These notes provide basic information about what to expect when seeking work teaching English in Spain. Note that there will be considerable variation between schools, employers’ preferences, and government regulations, and requirements will change from time to time. Before entering into any commitment, you are advised to check with an appropriate authoritative source such as the embassy in your country.

Spain has always been a magnet for people wanting to teach English, although in many cases their interest may be focused more firmly on the climate, the beaches, the anticipated life-style and the sangria than the classroom. Recent events linked to the banking crisis have placed Spain in an uncertain position in many ways and it is unclear quite how things will unravel. There is still strong demand for English but with about 40% youth unemployment there may not be the money to pay for classes. Many parents are still very keen for the children to speak English but with employment more volatile and wage rates relatively low, there may be less ability to spend precious earnings on language classes. Since English classes start in primary school, many parents will be obliged to hope that the teachers can do a good job rather than paying for extra English classes as they might have done in the past.

While some people in the past may have found a teaching post without a teaching qualification, or a degree, today there is less likelihood of that. However, language schools vary enormously, partly because there are so many of them, and there is no doubt that some of the weaker schools will employ any native-speaker when they are in need.

Experience is extremely helpful when getting a teaching post, but you should be able to find part-time work without experience if you keep on sending out your CV and visiting schools. Keep yourself in contact and available if you don’t have work, and accept almost anything offered in the beginning if you are new to teaching English in order to build up experience and expand your CV. There are opportunities for young people to work with children in the summer camps but, in general, Spain would not be a good place for young people to take a gap-year/gap-term break and try to teach. The summer camps involve language classes as well as plenty of outside activities. The teaching may be more like child minding and entertaining than language teaching. Still, it is a way to get experience and improve your Spanish.

The main cities can have literally thousands of English teachers working, or seeking work, so also consider working in small towns where the competition might not be so tough. You may also get more chances there to make local friends and improve your Spanish. Being able to speak Spanish is not essential for an English language teacher, but it helps.

Salaries in Spain vary, of course, depending on your work situation. Working part time for a language school will probably result in the poorest conditions and lowest pay. Working full-time is likely to result in a better income, partly because of the longer hours, as well as the additional benefits (e.g. support with housing and social security benefits). Working freelance can work well for people with experience, connections and qualifications, especially the Certificate in Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) or the Certificate in Teaching Business English (TBE). It is possible to get teaching work with families using the TEYL certificate, and with businesses using the TBE qualification. However, obtaining such work will not be easy at first and will depend on scouring local papers as well as finding ways to market yourself by knocking on doors as well as distributing your CV widely.

Salaries range from about €1,000 per month for a full teaching week of about 25 hours to about €1,500 gross. Higher rates are available for freelance work or specialist work such as Business English. It’s important to have a contract of some sort so that your hourly rate of pay, or monthly rate, and the number of hours that you are expected to teach, are all clearly stated. A contract will help with sorting out disputes about hours or pay and will give you a little more security. Some employers will help with accommodation but these will generally be the more professional organisations and they will expect to recruit people with experience. For example, the British Council has been working with the Ministry of Education to provide teachers for primary schools and these contracts are likely to attract better rates of pay and better working conditions. You can find out more about this here:. Teachers interested in applying should already have qualified teacher status in the UK (QTS) and some experience, plus a TESOL or TEFL certificate.

As with some other countries, the bureaucracy can be dispiriting. If you are employed directly by a school from the UK then they will deal with those administrative matters. If you are employed when in Spain, the school may expect you to already have dealt with the necessary rules and regulations about living in Spain. For people already in the EU things are easier but you will still need to register with the Foreigners’ Office where you will be able to obtain a residence certificate showing your details and identity number. This number is vital because without it you cannot complete a whole range of basic tasks such as opening a bank account. If you are not from an EU country then getting work in Spain will be even more difficult. It appears that there are now fewer Americans and Australians, for example, teaching English in Spain because of the administrative hurdles that they have to clamber over.

As with all working experiences abroad, it’s important to learn the local language to some degree and to meet local people. Those people who come to Spain to teach English but who take little interest in the local language or culture, and who spend their time with other English teachers in the bars and clubs, are rarely going to be either successful or, ultimately, satisfied with their life in Spain. However, others have a very rewarding time making local friends, improving their Spanish and visiting the many interesting areas of the country.

For lists of schools, see the Yellow Pages (www.paginas-amarillas.es)

Note that whether your qualification is in TESOL or TEFL is unimportant. Both titles refer to the same style of training and both are accepted by employers. TESOL-direct offers accredited TESOL courses. Our sister-site The English Training Centreoffers courses leading to qualifications in TEFL.

A TBE (Teaching Business English) qualification would certainly be a great asset and would attract higher pay rates. Having a TEYL qualification (Teaching English to Young Learners) would also be welcomed by many schools.

Useful websites for English teachers going to Spain

Author: TESOL Direct

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