropical and popular beach towns such as Salobrena and Almunecar. Just imagine: you could go skiing in the morning, have lunch and a siesta in Granada, then head to the beach to watch the sunset.
Read about Granada’s beaches here.
Hot days and cool nights
The one thing I can’t stand about Granada is the summer. It’s too hot for me in July and August, which is when I try to escape the city. For the rest of the year, it has a great climate. The proximity of the mountains means that it can get cold at night during the autumn and winter months – perfect for a fino and a few slices of jamon iberico in a bar. The sun rarely stops shining during the day (even around Christmas) and this keeps your spirits up. Quite a change from dull and drizzly London where I used to live.
Flamenco, Poetry and Punk Rock
When I studied Literature at university, I came across one of Granada’s most famous sons: Federico Garcia Lorca. Traces of the poet and playwright, tragically killed by Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War, can be found all around the city. There is a park named after him and there is a new cultural centre in the city centre.
As well as being the home of an internationally-renowed poet, Granada also has a long and rich tradition in art, music, literature and film. There are plenty of theatres, galleries, museums, and cinemas and there are lots of free events. One of my favourites is the annual Granada Noir festival dedicated to crime fiction and films.
You may also be surprised to know that the late Punk Rock legend Joe Strummer (The Clash) lived in Granada in the 1980s. There is even a placeta (a small plaza) named after him. Watch a short video here.
Although it’s a small city, the variety of events makes it a cultural centre to compare with much larger cities.
Naughty Nightlife for Night Owls
Like most places in the south of Spain, the city doesn’t seem to sleep, especially on weekends – which in Spain run from Thursday to Monday! Whatever your tastes, there is something here for you.
Granada is like Oxford or Cambridge – but with sunshine!
Granada is home to one of Spain’s oldest and most prestigious universities. It’s also a favourite for Erasmus students from all over Europe. Students from further afield, particularly the USA, love it here too. The university keeps the city young at heart.
Watch a video about Granada university here.
It has a giant shopping centre – and Europe’s tallest Christmas tree!
Until fairly recently, Granada wasn’t a great place for shoppers. It was a little staid and conservative and few international chains set up shop here. In 2016, the opening of the huge Nevada Shopping changed everything. It’s a massive shopping centre just outside the city centre, which was first planned in 2002! Yes, it took 14 years of legal wranglings and crisis-caused delays for the centre to finally open.
Watch a clip of the inauguration here.
Oh, the largest Christmas tree in Europe (55 metres high) can also be found at Nevada Shopping.
It’s kind on the pocket
Granada isn’t the cheapest city in Spain but it’s certainly below average. Cheap accommodation can be found easily, especially of you live just outside the centre, and your grocery bill won’t break the back (stock up on free tapas!). Transport is reliable and cheap. There is even a new metro line – which only took 10 years to finish. The relatively low cost of living means that you won’t need to earn too much to have a decent quality of life here.
It has loads of Holidays
There are lots of holidays in Granada. Unlike the UK, Spain has national and regional holidays. In fact, small towns have local holidays, which means that inhabitants of a small town just outside Granada may have a day off when their friends in the city have to work.
The ‘puente’ tradition is also worth pointing out. If a holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday then employees will often be given the Monday or the Friday off too – creating a long weekend.
Granada needs English teachers
Finally, most English-speakers find work as English teachers here in Granada. The high rate of unemployment and educational reforms (university students need a B1 certificate in a second language to graduate) have led to an explosion in English language academies in and around the city. I live in a small town just outside the city and I’ve seen three academies open in the last 6 months!
On the one hand, this is good news for qualified English teachers (there is plenty of work). On the other hand, wages are not particularly high compared to other parts of Spain. But, it’s a great place to begin your Spanish adventure.
Granada’s not the perfect city. The locals are famed for their ‘malafollá’ which (roughly) translates as grumpiness mixed with a sprinkle of irony. Customer service here, especially in bars and cafes, can be begrudging – as if you’re doing them a disservice by ordering food or drink in their establishment.
However, this is really a stereotype, although many locals take a bizarre pride in their reputation for being surly. On the whole, people here are like anywhere else; getting by in life and trying to enjoy themselves while doing so.
Feel like spending a month in Granada and training to teach English?