Travel & Teach - Spain
Spain is hot. Both the temperature and the opportunities for EFL qualified teachers are high, as the demand for English seems to grow and grow. Although the days are gone when a native English speaker could walk into a language school and expect to be employed immediately, if you have a TESOL qualification you are in with a great chance of finding work.
Spain is the third-largest country in Western Europe and is famous for being a nation of diversity. There is a wealth of private teaching institutions and it is not just English for young learners any more – Spain has achieved dynamic growth over the past few years and there is a growing demand for Business English. So while it is still the place to go if you want to teach young learners and teenagers, you’ll also find increasing opportunities for adult and ESP classes as well.
Classes of young groups can be most rewarding, as they are quick to learn and less inhibited about practising English. On the negative side, unwilling children are often forced into taking private lessons to help them through school exams. Tired and bored Spanish teenagers can be very disruptive, as many a careworn EFL teacher will testify. To help you keep control we suggest that you learn some basic Spanish and brush up on your disciplinary techniques (or see the Global English Level 2 TESOL Module 2 on Classroom Management!)
The beauty, warmth and history of Spain make it a popular destination for the new EFL teacher. You can expect to find many British people even outside the big cities and it can be very comfortable to slip into the ‘Expat’ community. However you will need to make a conscious effort to learn the language and to socialise outside this cosy environment if you wish to experience the ‘real Spain’.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Spain: http://www.britishcouncil.org/spain.htm
Spanish Embassy UK: http://spain.embassyhomepage.com/
Spanish Embassy USA: http://www.spainemb.org/ingles/indexing.htm
Spanish National Tourist Office: http://www.spain.info/
Need more info: Teaching English Abroad available through our bookshop page
Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:
If you are considering moving to Barcelona to teach English then you are not alone.
Barcelona is a city flooded with native English speakers - English, American, Irish, Scottish and Australian alike are here to enjoy the year-long sun, costal beaches, and excessive work-life balance that Barcelona is so renowned for through teaching English to its citizens.
But not to fret. One can find work in Barcelona through the use of persistence, patience and a little bit of good luck. This is my experience -- maybe it will help you as well.
Networking and a Nest -- Networking is important and having money saved is important as well. I arrived in Barcelona with almost $10,000 to help me get started. It is an expensive city and you need to be prepared for the possibility that you may be looking for work for a while. As soon as I arrived I began trying to find other teachers to ask them what their experiences have been like. How much money are they making? Where are they teaching? Are they freelance? Is it hard to teach English?
I met with an American teacher for coffee and she told me her school is looking for a teacher -- that afternoon. Within 2 hours I was teaching my first English class. I was terribly under-prepared and I was so nervous. The school liked me enough as they gave me a few additional classes. Now, nearly a year later I work about 20 hours a week at this school (during the evening) and they are sponsoring my work visa.
Business English -- If you can manage to get a solid job teaching Business English it will be mighty helpful. These classes are usually in the morning and lunchtime. They expect a lot of you and you but the pay is usually higher than academy work and the students usually have at least an intermediate level. I teach every day at lunch at General Electric and last year I was teaching mornings at Accenture. It helps if you have a background in business, but even if not it is possible to get these prized positions. The best bet for this is to make a list of all the business English schools (from the yellow pages) and hand-deliver your CV.
Private Classes -- I teach 6 hours of private classes every week and it helps out a lot at the end of the month. These classes are fun because you are your own boss and you don't need to fill out any reports or follow a book. The best way to get these lined up is through networking. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who needs to improve their English for some reason or another.
Preparation -- I know some teachers who are total wingers. They wing their classes. 5 minutes before they decide what they will do and they go to class and just let it unfold. This unpredictability scares me. I prefer to plan my classes down to the minute so that there are no surprises. I am probably an excessive example to follow but preparation is important. If you are under-prepared for class -- your students will feel it.
To the Bank -- a lot of considering teachers are curious as to how much money they can expect to make in a month. I work around 29 hours a week and I make roughly 1,500 euros every month. This is once again, excessive. Teaching 29 hours is a lot. Unless you have outstanding debts to pay I wouldn't recommend working this many hours.
I am living and working in Spain on the Costa del Sol, but I live in the campo (mountains) above the coast - away from the tourists!! I help a couple of local children with their English and I enjoy it. When I have more time and I can speak a bit more Spanish, I hope to do more private teaching.
I love working abroad, everything about Spain is great.
The area I settled in is more Spanish, near Puerto Banus. It has everything from the busy days in Marbella, beach to the typical Spanish way of life in my town. The most challenging thing for me was the language in the beginning, but the great thing here is the people are so helpful and friendly.
I worked in my hometown until one day I was asked to teach a small group of children. I learnt along the way really and taught like this for 4 years, each time getting more students without advertising anywhere.
The (Global English) certificate and course gave me a great insight in all areas of the language, also ideas of how to teach different grammar points. Being English doesn't mean that you know how to teach! So the course gave me more confidence - helping me feel more professional.
Travel and Teach
Although EFL positions in Spain do still appear from time to time in the Guardian on Tuesdays, the Times Educational Supplement on Fridays and the EL Gazette (all UK), most Spanish ‘academias’ will hire the majority of their teaching staff from ‘walk-ins’. This obviously favours the teacher who is prepared to travel and apply for jobs on spec. But if you are looking in advance, try the Spanish Yellow Pages for a location by location list of language schools: www.paginas-amarillas.es (academias de idiomas). You’ll find that some schools are well organised and try to hire their new teachers from April onwards, although this does not necessarily mean you will miss out if you haven’t got your CV in by then. Most contracts start at the beginning of the academic term in October, so several of our graduates have gone to Spain in September and been successful in finding work for an October start. There are also opportunities for picking up work in January when the new terms begin.
The quickest way of fixing up a job is to take the ‘door-to-door’ approach. Also see the advice of Jennifer Cross, of our former students in the Comments section below and you might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here.
Once you are established and have proved yourself (after around a year of teaching) you should find it easier to gain a second contract, or you will be able to pick and choose your next position more easily. By then you may have gained enough contacts to freelance (teaching English to private students), which is more financially lucrative.
Again, you’ll probably find that Spain is a country where you will earn more money if you decide to freelance. Contacts and a good knowledge of the language will be important, especially getting started. But as with Portugal, expect late hours. It is not uncommon to bid farewell to your students at around 10pm when the lesson ends (although the hospitable nature of the Spanish will mean you’ll be invited out for ‘tapas’, which could go on well into the night!) However, unlike the Portuguese, Spanish students do not seem to have the good ear for the language and some teachers find it frustrating that student progress isn’t faster.
The cities are cosmopolitan and high-paced, so more and more teachers are looking for smaller towns where the cost of living isn’t so high. You’ll be teaching anywhere from 25 – 30 hours a week on a standard contract at an ‘academia’, but if you freelance then you can set your own timetable and teach as much or as little as you want to (or can afford).
In addition to your Global English TESOL certificate you will often need a degree and any teaching practice or teaching experience you have should be highlighted on your CV. When you apply for a job, ensure you highlight any commercial (business) experience or any contact with children.
For EU nationals it can be a slow process to obtain the necessary paperwork to live and work here. Although you can often start work quite quickly after receiving a job contract, the hoops to jump through are numerous, so it helps if you can find an employer who is prepared to assist you (and the better ones will). For non-EU teachers, the bureaucracy involved in hiring makes it difficult to secure a contract unless you have lot of experience. But it is possible and we know of some non-EU passport holders who are working successfully there.
Flights and accommodation are rarely included in first year contracts, but sometimes you will be able to negotiate these in to your deal if you stay on with the same school.