Teaching English isn’t always the easy job it appears to be for expats relocating to Spain: let’s take a good look at how to put your best English-teaching foot forward, from what institutions hire to the dinero you’ll be bringing home.
Spain has long been a favorite destination for foreigners looking to move abroad. It is especially popular for retirement, although the pleasant climate and high quality of living have been drawing an ever-growing number of young professionals as well. Spain’s large expat community means that it is possible to teach English in Spain – a tried favorite among expats. It’s relatively competitive and it can take some dedication to find a teaching job in Spain, but the decision can be a rewarding one.
But despair not – equipped with all this great advice from ConversaSpain, an organization that connects language assistants to public schools, you’ll be making a living teaching English in Spain in no time.
ConversaSpain is a Spanish organization that cooperates with more than 300 public schools in different regions in Spain. It offers inspiring, challenging and rewarding opportunities to potential English language assistants from all over the world who want to teach in Spain. With ConversaSpain, native English speakers can teach their mother tongue as language and cultural ambassadors in public schools in Madrid or Murcia (Auxiliares de Conversacion program).
What are the requirements to teach English in Spain?
The good news if you want to teach English in Spain is that you don’t need to have a degree. However, you will need more than simply the ability to speak English to a high standard. The main requirements to teach English in Spain are:
- A recognized teaching certificate: TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language), CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) and TESOL (Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages) are the main certificates. The cost and length of courses depend on which course you take, where you study, and who you enroll with. It’s possible to do some courses online to save time and money. However, it’s better to get a certificate from an academy with a good reputation if you want to get the best jobs.
- The right visa and work permit: If you have an EU passport, you won’t need a permit to teach English in Spain. However, most non-EU nationals will need a work visa to undertake any kind of employment. Read more in our guides to visas and work permits in Spain.
- Knowledge of the Spanish language is helpful: Far fewer people speak fluent English in Spain than in northern European countries. You’ll probably be fine in the larger cities but will struggle in quieter or rural areas if you can’t speak Spanish. Being able to speak the local language will also make it easier to find and apply for jobs.
- As it’s quite a competitive field, knowledge of where to look for jobs is also an advantage: You can get some tips from our guide on finding a job in Spain.
What types of jobs teaching English in Spain are available?
There are a number of different places where you can teach English in Spain. Here are some of the most common ones.
Language schools offer a great opportunity to earn a stable and secure income. There are hundreds of them across Spain teaching students of different ages and from various backgrounds. Schools teach at different levels (from basic to advanced) and at varying hours. As most jobs don’t offer full weekly hours, you can look into teaching at multiple language schools at once. The downside is that wages aren’t as high as with some other teaching jobs.
Check out our directory for language schools in Spain.
If you have a teaching English certificate and are looking for something that pays a better salary, you can look for a job at a private school in Spain. These positions usually offer a monthly salary, benefits, and paid leave. However, most of them require prior teaching experience and some knowledge of Spanish.
International schools are a more popular choice than private schools for those wanting to teach English in Spain as they are usually bilingual, meaning that being able to speak good Spanish is not so crucial. Salaries are also reasonably good, class sizes are small and the environment is often quite relaxed. However, as a larger percentage of students at international schools have English as a first language, there are fewer job opportunities.
Check out our directory for International Schools in Spain.
With Spanish universities now offering more Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programs in English, the demand for qualified English teachers in Spain has increased in recent years. This is an option with good salary and benefits for those with the necessary teaching experience and academic qualifications.
Spanish schools now teach English from an early age and the Ministry of Education in Spain recruits English speakers to work as language and cultural assistants in Spanish public schools. Assistants can be placed in primary or secondary schools and will work on conversation sessions with pupils. This is a role that doesn’t require a teaching certificate. However, the pay isn’t that high and you’ll need some knowledge of Spanish to get by.
In parallel, ConversaSpain, a Spanish organization that cooperates with more than 300 public schools in Spain offers opportunities to English language assistants (Auxiliares de Conversacion) from all over the world who want to teach in Spain.
How much will you earn teaching English in Spain?
This depends on several factors, such as how many hours you work, what region you’re working in, type of institution you work for, experience, and what level you teach. If you teach English in Spain, you probably won’t make a fortune; however, you can certainly make enough money to live on.
Hourly rates for teaching English in Spain vary between €14–€30. Weekly hours also vary. Language and cultural assistant jobs in public schools are around 12 hours per week, jobs in private schools can be around 25 hours per week. Language schools and private tutoring hours will fluctuate depending on how much you take on. This means that monthly salaries can be anywhere between €700 and €2,500, but are usually somewhere between €1,200 and €1,800. The cost of living in Spain is not too high, currently around 16% lower than in the UK, so this should be enough to survive on.
Remember that it’s not all about the hourly/monthly pay. You need to weigh up other costs and benefits. In addition to the unpaid travel and class preparation costs mentioned above, also bear in mind that although contracted work often pays less than working on an hourly rate, you will usually get benefits such as holidays and social security payments. It’s worth looking into what free or low cost training might be offered with a position too. Bigger institutions sometimes offer in-house training where you can boost your skills.
How to find a job teaching English in Spain
The best way of finding a job to teach English in Spain is to look online. There are numerous job websites and online forums that you can check. If already live in Spain, you can check for Spanish jobs in newspapers, sign up with a recruitment agency, and use local networks. You can see our guide on how to find a job in Spain for more information and check out our jobs portal for current positions. You can also find out more city-specific information for Madrid, Barcelona, or working on the Spanish coast.
Alternatively, ConversaSpain is a Spanish organization that cooperates with more than 300 public schools in different regions in Spain. It offers inspiring, challenging, and rewarding opportunities to potential English teaching assistants. With ConversaSpain, native English speakers can teach their mother tongue as language and cultural ambassadors in public schools in Madrid or Murcia (Auxiliares de Conversacion program).
Giving private English lessons in Spain
Giving private lessons can earn you more money teaching English in Spain and give you greater flexibility. Lessons can vary from informal conversations to helping people prepare for big exams. You won’t necessarily need a qualification (although it helps) but it can be difficult finding students. Things have become much easier in the age of the internet, however. There are online platforms that allow English tutors to find students. Try Teacher Finder for private students, or sign up to Verbling to give online lessons.
One factor to consider if you teach English in Spain to private students is that you need to tailor your lessons to each student’s needs. On the other hand, you are free to keep recycling old lesson plans with an organized class. Another factor is commuting. You may often have to travel to meet students, which means you can spend a lot of time commuting if you have several students scattered across a large city. You won’t get compensated for travel and lesson planning costs. For these reasons, school work has traditionally been the safer option. But it’s also important to note that contracts in most language schools only last for nine months. This leaves you without a source of income for a quarter of the year.
Although earnings can be good, it’s not always easy setting yourself up as a private English tutor in Spain so here are a few tips:
Word of mouth is always an effective advertising technique so start by telling friends, housemates, coworkers and others that you want to give private English lessons in Spain. You can post a free ad on websites such as Tus Clases Particulares or, if you’re based in Barcelona or Madrid, Lingo Bongo. You can also go the more traditional route of placing ads up in local schools, universities and around town.
What to charge
You’re free to charge whatever you want for your time. Remember, though, that the more you charge, the harder it will be to get clients. Keep in mind your experience level, what level you’ll be teaching at, and what your own expenses are. It’s best to stick to an hourly rate that you can scale depending on what type of teaching you’ll be doing. In big cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, you might be able to charge €20–€30. Other areas might be slightly less. You can also look at combining a few students at the same level to reduce your hourly rate yet still earn more.
What to cover in class and where to find material
This again depends largely on who you’re teaching. For exam prep classes, you may need to get students to invest in an exam-specific book and work through that. For school-aged children, you might be able to structure sessions around helping them with their homework. You can look online for tools such as worksheets, videos, games and songs. You can also find plenty of materials on websites such as Cambridge English, British Council, BusyTeacher, and Flojoe.
Insuring against cancellation
Inevitably when giving private English lessons in Spain, you’ll get the odd cancellation; sometimes, they can happen at the last minute and even without reason. To avoid problems, some private teachers draw up a contract requiring students to give 24 hours cancellation notice. Others charge a full month upfront and reschedule cancelled classes. But be careful not to be so inflexible that you scare potential clients away.
Tips when you teach English in Spain
- If you’re struggling to find work, you can try volunteering as an assistant first. Some schools and academies offer part-time voluntary positions. You could also try intercambio, where you meet with a conversation partner and spend half the time speaking in your language and half in theirs. This is popular with young Spaniards and is also a good way to brush up on your Spanish skills.
- Students typically take breaks from mid-July to mid-September, which can put a big hole in your salary; it is advised to also take your vacations during the same time, or find summer work.
- Get more information in our guides to the education system in Spain, international schools in Spain, public and private schools in Spain, universities in Spain, and language schools in Spain.
For jobs in Spain, see Expatica jobs.