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An English Teacher Abroad – The Journey into Spanish Life

An English Teacher Abroad – The Journey into Spanish Life

Since the late 20th century, teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) abroad has attracted many individuals seeking a transformative and culturally enriching experience. The appeal lies in the opportunity to explore new and diverse cultures, connect with students from different backgrounds, and immerse yourself in the daily life of a different country. As an English Teacher you have the chance to make a positive impact by empowering others with language skills while broadening your horizons. The prospect of adventure, personal growth, and the ability to contribute to global education make TEFL a popular choice for those seeking a meaningful and fulfilling international experience.

What makes Spain so attractive

Here are some reasons why many people choose to teach English Spain:

  • Cultural Richness: Spain is renowned for its vibrant culture, including flamenco music and dance, traditional festivals, and a rich history seen in its architecture, art, and literature.
  • Flavourful Cuisine: Spanish cuisine, famous for tapas, paella, and a wide array of regional dishes, is a major draw. The emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients adds to the gastronomic appeal.
  • Beautiful Landscapes: From the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean to the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees and the diverse countryside, Spain offers a varied and picturesque landscape.

Illeta El Campello Alicante

  • Warm Climate: Spain is known for its pleasant weather, particularly in regions like Andalusia and the Costa del Sol. The abundance of sunshine is a significant attraction for those looking to escape colder climates.
  • Laid-Back Lifestyle: The Spanish lifestyle is often associated with a more relaxed pace, afternoon siestas, and a focus on enjoying life. This appeals to those seeking a balance between work and leisure.
  • Affordable Living: Compared to some other Western European countries, Spain offers a relatively affordable cost of living, making it an attractive option for expatriates and retirees.
  • Social Atmosphere: Spaniards are known for their warm and friendly nature, contributing to a welcoming social environment. The emphasis on socializing, whether at local cafes or lively gatherings, appeals to those seeking a sense of community.

Navigating the Red Tape

Securing employment in Spain, especially for non-European travellers, can be challenging, because employers often prioritise hiring EU citizens. However, If you are determined to make Spain your home away from home, you can start by obtaining a student visa, which allows you to work within specified weekly hours.

For proficient English speakers from North America, the NALCAP (North American Language and Culture Assistants Program) offers great opportunities. Sponsored by the Ministry of Education in Spain. It provides a visa, medical insurance, and a varying monthly salary. While teaching experience is not mandatory, a bachelor’s degree is required, and the program offers temporary positions from October to May.

Alternative programs such as UCETAM and BEDA also provide opportunities for finding English teacher positions. 

For those within the EU, the job search in Madrid is less challenging. Providing that you hold a TEFL qualification, applying for teaching positions at language academies is the best starting point.

Regardless of origin, obtaining a foreigner ID number (NIE) and a resident permit is necessary for legal employment in Spain. A 120-hour TEFL qualification enhances prospects, and fluency in Spanish opens opportunities to teach subjects like Science and Maths.

Learning Spanish in Ronda Spain

Inside the Spanish Classroom: What to Expect

Usually, Spanish schools have a laid-back atmosphere, with teachers addressed by their first names. A two-hour lunch break is the norm, and there’s no rigid dress code. Physical affection is a cultural norm, so don’t be surprised to see students hugging their teachers.

The educational approach in Spain leans heavily on memorization and is results-oriented. Students may not be used to speaking in a foreign language and classroom discussions may not be common. It will take a lot of teachers’ time and patience to help students build their speaking skills and confidence. 

Salamanca University Spain

Teaching Options: Where to Work

Various employment options exist, including Academies/Language schools, Public schools, Private schools, International schools, and Universities. Each offers unique advantages and requirements, from language academies providing flexibility to universities requiring teaching experience and a bachelor’s degree.

  • Academies and language schools offer one of the most direct routes to secure a position as an English teacher in Spain. Given the widespread presence of such institutions across the country. These schools provide a diverse array of courses tailored to learners of varying proficiency levels and age groups. While they may not guarantee a full schedule, teachers have the option to work for multiple schools simultaneously. Enabling them to create a comprehensive weekly timetable.
  • Public schools represent another avenue for English teaching employment. Mandated by the Ministry of Education in Spain for primary and secondary education. English speakers are sought after to work as language and cultural assistants. While the compensation may not be high, this role offers the distinct advantage of complete immersion in Spanish life, with a teaching qualification not obligatory but a recommended proficiency in the Spanish language enhancing eligibility.

Private & International Schools 

  • Private schools, especially in primary education, offer teaching positions with a monthly salary and various benefits. However, a teaching qualification is a prerequisite for such roles, and a certain level of familiarity with the Spanish language is preferable.
  • International schools follow a structure similar to public institutions but often feature smaller class sizes. While these schools are attractive workplaces, opportunities may be more limited. Mainly due to the majority of students already having English as their first language.
  • Teaching at universities necessitates both teaching experience and a bachelor’s degree, providing a notably higher salary and benefits. The increased number of Spanish universities offering programs in English has led to a significant demand for qualified English teachers in recent years.
  • Private tuition emerges as a popular means of earning additional income for TEFL teachers. Offering flexibility in setting hourly rates and tailoring lessons to individual needs. Despite its advantages, this avenue poses challenges, including the difficulty of finding students and the time-consuming nature of crafting personalized lesson plans to meet each student’s requirements.

English Teacher TEFL immersion in Spain

Spanish Life: Beyond Teaching

Spain’s appeal extends beyond its scenery, making it one of the top three European countries to move to. A pleasant climate, friendly atmosphere and relaxed lifestyle. Spain also has affordable living costs, low crime rates, and an excellent health system. For those seeking an exciting TEFL career, Spain promises a fulfilling experience for English Teacher roles.