You only need to scroll through Matthew’s Instagram (@digitalmdg) for a few seconds before you see that he is a creative traveler. From South Africa to Canada, and the UK to Spain, Matt is documenting his travels on his online blog and doing a mighty good job of it! Let’s learn more about his journey to Barcelona and what he’s learned along the way.
Tell us about your background, and how your friends and family, reacted when you told them you were planning to teach abroad in Barcelona?
I’ve always wanted to travel. From a young age, the thought of going abroad and exploring different ways of life fascinated me. It was only later when I discovered travel bloggers and filmmakers online, did I push to make my dream a reality. They inspired me to start finding ways to travel and document what I experienced. When I told my friends and family I was finally leaving they weren’t surprised at all. In fact, I’d spoken so much about wanting to travel I’m sure they were thinking to themselves “Finally, now he can shut up about it!
You’re no stranger to travel, tell us about your latest adventures. What sparked your interest in teaching English in Spain?
My latest trip has taken me to Canada, England, France and Spain (Catalonia to be specific. Can’t make that mistake here). In Canada, I was lucky enough to visit both Banff and Jasper, where I saw some of the most incredible vistas! In England, I did the tourist thing and visited all the important historic sites like Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and the Harry Potter studio (don’t judge me). I was also able to spend some time over Christmas in the UK and got to experience the coldest December of my life! Spain has always held a special interest for me. I love reading about the country’s history and culture. To be able to experience it first hand has been amazing. By far the friendliest people in Europe in my opinion.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and what made you choose Premier TEFL?
To be honest teaching English is the easiest way to travel and support yourself. You also get the opportunity to interact with people every day and immerse yourself in the culture. I get to teach people English but I also get to teach them about my home country, South Africa. I also get to learn more about their country! Before deciding which company to do my TEFL through I did a lot of research and Premier TEFL kept coming up as one that provided outstanding programs.
Is there anything you wish you knew before moving to Barcelona? What are the best parts/most challenging parts?
I wish I had known more about just how strong the differences between the different regions of Spain are. I spent some time before coming learning Spanish only to find the first language everyone spoke here in Catalonia is Catalan! I mean everyone knows Spanish but people appreciate it if you attempt to engage with them in Catalan first. But the people are amazing. They are friendly and energetic! Always eager to make new friends. The most challenging part of the job is switching between teaching styles between 13-year-olds and 18-year-olds. It’s not one size fits all.
Tell us about a typical teaching day in the life of Matt. What are your favorite things about teaching English in Barcelona?
Typically I will arrive at the various classes and will take a group of learners into a separate classroom where we can practice using English in real life scenarios. Depending on the age level and level of English, these scenarios can range from planning a trip to the mall to full-on debates about music or films. I really enjoy the enthusiasm that these kids have.
What advice would you give future teachers considering finding English teaching jobs abroad?
My advice for anyone looking to do this is to be prepared to be overwhelmed. You will be bombarded with questions, mostly in a language you may not understand. So be patient, listen, and try your best to absorb everything!
Where do you plan to travel to next?
I hope to travel to Cuba next. To explore. If I was to teach again I’d want to go somewhere completely different, somewhere like Japan. I like the idea of experiencing something completely new and teaching people about where I’m from.
Thanks Matt for sitting still for sharing your insights with future TEFLers like you. Now get back out there and take more photos 🙂