A Guide To Teaching Abroad in Spain
The Spanish way of life sounds almost too good to be true: late-night fiestas, tapas on a balmy terrace, weekly street festivals, and a population with a never-ending enthusiasm for life. Who could be so lucky as to enjoy all this and make a living? Teaching English in Spain is the opportunity of a lifetime, and not only for the endless supply of sugar-dusted churros. Whether you’re a TEFL-certified teacher with years of experience or a novice who’s curious Spanish culture, teaching is the perfect way to experience la vida español.
Choosing a location to teach English in Spain is easy because every corner of the country is filled with lively plazas, historic landmarks, and unique local cultures. Add in a gentle Mediterranean climate and a tendency for mid-day siestas, and it’s easy to see why Spain is such a popular destination for both work and play.
Madrid, Spain’s capital city is one of the largest cities in Southern Europe. Teachers who choose to teach in Madrid will experience the Spanish lifestyle to its fullest amidst modern architecture, acclaimed restaurants, and world-class museums.
Barcelona, the second-largest city in Spain which is situated in the semi-autonomous Catalonia region. When you’re done with lessons, explore the mind-bending Parc Güell, lounge on a nearby beach, or stroll down Las Ramblas while snacking on a bocadillo. You’ll also want to brush up on your Catalan, as this local language is spoken widely throughout the region.
Seville, a laid-back city in Spain’s Andalusia region, is an enticing option for teachers who want a mix of history and culture while teaching English in Spain. Make sure to take in a flamenco show or participate in the Feria de Sevilla, a week-long street festival famous for dancing, drinking, and socializing.
The Spanish possess a notoriously laid-back attitude, but don’t let that lull you into thinking your time teaching in Spain will be all fun and games. Teaching is hard work, and luckily, teaching jobs in Spain are available for individuals with all levels of experience.
One of the most popular teaching opportunities in Spain is run by Spain’s Ministry of Education, which hires individuals to work as language and cultural assistants in public schools. Assistants are typically placed in primary or secondary schools and facilitate conversation lessons with an emphasis on their native country’s culture. Other teaching jobs in Spain entail similar tasks but are based in private schools and include Spanish language study or TEFL certification.
If you’re TEFL- or CELTA-certified, contractual teaching jobs in private academies are an option. These positions usually include a monthly salary, benefits, and vacation time; however, you’re also the primary instructor for the course and must have prior teaching experience. These teaching jobs are easier to obtain if you already have permission to work in the country.
For those who don’t have a lot of teaching experience or who are looking for a more immersive cultural experience, in-home private tutoring is a good option.
Salaries. Most people don’t teach English in Spain for the pay. An assistant typically gets a monthly stipend of €700 whereas a teacher in a private academy can make anywhere from €1300 to €1800 a month. That being said, the cost of living is relatively low.
Accomodation. Some teach abroad programs in Spain pre-arrange housing for participants, either with a host family or reduced-cost accommodations on school property. Other teaching opportunities offer incoming teachers assistance in finding a place to live, while some provide none at all. Knowing in advance if you’ll receive help is useful, especially if your Spanish language skills are minimal.
Visas. Visas vary depending on your teaching job in Spain and employer. Assistants sponsored by the government can apply for a one-year student visa, while teachers working at an academy will be required to obtain a work visa. It’s important to verify with your employer in advance what type of visa you’ll need and if they’ll be sponsoring you, and to remember that visa processing can take several weeks or more. Check out for more information.
Safety. Spain is one of the safest European countries for travelers. However, it is always important to remain aware of your surroundings and play safety first.
Teaching in Spain is a great choice for beginners in the field of ESL. Many teaching programs offer certification in addition to teaching experience in the classroom, which serves as a great jumping-off point for a teaching career anywhere in the world. That being said, arriving with some knowledge of Spanish, if not actual teaching skills, will greatly enhance your experience.
Be selective in choosing your school. While most language schools in Spain are legitimate, some are better than others. Evaluate each school’s accreditation, find out what kind of support teachers receive, and study your contract. It’s in everyone’s best interest that you work in a legal and supportive environment. Teaching English in Spain isn’t a walk in the park, but with the right school you can find great support.
Teaching English in Spain is a great way to experience Spanish culture while practicing your skills as an ESL instructor. You may fall in love with the country and stay forever, or you may take your newly acquired skills and put them to use somewhere else. Whatever happens next, a year in Spain is sure to be filled with energetic nights, hundreds of tiny tapas plates, and more grammar worksheets than you can ever imagine.
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