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Women Over 30, Come Teach English in Spain!

I was surprised to see how many women in the She Hit Refresh group are planning a trip to Spain to either complete the Camino de Santiago or to “hit refresh” and move here, many to teach English in Spain.

I’ve been living in Spain on and off for the past 11 years and have seen how language assistant programs have given thousands of native English speakers the opportunity to live in this fascinating country for an extended period of time while getting paid. The most popular of them is the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program, aka the auxiliar program.

over 30, teach English in Spain

As an American, the Spanish government-sponsored program was the most viable way to live here legally. I first moved to Spain as an auxiliar in 2006 and then re-enrolled in 2015. Now, there are a variety of language assistant programs that offer the same perks— such as a student visa, monthly stipend, and health insurance— many of which are open to all native English speakers, not just Americans and Canadians.

These programs are a relatively easy way to get your foot in the door in Spain, especially for non-EU citizens. You do not need to have prior teaching experience or speak Spanish. While the majority of language assistants are recent college graduates (i.e. under 30), there are language assistants that are 30 years and older. I was 35 the second time around!  

My Experience Teaching English in Spain

I first fell in love with Spain in 2001 when I spent a summer in Madrid studying Spanish. I came back again in 2003 and 2004 to travel before learning about the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program. was accepted in 2006 and placed in a secondary school in Cordoba, a city in the south of Spain.

over 30, teach English in Spain
2006 Cordoba, 26 years old. My first experience in the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program.

I chronicled my 26-year-old adventures in my first blog: hellocepee.blogspot.com. I look back on that year with such fondness, it truly was one of the best years of my life. I made friends that are still a part of my life today. I only worked 12 hours a week, for three days a week, and had excessive free time to explore life. Young, wild, and free.

Fast-forward almost 10 years later to 2015: I was living in Austin, Texas, and found myself with a deep urge to move back to Spain, this time to Madrid. It is difficult, if not impossible for Americans to get a work visa for Spain so my best option was to apply to the auxiliar program again.

over 30, teach English in Spain
My coworkers in Austin. I loved working at Bazaarvoice but it was time to give Spain another shot.

I was uneasy about being a 35-year-old applicant since most language assistants are in their 20s;it felt like taking a step backwards. I was also hyper-aware that I was leaving a well-paying job and the comforts of adulthood to live like a student again. But in the end, I told myself I would use the program as a means to an end; it would be an opportunity to get back to Spain and from there I could hustle my way into something better paying and more aligned with my interests and strengths.

In October 2015 I started at a secondary school located right outside of Madrid. I had a very pleasant experience, worked 16 hours a week, for four days a week, and got along well with the staff and my students. Every assistant’s experience is unique, and the staff, type of school, and program all contribute to the experience.

over 30, teach English in Spain
My coworkers at the secondary school

Many language assistants supplement their income with private classes. I found a part-time opportunity at a language academy and worked there in the afternoons once I left the secondary school. The days were long, and although teaching English pays quite well for Spanish standards, it was still a fraction of what I made in the U.S. I was still trying to maintain my American lifestyle while living on a student budget, which wasn’t sustainable.

Many participants renew for a second, third, or even fourth year (depending on the program). I had been applying for jobs in Madrid while teaching, and since I hadn’t found an alternative to teaching I was about to renew. Fortunately, luck was on my side. A week before I renewed with the program, I was offered a marketing position and visa sponsorship from a Spanish company.

over 30, teach English in Spain
Cordoba! This city holds a very special place in my heart.

Having been in the program twice, I recommend it, especially if you are in a transitional period in your life. It’s not a long-term solution to “hitting refresh,” but it’s an opportunity to live abroad with some security and stability. If you’d like to read some more stories of women who came to Spain through a language assistant program, check out our Featured Female post. Here are the four most popular programs for teaching English in Spain.

Come Teach English in Spain! The Programs:

North American Language and Culture Assistant

over 30, teach English in Spain
Granada

Requirements

  • Hold a U.S. or Canadian passport
  • Be a native English or French speaker
  • Have a bachelor or associate degree
  • Be in good physical and psychological condition
  • Have a clean criminal history
  • Basic Spanish communication skills (you are not tested on your level of Spanish)
  • Born after 1958 (Most auxiliares are between 21-35 years old; however, there are definitely auxiliares 35 and older. They even have their own Facebook Group.

Conditions

  • Monthly stipend: €700(€1000 in Madrid)
  • Hours: 16-hours/week (12 hours/week in some regions)
  • Four teaching days per week (some schools may opt for three to five teaching days a week)
  • Health insurance
  • School year: October to May 31 (October 1 to June 30 in Madrid)
  • Placement in a public primary or secondary school. Some positions are in state-run language schools.

Responsibilities

  • Officially: “Your role is to encourage students to broaden their knowledge of your language and culture. Your work will involve preparing activities that focus on language and culture, such as oral comprehension and expression activities, role plays or games for the students. You will lead these activities in class, working with either the teacher or a small group of students in a separate room.”
  • In reality your responsibilities will vary depending on which school you are placed in. Some language assistants prepare very little and read from a textbook, some are expected to plan entire lessons, while others fall somewhere in between. You may also be placed in classes with subjects other than English, such as science, art, music, and sports.

MEDDEAS

over 30, teach English in Spain
Madrid

Requirements

  • Be a native English, French, or German speaker
  • Be a recent graduate (last four years) OR current university students OR gap year participant.
  • Have a clean criminal history

Conditions

  • Monthly stipend: €330 – €930. Dependent on educational background and selection of living with a host family or independent housing.
  • Hours: 20 hours/week
  • Five teaching days per week
  • Health insurance
  • School year: September to June OR January to June/July
  • Placement in a private school
  • Take a certified course given by a Spanish university and paid by the program. Expert in Bilingual Education course (20 ECTS) or the TEFL or AMET course (6 ECTS).

Responsibilities

  • Practice conversation with teachers and small groups of students; assist with official English examination preparation; explain the culture of your home country collaborate with teaching staff in creating teaching materials and lesson plans; assist in other subjects apart from English, such as science, art, music, and sports.

BEDA

over 30, teach English in Spain
Santiago de Compostela

Requirements

  • Be a native English speaker. Most assistants are American, Canadian, English, Irish and Australian
  • Be at least 20 years old, no upper age limit
  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Have a clean criminal history

Conditions

  • Monthly stipend: €873-€1165. Dependent on hours worked per week
  • Hours: 18-24 hours/week
  • Four  to five teaching days per week
  • Health insurance
  • School year: September – June
  • Placement in a Catholic school
  • Required monthly teacher training
  • €175 non-refundable enrollment fee

Responsibilities

  • Practice conversation with students; collaborate with teaching staff to create teaching material and lesson plans; explain the culture of your home country; carry out activities required by the school to develop the program; assist in other subjects apart from English, such as science, art, music, and sports.

UCETAM

over 30, teach English in Spain
Madrid

Requirements

  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Be a native English speaker
  • Have a clean criminal history

Conditions

  • Monthly stipend: €1000 to 1400
  • Hours: 18 or 26 hours/week
  • Health insurance
  • Free lunch at most schools
  • School year: September to June
  • Primary and secondary schools
  • Placed in primary or secondary concertados – a private/public school fusion, similar to a charter school.

Responsibilities

  • Practice conversation with students; collaborate with teaching staff to create teaching material and lesson plans; explain the culture of your home country.

Blogs Written by Participants in the Various Programs

Young Adventuress
Curiosity Travels
Lady in Spain
Migrating Miss
A Thing for Words

We’d love to hear from you! Are you thinking about hitting refresh and moving to Spain? Also, if you’re 30 years and up and have participated in one of the above teach English in Spain programs please share your story below!

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6 thoughts on “Women Over 30, Come Teach English in Spain!”

  1. Great write-up and links! I’ve just applied to the ministry and BEDA programs. Over 30 and planning to bring my daughter (now 3) and husband along.

    1. Annemarie Tanahuvia

      Hi there Nicole! I’m thinking of applying as well. I’m over 30, and a single mother of a 16 and 3 yr old. I’m wondering how things worked out for you? Any recommendations?

      1. She Hit Refresh

        Hi Annemarie! Thank you so much for stopping by! If you’re looking to come to Spain the teaching assistant program is a great option. You may want to join some of the Auxiliare specific Facebook groups to connect with other women who came with children, especially younger ones. I would say that things have worked out nicely since I came on the teaching assistant program. I taught for a year and then moved onto working for a Spanish start-up and then freelancing. You can read more about my journey below as well as more about how to move to Spain:

        Moving to/Living in Spain
        https://shehitrefresh.com/american-expat-in-spain/

        A decade in review (2015 is when I moved to Spain)
        https://shehitrefresh.com/2010s-rising-from-the-ashes-a-decade-in-review/

        I’m Outta Here! – a digital book on 50+ visas for moving to Europe. In the Spain section there are 6 different visa types covered.
        https://shehitrefresh.com/move-to-europe-book/

        Last, feel free to join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/shehitrefresh/

        Hope this info helps!

    1. Thank you so much for checking out our article! 41 is a great age to apply, many women like you in the program! Good luck!!

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