Teach English in Spain

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Teach English in Spain
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Teach English in Spain

Spain is gorgeous country with lively people and many travelers’ dream destination. Beyond the famed Madrid and Barcelona, smaller regional cities like Granada and Coruna beckon, as do hidden rural areas of the country like Galicia. The lifestyle can be quite relaxed and stress-free and the society is a very progressive one. You probably already know that the food and music here are second to none. The country’s economy has struggled and unemployment is very high, but Spain carries on despite its problems with typical cheer. The economic troubles have actually created more demand for foreign English instructors, as students and professionals strive to add English fluency (a very marketable skill) to their resume.

Types of Jobs and Salaries

You should consider that none of the jobs below pay for your airfare, housing, or other benefits – in stark contrast to other ESL gigs, especially in Asia.

CAPS (Conversation Assistant Programme for Schools) is a volunteer program for foreign teachers in Spain’s Catalonia and Valencia regions. Applicants work in public schools helping as a Conversation Teaching Assistant. The CAPS program offers room and board and a modest stipend of EUR 200. Because you live with a CAPS host family, this is a fantastic opportunity for cultural exchange and immersion.

The North American Culture and Language Assistants run by the Spanish government Ministry of Education is the best-known route for teaching English in Spain. This program hires over 2,000 US and Canadian citizens each year to work as an English teaching assistant and cultural ambassador in public schools, teaching students from kindergarten to Grade 12. The unusual thing with this program, as well as CAPS and BEDA, is you don’t need to have a completed BA to participate - they accept college juniors and seniors. The required commitment is only 12-16 hours of classes per week, which gives teachers plenty of spare time to explore Spain. One catch is they want applicants to have decent conversational Spanish already. The 700-1000 Euro stipend doesn’t go far in Spain, so you should view this as a volunteer gig or supplement with private lessons.

BEDA (Bilingual English Development and Assessment) is a parallel Language & Culture Assistant program in private (but government-subsidized) Catholic schools, primarily in the Madrid area. Pay is a bit better than the regular ministry program - EUR 900-1200 for an 18-24 hour work week. Being Catholic is not required and other faiths are welcome. Finally, UCETAM is another similar government program for those who already have some teaching experience.

Another route is teaching in private language academies, with salaries averaging about 1400 Euros a month, but finding work is tougher than with the government programs. If you are a non-EU citizen, you will find it tougher still, though not impossible, to convince a school to sponsor your visa. Here’s some feedback from a Spanish employer on this issue:  

“It IS possible to get employed in the EU as a US citizen, at least as an EFL teacher in Spain. We are a small school and have previously employed Americans and gone through the paper work to get them their work visa. What you need to do is be someone that it is worth employing, like any other job application. If you are someone who is committed to the work, bright and qualified, then you can find employers who will want you and hire you, inspite of the paperwork (which you can mostly take off the hands of your employer, so it is actually not that big a deal). So dont be disheartened, and just be proactive and come with a great work ethic, and you will stand out!” (from http://www.eslbase.com/forum/viewtopic/looking-for-jobs-in-spain-american-without-work-visa/).  

To work in a private ESL academy, the typical qualifications you will need are: native English proficiency, a university degree, and CELTA-level TEFL certification. Some places to check out for private jobs are GoOverseas, TEFL.com and Spainwise. Popular chains include International House and British Council. FECEI is a professional association that maintains a directory of reputable private academies at http://www.fecei.org/listado-academias/all/ingl%C3%A9s. Finally, Pueblo Ingles by Diverbo is a great volunteer teaching opportunity with no program fees and room and board covered – but only for one week.

Visa Process

The various government programs will help you with your visa process. For private academy jobs, you will most likely need to secure your offer and visa from abroad (UK and Irish citizens have the enviable option of simply showing up in Spain to look for these private jobs because of the EU visa-free regime).