Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Camilla Gill
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.
This post is going to explain my experience of teaching English in Spain.
Without further ado, I’ll go onto my actual experience of living 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.
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?
If you only need specific advice, feel free to skip to one of the subheadings, and I´ll pretend not to be offended:
- 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 are English teachers paid in Spain?
- How to find accomodation in Spain
- Dealing with Spanish bureaucracy
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 are English teachers paid in Spain?
It’s likely your overall earning will be anywhere between €700 – €1,200 per month depending on the role you have 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
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?