Teach English in Spain

Teach English in Spain

Last update on August 27, 2018
Written by Liisi Pajula

If you’re considering teaching English in Spain, this guide highlights some facts you need to know to land the best teaching job in Spain.

If you want to teach English in Spain, doing an internet search will reveal numerous pages advertising teaching certificates and information to help you land a teaching job in Spain. You can also look at international schools, language schools and universities in Spain to see who is hiring, check our listings of jobs in Spain or think about running private classes.

Spain has long been a favourite 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 teaching English – a tried favourite among expats – is relatively competitive and it can take some hard work and dedication to find a teaching job in Spain.

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, unless you want to work in an academic institution. 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 recognised 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 professional certificates. The cost and length of courses depend on which course you take, where you study and who you enrol with. It’s possible to do some courses online to save time and money, although 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 visa or 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.
  • Although not a requirement, knowledge of the Spanish language is helpful. Far fewer people speak fluent English in Spain than in northern European countries. You’ll probably be OK 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

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 if you want to. The downside is that wages aren’t as high as with some other teaching jobs.

Private schools

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 but most of them require prior teaching experience and some knowledge of Spanish, as this is the language that the standard curriculum is taught in.

International schools

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.

Universities

With Spanish universities now offering more Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes 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.

Public Schools

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 but the pay isn’t that high and you’ll need some knowledge of Spanish to get by.

Private tutoring

Giving private lessons can earn you more money teaching English in Spain and give you greater flexibility. 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 teachers 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, while in an organised language class you are free to keep recycling old lesson plans. 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, leaving you without a source of income for a quarter of the year.

How much will you earn teaching English in Spain?

This depends on several factors – how many hours you work, what region you’re working in, type of institution you work for, experience, what level you teach, etc. If you teach English in Spain, you probably won’t make a fortune but you can 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 €2500 but are usually somewhere between €1200 and €1800. 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 you are already living in Spain, you can also 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.

Giving private English lessons in Spain

Private English lessons in Spain can be a great way of supplementing other income. Lessons can vary from informal conversations to helping people prepare for big exams. 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.

Marketing yourself

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 but remember 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, plus remember to factor in your own expenses such as travel if necessary. It’s best to stick to an hourly rate which you can have on a 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 at the last minute and sometimes without reason. To avoid taking a hit in the wallet, 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 or feel that you need to build up a bit of confidence before giving things a go, you can try volunteering as an assistant first. Some schools and academies offer part-time voluntary positions. You could also try intercambio, which is 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 Spaininternational schools in Spain, public and private schools in Spainuniversities in Spain and language schools in Spain.

 

For jobs in Spain, see Expatica jobs.