Teach English in Spain
Are you looking for an excuse to live abroad but not so pumped about the idea of blowing through savings? Fortunately, the land of fiestas and siestas has become renowned for their numerous paid English teaching programs. Translation—you can earn money and sip on sangria. Well, maybe just not at the same time.
For those interested, teaching English in Spain is an excellent choice as the many available programs offer an amazing work-life balance and a significant stipend. Although there are some slight differences between programs, you can expect a part-time schedule, monthly payments, and health insurance throughout your extended stay.
Whether you’re looking to gain experience teaching English or are simply craving tapas and terrazas, Spain is an excellent destination for Americans to spend a year, or two’s, time. Read on for an all-encompassing breakdown of the requirements and offerings of 8 of Spain’s English teaching programs.
What is an auxiliar de conversación aka language assistant in Spain?
Auxiliar de conversación would be your official job title as a language assistant in Spain. You will also hear the term aux thrown around a lot by seasoned language assistants as the former can be a mouthful.
If you’re worried about having little to no experience as an ESL teacher, or teacher in general—don’t worry. These programs aren’t looking for proper professors, but rather native speakers to support the main teacher, animate the students, and effectively act as an ambassador of their country, language, and culture.
There are some programs that recommend having teaching experience, an ESL certificate, or a certain level of Spanish, but they’re never a hard requirement.
Don’t fret about handling a classroom full of energetic students by yourself either as you will always be working alongside a main teacher. Your specific responsibilities as a language assistant can include:
- Preparing activities and games
- Leading class discussions
- Creating powerpoints to teach topics
- Going around the classroom offering assistance
- Occasionally helping out with extracurriculars such as Debate or Model UN
Although these programs were initially occupied by recent college graduates in their early to late twenties, you will find language assistants of all ages. The first program we will look at, NALCAP, accepts applicants up to age 60!
Breakdown of Teaching English in Spain programs
Hours, pay, and application processes differ from program to program. While some offer step-by-step visa guidance and a secured placement in a school, the next may require a bit more independence and run on a lottery system. While NALCAP, the original program, does not charge an application fee, some programs do. With a variety of programs to choose from, there’s no need to settle on the first one you run across.
Ready to take the first step towards finding your next job? Let’s learn a bit more about the unique offerings of each of these teach English in Spain programs. ¡Vamos!
1. North American Language and Culture Assistant program (NALCAP)
The most popular of all the programs, NALCAP, offers thousands of placements across all of Spain, from the hills of Granada to the shores of Galicia and is completely free to apply to. The Ministry of Education of Spain runs this program, so although they offer some information and correspondence, it requires a bit more independence on your part when it comes to figuring out housing, visa or banking processes.
Depending on the community they assign you to, your monthly stipend and hours of work per week will vary. Pay can be anywhere from €700 to €1000 paid once a month, depending on the cost of living in your placement region. One downside of this program is that they are infamous for late payments in some regions.
Your weekly hours in the classroom will range from 12 to 16, distributed from either Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday, and running from October 1st to May 31st. This 4-day workweek is standard in almost all of these programs. You also receive medical insurance.
You are eligible to apply to this program if you:
- Are a citizen of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Philippines, or India
- Are a native or native-like English speaker
- Are in good physical and mental health
- Can provide a clean background check
- Are between the ages of 18 to 60
- Have a BA, BS, AA or AS degree or be enrolled as a sophomore, junior or a senior in a BA or BS program.
NALCAP gives you the option to pick your preferred communities, size of town, and age of students, setting it apart from other programs. Depending on your application number, you could get your top region pick or be completely surprised—an open mind and flexibility is key when applying through NALCAP!
Applications open in January/February each year and close in April; earlier applicants have a better chance of being placed.
CIEE is an intercultural exchange organization that offers English teaching positions in Madrid. You will be working alongside those who applied via NALCAP in Madrid public schools with the same pay, hours, and requirements.
CIEE program fee is $2,000 program fee. This fee covers:
- Guaranteed placement in Madrid
- Airport pickup, 4 day orientation, and 4 nights of hotel accommodation
- Cultural activities
- Networking events
- Insurance and emergency assistance
They also provide support throughout the Student visa application process along with the process of getting your identity card once you’re in Spain—infamous for causing headaches. Recently, they’ve added the option of living with a host family and taking Spanish classes for two to four weeks at an additional cost.
So if you have your eye on Madrid, one of the more competitive communities to get into, and you’re looking for guidance and a structured experience, CIEE could be your best bet. Apply by March 1st to be a teaching assistant Spain with CIEE!
3. The Bilingual English Development and Assessment Program (BEDA)
Maybe you could teach English in Spain with BEDA, the program that places you in semi-private Catholic schools known as concertados. The large majority of their placements are going to be in Madrid, although there are some offerings in other communities. This program helps you out with visa paperwork, snagging appointments, and setting up that pesky bank account.
You can expect a bit of a longer work week compared to the previous two programs which cap off at 16 hours, spending 18 to 24 hours in the classroom. This earns you anywhere from €900 to €1200 per month. You are also required to attend a course at the University of Comillas which is included in that enrollment fee. This can be a plus if you’re looking to bolster your teaching skills with a formal course.
To get into this program you must have a high level of English (native not required), attend a Skype interview, and pay around €175 as an enrollment fee upon acceptance. In this program, it helps, although not essential, for you to have:
- Some level of Spanish
- Experience living abroad
- TEFL certification
- Teaching degree or experience
Applications open in November and run until January.
This program offers placements in Madrid and Murcia and is another program that comes with fees. In Madrid you will be charged €1,650 and in Murcia, €1,395 upon applying.
The pay rates and hours workers are similar to those of NALCAP:
- Madrid – 16 hours a week for €1,000
- Murcia – 15 hours a week for €875
Why would one go with ConversaSpain with their limited placements and steep fee? Well, they offer TEFL certifications as well as Spanish classes, rounding out your experience in Spain. Although, it goes without saying that if you applied to NALCAP you would be perfectly capable of signing yourself up for Spanish classes and TEFL certification courses as you please.
Teach in Spain with UCETAM and you can expect a bit of a salary boost, making €1000 to 1400€ a month for 18 to 26 hours of work per week in Madrid. This program begins a bit earlier, starting in September and running until June.
The €150 you have to pay is a deposit to hold your placement, making this program technically fee-free. They have a bit of a narrower application window, running from January to February, and also require an interview during the application process.
The Meddeas program allows you to work in the private school sector in Spain with no application fees. One catch is you must have graduated from university within the past four years—2019 or later. You can work anywhere from 20 to 24 hours per work and expect €400 to €1,140 per month—wait what? There’s a reason for this pay cut. Your salary is determined by whether or not you take them up on their host family program.
Meddeas’ host family program is what sets them apart from all the others. Living with a Spanish family can be a plus if you’re looking to:
- Immerse yourself in Spanish culture daily
- Avoid getting stuck in the English bubble
- Save money on food
- Avoid hunting for an apartment
Meddeas is another program that asks you to complete a teaching course at a Spanish university. Again, a pro or a con depending on your intention upon coming to Spain.
7. Franklin Institute
With the Franklin Institute you will be teaching in schools and earning a Master’s at Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid with their Teach & Learn hybrid program. This final program is a great choice if you’re looking to earn a Master’s degree in any of the following areas:
- International Education
- Bilingual and Multicultural Education
- Learning and Teaching Spanish as a Second Language
- Higher Global Education
- School Management
There are three work study options:
- Working as a language assistant in a private school while you study your Masters, earning €600 to 900 per month, and paying no tuition
- Working as a language assistant in a public school while you study your Masters, earning €1000 per month, and paying €3800 for tuition
- No job as a language assistant, solely studying your Masters and paying €4200 for tuition
Their application period runs from January to March.
8. Up International
Up International is a great option if you’re looking for a deposit-free, fee-free teaching assistant opportunity in a private school that also offers you a good amount of support with your documentation and accommodation. Their program, though, is only open to people “ideally” under 35 and with a teaching vocation.
You can expect an interview with the company as well as two more interviews later with the school. This is one of the few programs where you get to meet school faculty via a video call before you arrive to work on Day 1. This is because their program is geared towards individuals with a career or interest in teaching and some Spanish language knowledge and want to make the best match possible.
To further prepare you, you will complete an on-line training course before you start your 20 hour workweek that will last 4 or 5 days depending on the center. They deliver the typical monthly stipend of €845 or €745 to cover living expenses and accident and liability insurance, depending on whether you’re living with a host family and where you are living. Positions start on October 1st, with some vacancies on September 1st, running through May or June.
Apply in February to take part in this program!
¡Venga! Teach in Spain
The variety of teach English in Spain programs allows you to choose an experience that aligns with your goals. Always wanted to get a Master’s in International Education? Apply to Franklin Institute’s hybrid program. Looking to teach in a peaceful pueblo in Galicia? Go for the classic NALCAP application. Or, if you’re stuck liking a few programs, increase your chances of getting in by applying to more than one.
Whichever program you go with, living and working in Spain is a transformative experience from start to finish. From making you a paperwork pro to infecting you with the flair of flamenco, Spain becomes a part of everyone who comes to visit. That’s something to say ¡Olé! about. Need more convincing? Check out our 20 pros and cons of living in Spain!