Interviewing Maria Christodolou

I have interviewed Maria Christodolou, 30 years old, Greek backgrounds, an English teacher that is working in an academy (Windsor Idiomas, Mirasierra, Madrid) in Madrid since 2009. She left London to come here and she would like to be an English teacher in a public school. We talked about education in Spain, her expectations of the future and her difficulties to adapt to the Spanish way of life.

Why are you living in Spain?Image

Because I don’t like the work mentality in London and I prefer a more relaxed mentality. Also, I believe there is a better quality of life here in Spain. And I prefer to get paid less and live better. Sun, food, lots of holidays (puentes , fiestas etc…)

Why did you choose Madrid?

I was going to go to Barcelona originally but I didn’t know anyone there. I knew a couple people in Madrid and as I don’t drive the transport seem fairly easy to use when I came on holiday here to visit friends. Furthermore, when I came on holiday here I liked it and could see my self living here.

Did you find it hard to integrate with Spanish people?

Yes and No. It took me a while to make close friends but I found it easy to meet people.

What obstacles have you come across?

The language barrier. As I work so much, I don’t have time for classes and I find that sometimes the Spanish can be a bit intimidating when trying to speak Spanish to them if you don’t speak it very well. I felt a little judged. But that could also be a character defect of mine and maybe I should have been more confident at the start.

Do you want to be a teacher or are you doing it just because of language limitations for other jobs?

I realised I wanted to be a teacher when I was 23. I really enjoy it and I hate the cooperate world. Even if my Spanish was perfect I would still be a teacher.

Is this a good moment to be a teacher in Spain?

Yes, it is. Everybody is finding is difficult to find work so they are all taking up English classes so they can look for jobs abroad.

Do you think the economic crisis is helping teachers?

Yes I believe so, people are being forced to develop their skills as there is very little work out there. I’m not sure if teachers would make so much money when the crisis is over but maybe it wouldn’t affect them in the future as people will have more money and more free time to have English classes.

 What were you doing in England before you came?

I worked for DEFRA ( Department for Food and Rural Affairs) and DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) I was not politically involved I was just a Facilities Manager. Which means I ran a government building.

What did you study?

I am a three time college drop out. However, when I was 23 and realised I wanted to teach. I did the CELTA course which is ‘to teach English as a foreign Language.’ This would enable me to work anywhere in the world without speaking the language of the country I would be in and at the time I wanted to travel too.

How do you see the future of education in Spain?

It is very good compared to the rest. They are definitely taking a step in the right direction by making all their high schools bilingual. However, in regards to universities, I believe the standard is great but they are reducing there standards and adapting to and international system. On the one hand this is good because internationally this will work so that everyone is on the same page but on the other hand Spain is reducing their level of education which means the students do less years and study less things. This, I don’t is a good thing. In fact, through out history, I believe education is being ‘dumbed down’ year after year.

What do you think about the pay cuts in the educational system?

Spanish students have a lot of help in comparation to England. However should be another area to deduct money from. If these pay cuts are implemented less people would be able to study and others would leave the universities because they can afford it. The state has the responsabilty of support the good students motivating them in this difficult times.

Do you think that the Spanish educational systems makes it easy for people like your self to become a teacher in the public sector?

Well, in my case it has been very difficult as I do not have a degree. In England if I wanted to go to uni and I’m over 30, I could enter with the experience I have but in Spain I have to do the bachillerato first before entering which makes it very difficult. And if I want to do the oposiciones I’ve been told it’s near impossible to pass and then find a placement, even for a Spanish person. Nevertheless I will take my chance and still do my best to succeed and do the oposiciones.

Why do you think Spanish people are not interested in learning English?

Well, First of all, I disagree with the question, I think many people in Spain want to learn English and it’s becoming compulsory if you want to get a job these days due to the crisis we are living in. Even people who had no interest in English what so ever, are starting to study English.

How did you find your job in the academy?

I applied to many advertisements online and in newspapers etc…. I had a couple interview and got this one which I’m very happy with. It’s a little far out but worth the travel as I’ve heard many horror stories about other academies.

Is it stable?

Not really, As we go by the timetable of the students we don’t have work in the summer and have to save up to survive. Now I can do this, but when I am 50 I don’t think It will  be able to do all the hours I do now. Which is why I need to study more.

By: Isidoro Arriola


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