How to Teach English in Spain
Is teaching English as a second language a good career option?
The vast majority of countries, with English as their de jure official language, and the ever growing impact of globalization, has necessitated for more and more people to be conversant with the English language.
This in turn presents as a great career opportunity for many native speakers who have chosen teaching as their career. For such people, teaching English as a foreign language can be a job that requires minimal resources; and, what more, it can even provide one with the opportunity of a lifetime to travel and live in various exotic destinations.
Why should I teach English in Spain?
One such popular destination that has attracted many native English speakers is Spain. Amidst the rich culture, palatable cuisine and some of the most renowned historical monuments, it is little wonder why someone might be drawn to live and work in Spain. Be it for the love of great wine or futbol; for the enthralling works of Goya and Renaissance artist El Greco; the futuristic designs by Salvador Dali or the amazing art from Picasso, Spain craters to all these and much more. Needless to mention, it is also home to some of the most vaunted museums, namely, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.
Some other major benefits include:
- A good job market for native-English teachers – In the recent years, Spain has had one of the largest markets for “English as a Second Language (ESL)” teachers, in both the major and the smaller cities. There are many language institutions that prefer to higher native speakers instead of local teachers.
- Travelling is not too expensive – A good job market combined with the fact that travelling to and from between Spain and most English speaking countries, is relatively less expensive and a lot easier, presents all the more as a reason to want to teach English in Spain.
- International teaching experience – This is perhaps one of the best reasons to travel abroad to teach English. You can get international teaching experience on your resume, which will help your career by opening doors to better and better paid teaching opportunities.
Where can I find a teaching job in Spain?
Each year, hundreds of Canadians and Americans, find themselves recruited by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and private institutions and organizations to help teach English in different public institutes, with a further 10000 plus, hired by the private language schools.
Spain is also among the countries with highest paid teachers but even though they start high but teachers may not see any major pay increments during their careers.
ESL teachers are being recruited at both preschool and high school levels; as well as, some of the well renowned Spanish universities such as The University of Granada, The University of Salamanca, etc.
- Public schools – Getting pubic school jobs in Spain may not be as easy as in some of the other countries. You need to be an EU resident to be eligible for hiring; therefore, public schools are not considered as the primary job market for non-resident native-English teachers.
- Private schools – Private schools have a more lenient policy for hiring non-resident English teachers. Private schools also include language training centers and language learning schools.
If it is your first time teaching in these schools, you may be able to make anywhere between $17.55 and $23.40 per month. Full-time teachers can earn between $1,755 and $2,340 per month.
- Private lessons – Giving private lessons to individual students is a very common practice in Spain. It is a great way to supplement the salary from your regular job and get some valuable teaching experience. The key to getting these jobs is to know where to advertise for them. You can visit universities and college cafes and their online forums to tell students about your teaching services. You can also advertise in local newspapers or job boards.
You can charge around $25 per hour to your students but as a student become regular may be expected to offer discounts, which could take your earnings down by a dollar or two.
- Summer English camps – Looking for a short term gig to pay for your vacation in Spain? The English summer school camps might crater to your needs. The summer camps have gained popularity in the recent years, where young children are offered English classes during the summer holidays alongside other activities such as sports, excursions, cultural activities and workshops. Many colleges conduct these summer camps e.g. the Kings College, Enforex, Eurobridge International etc.
- Through a third party – These are the organizations that hire you as teachers and deploy you in different teaching institutions; they act as the “middle man”. These organizations usually help you with arranging for travel, accommodation additional orientation and travel plans. You can also get additional benefits such as health plans from these programs. The more popular programs include:
- Average salary can be around $1,145 per month
- International TEFL Academy in Barcelona and Madrid
- Average salary can be between $1,145 and $1,718 per month
- Premier TEFL
- Average salary can be around $360 per month as stipend and additional expenses such as accommodation and food cost.
- International TEFL and TESOL Training
- Average salary can be around $1,145 per month
What is the Non-American Language and Cultural Assistants Program?
This program is an initiative of Spain’s Ministry of Education which allows about 2000 Canadian and American participants to work as teaching assistants in different K-2 schools located throughout Spain. The increasing popularity of this relatively new program is creating more and more job opportunities for ESL teachers each year.
Requirements for applying to the program
- You have to be either a native or bilingual teacher of the language you apply for.
- You must have a university degree or must still be studying in one.
- You must have any one of the following passports
- US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or EU
- You must have mid-level Spanish speaking skills
Additional requirements for applying for the program
- You must have the following documents:
- Recommendation letter
- Letter of Intent
- Passports and its copies
Do I need a visa to travel to work as an ESL teacher in Span?
There might be, however, a small caveat to realizing this dream in Spain. Getting a working visa in Spain is not as easy, as is in many other European countries. Owing to economic and political government policies, it is extremely rare for the Spanish government to allow for a foreigner to live and work in Spain; and, for an employer to sponsor an ESL teacher. Therefore to work in Spain, an English language teacher might have to resort to one of the few alternate options available, namely the:
- Student Visa – a simple and “more legal” way of working in the country may be to obtain a student visa. For those who prefer going by the book, this type of visa allows one to legally work for about 20 hours in a week. In order for you to obtain this visa, you may either enrol in a university/ language school program to study Spanish, or apply for one of the Government endorsed teaching programs. The former begs considering the cost of the language course itself, which can lie anywhere upwards of USD 3000; the cost of the visa, which is dependent on the length of stay; and, 3 to 4 months of advanced planning. The latter on the other hand, requires one to apply for the program, several months in advance.
- The most popular of these programs, is the “Cultural Ambassadors Program” also known as the “Auxiliares de Conversación”, overlooked by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. The program sees English and French speakers from USA and Canada, placed in secondary and elementary schools all over Spain, as assistant language teachers. The program which runs every year from October to May/ June, recruits up to 2500 teachers, aged between 21-60 years. In some instances the applicant can express interest in teaching in certain areas of Spain, but assignments which are determined by the Ambassadors, can be anywhere in mainland Spain or overseas Spanish territories like the Canary Islands and Mallorca. While applicants have to bear their travel costs to and from Spain, they are, however, paid a stipend of around 700 Euros a month, as well as health insurance and long term student visa for the duration of the course.
- Tourist Visa – The tourist visa allows one to legally stay in Spain for up to 90 days. While teaching English in Spain, on this visa, is not uncommon, it is not necessarily legal and fraught with difficulties. The point to bear in mind, for those considering this visa option, is that “border hoping” to renew a Spanish tourist visa is not a possibility which in turn means one has to essentially work on an “expired” visa should they wish to work past the 90 days. Also, more often than not, a tourist visa does not allow for one to work in the destination country (Spain in this instance), and therefore, most people working on this visa are doing so “under the table” which means neither the employer nor the teacher are paying taxes and the teacher gets paid in cash. There is often no legally binding contract and no benefits offered.
- Despite the technicalities associated with working on this type of visa, it is still commonplace, owing partly, to the fact that qualified English language teachers are high in demand and many schools in Spain are willing to pay foreigners, specially Americans a handsome amount, to teach their students the “American dialect”. Additionally, hiring foreigners is a way to evade taxes and therefore saves these schools, a lot of money.
- Working holiday visa – Open only to people from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, this visa option allows one to legally work in Spain. The visa holder may be bound by certain restrictions and requirements such as need to prove sufficient funds and age limit between 18-35 years, but it does allow people from these nationalities to legally work in Spain as per a special work agreement between their country and Spain. Additionally, those with European union citizenship have a legal right to work in Spain as well.
Which city has the best job market for ESL teachers?
Having sorted out the visa, one needs to decide the city they want to move into. This will largely impact one’s job search, as certain larger cities like Barcelona and Madrid have the most number of language schools and therefore, naturally higher in demand for English teachers.
- The type of visa you are on also determines where you are more likely to get a job. Madrid – In Madrid, while preference is given to EU citizens and those on a work or student visa, given the high demand of ESL teachers, tourists are just as readily hired. What some of these schools do is, have their foreign teachers work off campus, often at a client company’s office, teaching English privately.
- Barcelona – Another popular destination for ESL teachers is Barcelona. Though the majority of schools in Barcelona employ only those on a valid work visa, one can expect to work in the private sector even if they do not have a work visa and are there on a tourist visa.
- Bilbao – It is yet another city offering similar job opportunities and finding a position in any one of these cities require thinking and planning pre-emptively.
What are the requirements for teaching English in Spain?
Once someone has decided to go work in Spain as an English teacher, there are other things that need to be considered and certain steps taken, to ensure a smooth transition.
As discussed above, the thing to consider foremost, is the type of visa. While the tourist visa option might be good enough for the more adventurous, obtaining a work visa might be a better option for the more pedantic.
There are then the prerequisites for the job itself, which requires one to hold a bachelor’s degree and even a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate in order to secure a better job.
Some programs offering TEFL and TESOL certification within Spain include:
- International TEFL Academy (ITA) in Madrid and Barcelona – One of the most well-known, ITA is based in Chicago, USA but has campuses in various locations throughout the world and is therefore a fairly accessible option
- International TEFL and TESOL Training (iTTT) – Another such organization is the iTTT that has been providing TESOL and TEFL certification since 1993 and does not only have campuses all over the world but also offers online courses.
- Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) – An NGO established in 1947 that aims to promote multiculturalism by providing exchange programs and offering various courses including TEFL.
Important tips while looking for a teaching job in Spain
As is evident, searching for jobs and working in Spain can be a pretty daunting experience, but there are certain tips that can help you secure your dream job.
- Join ESL Teaching Communities – As a working rule of thumb; one should join an ESL teaching community such as TEFL Teachers Association, where people who have been through or are currently going through the process, share their experiences and sometimes offer support.
- Have a Spanish CV – It may also be worthwhile to have your CV translated into Spanish as this helps avoid a cultural gap and, in turn help reach out further to local employers. Translating your CV into Spanish might be a good way to help you stand out.
- Lastly, researching different areas, locating schools therein and researching the schools themselves might save you a lot of time and effort, at the same time aid in decision making as to where you should apply and where you stand a better chance of getting employed.
- Locate schools in the area of your residence – There are certain web resources you can use, like eslbase.com and eslemployment.com, which are websites dedicated to resources related to ESL and EFL jobs and employment. They have related forums, articles and job postings that will aid in job search. Another good resource might be the Spanish yellow pages- paginasamarillas.es One can search for private institutes that hire or train ESL teachers.
What is the best season to look for jobs in Spain?
Needless to say, it is important you went during the hiring season if you want to land a good job. Mid- September to October, which marks the start of a new term in Spain, might be a good time to visit in order to interview in person. Another good time to visit might be the start of January- another hiring season which runs for a couple of weeks. Visiting outside of these periods might mean you will have to initially make do with private tutoring as jobs otherwise, are harder to find.
Do I need experience to become an ESL teacher in Spain?
While it is not imperative you have prior experience of teaching English, much like any other job, more experience presents with better job opportunities and a higher pay rate.
If you do not, however, have the relevant experience, fret not. One can still be deployed in an entry level job and gain experience.
Do you need to learn Spanish to teach English in Spain?
Now to some, the big question before making the transition to a different culture, with a different language, might be whether or not should they learn Spanish.
It is true that having a command over Spanish language will give you an edge and open a whole new world of possibilities for you to work in Spain. It will allow you to interact and mingle with the locals; learn the local trends and culture. It is, however, not entirely imperative upon you to know the language. Just enough to help you get around and about is good. There are several dialects of Spanish spoken throughout Spain which makes it fairly impossible to learn them all but if one can learn just the basics and the general greetings, they should be able to function just fine.
What is the average salary of an ESL teacher in Spain?
The salary of an English teacher in Spain depends on a number of factors:
- The city in which you teach
- Your experience
- The institution you work for
- And in many cases your academic level
An ESL teacher in Spain can expect to earn anywhere between $1,374 to $2,291, which may not ensure an extremely luxurious lifestyle, but is still enough to live comfortably and crater to all the expenses.
The amount you earn is also dependent on the institute you teach in. For example, language schools and public schools can pay about the same amount around $916 – $1,374, with private tutoring paying slightly more and summer camps paying $372 – $458 fortnightly.
Considering, on average, the living cost in Spain can be anywhere between $973 – $1,718 depending on where and how you live, it might be cutting it close for an ESL teacher, however the international experience that comes off it, is worthwhile.
Will I get travel and accommodation expenses from my employer?
Travel expenses and accommodation is also often not covered for by the employer. As discussed earlier, many teachers working in Spain, are doing so “under the table” and therefore the employer is not obliged to pay for housing or travel expenses. Teaching at a summer camp might be different in that the teachers get to live on the camp which is covered for, by the school.
How is the transportation system in Spain?
Getting around and about Spain is relatively easy and owning a car is not entirely necessary. Spain has an. extensive system of public transport including metro/ light rails, buses and the high speed intercity train- the AVE (Alta Velocidad), which links most of the major cities.
How can I find accommodation in Spain?
Buying or renting property in Spain is relatively easy for foreigners, as there are no restrictions upon them for doing so. The various ways to find an accommodation are via online property adverts, word of mouth, estate agent or inmobiliarias, and newspapers.
Properties maybe furnished or unfurnished and largely vary in terms of cost. Therefore a thorough search and viewing of the property before finally buying/ renting is important.
Is it safe to live in Spain?
Crimes against tourists are more common in areas with high tourist influx, such as in Barcelona and Madrid, and include “pick-pocketing, mugging, and occasional violent attacks”. However, according to statistical data obtained by agencies in Spain and EU, Spain has one of the lowest crime rates in the European Union, thereby making it a relatively safe place to live in.
Can I teach English online to Spanish students?
For those not worked up about the idea of leaving home and living in a foreign land, teaching English online to Spanish students is an excellent idea. There are companies that function online and hire teachers. Even someone living in Spain can complement their income by teaching online and at their own pace. Some of the companies that allow you to teach Spanish students online, include the “International TEFL Academy”, “Break into English” and “TutorFair”.
All in all, teaching English in Spain can be an amazing opportunity. Between the delicious food and the sangrias, the beautiful coastline and beaches, futbol and an intense culture, living in Spain, can be an experience akin to none other. And, for native English speakers, all it takes to enjoy that life, is the will to teach English and a bit of a research. After all Spain is among countries with best paid teaching jobs in the world.