So…now what? Is there a future for TEFL teachers in Madrid after COVID-19?

The confinement is over, we have left (I hope)  the worst behind. So it is time to prepare for “the new normality” (what an awful term).

It is time to evalute TEFL teaching in Spain and how it has been afected by the coronavirus crisis. To think about what went wrong (because too many things did), why most were so ill prepared, how teachers were left so unprotected, how academies had no space, time or savings to react, what we could have done to minimize the economic blow etc…

And this thinking must be done, if we want to learn from our mistakes and improve (which is something I wonder sometimes). I will share my ideas here during the summer, and they should be taken as such: ideas. But one has to start working with and organising based on a plan. Please feel free to comment or share yours. The more, the merrier.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Sun Tzun.

But before we look at the past, we should prepare for what is to come. So I thought the most appropiate article to start off, would be one about our near future. What can we expect from TEFL teaching for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 academic year?  Knowing what is to come will let us better prepare for it.

The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.
Sun Tzun.

But before we do so, let’s put some things into perspective. Here are some of the ideas I base my article on.

  • The blow to the economy has been HUGE. Most do not realise how much so. It will become apparent from September onwards.
    In many areas 30% of companies have closed definitely. More will follow soon.
  • The TEFL young adult to adult market (I don’t teach kids so I will not include them here) has two main areas: individuals and companies. They are different entities and behave differently.
  • By September, companies will have had to survive five months of little income with all expenses. The savings of those who had any, will be depleted or very nearly so.
  • The State has spent a lot of money in ERTEs, the health system, etc. There is no money there either.
  • Individuals are trying to weather the storm. Many have not been paid yet, and this will get worse once the summer is over. Unemployment will rise (so less people who pay taxes and more who will join the “paro”), most will spend money only in essential goods or services.
  • Languages very rarely are considered essential.

Taking this into account, let us look at the scenario where we will have to fight our battles on.

What is the near future for TEFL teaching in Madrid / Spain?

NB: I am brutally honest, with myself and with others. I have to be in order to run a business in Spain. So many might not like or agree with some of the points here, but this is what I am getting ready for.

  • Small companies have enough in their plate just trying to survive. Most will cut off any additional expense and languages will be the first to be removed.
  • Middle sized to big companies will still offer languages as a plus to their employees, But again I expect the budget for languages for the 2020-2021 year will be reduced.
  • Anything that reduces the cost of teaching for academies will be a plus, so we should be explaining clients about FUNDAE (Tripartita) . It is a real pain in the ass (excuse my French) but it will be a great selling point for companies to keep or get new language classes.
  • Individuals won’t, as a rule, have money to spend in extras such as languages. Not until they see a “light at the end of the tunnel” or the economy improving.
  • Everytime there is a crisis, people look for differentianting factors in their curriculums. To make look betther than other candidates. So, we should be getting some students who want to prepare for exams (FCE, CAE etc). But I expect this will be from November or December onwards, once they see how things start running.
  • Parents will still want kids to learn languages (yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about kids…lol). And they will spend money they don’t have in their children. But again this will be drastically reduced…it is, after all, a extra which many will not be able to afford.
  • Online teaching, courses etc will be, IMO, our greatest asset. It is here to stay, I condider online teaching will be what will allow us, if anything, to thrive in such a hostile environment. But I will talk about this in future posts.
  • During recesions, people start opening academies thinking it is easy money. I have started to see offers from such academies…we don’t need those….I hope I am wrong and we don’t get them again.
  • It might seem contradictory, but the last thing we should be doing is reducing prices and offering our services for less than it is worth. This is what got us into this mess in the first place.
    We have to look into new ways of bringing money in, new services to provide, new ways to offer them etc. But prices should go up (in order to pay the teachers what they deserve), not down.
  • Expect academies to close. Many should not have opened in the first place. We needed to shake the tree a bit. There were some rotten leaves (many) growing in our branches.
    Some will be a great loss. Every project closed is dreams which have ended before they were fulfilled.
  • Expect academies to reduce their staff members. This is only logical. With less demand you hire fewer teachers to cover that demand. Again this is something which is not entirely a disadvantage. Not everyone teaching is a teacher and, when the offer decreases, I expect it will be the professional teachers who get the jobs.



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