Teach English in Spain: How to Live Abroad & Find a Job
If you're interested in teaching English in Spain, you've come to the right place. You won't find a more cohesive and thorough guide on the matter, so sit down, get comfortable, and get ready to start taking the first steps towards beautiful, sunny, España as an English teacher.
Teaching English abroad is not only a lucrative career path, it's becoming more and more common. You can find international English teachers in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Spain, and all over the world.
Many governments subsidize said programs because they acknowledge the growing importance of the English language and want to invest in qualified, native speakers to teach their citizens.
That's where you come in!
Here you'll find information on:
Working in Spain, teaching English in Spain, a breakdown of the main English teaching programs in Spain, as well as where to find work, the cost of living, and how to land your dream teaching job!
Working in Spain
So you want to work in Spain! That’s wonderful, and completely possible. There are however a few things to keep in mind first:
There’s a 25% unemployment rate currently, and it’s extremely concentrated amongst the 22-35 age bracket.
What does that mean?
It means that people are doing what they can: staying in school longer, or taking jobs outside of their fields. It’s a compromise that people are willing to make to earn a living here. There are people with 2 master’s degrees, and a doctorate who work at grocery stores. On the other hand, there’s also a brain drain going on as we speak. The brightest and best are leaving.
There are consequences that will affect you. For example, most employers will expect you to have some sort of advanced degree, or two. They will expect you to speak at least two languages. They also expect titles. They call it titulitis. Everyone is obsessed with certifications (Cambridge, CELTA, TEFL).
The one market that is doing extremely well during the crisis is English teaching.
Because they need native speakers (that’s us) and because all the young professionals need one thing to get a job here: a high level of English. If you understand this concept, you can see why English teaching is such a popular field to go into.
Teaching English in Spain: What to Know
If your passion is teaching there are a few steps you can take in order to ensure that you’ll find steady and lucrative employment abroad.
Have a certification (state or otherwise) from the United States or an English-speaking country
Have 2-3 letters of recommendation updated and ready to go (and eventually translated and validated, if necessary)
Testimonials (letters from former students with testimonials) This can also be done by creating a Google+ business page or via Linkedin
Linkedin is becoming more universal. Keep your profile updated and active
Certified in the target language where you’ll be teaching (not mandatory, but shows that you can communicate with coworkers and staff and integrate into the community)
Many teaching programs in Spain are lenient in terms of qualifications; however, I suggest that if you're a teacher, by trade, and are coming here with years of experience under your belt, that you shoot for the more exclusive opportunities like working in charter schools (concertados) or private schools.
If, on the other hand, you're just starting out, there are many options so as long as you have a passport from an English-speaking country, a college degree and fall into a certain age range (which varies depending on the program).
Key: Just because you enter a country as an English teacher doesn’t mean that that’s all you’ll do, or that you’ll do it forever. English teaching is a great way to get your foot in the door.
Which Program is Best?
There are lots of terms that are thrown around such as BEDA, Auxiliar, TEFL, UCETAM, Instituto Franklin, etc. Well, we’d like to shed some light on their differences, similarities and pros and cons.
There are several ways to teach english in Spain; however, not all programs are created equally: some provide visas, others don’t; some only allow participants to live with families; others have a both a minimum and a maximum age. Hopefully we can clear up some of the confusion below.
Auxiliares de Conversación: North American Language and Culture Assistants
Who: Anyone from 18 - 35 that holds a passport from an English speaking country AND a degree from an accredited University
Where: They place all over the country EXCEPT: Melia and Catalunya and they work in PUBLIC SCHOOLS and some Official Language Schools
When: Program Dates: Oct 1 - May 31
Castilla y León: September 15 - June 15
Madrid: October 1 - June 30
How: You fill out an online application, upload the necessary documents as PDF files, and it’s literally first come, first serve. So get in early! The documents include a copy of your diploma and/or transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a personal statement and a copy of your passport.
When to apply: January 7th till April 7th.
What: You will work as an assistant to a head teacher. Your job is to complement theirs: make supplementary materials, prepare games and activities and speak with the children in English.
Why: You work 16 hours a week and earn between 750 and 1000 euros a month (depends on your region’s cost of living) tax free. They assist in the visa process (barely), give you private health insurance and you’re only required to work 4 days a week (if you're lucky, 3).
Who: Meddeas is great for young adults looking to teach English in Spain as a gap year or recent graduate. Like the other programs, English must be your native language.
Where: They place participants throughout the country and participants teach 20 hours a week.
When: You can start in January and even choose your dates. The program lasts 10 months and they provide assistance with student visas.
What: Your job is that of a teacher’s assistant. To help the students learn English through speaking and learning games and complement what the head teacher does in terms of lesson plans.
How: There is a box on their webpage that allows you to ask for more information. Sit tight, and they will get back to you with the application and information. There’s no cost to participate, but again, there’s a deposit that will be returned upon successful completion.
Why: Meddeas offers participants the chance to live in a home stay which is great for young travelers looking to ease their way into living abroad. The stipend is around 850 euros for 20 hours, and for those living with a host family it’s about 450 euros.
BEDA: Bilingual English Development Assessment
Who: BEDA hires anyone that holds a passport from an English speaking country AND a degree from an accredited University.
Where: Beda places its student teachers in Catholic schools throughout Madrid and is also expanding to other regions in Spain such as Andalucia and Castilla-La Mancha.
When: The term lasts 9 months and applications open in November and close in January.
What: BEDA asks its teachers to focus on English language acquisition through speaking and listening. They are asked to practice speaking and comprehension activities with the students as well as assist in Cambridge exam preparation.
How: There is an application to fill out and an interview. If you are selected after a successful application and interview, you’re required to pay a 175 euro deposit to secure your placement.
Why: BEDA works with Catholic schools, provides private health insurance and visa assistance for its participants. You can also renew your position for up to 3 years, unlike the other programs. You can choose how many hours you’d like to work, and the pay ranges from 873 euros to 1165 euros. If you’re interested in earning a certificate, BEDA enrolls all of its participants in the Universidad Las Comillas and you are required to attend classes on ESL; however, upon completion, you will be certified as official Cambridge English Examiners.
UCETAM: Unión Cooperativa de Enseñanza de Trabajo Asociado de Madrid
Who: To our knowledge, there is no age limit for UCETAM; however, you must hold a passport from an English speaking country, a college degree and be a native English speaker. They do work very closely with NYU, Middlebury, and Tufts, so many of their applicants do come from those schools.
Where: At this time, they only place in the Comunidad de Madrid. Unlike with other programs, you do not have a choice as to where you’re placed, not even a ranking.
When: UCETAM goes from September until the end of May or the middle of June. They also have an orientation and evaluations to complete at the end of the school year.
How: Their application is quite long, as it’s a series of essay questions. The final document must be sent as a PDF to their admissions coordinator. They have much less spaces available and are more selective with their candidates. There is a two year limit for the program as well. You can apply to UCETAM and apps usually open in January. It is not a lottery system.
What: You will work in concertados which loosely translates to charter schools in the United States. They are private schools and owned by the directors and teachers. Your job is to lead activities in English and depending on the school, you may have more or less autonomy in the classroom.
Why: Although you will work 5 days a week, if you are allotted 26 hours, you earn around 1300 euros a month, which is the highest paying English Teaching program. This is a program for those with a genuine interest in teaching, who are looking for more independence in the room and feel comfortable in this role.
If you want a bit more control over how much you earn, the types of classes you teach and your timetable, you can get a TEFL certificate in Madrid. Whether you’re looking to work with kids or adults, in academies or businesses, a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate trains you how to prepare classes, work with different levels and teach English with confidence. What’s more, an accredited TEFL is a qualification for life and gives you the chance to work internationally so it prepares you well whether you are looking to teach English for the short or long term.
Who: Anyone who is over 21 years old and has a degree (some exceptions can be made depending on experience).
Where: An accredited TEFL certificate can be used all over the world. There are endless programs you can take all throughout the country. TtMadrid offers a four week TEFL program and is one of the leading TEFL program in Spain, guaranteeing work teaching English in Madrid on graduation.
When: You can start at any point in the year. There are TEFL programs that includes a year’s student visa.
What: With TTMadrid, the TEFL course is four weeks and after that you can find work with academies, companies and agencies. You create your own timetable and can choose what type of classes you will teach.
Helen Finnegan, Program Manager for TtMadrid says:
“There is plenty of work in Spain for English teachers. Our TEFL course has hundreds of graduates every year from all walks of life and no matter what type of classes they are looking for; business classes, classes with kids or in schools; they are always successful in finding work.”
How: You can sign up for most TEFL programs at any point throughout the year.
Why: An accredited TEFL is a qualification for life and enables you to teach English internationally. Accredited TEFL programs should include observed teaching practices so you feel 100% prepared to step into the classroom and teach English.
Where to Find other jobs in Spain
There you have it! What you need to know to get started on teaching English in Spain!
If you have any questions or want to give feedback, you can always leave a comment below, or email us at email@example.com