If you’re here, that means that you’re looking into different options for moving abroad to Spain in order to teach English! Congrats! I was in your position not too long ago, and I did TONS of research and jumped from blog to blog in order to find some of the best Spain – English teaching options. I hope that here I will be able to give you a quick overview of three of the most popular programs for Americans. I will go more into depth about the Auxiliares de Conversacion program in other posts since that’s the one I ultimately ended up going through.
So let’s start!
- Auxiliares de Conversación
This program is certainly the largest North American Cultural Assistant program and it’s run directly through the Spanish government. According to their website, they accept somewhere around 2,500 North Americans (consisting of the USA and Canada). You can view their 2016-2017 Brochure here. The application deadlines for the 2016-2017 school year ran from January 12 – April 5.
General Information: As a language and cultural assistant, you will be teaching in the classroom for 12 hours per week (16 in Madrid) and receive a stipend of €700 per month (€1,000 in Madrid). Auxiliares work 4 day weeks, usually getting either Monday or Friday off (there are some weird schools that give you a different day off, however). Previous years have seen certain regions not included for whatever reason (corruption, lack of funding, etc), but according to their website, every region will participate for the 2016-2017 year! There was also a previous age restriction on Madrid (you had to be between 21-35 years old) and that has now been repealed as well. From what I understand, the majority of Auxiliares are between the ages of 21-26, but there are also people who travel with their families, enrolling their children in school in Spain! So the sky is really the limit here.
If you’re not sure if you qualify, here are the requirements:
Pros: Seems to be the highest paying option on a per hour basis. They also accept a LOT of people, so if you apply you’ll most likely get a position (assuming you meet the qualifications). Health insurance is totally paid for you when participating as well! My understanding of the Spanish health care system is that you go to the doctor’s and you pay ZERO upon leaving/being treated. It was quite a shock to me when I started making doctors appointments sans mis padres… You still have to pay hundreds of dollars after insurance adjustments?! Yes, yes you do… There’s something I won’t miss!! Another pro is that there are lots of Facebook groups to join in order to meet some of your future coworkers well before you head to Spain — there are even Facebook groups for the specific region in which you are assigned! You also get to list your top 3 regions out of the following groups (picking one region out of each group):
Group A: Asturias, Ceuta y Melilla, Extremadura, La Rioja, Navarra, País Vasco
Group B: Aragón, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Galicia, Islas Canarias
Group C: Andalucía, Castilla y León, Islas Baleares, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia
Of course, you’re not guaranteed a region you list as your preference… This all depends on your inscrita, or application number. Positions are handed out on a first come, first serve basis. Priority on handing out regional placements goes first to second year renewals, meaning that if you decide to participate in the program for a second year, you will get priority on regional preference. Then, order goes by your application number. Obviously, if you want to live in regions besides Madrid, this is the program for you. Considering Madrid is a city with over 3.2 million people, most programs focus on the giant metropolis.
Cons: A big part of participating in this program means that you are taking a huge leap, right? A whole ocean away in a land where you may or may not speak the language! That being said, if you’re looking for a lot of help throughout this program, look elsewhere, because you get virtually zero help here. Right away, the application on PROFEX is a nightmare! It’s completely in Spanish (there is an English PDF to help guide you through the application process) and once you’re done, you’re not sure if you’ve missed a step and will have your application rejected! Once you do finish properly, life doesn’t get much easier. From applying for your visa, to finding an apartment, setting up a bank account, and getting a Spanish cell phone, you are on your own. There have also been reports from past auxiliaries about certain regions being late with their payments, some students not getting paid until December. Obviously this causes a lot of issues as far as living goes because there is always rent and bills to pay! You can read a more thorough post here about some of the problems with late payments in the past. It seems like the ministry is getting its act together more for the most current year, however. Let’s hope this is the case…
This is a much smaller program run through the Catholic schools of Madrid. The Bilingual English Development & Assessment program is a private organization whose goal is to “implement and optimize English learning efficiency in schools by 1. Linguistic Phonetics English modeling. 2. Language Assistant training. 3. External evaluation of student and school teaching staff progress by a testing body of unquestionable prestige – Cambridge ESOL”General Information: A much smaller (and more competitive) program, BEDA accepts around 450 assistants from Canada, the USA, Australia, the UK, and several other English speaking countries. Assistants are placed in schools typically in Madrid (300 out of the participating 365 schools are in Madrid), but there are some schools in Andalucía, the Canary Islands, Valencia, and a few other communities. All of the schools through BEDA are Catholic schools, but you don’t need to be Catholic to work there. The ideal assistant on their site states you must be a native English speaker, older than 20, enjoy working with children, ideally possess some knowledge of Spanish (not obligatory), possess a bachelor’s degree, have no prior criminal convictions, and be available from September – June. The application period is typically the beginning of December through the end of January. Through BEDA, you are required to take some University classes varying in things like the Spanish language to how to be the most effective teacher in the classroom. This typically eats into one weekend day per month. BEDA assistants also work more hours than the Auxiliares through the government program (and don’t get paid quite as much on a per hour breakdown).Pros: The application process is very simple and straight forward. You submit your CV, a short statement on why you’re applying to BEDA, and some general passport/personal information. It takes about 15 minutes (assuming you already have a CV!). BEDA is also a smaller program and does assist you with things the Auxiliares program doesn’t. For example, BEDA helps you with your NIE paperwork and helps set you up with a bank account — two hugely helpful things when moving to Spain! The program also seems a lot more on top of their responsibilities. The assistants are always paid on time and also seem to have more help in the classroom. If you want to live in Madrid, this is also a pro, as you will most likely get placed there! My understanding is that the folks who run BEDA are also a lot easier to deal with than the government folks in the Auxiliares program. Health insurance is also covered through the BEDA program. You also receive a certificate at the end of the 12 months and become qualified to help students with their Cambridge English Exams. There is also a Facebook Group you can join for more information and to meet fellow BEDA applicants.
Cons: Once selected, you have to prepare for a Skype interview with a BEDA worker. It lasts about 15 minutes and is conducted in English, but it can still be intimidating. Once you arrive in Spain, you work more hours for less money. Through the government program you earn roughly €15.63/hour and through BEDA you only get about €12.13/hour. There is also a Program Selection Fee of €175 that you have to pay upon accepting your position. The required classes take up one of your precious Spain weekends and many people don’t find the classes helpful at all (some people find them useful!). You don’t get 3 day weekends like through the government program. You still don’t have any help finding a place to live or setting up a bank account. Update: As of 2016, BEDA requires all applicants to use the FBI background check rather than your local state background check in order to clear you of all possible sexual offenses. This is also a con as it can be more costly as well as much more time consuming.*Personal Disclaimer: I applied to the BEDA program along with the Auxiliares de Conversación and my application was rejected through BEDA. I was actually pretty surprised because I met all of their “ideal candidate” requirements. So I sent a kind email asking why and was basically told that because I didn’t major in Education or have extensive experience working with children, I was not a good candidate. So be aware, BEDA is a bit more rigorous in their screening process and accepts fewer people and from around the globe, narrowing your chances a good bit.
CIEE is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, and the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, according to their website. Not only do they have programs to teach abroad in Spain, you can teach English in many countries! They also offer exchange programs for students, have TEFL and ESL courses/certifications, work and travel exchanges, and short term volunteer/teaching opportunities. But you’re here because you want to know about their Spain program, right?General Information: CIEE is basically allotted a certain amount of spots through the government program, only in the community of Madrid. Like the government program, you work 4 days a week at 16 hours per week in Madrid and are given a stipend of €1,000 per month. Application period typically runs from early January to early April. Unlike the government program, there is a $50 application fee and a $2,000 enrollment fee. Yes, you read that right. It costs you $2,000 to teach in Spain through CIEE. So you’re thinking they must do A LOT for you for such a high price, otherwise why not just go straight through the government?! Eh… They do include more, but is it $2,050 more? You decide:
In addition, you also have to provide proof that you are intermediate/advanced in your Spanish speaking abilities. This includes sharing your college transcript and providing proof of at least 2 years of college Spanish. Don’t have that? You can request a letter from a professor stating that you have the equivalent abilities of 2 years worth of Spanish. If you don’t, then there are other (more expensive) immersion programs you can do through CIEE. If you have one year of college Spanish or less, you can do the Language Immersion program and stay two or four weeks with a host family (at $3,400/$4,100 respectively). I guess the bonus is that they can help you with all of the Spanish paperwork… But for potentially 4+ months of pay?! Your call, I suppose…
Pros: The application is pretty straightforward, though a bit more paperwork is required. It’s basically one webpage for uploading documents. CIEE promises 24 hour emergency assistance, should you need it. They also say they’ll help you with your visa application. Temporary housing is provided when you arrive is Spain (assuming you arrive right at orientation) and they say they’ll help you find permanent housing, though I’m unclear on how helpful they are in that aspect. From attending their webinar, it’s also my understanding that they’re a lot more willing to work with you in terms of where you’ll live in Madrid. In the government program, you’re allowed to select preferences, but ultimately you go where they assign you or you don’t go at all. CIEE made it seem like if you have your heart set on a big city, they’ll get you in one. If you want a smaller pueblo, that is what they’ll do for you. Also, if you apply with a friend, they’re going to do everything they can to get you in the same city, which is pretty cool too.
Cons: Obviously the upfront fees! You basically forego 2-4 months of pay to just cover the costs! And that’s not even including the amount you’ll have to pay for your apartment (or piso) and bills and all that… Factor in those costs and you’re probably not going to come out ahead anytime soon… This is problematic if you want to be saving money and traveling around Europe! The application is a bit more strict too. CIEE requires two letters of recommendation as opposed to the government’s one. They also require you to provide more proof of your Spanish abilities, which can be a pain, especially if you didn’t take enough Spanish in college. Then there is the other fee of $50 just to submit your application…
From everything I’ve read online, it seems like nobody who applied through CIEE knew about the government’s free option. They applied through CIEE because a friend of a friend studied abroad in high school and knew of the program… or something like that. If the thought of getting through visa paperwork by yourself or finding an apartment with no assistance renders you absolutely useless with fear and you have thousands of dollars just begging to be spent, then hey, CIEE might be a wonderful selection for you! The people who run the program do seem very kind and helpful, so ultimately it’s your choice!
Of course, there are more than just these options for teaching English in Spain. These were the three that I found to be the most popular amongst recent college graduates and these were the three that I spent a great deal of time researching. For a wonderful list of other alternatives, you can check out this blog post. Well, what are you waiting for? MAKE SPAIN HAPPEN!
Well what did you think? Did you find this helpful? Have you gone through any of these programs? Agree or disagree with my opinions above? Anything to add? Let me know!