Last Updated on February 10, 2021 by Camilla Gill
This guide is going to explain what it’s like teaching English in Spain from an English teacher who is living in Seville. All about what it’s like to teach abroad and answer all your burning questions!
Did 2020 shake up your life like one of James Bond’s martinis? Do I even dare to ask exactly how many festivals, graduation ceremonies, travel plans and even your seemingly casual brunch plans were thrown away into the rubbish?
In 2021, most people just want the opportunity to make even the simplest everyday things a pleasure. And that’s exactly why I decided leave the UK and move to Spain to teach English.
So what do you want to know about first? What is life like? What is teaching like? How much will you get paid as a teacher? How to find accommodation?
Without further ado, I’ll go onto my actual experience of teaching English in Spain, with just a note that I live in Seville in the south of Spain, so there’s a chance that some of my experiences won’t apply to everyone.
If you only need specific advice, feel free to skip to one of the subheadings, and I’ll pretend not to be offended:
- What qualifications do you need to teach English in Spain?
- Can I teach English in Spain without a degree
- Does Spain need English Teachers?
- How to find a teaching role and when do they hire?
- What is it like teaching English in Spain?
- What is it like living in Spain?
- Do you need to know Spanish to teach English in Spain?
- How much do English teachers make in Spain??
- How to find accomodation in Spain
- Dealing with Spanish bureaucracy
Firstly, I should tell you how I ended up teaching English in Spain, because none of this was part of the plan.
Just like some of the little accidents my friends from university are now raising, but the difference is my accident was way better. I have a great job teaching kids in Seville and a golden tan.
It was a series of unfortunate events (Lemony Snicket eat your heart out) that led to me getting on that plane in the first few days of 2019.
And then 3 months later not boarding the plane I was due to take back. I started in a temporary role as a teaching assistant on a univesity organised Erasmus scheme.
Then afterwards I au-paired until the new school year when more opportunities arise in the job market here. I was of course beyond nervous as I had no plan nor any knowledge of Spanish, whatsoever.
The only thing that gave me confidence in myself was seeing a rainbow where the ´pot of gold´ was a well-placed sign that read ¨Sevilla¨ – you could say I was clutching at straws.
With that in mind, I like to think my own lack of organisation bodes well for you if you were looking for a confidence boost. If I can somehow make my life work out here and for it not to be a complete disaster. Then chances are you will do just as well – if not even better!
Without further ado, let me actually start explaining how to get a job teaching English in Spain and what it’s like!
What qualifications do you need to teach English in Spain?
In the words of Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning. Qualifications. Teaching English is open to everyone willing to put in the effort train and/or find a position where your skills are a good fit.
Though I’d highly recommend taking an official course to help appease any doubts you may have. These come in more shapes and sizes than types of alternative milk, so shop around, consider your budget and needs, and work from there.
TEFL is the most well-known qualification to help you get a job teaching English in Spain, and once you have your TEFL then you can use it in countries all around the world.
Can I teach English in Spain without a degree?
Do you need to have a University degree, and what about if you don’t? Well if you have accreditation for teaching English, then I’ll be honest and say a university degree really isn’t a necessity.
If you do have a university degree, that’s great, it´s another great string to your bow.
Does Spain need English Teachers?
Someone, some time, in recent history said that ‘The English language is England’s greatest export’.
I will be honest and tell you when I tried to find out exactly ‘who’, I was met with statistics about the Queen, marmalade and the Magna Carta. For proof of its validity, I think you need look no further than the emerging Spanish bilingual school system.
Really cool on paper – but then you have the common problem of a bunch of children learning about petals, and underwater cave systems, all in English.
But the same young children cannot ask you about what you did at the weekend. So lots of parents send kids to one of the many English academies to help. Because of this you can find them in every city, town and even village.
Alongside this, to graduate from a Spanish university, you must have at least a B1 certificate in English, so there are university age students as well. There are also lots of companies that want bilingual employees so you will find a good mix of adult English learners – as well as lots of companies who provide English classes to employees.
So long story short, yes, Spain does need English teachers. And since Spain needs teachers for a variety of different groups of students, you’re bound to find an age group you enjoy teaching.
How to find a teaching job in Spain?
There are a few routes for finding a role, the most common tend to be these four.
- Official TEFL websites.
- Facebook Groups
- Contacting schools and academies directly.
- English Teaching Assistant Programme (Auxilary Programme)
You can use some of the official Tefl websites that advertise roles, these will tend to be global so you might find that if you were looking to move to a specific area, it limits your options.
Facebook Groups – One of the best resources for finding jobs and everything else related to teaching English abroad (resources, contacts, accommodation, second-hand bullet mixers- you name it).
Be aware that roles will be posted on these extremely close to the date the position starts, so be prepared for the stress of not securing anything until the last minute.
Contacting schools, academies and English teaching groups directly – One way is to just make a massive list and work your way through contacting each of them. Again, see the previous note about being prepared to not secure anything until the last minute before the academies open.
Another option is using the Auxiliary programme, which directly places you in a public school as a resident English speaking teaching assistant.
The Teaching Assistant scheme will help you acquire a visa and health insurance as well, though you might not have the same freedom of choosing exactly where in Spain you end up.
When do they hire?
When should you look to apply? The most obvious time for hiring is in late summer, ready for their new school year starting in September. December and January are also a prime time for hiring, as teachers leave or change roles, so schools are nearly always looking!
What is it like teaching English in Spain?
Teaching English in Spain is an experience like no other, even if you have experience as a teacher in your past life then expect the Spanish education system to be very different. And if you’re like me and didn’t have any prior teaching experience then prepare to feel very overwhelmed! You’ll be thrown in at the deep end with a class full of screaming kids and no clear direction on how to teach them.
When you first start, there will be days where you will feel completely overwhelmed and have no idea what you’re doing, however, there will come a point where you can sense your confidence growing.
You’ll develop a ‘no pasa nada’ attitude to the role that will help you become a better, more relaxed teacher as your skillset grows.
Does it get better?
If I haven’t scared you off yet, good, because things do improve. My advice is don’t be afraid to search for resources to help make your life easier.
No one is expected to know it all, and there are amazing free resources out there designed to aid you and make your life and classes easier, from behavioural management to how to teach the 3rd conditional to teenagers – it’s all there to help you.
Free English Teaching Resources
What is it like living in Spain?
Life is Spain can be pure bliss, my once dull everyday breakfast is something I relish every day. Joining in the sacred act of a Spaniard’s daily tostada and café con leche in the morning sun.
Here’s my advice on how to make the move to Spain and what to expect.
First of all, life in Spain is Relaxed with a capital R, this means that most things move at a slower pace. It can be frustrating at first when you’re trying to move into a new place or get something fixed, but once you adjust to the laidback speed, it’s a refreshing change and makes you wonder why you ever rushed?
Your social life in Spain is likely to be your highlight of life here, expect to be spending your time on beaches under the Mediterranean sun – slurping bowlfuls of delicate and rich coquinas whilst washing them down with ice-cold cervecitas. Or, let your inner Lizzie Mcguire shine as you zip through cobbled streets on a scooter with a gorgeous Spaniard, taking in the atmosphere of Europe’s most alluring cities.
Life in Spain is exciting and full of new experiences that a regular tourist doesn’t get to have. Once you start living in Spain, you’ll begin to make connections with locals who will invite you to their houses and traditional customs.
Do you need to know Spanish to teach English in Spain?
It’s definitely not necessary to know Spanish before you move to Spain but it definitely does help. If you have a few months to prepare, it might be a good idea to get studying so you at least know some of the basics to help you get by.
Most Spanish people do know some English though and plenty of the population is completely fluent in English so don’t let the language barrier stop you from making the move.
How much do English teachers make in Spain??
Most English teachers can expect to make anywhere between €700 – €1,200 per month depending on the role you have, how many hours you work or if you teach at a public or private school.
The wage is liveable, and remember, your living expenses are lower here. It’s almost too easy a feat to eat your body weight in jamón, olives, tapas, and beer on your paycheck.
I’m pretty sure that no one in the history of teaching English has declared the profession is going to make them a billionaire, so don’t come out here with unrealistic expectations in your first year of teaching.
Normally your hours will be part-time, but that won’t be factoring in the usual teacher additions of planning, marking, reports and swotting up on weird grammar rules you didn’t realise existed.
Private English Classes
It’s worth mentioning that private English classes are a common way of supplementing your pay in Spain, you can earn between €10-15 an hour with each private client.
Giving private classes and tutoring kids in English is a great way to maximise the bountiful free time you’ll likely be swimming in. They’ll help fund your search for the best plate of patatas bravas in your town.
How To Find Cheap Accomodation In Spain
Accomodation in Spain is very affordable compared to expensive US cities. The average room in Seville is around €200 – €400 per month in the centre of the city.
However, if you are in a small town (pueblo) or a less central area then you can find even cheaper digs. I’m sure you could rent an entire house for €400 in a more rural area.
I highly recommend renting a room when you initially get here, it helps when you don’t know the lay of the land to have some built-in relationships with your roommates.
Keep in mind that if you go through an international accomodation agency designed for Year Abroad & Erasmus students that it will cost a lot more.
A cheaper way to find accomodation in Spain would be to search through the Spanish version of Gumtree – ‘Milanuncios‘. Or, through one of the many Facebook groups for renting rooms.
A more formal option may be to rent through a rental agency; you will have to pay an agency fee which is equal to the first month’s rent, and then the ‘financia’ (deposit) will be equal to your first month’s rent again.
So, it might not be the cheapest option, alongside this, you will need formal documentation which can be tricky to organise when you first move.
I wouldn’t be talking about life in Spain if I didn’t mention the bureaucracy. When you get here, I’d recommend asking to get help navigating the system from someone who has dealt with it before, it’s a good idea to ask on one of those Facebook groups I keep mentioning. People are aware of how frustrating it can be and will be ready and willing to offer their help and assistant.
My advice is to always have a few photocopies of all your documents and if at any point you are asked to return with more documents for something ask them to write down a comprehensive list of what they want you to have.
This will help you avoid more return visits than absolutely necessary, you don’t want to be on first-name terms with the security guards at your local town hall.
Cold Houses In Spain
I want to mention something that other bloggers must just ‘forget’ to mention – exactly how cold accommodation here is in winter. Houses just aren’t as prepared for the cold as they are back home. Central heating isn’t common, but marble floors that suck the warmth out of a room like an Ex at a party, are.
So, make sure you pack warm clothes and pajamas to wear round the house, so you don’t end up sleeping in a scarf, and gloves for your first new nights here.
Though you will be thankful in summer when those same floors offer respite from the scorching Iberian heat.
Final Words On Teaching English In Spain
Getting a teaching job in Spain might surprise you in the sense that the way things are done here are very different from back home. Everything moves a little slower and don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from a job for a couple weeks and then they suddenly call wanting you to start tomorrow. If you decide to teach English in Spain, arrive with an open mind and an appetite for adventure!
My last piece of advice is just to bite the bullet and do it. If you don’t do it now, when will your next chance to truly change your life for the better be?