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how to teach abroad in spain

If you’ve ever thought about teaching abroad in Europe, then it’s more than likely that teaching English in Spain has crossed your mind. It’s got a booming ESL industry and teachers flock there in search of daytime naps and sangria. We’re sure there are other incentives, but daytime naps, how could you not?

Siestas and sangria aren’t all Spain has to offer – it’s a soccer-mad country, where if you don’t already love futbol, you soon will.

That’s not to say that teaching English in Spain is going to be the same regardless of where you go. In fact, you’ll find very different reports from ESL teachers across the country. From quiet country towns to bustling cities like Madrid and Barcelona, there are all sorts of lifestyles on offer (don’t worry, the naps are always included).

Whether you’re looking for a quiet beachside escape from it all or a town with a little more swagger, you’ll find a school that suits you. The people are friendly, the food is beyond delicious, and the scenery is spectacular (seriously, I just wasted 10 minutes of my life gawking at stock photos, thinking maybe I should be in Spain!)

So how do I get a job, Google isn’t much help here?

how to land a teach English in Spain job

The reason that Google doesn’t throw up a bajillion jobs for teaching English in Spain is that they’re not usually listed online. It’s a very different culture to what you might be used to and unlike schools in other countries, Spanish schools tend to hire on the spot.

As in, you walk right up to the school and present them with your resume.

If pavement pounding isn’t your thing, teaching ESL in Spain may not be for you. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and unless you’ve got enough gumption to land (not necessarily on your feet) and roll with it… then we suggest somewhere a bit less spur of the moment. There’s a lot of competition and enough English speakers seem to show up and wing it, that they haven’t had to start mass TEFL teacher recruiting online.

That being said… it’s a small amount of initial discomfort for a life that includes daytime naps.

What kind of ESL jobs do they have?

how to find english teaching jobs in spain

There are three main categories of jobs and plenty of options. I’ve done a round-up below to make it pretty straightforward for you. The most common way to teach English in Spain is probably to approach a private academy once you land!

1. Openings at private schools and language academies

Private schools are a legitimate way to go about landing an English teaching job in Spain. You will lead your own classroom and be able to find a full-time job that offers a good salary, benefits and even paid vacation. Ehm, yes, please!

Sadly, you need to be in Spain to get these jobs. The bright side of that is this: you can start with where you want to live and figure the rest out once you land. You’ll have the flexibility of trying the city out before you knock on a school’s door and sign a year-long contract. It does mean that you should probably have some savings if you plan to teach English in Spain. At least to tide you over until the first paycheque.

Do you have a TEFL/CELTA/TESOL? Then you should land one of these types of jobs easy peasy. If you don’t have one of these teaching certificates- maybe consider getting a TEFL before you do anything else. Not only will it arm you for the classroom. It will answer pretty pressing questions like – how do I make this rowdy mob of Spanish kids speak English?

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2. Language and Cultural Assistant jobs (aka Auxiliares de conversación)

Becoming a Language and Cultural assistant is probably the least terrifying way of securing a job teaching English in Spain. Hours are pretty light with teachers only working about 12-16 hours per week so you won’t make as much as you would in a private school. Actually, you’ll make considerably less, pocketing between $790 – 1,100, which is enough to survive in a country with a low cost of living. Let’s just say you won’t be indulging in tapas every night of the week.

The requirements include a TEFL certificate and to be enrolled in a four-year degree program. This is a perfect gap-year option for those of you who want to have a year in Spain and experience the lifestyle! The program looks for residents from any of the following countries: any EU country, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or China. For more information on teaching English in Spain this way – check out the program’s official website.

3. Private tutoring gigs

Spanish families are always recruiting private English tutors to either improve their business English skills or to get their little ones up to scratch. They’re not really looking for your traditional teacher and tend to just want to invest in a more immersive way of learning. This can be in their homes or at a café.

Some families will hire a live-in teacher to be on-hand to give private lessons to their children several times a week! Kind of like an au pair but without the diaper changing (although, you might end up with a job that’s more au pair than a private tutor (be careful!)

This is a fabulous way to wheedle your way into an authentic Spanish lifestyle and is also probably the quickest route to culture shock. Think about those big family meals and paella…

Why not check out this teacher’s story on what it’s like living and teaching English in Spain?

Okay, so hit me with the requirements for teaching English in Spain

how to get a job teaching english in spain

These can vary – some schools will want a licensed teacher and teaching experience, but most are just looking for the following:

Bonus points and muchos opportunities if… puedes hablar un poco de español!

What about some cold hard cash? Show me the money!

As we’ve mentioned, Language and Cultural Assistants are likely to make between $790 – 1,100 USD a month. If you keep your expenses low and travel cheaply, this is still plenty of money to fund a decent lifestyle in Spain.

Private tutoring will depend on how many hours you take and is pretty variable. It tends to be without a contract. The best option, if you’re concerned about money, is private academies. Here you will have benefits, paid holidays and a comfy wage of between $1,300 – 2,000 per month. Note that the higher end of this scale will probably go to teachers with lots of experience.

Even though you will be making money, we do not recommend landing in Spain flat broke. Save a little first, that way the first month of job hunting won’t be quite so terrifying. Also, seeing as we’re talking cash, budget airlines and railway tickets are a great way to get around Europe, and Spain is perfectly located for a little interrailing. So why not plan a few weekends in Germany, Portugal, or well, anywhere really…

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When’s the best time to look for a job?

That really depends on what sort of job you’re interested in. The government-run programs generally have a spring application (which you can do in your home country) with a start date of the following fall.

As for private academies – you will probably get lucky any time of year. That being said, the peak times are September, October and January (the beginning of the school semesters) and there’s bound to be more options around then.

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