8 insider tips for teaching English in Spain

If you live in your home country, job hunting is a relatively straightforward process – polish your resume, apply for jobs and wait for an interview.You already speak the language, probably know which websites to search for jobs, and have a network of people who can point you to job openings or otherwise help you find a job.

But perhaps you do not want something simple.Maybe you want to learn a new language, experience a different culture, and are looking for the adventure you can only find teaching English abroad – and what better country to do that than Spain?

Finding a teaching position in Spain, however, is a completely different story.Unlike at home, you probably don't have a network of people who can help you find a job, and the thought of moving to another country you've never lived in can be overwhelming.So before you take the plunge, here are some things you should know about teaching English in Spain.

1.Know when& Where to find jobs

When it comes to finding a teaching job in Spain, the Internet is your friend.Since English teachers are in high demand in Spain, there are numerous programs that help prospective English teachers find teaching positions throughout the country.

These programs range from free and basic, like the popular North American Language and Cultural Assistants Program, to CIEE, which offers additional help with visas and housing for a small fee.Having everything in place before you even arrive in Spain can make your life easier, because the last thing you want to do is look for a job, find an apartment, and make new friends all at the same time.

The Spanish school year runs from October to June. So the best time to look for a job is from January to March of the year you want to start.However, some schools hire as early as January, so it's worth looking for openings in the fall as well.And if you want to spend your summer in Spain, check the job boards in April or May for positions at immersive English summer camps.Keep in mind, however, that August is a quiet month in Spain – most Europeans (including Spaniards) are on vacation at this time, and job choices will be slim.

Pro tip: Don't rely on the internet for everything!While it's helpful to find a job in advance, sometimes plans change and decisions have to be made in a matter of seconds.You can always go to the city of your choice – be it Madrid, Seville or Barcelona – and look for a job locally.

2.Do your research on the types of teaching jobs available

Most English teaching positions fall into two categories: public schools and private schools and academies.Each has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as different requirements.For example, it is almost impossible to find a position at a public school in Spain unless you participate in a government program, such as the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program, especially if you are not from the EU.

Some private schools and academies are willing to pay under the table, so this is possible if you don't have a visa yet.You can apply for these positions in person or online, depending on the school.Search the schools or academies you want to apply to on a job board and ask about openings by email, phone, or in person.Some private schools will require you to have teaching experience or a TEFL certificate. So make sure you meet the requirements they are looking for.

Pro tip: Teaching English isn't the most lucrative career choice, but you can supplement your income with private lessons (clases particulares).Depending on where in Spain you live, you can charge between €15 and €25 per hour per class, more if you have additional qualifications such as a TEFL certificate or teaching experience.The best way to find these opportunities is through word of mouth, but you can also post an ad on a classifieds website like tusclasesparticulares or put out flyers to find more students.This type of income is not as reliable as working at a school, but it is a good side hustle!

3.Know the requirements for teaching English in Spain

As with any job, you can't expect to land in Spain and get a job without having some sort of resume – there are certain qualifications you need to meet before you can find a job.

The most important requirement is that you are a native English speaker.That being said, qualifications may vary depending on the type of job you are looking for.Most paid jobs require you to have a four-year degree, and you definitely have an advantage if you have a TEFL certificate before you start looking for a job (you can also get your TEFL certificate in Spain if that fits your schedule better). However, there are some exceptions: The Meddeas program, in particular, offers an option for applicants who don't yet have a degree.

4.Consider volunteering as a teacher in Spain

If you have a limited time frame, volunteering may be the best option for you.These positions usually last no longer than three months and are not paid – however, homestay accommodation is provided so you have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of a Spanish family and really improve your Spanish!

Companies like CIEE and Greenheart Travel offer such opportunities, but don't be afraid to expand your search on the internet to find a volunteer program that matches your interests.

Pro-tip: If you're only planning to travel to Spain for a week or two, you might want to take a vacation instead.Students have a hard time learning when teachers come and build a relationship with them, then leave after a week.

5.Understand the visa types

Unless you are an EU citizen, most English teachers enter Spain on a 90-day tourist visa and work under the table.You will be paid in cash, but you will not be eligible for certain benefits such as job security and health insurance.EU citizens, on the other hand, will have no problem securing a legal job.

For us non-EU citizens, working legally means finding an employer to apply for a work permit.This is more difficult and time-consuming than it sounds – your employer will need to prove that there are no EU citizens eligible for your position, a difficult feat when there are English-speaking applicants from Ireland who can work without a lot of paperwork.

Fortunately, though, there is another option for aspiring English teachers in Spain: the student visa.If you are studying in Spain, you can work part-time as long as you apply for a work permit at the immigration office.Other long-term teaching programs, such as the CIEE and Auxiliares programs mentioned earlier, qualify you for a student visa that allows you to stay and teach for 6 to 9 months – even if you're not studying.

6.Salaries& Compare cost of living

Salaries for teaching English in Spain vary greatly depending on what type of school you work for and where you live.If you join a program, you will earn between €700 and 1.000 € (800 $ – 1.100 $) per month for 12-16 hours of work per week, while at a private school you will earn between 1.500 € and 2.000 € (1.700 $ – 2.250 $) per month for 25 hours of work.This may not be enough to save up for a new car when you return home, but if you live frugally, you can live well on these salaries.

For some extra money, you can try teaching private lessons after school.You can charge between €15 and €20 ($17-$22.50) per hour – more if you have teaching experience or a TEFL certificate.Just check with other English teachers for the average cost of private lessons in your city.You don't want to sell yourself short after all!

Pro tip: Remember that while salaries are higher in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid, the cost of living is also higher.When you have paid rent, food and transportation costs, you don't have much money left at the end of the month if you live in a city or a small pueblo.

7.Speaking Spanish helps everywhere

While speaking Spanish is not a requirement for teaching English in Spain, it will certainly be helpful in your life outside of the classroom!Only about 27% of Spaniards speak English. Being able to communicate in Spanish is a huge advantage when looking for a place to live, going grocery shopping, or asking for directions.

This is especially true if you live in a smaller town that is not visited by many tourists.Learning the basics of Spanish before you arrive, or taking a Spanish course after you arrive, will make the transition easier, and the people you meet will appreciate it if you try to speak their language – no matter what your accent sounds like.

Pro tip: Although Spanish is spoken throughout the country, some regions of Spain have their own languages.The most obvious example is the region of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona – although virtually everyone understands and speaks Spanish, Catalan is the language in which locals converse among themselves.Learning a few words of the local language will welcome you into new social circles and show your new friends that you are genuinely interested in their culture.Bona sort!

8.Be unbiased

Sunshine, sangria, siesta – that's what Spain is all about, right??Although these elements can be found in some parts of the country, don't rely on these stereotypes when teaching classes or making new friends.

For example, the majority of Spaniards don't sleep during their lunch break, and some of Spain's northern provinces, such as Asturias, have year-round rainy weather that is more reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. than the sunny Mediterranean landscapes you see in travel brochures.Spain is an economically, culturally and linguistically diverse country. So do your research before you leave and be open to the people you will meet and the scenes you will see.

Although the idea of going abroad to teach English can be daunting, it's entirely doable if you do your research well and maintain a sense of adventure!No matter what path you take to teach in Spain – whether you volunteer, work at a private academy, or participate in a program – your experience teaching English in Spain is sure to be unique.

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