Teaching English in Spain
TEFL, siestas and sangria are the typical Brit’s impression of the life in Spain, but with over a million expats now resident in the country, finding your first TEFL job in Spain is not as easy as it once was. Yet teaching English is Spain is so appealing to many that it remains in the top five TEFL destinations of both graduates looking for a gap year TESOL, as well as mature career changers looking for an alternative life somewhere warm.
But if teaching English in Spain is your dream, then you need to do your homework first and go prepared. Choose your TESOL training carefully to give you the right skills for the new Spanish market.
Changing times for the TEFL industry
Once upon a time you could rock up with a basic TESOL certificate (or sometimes none at all) and be inundated with TESOL job offers. But this has changed and while there is a healthy industry, to secure good, year-round work and a decent hourly wage, it pays to be prepared.
Global English graduate Kerry Edwards found work teaching English in Spain around 10 years ago and now is Director of Studies of a TEFL school in Calpe. She comments on the current situation:
"I live in Calpe which is on the Costa Blanca, between Valencia and Alicante, 30 minutes north of Benidorm. I think that Spain generally is struggling, even in Madrid classes have been cut back and companies are turning more and more to telephone classes. Last year the banks drastically cut their training budget and the employees no longer have classes.
I would advise anyone looking at work in Spain at the moment to ensure that they have a contract and not take for granted that it will be renewed. Also in Spain there is not a benefit system as in the UK. You are only entitled to a small amount if you have worked for 2 years on a full time contract. If you do not have a contract you have no health cover.
The teaching of English at the town halls is taught by civil servants such as school or college teachers who are on the local payroll. Large classes with lots of Spanish spoken. They have also recruited English volunteers to help out. Not an ideal situation but it's free!
As a DoS for a summer school I recruit new teachers every year and we have a core of teachers who come back year after year. I usually recruit a newly qualified TEFL teacher to give them the necessary experience."
Finding teaching jobs in Spain
So if you are a new teacher looking for work, where is best to start? Well, a TEFL forum dedicated to teaching English in Spain is a good place to go: The Expatriate Café is one of these. You’ll find useful advice on everything, from finding you first job to where to live, from others who have followed the same path as you. You could also try the standard TEFL jobs sites, such as TEFL.com. We also have a fuller list of TEFL job websites and ideas on how to present yourself when you go for your first interview on our blog called How to find a TEFL position overseas.
If you can get to Spain on an Easyjet or other low cost airline, or if you are already there, then you definitely have an advantage. By being in the right place at right time, you can apply face to face. One obvious advantage is that you can find out locally about the good schools (and bad ones!) allowing you the opportunity of doing the research before making a commitment.
Global English graduate Jennifer Cross went to Barcelona and comments:
"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."
It is easier to find a teaching job in Spain as an EU citizen?
The first thing to say is that you will have a greater range of TEFL job opportunities if you are a UK or Irish passport holder. TEFL contracts are easier to come by and of course you will be entitled to the general medical and state benefits. You should ensure that you have your EHIC card (this replaced the E111 last year) and you can find out more about health care in Spain through the NHS website Spain page. If you are a non-native English language speaker, but have a good command of English and a TEFL qualification, then finding TEFL work is also possible. However, you need to be flexible and be prepared to offer something different. Consider offering yourself as an English/Other Language teacher, which is what Karen Raffa did after completing her TESOL course with a business English specialisation. She is currently in Spain teaching English and German and comments:
"They like to employ native speakers as it is always demanded in job advertisements. I’m not native English but I’m foreign. Obviously that was enough to give me a try. Furthermore, I think that it is much easier to find a job in Spain than in Germany. I sent some applications via internet and some schools I just called to leave a message and I received answers from all schools I called. Sometimes they offer you just a few lessons a week, so you normally work for more than one school."
What about teaching English in Spain as a non-EU citizen?
But things are a little different if you hold a passport from a non-EU country, such as the US, Canada or Australia. Contracts will be more difficult to come by and many will resort to working illegally or under the radar, meaning that you have very limited job security and have to rely on trusting your employer. If you want to get started and find out more, there are some really good websites that can offer you advice. Some people prefer this and while you are not covered by the benefits system, you are often paid in cash and there is greater flexibility. The Spain Expat website is a useful one to learn more about some of the experiences others have had doing this.
A recent article on teaching in Spain suggested it is always better to apply in person, armed with a succinct TEFL-ready CV. The best time to apply is at the end of September since recruitment is mostly done last minute for an October start.
What TEFL courses should I take to get there?
With Spain remaining a top 5 destination and greater competition for teachers, if you are in it for the long term we would recommend at least a 150 hour accredited TESOL course. We strongly recommend adding a specialism in either Teaching English to young learners or business English to help set you apart from the competition.
If you want to teach English in Spain this year, an enhanced TESOL course could make all the difference.
William Bradridge, Director of Studies, Global English TESOL
Are you teaching in Spain at the moment? What's your experience? Could you lend any advice to help others in getting started? Then please leave a comment below.
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