France has until now been the only European country in our Country Profile series. This week, though, the TEFL hotspot that is Spain is getting the treatment. What do you need to know? Why teach in Spain? What red tape is there?
Spain is famously one of the top destinations for European, and especially British, holidaymakers. Sunshine, culture, lively people – Spain has it all. Going there to live, however, is quite a different experience. The TEFL industry in Spain has seen numerous ups and downs, but certainly it is a well-established industry and it is a good place to get your feet wet.
TEFL in Spain
Most English language education takes place at one of the thousands of language schools, and this is your most likely source of employment. Some of the country’s top schools, such as Berlitz, are nationwide chains that employ many people. However, there are countless smaller operations, including family-run establishments and some rather shady employers, too, so do your research first and don’t get burnt.
Like France, Spain employs Assistant Language Teachers in primary and secondary schools. Although the title is ‘Assistant’ it is actually quite a hands-on role, and your duties will vary. As the government operates public schools, vacancies can be found through them. Pay is secure and it is a well-founded way into teaching English in Spain.
Getting a job
For EU residents, work visas aren’t an issue here, so your only task is to get a foreigner’s registration number. The ease of working in Spain for EU citizens means competition is fierce in the TEFL industry in the major Spanish cities. It seems everyone wants to teach in Barcelona and Madrid. If this is your first TEFL assignment, you might want to look at some of the smaller towns and rural areas around the major cities. Jobs are often easier to come by and accommodation and the cost of living is lower.
September is the peak time for recruitment, although you should begin looking for jobs from as early as June. Check ESL Base and other sites for job postings, and any specialist TEFL newsletters and magazines should have information too. Actually being in Spain at the time is ideal as it means you will be ready to attend any necessary interviews and you will be able to keep a closer eye on the job market.
Ideally, you should have a well-recognised qualification such as TESOL or CELTA before teaching in Spain. Most employers require this, although experience is desirable too. It’s important to note that university level education isn’t as essential as it is in many Asian countries.
Salary and hours
Teaching in a Spanish language school normally consists of a 25 hour (that is, teaching hours) working week, mostly taking place over evenings and some weekend work. ALT’s often work part time at public schools. Salary is normally 1100 euros a month, which is enough to live off, although too much Jambon Serrano and Alhambra will eat away at your salary quickly. Many teachers supplement their income with private lessons, which can provide some much needed extra money.