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new esl teacher standing in front of plaza de espana in seville, spain teaching english in spain

Are you planning to travel and teach English in Spain? There isn’t much to debate when it comes to this decision.

Spain is one of the most sought-after teaching destinations in the world. If you’re interested in teaching in a country with some of the world’s best culinary dishes, historic sites, and a 4-day work week, then Spain is the place for you. 

RVF International is one of the leading teach abroad programs in Spain.

We’ve asked our friend Harrison Fowler, founder of RVF International and local resident expert, about everything one would need to know to move and work abroad in Spain and how to get started teaching English in Spain.

Here are the key takeaways we learned from Harrison:

  1. The first thing teachers discover when they move to Spain.
  2. The number one challenge ex-pats face when they start teaching in Spain.
  3. Where the most popular teaching destinations are, plus up-and-coming teaching destinations you’ll want to know about before everyone else discovers them.
  4. Work-life balance in Spain.
  5. The typical day and workweek for an English teacher in Spain.
  6. Whether people working in Spain get paid bi-monthly or monthly.
  7. The best ESL resources that you didn’t know about.
  8. Does RVF provide additional training to get teachers classroom ready? 
  9. Does RVF help with teachers moving abroad (ex: visas, housing, for dependents or spouses)?
  10. How COVID has affected teaching in Spain.

1. What’s one of the first things that teachers discover when moving to Spain to teach English?

Spain is so much more than beaches, flamenco dancing, and bullfighting. 

Spain has every environment you can imagine: hot sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, volcanic islands, tropical jungles, and cold, misty Northern coasts. 

Many people in the program, when they first arrive, are not expecting so much geographic diversity because Spain’s Southern arid climate is more internationally known.

Fun fact: the tallest mountain in all of Spain, which is snow-capped almost year-round, is located in Spain’s Canary Islands. 

Also, Spain has five official languages that are widely spoken! 

Castellano is the most popular and is what we call Spanish, but there is Valenciano spoken in the region of Valencia, Gallego in the region of Galicia, Catalan spoken in the region of Cataluña (where you can find Barcelona), and Euskera, which is one of the oldest languages in the world, spoken in Basque Country.

2. What’s the number one challenge ex-pats face when they begin their journey teaching English language learners in Spain?

Life moves at a slower pace and everything takes more time! Are you used to everything being in 10-minute proximity, easy to get to with your own car?

In Spain, most people catch the metro (subway) and a bus or train to go shopping, head to work, or meet up with friends after hours.

Simple tasks like buying groceries can take longer than most ex-pats are used to because in Spain you typically walk to the store, roll your cart behind you, and finally carry bags full of produce and items back home, up the elevator, and into your apartment.

But hey! There is a reason Spain has one of the longest life expectancies of any country in the world.

The slow pace of life and the focus on family and friends is a welcoming change of pace for many in the program, especially upon their initial arrival in Spain.

3. What are the most popular locations in Spain for new teachers? What are some of the best unknown locations for new teachers?

By far the most popular regions to teach English in are Madrid, Valencia, and Andalucia. And we get it, they are beautiful places! Some lesser-known, but equally beautiful, regions in Spain where you can teach are Cantabria, Mallorca, the Canary Islands, and Galicia. If you’ve never heard of them, look them up on Google: They are bucket-list material!

4. What’s it like working in Spain? What are some of the benefits of working in Spain?

You will have around 14-16 teaching hours per week, depending on the region, and will most likely only be in the classroom Monday – Thursday (typical working days in Spain).

That gives you a 3-day weekend, every week, to travel!

Not only will you be paid a very competitive Spanish salary while only working part-time hours, but there is also plenty of time to travel and explore everything that Spain and Europe have to offer.

5. What’s a typical day/week like for an English teacher in Spain?

You’ll most likely start your workday early so you can make time for a delicious cup of coffee, or enjoy a Spanish breakfast at the local tapas bar for $2 or $3 with your coworkers.

After your espresso, the bell rings at 9:00 am and class starts for the day.

You’ll be teaching 4 or 5 periods throughout the day, with each class having around 25 students.

At noon, it’s time for merienda, which is your teacher lounge coffee/snack break with the other teachers.

You’ll snack on Spanish pastries and sip café con leche.

Afterward, you’ll have your final two periods of the day, and finish at 2:00 pm when the bell rings.

The school day is over! Hop on the metro (subway), or catch the train back home with plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon exploring your city, or doing some private tutoring to earn some more travel money.

6. Do English language teachers in Spain get paid bi-weekly or monthly?

Teachers, as well as all workers in all industries across Spain, are paid monthly.

7. What has been your favorite ESL resource to use in the classroom for English learners in Spain?

Good, old-fashioned PowerPoint!

Consider creating a presentation of your life back home. Include photos and text about your family, city, where you went to school, your dog, how you spend holidays, where you shop, along with other fun quirks, and share that on the first day of class with your students.

This is the simplest idea but has proven, year after year, to be one of the best activities for your students to connect with you.

We encourage all of our Program Participants to create such a PP and to bring trinkets or mementos from their home state or city to share with the class. You can even incorporate a conversational activity or grammar game with the presentation.

Not only will the students learn more about a city they might have never heard of, and immediately bond with you, but they can have fun learning new facts and geography while doing it.

8. Does RVF International provide additional training so the teacher is classroom ready? 

Yes, we do! We have live teacher training workshops in webinar format throughout the months leading up to the official Fall start date of each year.

In the workshops, we go over how to be successful in this unique role in the classroom, what to teach and how to teach it.

Included will be materials and ideas to have in your back pocket, workplace, and education system cultural differences, among other things.

9. Does RVF help set up teachers moving abroad (ex: visas, housing, for dependents or spouses)?

Yes, we help with all the above! Our program offers the most extensive visa bureaucratic support and housing assistance in Spain. 

On average, our program participants move into a fully-furnished apartment in Spain within the first 1 – 3 days after landing.

How to get a work visa in Spain to teach abroad:

In terms of our visa support, we have that down to a science as well and is usually one of the easiest parts of the entire program experience as we will manage the entire process. 

10. How has COVID-19 affected teaching in Spain?

The public schools in Spain have not shut down once since the start of COVID-19 and are still fully open with in-person teaching.

During the entire pandemic, we helped hundreds of teachers move to Spain to teach English, all in-person, having the time of their lives in the classroom!

Find a world of opportunity in Spain

Want to earn extra money while you’re in Spain? Interested in becoming fluent in Spanish before you leave? 

No problem! We have extensive resources and connections so that you can earn extra money with a lot of ease while teaching abroad

You can teach private classes, work part-time with a private English academy, or do online tutoring. 

If you are wanting to become fluent in Spanish, our Spanish from Spain online course can help you, as well as our team of private tutors that can work with you 1-1 to perfect your accent, grammar, conjugation, or whatever it is you are wanting to improve!

Where to get TEFL certification to start teaching English in Spain

Get TEFL certified with Teach Away to start qualifying for teaching jobs in Spain!

Did you know you can complete the TEFL program in Spain online, or from anywhere in the world? That’s right! That means you can travel to Spain first, decide where you’ll start teaching, and get certified in the meantime. It takes as few as 8-12 weeks.

Learn more about working with RVF International as an English language teacher and start teaching in Spain.

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