Spain is well-known for its sunny weather, unique culture and architectural buildings. The 46-million inhabitants love spending weekends at their local beaches and eating their national dishes like tapas or nachos. These are some of the reasons, why Spain is one of the most popular countries for ESL teachers to teach abroad.
What are the requirements, how can you find a job, and what is daily life like for ESL teachers in Spain? This post helps you to break into Spain TEFL market and start teaching English in Spain successfully.
|Quick Info: TEFL Jobs in Spain|
|Available Jobs||One-on-one in-home tutoring, Private in-company lessons, Language academies, After-school programs for children, In-house private language programs, Colleges and universities|
|Visa Requirements||Schengen Business Visa or Spain Work Visa required|
Work Authorization, Police record, Medical Certificate, Proof of accommodation, Proof of the professional qualification, Work contract, License or registration required to carry out the work in Spain, Schedule an interview appointment with Spanish consulate
|Monthly Teacher Salary||700€ to 1,400€ per month|
|Monthly Living Cost||700€ to 1,400€ per month|
|Peak Hiring Months||April to June & September to early October|
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Spain is located in Southern Europe and borders with Portugal in the East and France in the North. It is about 620 miles / 1000 km long and 500 miles / 800 km wide.
With 300 days of sunshine, Spain is one of the hottest and sunniest countries in Europe. It is well-known for its culture and relaxed and friendly people. Spain has always been one of the most visited places in the world because of its architectural history, profound culture and its coastline that spans as long as 5,000 miles.
Family and friends are very important in Spanish culture, and work usually comes second.
For example, Spain notoriously partakes in Siesta. Siesta is a short break taken midday after the midday meal, which is often during the hottest hour of the day, in order to escape the heat and to spend time with your family.
Spanish people love eating together, whether it is at home, at a restaurant of for breakfast with their co-workers. The Spanish are gracious and generous, but also direct. This directness is actually a way of being much more organic and charming. Be open, it is not to be taken as an insult (as some people read it). They are just efficient, genuine, and not heavy with unnecessary “cookie cutter” politeness.
This is a multilayered question, and one that many people gloss over or don’t acknowledge to its full complexity.
To start, you must obtain the basic certification required; a TEFL, CELTA, or DELTA certificate, to be recognized at a C1 level or considered a native English Speaker.
The courses either last four weeks intensive or six months part-time. These are undoubtedly the most complete TEFL courses available and will ensure a good paying gig.
You must also hold any university degree (bachelor degree). These are the bare minimum requirements, and they are internationally recognized.
Additionally, you have to be a citizen of a native-speaking English country, like the US, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom etcetera.
Experience is not essential, but can help you to land great jobs and also higher-paying jobs. Since teaching English in Spain is competitive, and so getting your resume noticed is important. Consider your own objectives for teaching English in Spain and skill set within the industry.
A basic certification (and bachelor degree) can get you a standard academic teaching position in a variety of academies. With additional certifications, it is possible to create a more dynamic and unique teaching environment that can lead to other less traditional positions.
Be flexible and creative. Teaching customized classes may be rewarding for you. Just like any other industry when teaching English in Spain, you need to discover your specialty so that you can establish your role within a niche. Ask yourself, how can I connect with my students (clients!) to strengthen the importance of my role? What more can I add or bring to my teaching? What diversifies my classroom? Is there any experience I have that helps me to land this job?
A common problem I find now when hiring teachers is that every resume has similar experiences. So, I suggest, you especially look for a niche skill set or applicable past experiences that will add diversity to the ESL classroom.
TEFL Courses in the Country
If you haven’t taken a TEFL course yet, consider taking one in Spain!
Taking a TEFL course on-site is great because it gives you the opportunity to meet new friends. You will get used to your new environment and learn about how to be a good English teacher in Spain specifically. Additionally, taking a TEFL course in Spain can help you to get a job there.
We’ve picked out a few great TEFL courses in Spain, so you can choose the one that’s best for you.
And if you decide to get TEFL certified online instead of on location, have a look at our guide to choosing the best online TEFL course to find the one that fits your needs.
The Best On-Site TEFL Courses in Spain
International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)
ITTT offers courses in 6 different locations in Spain, namely in Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Seville, Malaga and Gran Canaria. The courses take around 4 weeks to complete.
The fee for the course is about 1500€, plus 500€ deposit, which you will get back after completing the course. Additionally, you have to pay a fee for the accommodation. This fee is about 600€ in Barcelona. In Seville, it is way cheaper.
Usually, you can have a private bedroom in a shared apartment or a home stay with a local family. All accommodation is safe, clean and comfortable. You’ll always have your own private bedroom and will share the living spaces, kitchen and bathroom. Washing machines, towels and bed linens are provided.
International TEFL Academy
ITA offers courses in Barcelona and Madrid. Both courses take 4 weeks and are one of the best-rated one’s throughout the country. The classes are kept small and workload is relatively high so that you can complete the course within a short time.
Both courses cost around 1500€ plus the accommodation fee and a 500€ deposit, which you will get back after completing the course.
Job Opportunities & Salaries
There are plenty of opportunities to teach English in Spain – the young and old want to learn, for reasons that are professional and personal. From one-on-one in-home tutoring to private in-company lessons, the need for qualified native teachers has drastically spiked. Language academies are opening up everywhere, and after-school programs are becoming more popular for children.
There is a big focus on creating regulated in-house private language programs for the business sector. They want tailored lessons for their executives and upper-level staff, who focus more on traveling, marketing or global networking.
There are very few other options for teaching in Spain, besides teaching under the table. Many people still do this since the demand for teachers is so high and native speakers are highly sought after (especially by parents), but it’s not as secure or structured as going through the Ministry.
As a result, Spain has now become one of the most desirable places to work for language professionals. Teaching positions for qualified professionals over 21 are available in the public sector as well, such as colleges and universities.
Typically, English teachers in Spain make between €700-1,400 per month. If you teach through the Spanish Ministry of Education, you can expect to earn €700 to €1,000, and then supplement your income with private lessons.
Apply for a Job & Hiring Process
Teaching English in Spain opportunities are always accessible, but schools tend to do the majority of their hiring from April to June and September to early October.
Be sure to stick to the more established schools or programs to ensure you are treated fairly and are well compensated. This means noticing if they have a well-developed online presence, good reviews, or a strong reputation for being organized. You are after all working from abroad and are at risk of being taken advantage of.
You can search for teaching English jobs in Spain online before you fly out, using sources like TEFL.com, expat.com, tusclasesparticulares.com, Google and Facebook groups. However, having a CV ready and printed once you arrive is often the better option. Teaching English work truly comes through who you know, especially in Spain where everyone wants to help you out.
You can take your TEFL course in Spain. Sometimes, you will be offered a position to teach English in Spain upon graduation. Most qualified TEFL programs try to hire directly from their graduating class. They have associations and afflictions with other language academies that they know are looking for help. And if they don’t, they will refer you to someone who does know. TEFL programs want to help you out in the hiring process, so giving your all during your training is crucial.
You usually apply via the websites from above or send your documents directly to the institution you are applying for. The required documents are usually your TEFL certificate, CV, motivation letter, proof of past experiences and a copy of your degree(s).
Visa Requirements & Application Process
Now that we have broken down the nitty-gritty of the work, how do you get yourself there and legally work? If you are a citizen of the European Union, there are special agreements that allow you to work without the need for special permits.
However, if you are not a citizen of the European Union, you must apply for the necessary paperwork to be able to work and be paid legally. It is risky hiring someone without papers, which is often why EU workers are sometimes prioritized.
The best way for non-EU citizens to teach legally in Spain is to apply as a North American Language and Culture Assistant through the Spanish Ministry of Education. Each year, the Ministry hires thousands of native speakers to teach in Spain for 9-month periods of time (from October to June, typically). As a result, the teachers get visas to live and work in Spain. I suggest to you, to apply from your home country.
All the information for a work visa can be found on the Spanish consulate website in your home country. This guide provides you with all the information you need to get the long stay work Visa in Spain.
Usually, you will need a Schengen Business Visa or Spain Work Visa. You need the following documents to apply for the Visa:
- Work Authorization
- Police record
- Medical Certificate
- Proof of accommodation.
- Proof of the professional qualification
- Work contract
- License or registration required to carry out the work in Spain.
After applying, you have to schedule an interview appointment with the Spanish consulate. After the documents have been checked and the interview is done, you can expect to get the visa.
The application cost varies depending on the country you come from and the visa you are applying for. You should expect to pay around €200, for the visa.
There are also a few teachers teaching under the table, since the demand for teachers is so high and native speakers are highly sought after (especially by parents), but it’s not as secure or structured as going through the Ministry.
Usually, you have to find an apartment on your own. Of course, some schools or language centers might help you, if you ask them.
A great website to find apartments is Idealista.com, which many locals use. Many apartments come very simply furnished, which is amazing for foreigners who are unsure of the duration of their stay.
I definitely suggest searching and rent your accommodation privately, since the cost for agents in Spain are relatively high. By using the different online portals, you can find an apartment within a few weeks.
In Spain, you can choose between living in a hostel, a pension (€25 to €30 a night), or a shared apartment. The monthly cost for a shared apartment ranges from €250 to €550 per month, depending on the area you choose and how many roommates you want to share with. Deposit is usually equivalent to one month’s rent.
In big cities, like Madrid or Barcelona, the accommodation cost is usually way higher. A one-bedroom apartment costs around €700 to €800 per month, whereas in more rural areas, you can find an apartment for around €300 to €450.
Living Costs vs. Salaries – Can You Save Money?
The average salary for teaching English in Spain that you can expect ranges from €10 to €17 per hour. This price can be even higher, according to your level of experience, additional certifications, the duration of your commitment and the academy for which you may work.
Typically, English teachers in Spain make between €700-1,400 per month. If you teach through the Spanish Ministry of Education, you can expect to earn €700 to €1,000, and then supplement your income with private lessons. Salaries will also vary if you are teaching in a bigger city such as Barcelona or Madrid, where you have better access to corporate industries that can afford higher wages.
However, keep in mind that the cost of living is higher in these central parts of Spain. Depending on the cost of living in your city, you should be able to earn enough money to break even. Most teachers in Spain live a comfortable lifestyle, but very few earn enough to save every month.
Overall, the cost of living in Spain ranges from €800 to €1,500 per month. It varies widely based on whether you live in a big city or small town, and what type of living situation you choose. In metropolitan cities like Barcelona and Madrid, you’ll need at least €1,000 to break even. In smaller towns, it’s possible to survive on less.
Your monthly costs will also depend on how frequently you plan to travel around Spain and Europe. Most teachers can’t resist traveling during their time in Spain (and why should they?), so any disposable income goes toward that.
In Spain, you can choose between living in a hostel, a pension (€25 to €30 a night), or a shared apartment. The monthly cost for a shared apartment ranges from €250 to €750 per month, depending on the area you choose and how many roommates you want to share with.
Foods & Restaurants
Spain offers a great variety of fresh, flavorful foods at very reasonable prices. Most breakfasts are around €3, which covers coffee, toast, and juice. Lunch is a three-course meal which includes a salad, the main plate, and a dessert or coffee, for €8 to €15, depending on the type of restaurant you choose.
Beer and wine are often cheaper than buying bottled water, between €1.25 to €3. As the drinking water is perfectly safe in Spain, drink tap water and spend your euros on beer and wine instead!
There are also many local markets to buy fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and breads that can keep your cost of food very low. Many places take debit or credit, but it is more customary to pay cash for transactions that are under €20 to €30.
Dinner is a light meal or tapas, which are always €2 to €5 a plate. Altogether, food cost ranges from €15 to €20 per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but it all depends on how much you like to eat and, where you like to eat. Unlike in North America, tipping is not customary, but it is appreciated.
Local Phone Plans & Internet
Obtain a local SIM card or prepaid phone card, which are very inexpensive, so you can use data for maps and Wi-Fi calling. Most cafés and shops have free Wi-Fi available (which is pronounced “wee-fee” in Spain), you just have to ask.
I have an Orange Pay as-you-go-phone plan for under €15 which includes 6 gigs of data, 40 mins talk time, and unlimited texts. This lasts me approximately three weeks.
To sign up, all you need is a photocopy of your passport and your local address (don’t ever carry around your latest passport, keep a photocopy on you only).
Transportation & Getting Around
Transportation is very accessible and easy to navigate. There is the Metro, buses or rental bikes within the city, and these prices do not vary significantly. For example, in Seville, the bus fare costs €0.70, the train fare costs €1.80 or if you want to get an annual card for the use of the rental bikes, it costs approximately €20. There are lots of transportation apps out there that can help you keep up with bus times.
Take advantage of the weather and bike when you can – it helps you get a good grasp of your bearings. Reloadable bus and Metro cards can be bought at stations or at most local Kiosks (newspaper stands) around the city. Many cities are also quite walkable, but with the heat in the summer months, you will likely want to use the air-conditioned transport.
So, Can You Save Money?
Since the average income to teach English in Spain is €700 to €1,400, it’s difficult to save money. If you live somewhat frugally and limit your traveling, then it’s certainly easier. But if you want the lifestyle that most English teachers lead (eating out regularly, traveling at least once a month, and living in a comfortable apartment), then you’ll most likely only be able to break even.
The Best Cities to Look for Teaching Jobs
The weather in Spain doesn’t vary very much. The cities in the southern parts tend to have warmer winters, but the weather in summer is very similar. The summers are rather dry, and the temperature usually rises to 28 to 32 degrees centigrade (82 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit). In winter, the temperature is between 5 and 10 degrees Centigrade (40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Additionally, in the cities near the coast it usually rains more, and it can also be a little windier.
Madrid is located right in the center of Spain. With a population of over 3 million people, it is the biggest city in Spain. This also means that there is always something to do in this city. For example, visiting the endless sights, like the National Museum, The Royal Park, spending days in one of the countless parks or going out for lunch or spending time with friends in the sun.
Madrid is a great choice for people that love action. Since Madrid is located in the heart of Spain, you can make a weekend trip to almost every destination, since a ride only takes about 3 to 4 hours.
Barcelona might be the most popular city to teach English in Spain. The city is located in Northern Spain, right next to the coast.
There are over 1.5 million people living in Barcelona. The inhabitants love spending the weekends at the beaches. Also, Barcelona offers great architecture and a unique history. The Catalan history is very special, and the people there are very proud of it.
Barcelona is the perfect place for ESL teachers that want to combine their business life, with beaches, nature, great architecture and partying.
Valencia is located at the west coast of Spain. It is the third-most populous city in Spain. If you want to enjoy the city life and save more money, I can suggest living there.
The accommodation prices are lower than in Madrid and Barcelona. Still, you also have a high living standard, live right next to great beaches and have enough entertainment possibilities for the weekend and after work.
Seville is one of the most southern cities in Spain. The city is located in the region of Andalusia. A region with beautiful architecture and landscape and numerous beach accesses.
Seville is not directly at the sea, but you can go to Cadiz in about 2 hours on the weekend and spend a beach weekend there. PLUS: you can even take a ferry to Morocco.
Seville, like Valencia, is much smaller than Barcelona and Madrid. Approximately 600,000 people live there. This makes daily life much more relaxed. The city is comparatively less touristy and definitely one of the top choices for ESL teachers to teach English abroad.
Classroom & Work Culture
Because of the siesta in Spain, most schools have a lunch break of about two hours. The teachers used this time to eat in peace and plan lessons. You can’t usually take a nap as a teacher.
In big cities and in the north, you should not expect a siesta. However, in some places in the south of the country, this tradition is still maintained.
Teachers, contrary to many rumors, are very dedicated to teaching and put in many hours to pass on knowledge to their students. Please expect that other teachers also have high expectations of you.
In Spain, teachers’ lessons are more interactive and hands-on. Since there are fewer standardized tests, the curriculum can focus less on teaching for a test and more on learning through play. They should work a lot with activities and connect students to the lessons and have them actively participate. As a teacher in Spain, you would have to take care of most of the classroom management yourself.
Teachers are more personal with their students than in the US. The relationship between teachers and students is much more direct and at eye level. People often talk about private matters and can discuss any topic with their students. That is definitely a big difference from teaching in the United States.
Unfortunately, as a teacher in Spain, you also have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy and administrative work. This is because there is a lot of paperwork for you to legally work in the country. You get an overview of the documents you need to submit. However, it is your responsibility to fill out the required documents, make appointments with authorities and attend them. This can consume lots of time and planning.
When it comes to teaching clothes, there are no strict rules. You should just dress appropriately. A pair of jeans, good-looking new shoes and a shirt or blouse can be enough. Some schools might expect you to dress more formal, but usually, you are quite free, with what to wear.
In general, work and family life can be easily balanced in Spain. Most teachers have fewer obligations outside the school day.
I know all the advice and tips may seem a lot, but don’t worry! Getting your papers sorted is the hardest part of teaching English in Spain – once you’re there, everything will fall into place.
Embrace the lifestyle, ask questions and interact as much as you can! Get a TEFL certification and use your skills to help the Spanish level up. They have a lot to teach you as well. It’s not always Siesta time!