Many young professionals, at the latter part of their college career or upon graduating from college, decide to go to Spain to teach English. Why Spain instead of other European countries? The demand for English teachers in Spain is growing, as English proficiency levels in Spain stand drastically lower than those of its neighboring countries. During this time of economic uncertainty, learning English is a way for Spaniards to stand out in the job market. Young professionals and college students in the United States and Canada decide to teach English in Spain for a myriad of reasons including launching their careers as language educators or immersing themselves in the Spanish culture and taking part in European excursions.
This is the most common question asked by individuals looking to teach English abroad. There are ways around being TEFL certified to teach English in Spain. However, the opportunities are certainly greater if you do have a TEFL certification. There are essentially two different options for teaching English in Spain. The first option is to be a Language and Cultural Assistant in a public school (sometimes private), and the second option is to be an English teacher in an English language academy. The two sections below will outline the expectations and differences between the two options.
Typically Language and Cultural Assistants (auxiliaries) are placed in a primary, secondary or an adult language school. An auxiliary is a native English speaker whose role is to contribute to the bilingual program by planning English conversational lessons with an emphasis on their native country’s culture.
The most popular program is through Spain’s Ministry of Education. This program provides a 1-year grant to 2,000 native English speakers in the United States and Canada.
Participants of this program can be placed in any region of Spain. When applying for the position, applicants are able to choose their top two regions, but have little say on their exact placement. An auxiliary can be either placed in a city or a small town. As much as an auxiliary might prefer living in a large city, it is important to not rule out the towns as these smaller communities can have a lot to offer culturally. Additionally, the public transportation in Spain (and most of Europe) makes travel very easy.
Similar to the Spanish Ministry of Education’s auxiliary program, CIEE Teach Abroad has partnered with the Junta de Andalucia to place individuals in a year-long Language and Cultural Assistance program in both the major cities and small towns of Andalusia.
There is also the Bilingual English Development and Assessment (BEDA) program, which places participants in private catholic schools mainly in Madrid. Unlike the other two auxiliary programs, BEDA requires the auxiliaries to take a course at Comilla University on bilingual education and assessment.
Work Schedule. Language and Cultural Assistants work in the classroom 12 hours a week. Because they are not full-time employees, they are not required to be TEFL certified. These programs are often a great opportunity to sort out post-grad plans or to spend some time abroad before launching one’s career. On the other hand, it is a great stepping stone into the field of teaching.
Expectations. In order to be qualified for a position within an English academy, you must be TEFL certified. In doing this, you have the option to enroll in a TEFL certification class with the academy where you will be teaching upon arriving to Spain, or you can enroll in an online TEFL certification before arriving to your destination. However, if an individual decides to go this route they will have to find a way to fulfill the mandatory classroom hours. International House and International TEFL Academy are two of the many English academies through which one can obtain their TEFL certification at in Spain. Working at an academy, you are more likely to have a secure job with full-time hours which are 20-25 classroom hours.
Many people do not teach English in Spain (or anywhere in Europe) for the pay. An auxiliary typically gets a monthly stipend of 700 Euros whereas a teacher in an academy can make anywhere from 1300 to 1800 Euros a month. That said, the cost of living is relatively low compared to many of the surrounding countries in Europe and the Unites States, for that matter. One of the best ways to supplement a native English speaker’s income is by giving private lessons in either their home, at a café or at the client’s home. Classes can range anywhere from 14 - 25 Euros per hour depending on experience and the region.
As a Language and Cultural Assistant, a participant is eligible for a 1 - year student visa. In order to obtain their visa, they will need to go to the closest general consulate to get all of the paperwork processed. The Language and Cultural Assistance program is the easiest way to obtain a visa while working in Spain. An English teacher with an academy will need to be sponsored by the academy in order to obtain a work visa. This process is a little more time-consuming and tedious but can be done if one is determined to make it happen.
Why You Need a Savings. Unlike other English teaching programs in other parts of the world, the programs in Spain do not take care of a participant’s airfare, housing, or any other expenses. For that reason, it is important to come over with money to cover at least one to two months of living expenses. The easiest way to find a place to live is to book a hostel in the city and live there for a couple of nights. Once you arrive, there are a few different websites you can use to search for shared apartments. For the purpose of finding an apartment, it is a smoother process for those that know the language or have someone with them that does. It is uncommon for apartments to come unfurnished. Living with local Spaniards or international people, will make it easier to make friends and immerse in the culture. This also greatly helps in learning Spanish.