5 Ways to Teach English in Spain: A Comprehensive Guide

Guys, my friend, Autumn, is back with a very (as in 3,600 words) comprehensive guide on how to teach English in Spain! In this post, she’ll break down info about each program, pros and cons, how to apply, and much more. I’ll let her take it away now:

I decided that I wanted to go teach and live in Spain a bit over a year ago, when during the icy cold winter teaching in Korea, I stumbled across some blogs of people doing just that. The pictures of girls wearing sundresses, sipping sangria out on a sun-drenched terrace while munching on tapas inspired enough jealousy in my frozen brain that I decided to apply.

It took me a lot of research to sort through programs and decide which route I wanted to take. (Spoiler Alert: I picked BEDA, which I’ll explain more later.) To simplify the research for you, I’ve taken five of the most popular – or in some cases, what I think are best – programs to come teach in Spain and broken them down for you here.

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5 Surefire Ways to Teach English in Spain

Auxiliares de Conversación

This is the most (in)famous teaching program in Spain, and is limited to American and Canadian citizens (sorry, rest of the world).

With Auxiliares, you’ll earn more money per hour than other programs listed here; however, they are infamous for paying late, being unorganized, and unable to help assistants out. Think long and hard about how much you need those extra two euros every hour.

Auxiliares is done on a first-come, first-serve basis, so make sure to get your application in early, especially if you’re picky about which region you get placed in.

As you don’t need an actual university degree for this – just two years’ worth of classes – this program is a great option for those who’d like to study abroad or improve their Spanish via immersion but don’t have the cash to go the traditional route (or those who are smarter than me and just don’t want to take out extra loans to fund their travels).

AUXILIARES FAQS

What are the requirements?

  • Hold a U.S or Canadian Passport.
  • Have English or French (if you’re Canadian) as your first language.
  • Be a Junior or Senior college student or have completed an undergraduate degree
  • Be in good condition, mentally and physically – for this, you’ll need to submit a complete medical evaluation signed by your doctor when you apply for a visa.
  • Have a clean background check . • have a basic level of Spanish (though evidently, they don’t check this)

What exactly will I be doing besides eating churros con chocolate, anyway?

From what I can tell, exactly what the assistants in the government program do is kind of a crapshoot. You could be in normal English classes or awkwardly standing in the corner in a math class while the main teacher asks you for the right English vocabulary. You also might have to conduct speaking lessons, attend meetings (hope you understand Spanish!), make presentations in classes and participate in extra-curricular activities such as workshops, school trips, student exchanges (I don’t think I’ve met anyone who’s actually done this), music and theater performances (please God no) or sporting events.

How long is this gig?

Assistants spend a full academic year in Spain from October until the end of May (or the end of June, in Madrid).

How poor am I going to be?

You’ll get full medical insurance and a monthly stipend of €700-€1,000 (tax-free!), for 12-16 hours a week. Depending on your lifestyle, you might have to tutor or work extra to make a living.

When should I apply?

It changes a little every year, but in general, the application period opens in January and runs until April. As this program is first-come, first-serve, make sure to get in your application as soon as you can!

What documents do I need?

  • A copy of the main page of a valid US or Canadian passport.
  • An official college transcript or copy of your diploma.
  • A signed and dated cover letter.
  • A signed and dated letter of recommendation.
  • As mentioned in the general requirements, you’ll also need a doctor report and a clean background check. They’ll let you know exactly what you need for the visa once you get into the program.

For more information about the Auxiliares program, click here.

BEDA

BEDA assistants are placed in semi-private Catholic schools mainly in Madrid, but with some locations in different provinces around Spain.

This is the program I personally chose, for several reasons.

BEDA is much more organized than the Auxiliares. With it, however, participants must take classes with the University of Comillas. If you’re in Madrid, which the majority of participants are, you are required to go to classes in person. If you’re outside of Madrid, you can do classes online.

BEDA is a much better option for those actually interested in teaching, as it focuses on trying to improve your skills. When you finish the classes for the year, you’ll walk away from Spain with a TKT Certificate from Cambridge and 60 ECTS hours, which ain’t too bad. Some people find the classes a drag, and those outside Madrid are required to travel to Madrid at a few points during the year, which is awful for me as I’m all the way out in the Canary Islands and these flights/lodging are NOT covered by the program. But, on the plus side, my school lets me take off work for these (and I still get paid the same amount), so that’s pretty sweet.

A kind of culture shock thing for me is how Catholic these schools are. I had thought it’d be vaguely Catholic in the way my rural Tennessee high school was vaguely Christian, but no. There are scary Jesus figures and posters in every room with the Hail Mary on it. The school has a chapel which looks like a funeral home, and the amount of hero worship they have for the saint who founded this particular chain of schools is unreal and borderline cultish. I’m not saying that all schools in the BEDA program are like this; I’m just saying be prepared.

BEDA FAQS

What are the requirements?

  • Be a native English speaker (or have a native level – I met a girl from Greece doing this program, but most of us seem to be from North America or from the UK/Ireland)
  • Have completed your bachelor’s degree.
  • Be in good mental and physical condition, and be able to get a doctor’s note to prove it
  • Have a clean background check.
  • Having at least a basic level of Spanish is NOT required, but guys, let me tell you if you get dropped in rural Spain without any vocabulary further than “sangria y tacos,” you are going to have a rough time.

What exactly will I be doing besides eating churros con chocolate, anyway?

Just like with the government program, it’s kind of up to the Fates. I am the first BEDA assistant my school has ever had and they seemed a bit confused as to what my role is as well. Evidently, they thought that I was in Korea with BEDA for the last three years (just FYI, BEDA is a Spain-only program) and thought I should know what to do. As a result, I’m now teaching high school English classes and weirdly standing to the side in a few science classes, desperately trying to get the kids to stop spelling “physics” with an “f.” You could be an any age group from infantil – preschool age – to high school.

BEDA does try to take your preferences into account, so if you tell them that you absolutely do not want to be around anyone younger than seven, they’ll do their best to work with you.

You’ll also take classes online with the Universidad de Comillas (which will get you some credit hours and eventually a TEFL certificate), and in the spring you’ll be required to go to Madrid to take a test. (This is unpaid and also kind of sucks if, like me, you’re about as far from Madrid as possible.) If you are actually in Madrid, you’ll have to go to classes every week. So far, I’ve only been required to go to one meeting here on the Canary Islands, which consisted of maybe two hours of actual work, a very long coffee break, thirty minutes more work, and then lunch. (Viva España!)

How long is this gig?

Assistants spend a full academic year in Spain from mid-September until the end of mid-June.

What are the hours like?

You work for 18-26 hours per week. The school should try to block most of your classes so you won’t have big gaps in the middle of the day – but if you do have gaps, these are prime time to get stuff done, as a lot of stores and banks close at two every afternoon for siesta.

How poor am I going to be?

You’ll get full medical insurance and a monthly stipend of €873-€1165, before taxes. I earn €873, and as I’m outside of Madrid and as I’ve been living in a way a nun would find boring the past few months, I find this is more than enough to get by (even with a few trips abroad). But, if you’re more active, you might have to tutor or work extra to make a living.

There is a fee associated with BEDA, though; when you accept your position, you’ll have to deposit a  €175 fee.

Some people on the Internet seem really outraged by the BEDA fee when the Ministry program is free to apply to. Yeah, sure, you’ll be out a few euros but actually, this fee pays for your classes. For how many credit hours you’re earning, not to mention the TLK certificate, the €175 fee is a steal. There are people who die before of old age before paying off their student loans from the States, guys.

When should I apply?

The applications open from November to January

What documents do I need?

When you apply, you’ll need the following:

  • Passport
  • Copy of degree
  • Apostilled Background Check/Working with children check (if you’re from the US, this is just an FBI background check)

Once you come to Spain, there are a lot of other forms and things to fill out, and you’ll need to bring your original degree to present to the university. The BEDA will tell you exactly what you need and help you with the documents and forms; there was an entire two days dedicated to doing paperwork when I arrived in Spain, for which I will be eternally grateful to BEDA, as it would have been a hellish nightmare to figure out on my own.

Anything else I should know?

BEDA is a bit competitive, so it’s worth trying to strengthen your resume and experiences a little before applying! Tutor, get a TEFL certificate – do something to make yourself stand out a little!

For more information about the BEDA program, click here.

Franklin Institute

With the program at the Franklin Institute, you’ll teach and study like with BEDA, but at the end of it you’ll walk away with a Master’s degree, instead of a certificate and some credit hours.

Originally, I was much more interested in this program because it seemed ideal. A Master’s degree AND they’ll pay you to come work a few hours a week in Spain? It seemed too good to be true, and, unsurprisingly, it kind of was. A European Master’s does not necessarily translate directly to one from the US. If you need a Master’s specifically for something, make sure to check to see if this program is right for you.  As my eventual goal is to get away from teaching strictly English as a foreign language to kids and get either a university or international school position, I decided this Master’s program wasn’t for me. Anyway, at the end of the day, this program and BEDA offered the same amount of credit hours, but BEDA paid more and had lower fees.

Still, it looks like a great program and even though it wasn’t quite right for me, it might be perfect for you!

There are three different ways you can choose to complete the program, which I’ll lay out here instead of awkwardly explaining later. The options include:

  • A: you pay a small fee, work a lot, and get paid 600-800 euros per month
  • B: you pay a larger fee, work less, and get paid 1000 euros a month
  • C: you pay full tuition and not work at all (this option is only for those who are already teachers or who can legally work in Spain).

FRANKLIN FAQS

What are the requirements?

  • Must have a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Be a native English speaker. You need a passport from one of the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, the United States, the Philippines, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden or the United Kingdom (yeah, I know that some of these places aren’t English speaking countries, but just because you have a passport from there doesn’t mean you were raised there.)
  • Minimum of a 3.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale
  • Technically, it’s recommended and not necessary that students have an intermediate level of Spanish (B1 level) as some of the courses are taught in Spanish – but seriously, again, if you speak zero Spanish you are going to have a rough go of it in Spain.

What exactly will I be doing besides eating churros con chocolate, anyway?

Essentially, you’ll be working as a language assistant just like in the other two programs, so, planning classes, helping teachers, doing activities, and making your students groan with your terrible jokes. Besides that, you’ll also be studying and taking classes at the university, which can be a major time commitment.

How long is this gig?

If you go with Option A, you’ll be in in the program from September 15, 2019 – June 30, 2020. If you pick one of the other two choices, you start October 1 and go to the same end date.

How poor am I going to be?

Wow, this answer varies a lot more than the other programs. The options include:

  • A: you can pay 500 euros at all and receive between 600-800 euros per month, depending on teaching hours (18-25)
  • B: Pay 3,800 euros directly to the school and receive get 1,000 per month, for sixteen teaching hours.
  • C: Again, this is only for people who are already teachers or in teaching fields. You will pay full tuition to the school (4,200 euros) and not get paid any, but you won’t have to work any, either.

When should I apply?

The applications for this program open in November and goes through February.

What documents do I need?

Since this is more of a study abroad option than a teaching option when it comes down to it, you’ll need a lot of documents.

  • Diploma copy (scanned)
  • Unofficial transcript copies (scanned)
  • Copy of passport (scanned)
  • Any scanned copies of change of name documents (for example: last name changes after marriage)
  • Scanned copy of two letters of recommendation
  • Copy of résumé (scanned)
  • A video of you giving a short statement of purpose

Once you’re accepted, you’ll need some additional documents, including an apostilled copy of your diploma, your official transcripts in a sealed envelope, a photo, a background check, proof of financial support (showing you have at least three thousand euros to get you through your time in Spain), amongst some other things you’ll receive from school and your Spanish ID, once you have it.

I know that last list of stuff sounds intimidating, but don’t stress too much about it just yet – again you won’t need them until after you’re accepted, and the school will tell you exactly what you need.

For more information about the Franklin Institute program, click here.

CIEE

CIEE is the perfect program for those who want a solid safety net and some hand holding. It’s also perfect for those who have some serious cash on hand, as there’s a fee of $2,200 to participate.

As an experienced traveler, this program at first seemed a bit ridiculous to me – why would I pay so much money to have what I see as minor conveniences? – but then I realized that, for a lot of people, this would be their first trip being abroad long-term, and it can be a nightmare to figure out everything on your own, in a foreign language.  (See: the infamous Auxiliares program at the top of this list.) Additionally, if you pick this program you get placed either in the capital, Madrid, or fairy tale pretty Andalucia, so if those are at the top of your list and you don’t want to take the gamble of being somewhere else, this might be the program for you.

There are also some perks like a longer, four-day orientation and some nights at a hotel. You can also choose to take a Spanish course to jump-start your new life in Spain, or even stay with a host family.

CIEE FAQs

What are the requirements?

  • Native English speaker
  • A bachelor’s degree in any field
  • U.S. or Canadian citizenship
  • No age limit to teach in Madrid
  • Candidates for Andalucía must be aged 60 or under
  • No Spanish language requirement (lol)

What exactly will I be doing besides eating churros con chocolate, anyway?

With this program, you’ll help out the Spanish teachers and facilitate conversation and cultural activities in English (think: doing a lesson about Halloween or making the kids talk to you on a daily basis).

Cool. How long is this gig?

If you’re in Madrid, the program runs from October to June. If you’re in Andalucia, it goes from October to May.

How poor am I going to be?

This program has a $2,200 fee, so off the bat you’re going to be like, negative poor. Again, I can only really recommend this program to those who have no experience working or living abroad AND don’t know any Spanish.

If you live in Madrid you’ll get 1,000 euros a month for 16 teaching hour. However, if you live in Andalucia you’ll get 700 euros for 12 teaching hours per week.

When should I apply?

The deadline to apply every year is March 1.

What documents do I need?

Weirdly, the CIEE website doesn’t seem to have a concise list of documents that you need to apply. I’m assuming that they’ll inform you exactly what you need for your visa once you’re accepted to the program.

For additional information about the hoops you’ll have to jump through to be legal in Spain, click here.

MEDDEAS

The Meddeas program is a good middle ground for those who want to come work in Spain and have structure, but not too many other time commitments (like with BEDA or Franklin). It places native speakers of French, German, or English in private schools around the country. What I think is nice about this program is that you can elect to live with a host family – who wouldn’t want a nice Spanish mom to take care of you? – and the program is a bit more flexible with how long it lasts, compared to the other ones which last the better part of a year.

MEDDEAS FAQS

What are the requirements?

Honestly, for this one you just need to be a native speaker of French, German, or English. You also need to have graduated high school.

What exactly will I be doing besides eating churros con chocolate, anyway?

With Meddeas, you’ll be doing pretty standard stuff. This can include encouraging students to speak in the target language more, sharing your culture, helping out in other subjects (wooo awkward science class!), collaborating with other teachers to prepare materials, and, of course, using your very best pronunciation and grammar all day, e’ry day.

If you stay with a host family, you’ll also be expected to speak only English a couple times a week. This way they have a chance to improve their speaking as well.

You can also earn a TEFL certificate while you’re with the Meddeas program, and/or earn some credit hours (with a maximum of twenty, which is just a third of BEDA and Franklin).

Cool. How long is this gig?

As I mentioned before, this program is pretty flexible with how long you stay in Spain, with options for three, five, and nine months.

  • The three month option goes from September/October and lasts until December.
  • The five month option month goes from from mid-January to mid-June.
  • The nine month month option lasts from September/October until May/June.

How poor am I going to be?

There are three different levels Meddeas offers depending on how qualified you are as a candidate.

You’ll work a minimum 20 hours a week, regardless of level. Assistants can end up working a maximum of 24 hours per week. Of course if you work more, you get paid more.

Here’s what you’ll get for working twenty hours per week.

  • With only a high school diploma: you’ll get 300 euros a month and live with a host family.
  • If you have a college diploma: You can either take 450 euros a month and live with a host family OR get 850 euros per month.
  • If you majored in English, education, or just have a diploma in any subject and a TEFL certificate, you can either live with a host family and take 450 euros a month or earn 900 euros a month.

When should I apply?

It depends on if you want to do the three, five, or nine month option.

  • 3-Month Option: you’ll need to apply by June 1st.
  • 5-Month Option: you’ll need to apply by March 15th.
  • 9-Month Option: you’ll need to apply by November 1st.

What documents do I need?

This varies drastically depending on which country you’re applying from, so I’ll just drop the link of what you’ll need to get a visa here.

For more information about Meddeas, click here.

Because I personally love to see information all in one place (and it’s a Wednesday night and I  am like, hella  single right now) here’s a chart:

Andddd there you have it! Five ways to teach English in Spain and how exactly to apply. Let us know if you have any questions. 

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2 Comments

  1. Karl
    January 9, 2020 / 4:21 am

    Hi,

    My name is Karl and thank you for your useful overview. I must say though that the Ministry program is not limited to American and Canadian citizens only. In fact, I think it’s the most inclusive of all programs. I am from the Philippines and there are many Filipino participants in the Ministry Program since 2015. I have also met in orientations other nationalities such as India and Australia. Moreover, there are also participants of other nationalites who teach other languages such as French, German or Russian.

    • Samantha
      Author
      August 23, 2020 / 12:56 pm

      Hi Karl! Thanks for letting me know. I’ll have to double check with my friend who wrote this post :)

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