As you start searching for ESL jobs, you may notice that it’s tough to land a teaching gig in Western Europe if you don’t have a European Union passport. But if you’ve been dreaming of tapas, flamenco dancing, and vibrant fiestas in Spain, you could still be in luck.
We want to tell you about an ESL teaching program in Spain called the Cultural Ambassadors Program. Run by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, this initiative hires up to 2,500 American and Canadian citizens to teach English in Spanish primary and secondary schools.
During the program, you’ll work as an auxiliare de conversación—or a conversation assistant—meaning you’re an assistant language teacher. It’s a great introductory job to ESL teaching if you’re recently TEFL certified and looking for your first job teaching English in Western Europe.
To learn everything you need to know about becoming a Cultural Ambassador in Spain, just keep scrolling down the page. All the exciting details await you!
How Long is the Cultural Ambassador Program?
In most Spanish cities, the Cultural Ambassador Program runs from October until May 31. Madrid is a notable exception, as their program spans October 1 to June 30.
Certain schools will extend the offer to renew your contract for the following year. So, if you’re having a blast teaching English to Spanish kids, you might not have to say goodbye in May or June!
Who is Eligible for the Cultural Ambassador Program?
To be eligible for the Cultural Ambassador Program in Spain, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Canadian or American citizenship and a valid passport for that country.
- Speak English or French as your first language.
- Education requirements include: having a BA or BS degree by the end of the academic year prior to the program’s start date, be enrolled in a university program as a junior or senior, or be a university graduate.
- Basic Spanish language skills. (Applicants should submit any relevant documents as proof, such as transcripts showing Spanish language credits.)
- Applicants must be between 21 and 60 years of age. If you wish to teach in Madrid, you must be 35 or younger.
- You must be deemed physically and psychologically healthy. (A signed letter from a physician is required.)
- You must pass a background check.
The Cultural Ambassador Program’s official application guidelines also state that you should be “open-minded and have a flexible attitude,” as you’ll be working as an assistant in a classroom setting with children.
Do Applicants Need a TEFL/TESOL certificate?
While the short answer is no, you’re going to want to hear the long answer. Spain’s Cultural Ambassador Program doesn’t formally require that you have a TEFL/TESOL certificate, but being certified could give your application an extra advantage.
In recent years, the program has become increasingly competitive, so applicants with TEFL/TESOL certification are likely to be favored over those without. After all, the certificate shows your commitment to learning and mastering the best methods for teaching English.
By completing your TEFL/TESOL training, you’ll also find it easier to teach English to your ESL students in Spain. Thus, the experience will be more rewarding and fun for everyone involved.
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Applying for the Cultural Ambassador Program
Applications for Spain’s Cultural Ambassador Program typically open in mid-January and close in mid-April. However, we strongly recommend double-checking with their official website!
The Cultural Ambassador Program uses an application portal called PROFEX. Using PROFEX, you create a username and passport, input manually your passport information, and complete the resume section. Afterward, you must attach the following documents:
- A scanned copy of your Canadian or American passport’s main page.
- Your university transcript or copies of your degree(s) and/or diploma(s).
- A signed 250 to 300-word statement of purpose or cover letter, written in English or French, that details your reasons for wishing to participate in the program.
- A signed 250-word reference letter from a professor or employer.
- If you also hold an EU passport, the program requests that your doctor submit a signed letter that attests to your physical and mental health.
What is the Salary for Cultural Ambassadors?
Cultural Ambassadors receive a modest monthly salary of €700 ($796 USD) in most Spanish cities. However, if you are working in Madrid, you may earn up to €1,000 ($1137 USD) per month. They also receive basic medical insurance, offered through Spain’s national healthcare system.
While many Cultural Ambassadors live comfortably on their salaries, others opt to supplement their incomes by offering childcare services or private tutoring in English. The choice is ultimately yours!
It’s also prudent to arrive in Spain with a few thousand dollars in savings.
Does the Cultural Ambassador Program Cover Flights and Housing?
No, successful applicants are responsible for covering the cost of their flights to Spain, along with paying the rental costs on accommodations. Cultural Ambassadors are also tasked with finding their own housing.
If you can’t find accommodations prior to departing for Spain, we recommend staying at a hostel or with friends until you can find more permanent lodgings.
Do I Have Other Options for Teaching English in Spain?
Yes! Licensed teachers can teach English in private international schools, providing they have 2-3 years of teaching experience. Individuals without prior teaching experience can apply to paid volunteer positions in classrooms. Otherwise, Spanish parents often hire private English teachers for their children and numerous cities in Spain offer English language summer camps, which hire teachers.
Regardless of the position you pursue, we strongly recommend earning your TEFL certificate before applying to teach English in Spain.
Spain hires ESL teachers at various points throughout the year. The two peak months for hiring are September and January. Meanwhile, the English language summer camps begin to employ instructors in the springtime.
Having a European Union passport makes it much simpler to find a teaching job in Spain. However, Canadians and other non-Europeans (with the exception of Americans) are sometimes successful at procuring working holiday visas. In rare instances, an international school may sponsor a work visa for non-EU teachers.