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Have You Taught In International House Madrid?
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JRJohn



Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 113

PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:40 pm    Post subject: Have You Taught In International House Madrid? Reply with quote

I have plenty of experience of teaching EFL. I felt that IH Madrid would be a good place to teach in. After all, it has a splendid reputation. But what's it like to actually work there? I would prefer answers from people who have taught in IH Madrid. I am genuinely interested in the job. Here are a few questions.

1. Do most teachers get contracts of say 20 hours?

2. Do a lot of people who thought they'd get full time hours end up part-time without a contract?

3. Is it usually possible to SURVIVE at least on the salary?

4. What percentage of teachers stay for the full year?
5. If I complete the contract, would the school pay for my flight home?
6. I know it's quite cheap to fly from the U.K. I know that if I fly to Madrid tomorrow I could get a flat to stay in, but after September that will be very hard.
How much money will I need to spend for the first month or 2?

I may have more questions for you later. Any helpful replies would be appreciated. Thank you.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked there for a few months about 5 years ago so I'll try to answer your questions.

1) Yes it was about 25 as I remember
2)Not that I knew of.
3)Yes but the pay is low compared to in-company teaching and you may be made to do in-company teaching at a rate much lower than other schools.
4)Most as I recall
5)I doubt it but I couldn't be sure
6)You'll need 1000-2000 depending how careful you are.

Pros of IH: Professional environment, lots of resources, opportunities for professional development

Cons of IH: Low wages (justified by telling you that working there is good for your career), lots of extra admin tasks, unfair standby system, sociopathic chief-exec.

I left rather acrimoniously because I felt they were taking the pi.. with the standby system. People told me it would be bad for my career yet here I am working at a university. Most staff didn't seem to be too satisfied. I would go somewhere else to be honest. Try in-company teaching for double the money and quarter of the prep.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9652
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know anything directly about the Madrid IH.

I did a project last summer for a different IH and I asked around their long-term teachers and upper-level staff regarding job opps with IH, and long-term prospects (was not actually considering working for IH on anything other than a project basis, but why not investigate while I'm there?).

What I gleaned from that is that IH considers the fact that they have lots of locations to which teachers can theoretically migrate to be a HUGE benefit. In fact, apparently the competition for more desirale locales is tremendous and the 'network' is probably of much less benefit than they hype it up to be. They also consider their internationally recognized name to be some great addition to a CV - at the very newbie level it may help, but honestly, after someone's got a year or two behind them, IH no longer looks so fantastic. It's really a school for newbies to the field, IMO.

Bottom line, I think that IH tend to use their network and recognized name to draw teachers in and to justify lower-than-normal local wages. I don't personally think the positives outweigh the negatives in the long run.

Though it could be an OK place to be for a year early in ones' TEFL career, I wouldn't count on IH for the long-terms.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty much agree with Spiral. A lot of senior people seemed a bit scared to leave as they thought it would be the end of their career. IH perpetuates this myth, very successfully, in order to justify their low wages.

They offer you compulsory training (not always useful) which is unpaid but, unsurprisingly, they get paid by the Government for offering it to you. That's why they're desperate for you to sign an attendance sheet.

The standby system means that you get paid at 1/3 normal wages to be available in case someone else calls in sick. If you then have to work it, you still only get paid 1/3. If you're new, your standby will probably be one that nobody wants like Saturday morning. Guess what? You'll find you'll be working for 1/3 wages most Saturdays. Immoral and unfair but nobody seemed prepared to take a stand because they believe that they are lucky to be working for IH.

The fact that you can transfer schools is probably not that advantageous as there are probably few cities where you would need their help to do this.

Autonomo is the way to go in Spain (though maybe not in your first year) to be honest. As you already have experience, I'd give IH a miss.
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Grimace420



Joined: 24 Sep 2011
Posts: 83
Location: Madriz

PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my fellow language assistants last year worked at IH for 2 years in Madrid. I asked her what it was like working there. "Exploitation" was her answer. On the plus side she dropped 6 kilos in her first year as they had her running around the city so much.
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SirKirby



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 250
Location: Barcelona, Spain

PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never worked for them though I have been in IH Madrid (and other IH centres in Spain) and know lots of people who work for different IH centres.

I'd suggest a false impression is being given here in this thread. Are IH any better or worse than the average language school in Spain? I think not!

In terms of resources and teacher development, the IH centres I have contacts in are definitely above average.

For longer term prospects, being able to say you worked for (say) IH Madrid will look good on a CV, even if you don't stay in IH.

For finding work at IH centers, being able to say you've worked for another IH in whatever country is a plus. The DoS will pick up the phone and get a reference.

What always looks BAD on a CV is to have to say you left in the middle of a school term/year. No DoS wants you to do that, however justified it might be.

Conditions aren't great at IH Madrid? Give me a break! At what language school in Spain are they fantastic?

The wages are low? Welcome to ELT in Spain!

PS (5) pay your flight home? I'd say that's totally unheard of in Spain, at any language school.
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be fair, you haven't worked there and I have. It may be the case that other IH centres are great, but we're talking about IH Madrid. It's a franchise and conditions can be completely different in each one. For example, I've heard good things about Buenos Aires and Barcelona.

The OP already has years of experience and working at IH Madrid will not enhance his CV one bit. In my experience universities, for example, don't care about IH experience. With regards to professional development, E
even if they pay for your DELTA etc, you have to pay the money back over time. The best you can hope for is an ADOS position for slightly more money and much more work.

I worked for four or five different schools in Madrid and IH was the second worst paid. The worst paid worked out better as the prep was minimal. Choose your classes wisely and you can easily earn more than double that without much travelling and much less admin. If you fall for the old 'IH is doing you a favour by letting you work there as you can put it on your CV' line then more fool you.
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JRJohn



Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 113

PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:16 pm    Post subject: IH Madrid Reply with quote

I asked about International House because I wanted to see what replies I would get. When I lived in Madrid, I heard a couple of people saying that it was a good school. I visited the school years ago, in C/Zurbaran, and got the impression then that it was a good school.
I wanted to know if it was worth accepting a job there. Actually, my worst suspicions were confirmed. I'd be up at 6'oclock 5 days a week, and have to get up early on Saturday too. And I would be teaching till late in the evening every day. Moreover, I bet a good few of those classes would be outside of Madrid altogether, wouldn't they?
But after all, the school will boast it would look so good on my C.V. and I would be lucky to be with them at all.
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SirKirby



Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 250
Location: Barcelona, Spain

PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I insist: getting up for an early class and teaching until late, as well as on a Saturday morning is the reality for lots of people in ELT in Spain.

Sure, you can get lucky... but typically NOT in your first year, either in Spain, or in a new school. You're new, you'll get the worst timetable.

If you're not prepared to (possibly have to) put up with that, don't apply to IH or ANY other language school; in fact, don't come to Spain at all (where 25% of the population don't have a job of any kind).
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Typically overly-negative Spain post.

Insist all you like, but within 3 months of arriving in Madrid and finishing my CELTA, I had a job in an academy that didn't involve getting up early or working at the weekend. The only people I knew that worked at the weekend were IH teachers. If you do in-company classes then, oddly enough, you won't ever be working weekends.

Nobody has said that working in Madrid is a bed of roses but there is far too much negativity about what opportunities are available.
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Sublime



Joined: 23 Apr 2011
Posts: 90

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like IH sucks a big fat one!

Maybe that CV talk is because they know everyone who works there would never in the right mind return.
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pr455



Joined: 08 May 2011
Posts: 135
Location: MADRID, SPAIN

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't read any negativity here at all. People are just posting their experiences and that's it.

I had a friend who worked for IH Madrid and she got out after two years. She found that even when a class was cancelled, that she was told to teach another class, so, you really don't get a break. You are constantly working pretty much without stopping.

When I first started teaching here in Madrid in 2003, and working for an academy, if you took 8:00 classes, you had plenty of work. I never had problems finding classes, and besides, I am a morning person and I don't mind getting up early and starting my day that way. I prefer morning classes to evening ones. Let's face it, most people who say that they found evening classes are people who don't like getting up early and that's fine. Everyone is different in life.

Will IH look good on your CV? I can't answer that question if the person plans on staying in Madrid. But, I think that it would look good on a person's CV if he should move to another part of the world and work for IH in Buenos Aires, for example.

I worked on Saturdays at a university doing teacher training and it was great, and the pay was very good as well. I don't mind working on Saturdays and I even give conferences some Saturdays as well.

In the end, it's all about personal choices in life. Either you do something or you don't. Either you will or you won't. Before teaching English people need to be honest with themselves about what hours they will and won't teach. This also includes what pay they will and won't take.

Here is a good example. I took some hours at an academy and when the person told me the pay, because I am not freelance I have to be on contract, she thought that I wouldn't take the pay because of my years of experience. When she told me 14 an hour, she prepared herself and thought that I would say NO. I totally surprised her when I said YES.

Many people would think that 14 an hour is low, but, it has its advantages. I took the job because the company where they want me to teach is a 5 minute walk from the charter school where I teach English. Everything in the same hood and my travel time is zero.

Before anyone gets any bright ideas to rip my post apart and talk about travel time, I work 4 short metro stops from where I live and 12 minutes later, I am at work. How did that happen? I asked for a school in the center and I told them that I have been travelling out to zones B1 and B2 and that I wasn't going to to it anymore and that I knew that they had schools in the center. I also told them that with my years of experience that that should count for something. Two days after my interview, I got an email that told me where my school was and I was happy.

It took me a long time to get this schedule, but, I don't regret getting up early and travelling to the suburbs to work. It has brought me to this point now. All of the days of getting up early and getting home late have paid off. Very Happy

Life is what you make it and I am very happy with mine.

Cheers,

Shawn
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

<ho Shawn, good post and a perfect example of what you can achieve in Madrid. I have to take issue with one thing you said, though:

You don't see any negativity on the Spain board??? A typical response to someone asking about Spain is

1) You will hardly make any money-Not true as you can start doing well relatively quickly if you have a bit of gumption. In any event, rent aside, living costs are generally lower in Spain than other Western European countries.

2) All schools are cowboys-there are some (IH is my prime candidate) but they're fairly easy to avoid. Also someone's definition of cowboy school might be one that's none to happy about cowboy teachers. For example, when a teacher calls in sick one hour before the class while on the street. I've seen this happen and my boss was right to have a go at the teacher. I imagine she then gave the school a bad press.

3) Your classes will be all over the city and you will take years to get a good schedule-not true if you choose them wisely. One of my bosses basically told new clients that if they were miles away and wanted a class for one hour, the chances were the teacher wouldn't last long. Good boss and she held onto her clients and her teachers.

4)You cannot possibly work in Spain without an EU passport-Certain posters have been saying this forever (at least a few years before I joined). It may be the case now but it certainly wasn't the case three or four years ago. I knew lots of Americans and they got treated pretty well by employers. Why? Because they worked hard and were popular with students.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9652
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
4)You cannot possibly work in Spain without an EU passport-Certain posters have been saying this forever (at least a few years before I joined). It may be the case now but it certainly wasn't the case three or four years ago. I knew lots of Americans and they got treated pretty well by employers. Why? Because they worked hard and were popular with students.


Pre Jan 2009, basically what was said was that working illegally was somewhat risky, but possible.

Schengen zone laws that went into effect Jan 2009 have made things much more difficult.

The exception has always been working on a student visa or a working holiday visa, if applicable.

I have been around a long time and I don't recall anyone saying 'cannot possibly,' only 'there are risks.'
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Nicky_McG



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was paraphrasing Spiral. Here's what I meant to be clear: People were given the impression that if you came to Spain as a non-EU passport holder you'd struggle to ge a decent job at a decent school and that if you did get a job, it would be low-paid and you could be caught at any moment so it really wasn't worth coming. Patently absurd, of course.

As I've said before, I was no great fan of non-EU passport holders coming over as, theoretically at least, it lowers the pay for everyone. In practice, however, there was so much work to go round I doubt it made a blind bit of difference. Indeed, none of the ones I knew had worse working conditions than their British/Irish colleagues.

An American colleague of mine had a work permit for Madrid in the field of education that he'd gained after an amnesty. The Spanish Government could have done that more often during the boom times but they didn't.
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