Learning a new language while abroad
While you pursue your TEFL career in the foreign shores, it's but only natural to want to learn the native language where you're staying at. In fact many people move to a foreign country to learn a new language, such as spanish, and imbibe the culture of the country. As you may know, the easiest and fastest way to learn a language is speaking it on a daily basis and being there amongst the local people, immersing yourself in their culture.
However people do make mistakes when trying to learn a new language and often fall into the pitfalls of comfort especially when your job involves teaching English to a native population. So here are a few tips to help you become fluent in the native language and make the most of the time you spend abroad.
Read the basics of the language before you leave
A lot of people think that they'll become fluent by just interacting with the locals. I've had friends who refused to even learn the Spanish greeting until they stepped foot in Madrid. However, this is just foolhardy optimism for you really wouldn't have much time to study the basic verbs/grammar, what with your job, exploring the country, assimilating to the community and all. So you'll be left wandering around talking in a broken, foolish way without making much sense, which funny at first would soon become quite annoying. So read up on the basics before your flight lands.
Live with local roommates/homestays
Sure, living alone in your own apartment comes with a whole host of perks, not in the least being privacy and independence, but living in home stay/local roommates will put your assimilation on a fast track and you'll pick up the language that much faster seeing you'd be surrounded by people who speak Spanish all the time. You'll be forced to pick up the daily words/phrases and will have the opportunity to build up a great camaraderie with people who you can depend upon.
Don't hang out with English speaking friends
While this may tide you over the homesickness and keep you among those with whom you share a culture with, it does keep you in a bubble, insulated from the local happenings and the chance to learn a new language/integrate with the local community. You wouldn't progress much in speaking skills apart from the usual hola and adios. So keep away from those who speak English a lot, at least during the initial few weeks. I'm not saying avoid them, but that interacting in Spanish should be your main priority.
Go out on a date with local guy/girl
This is a secret trick to mastering the language. With one to one interactions where there's a huge incentive in learning the language, dating a local is a sure shot way to master the language quickly. Romance and going out with a person from the native country will help you become a part of the local community quickly. Going out with someone from Manchester who is a new TEFL teacher like yourself might just be tempting and comfortable initially, but it does nothing for your espanol.
Shed your inhibitions
You're in a new place, away from your comfort zone. So don't carry your shy/introvert personality across the sea. Yes, it is difficult to change who you really are, but change is what drove you to a foreign country and it's about time you open yourself up a bit. Indulge in random conversations in public, on the trains/bus, go for family dinner and social outing, get your party hat on in a disco and sign yourself up for a dance class. Take the initiative to put yourself out there and become more open. This is the only way you can interact with a large number of people and become fluent in the native language; who knows, you might even start liking the new you.