So you’re ready to peace out, pack your bags, and move to Spain to teach English? Good thing for you, even in the midst of a pandemic, there are still programs and visa options for non-EU citizens who want to teach English in Spain.
The most secure options involve working with Spanish schools. These are highly-regimented positions and don’t offer much flexibility. But, they are only part-time, so you’d have plenty of freedom to explore your new home.
On the other hand, those who want a little more flexibility could apply independently for a student visa and try to freelance on the side. This is a riskier and expensive option. It means you’d have to sign up and pay for some kind of accredited course in Spain. Once you’re here, having a student visa would allow you to apply for work authorization, enabling you to work up to 20 hours per week.
I know, I know. Sounds complicated. But, if you’re absolutely sure you want to move to Spain, and think teaching English could be for you, the best option is to start with a student visa. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you…
Teaching English in a Spanish School
This is probably the easiest way to begin teaching English and get your visa sponsored. There are 3 main types of schools in Spain: public schools, concentrados, and private schools. The requirements are simple. All you need is to be a native speaker, have a bachelor’s degree, and a passport. Each type of school is a little different and has its own unique advantages and challenges.
1: Public Schools
The typical way into a public school is as a language assistant through Spain’s “cultural ambassadors” program. It’s also popularly known as the Ministry Program and allows college students and graduates to live and work in Spain on a student visa. If accepted into the program, assistants are placed in elementary schools (primary schools), high schools (secondary schools), or even in technical/vocational training centers. They spend a full academic year assisting Spanish teachers for 12-16 hours a week. Assistants can expect to earn between 700€-1000€ a month depending on where they’re placed. Applications open in early January and run till about mid-April.
While it’s a great gig, placement in your preferred location is not guaranteed. But, you could be fortunate. A friend of mine once worked at the culinary technical school, teaching all the cooking vocabulary and living the good life sampling food! While placements seem random, and there is not much control on your end, it is a good option if you’re flexible and looking for an easy job.
2: Concentrados (semi-private schools)
Like the ministry program, there are other programs that sponsor a student visa & enable you to work as a teacher. Programs BEDA and UCETAM will place you in semi-private schools as a language assistant. To make a school semi-private, the state sponsors some of the funding for the school, and parents supplement the rest. These schools are typically more religious and are known to ask a bit more from their assistants. Pay ranges are based on hours. Still, it comes out to anywhere between 800-1200€ per month for 18-24 hours per week of work.
3. Private schools
Most private schools do not offer visa sponsorship, so this option is more for those lucky folks who already have Spanish residency or have permission to work in the EU. While it’s pretty difficult to find a job as an English teaching assistant in a private school, this is the best option if you are already a teacher by profession. Most of these will require you to have teaching credentials from your home country or state, which will, in turn, need to be accredited in Spain as well. It’s a long process, but once you have everything set up, you are a real teacher and not just a language assistant. Payment ranges dramatically, but it can be 1600-2200€ per month for full-time work.
Other Student Visa Options
If working as a language assistant through one of the government programs doesn’t seem like a good fit, then your next option is to apply for a student visa independently. One of the most popular routes you can take is to sign-up for a TEFL or CELTA program in Spain. These privately-owned schools will train you to be an English teacher then help you get work in Spain once you’re certified. During the year, as you’re working you’ll also take teacher development courses or Spanish courses to satisfy your visa requirements.
But remember, while you will get paid to teach English, you must also account for the course fee. So this option is really for those who are looking to be in Spain long-term. These language academies usually work with students to renew their visas annually. After three years, the government allows students to modify their visas to working visas. So, many people see paying for these types of programs as an investment. Many times, they’re in it for the visa more than for the job.
If you’re interested in going this route, know that most of schools are concentrated in Madrid and Barcelona. Popular options are International TEFL Academy, TtMadrid, Canterbury English TEFL, and Oxford TEFL.
What to Expect at a Language Academy
Okay, so you’ve decided to spend some money in order to get to Spain and teach English. Yay! Honestly, so many of us in Spain started by taking a TEFL class, so you’re in good company. Now that you know what path you’re on, what can you expect?
Most of the TEFL academies also offer English classes to the public and may be able to offer you work through them. If not, they may send your information to other private English academies to help you find work. So definitely do your research. Compare all the programs you’re interested in and ask lots of questions before you sign up!
Salary in a language academy in Spain can range from 10€/hour-18€ per hour depending on your particular contract. Rates fluctuate depending on your location, as well as the extent of your experience and education. However, with the pandemic, it is a tough time for private English academies. Many schools are lessening their prices or just aren’t hiring the same number of teachers. So, even with a new TEFL certification, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to fill your schedule. That’s why this option is risky.
And if you do find work, expect to hustle! You’ll be meeting with students on their time, mostly in the early mornings before work hours, over lunchtime, and in the evening. You’ll likely be going to their workplace or home, so expect a lot of traveling within the various areas in the city. And, of course, with Covid being unpredictable, your income will be spotty and inconsistent.
As I said, it’s a tough road, but teachers are finding ways to make it work. Cutting back on personal expenses and/or supplementing income with online teaching and private classes has become the norm. So, are you still in?
You’re still in? Great! Now for some good news. Almost every English teacher in Spain supplements their income with private students. And, a few teachers I know ONLY teach private students. Admittedly, though, this can be kind of a mixed bag. But once you have students who are committed, it can develop into the best paying job in the English teaching game.
The benefit is that you can charge between 15-35€ cash per hour for lessons. However, you are going to need to do some leg-work to find your students. Additionally, many students will want you to go to their house, so it can entail a bit of running around. In my first year, I did classes all over the city, but now I have 5 classes that are all within a 20-minute walk from my house. I could have gotten to this point sooner if I was a bit more aggressive about it.
If you are ready to get on the hustle train to build up your base of private clients, I suggest either taking a look at Tus Clases Particulares. Here you can post an advert, search Facebook groups, or get referrals from other teachers. Everyone here knows someone who looking for English lessons, and someone’s bound to bite.
You can make a decent living on only private lessons. Just be sure not to make sure that you don’t make rookie movies. Establish some concrete rules from the beginning, like an air-tight 24-hour cancellation policy. You should also have people pay for the month upfront, so they don’t walk out on you a few days before the rent is due.
Teaching English Online
Now, technically this is not really allowed on a student visa. But, it’s becoming more and more popular for those on student visas and non-lucrative visas since teaching online gives teachers the flexibility to anywhere. You can also set your own hours, which is a huge plus. For those looking to supplement their income between school years, it can end up paying more than working a summer job, or even at an English academy.
Many of the online companies are geared towards Chinese students aged 3-17. Classes can range from 25 min-50 minutes. Peak times in Spain are from 11am-3pm on weekdays and 6am-3pm on weekends.
There are many companies out there to work for, and they all require something a little different. Still, if you have a bachelor’s degree and some sort of TEFL, you will meet the minimum requirements of about 95% of them.
Now, Go Teach English in Spain!
So there you have it! The “greatest hits” of teaching English in Spain.
No matter where you find yourself on the road to teaching in Spain, remember that it is possible! If there’s a will, there is definitely a way. So, go get it, girl! There is no exact way to do this. We all figure it out as we go. But hopefully, by knowing your options, you’ll feel confident enough to make a move. And, trust me, there are many amazing women here in Spain already that have been where you are. So, you’ll never be alone.