TEFL opens up the world for teachers. You can travel to almost any country and will often find work with relative ease in schools that may even provide support in navigating visas, work permits, language barriers and accommodation.
One such country that may be of interest for you is Spain. There is lots to fall in love with about this country, from beautiful cities and medieval towns, to its food scene, good weather and colourful festivals. English is the most-spoken second language in Spain, so the demand for TEFL teachers is high.
Read on to find out more about the perks and benefits about being a TEFL teacher in Spain.
Lifestyle and culture
Before even mentioning work, let’s think about the Spanish way of life. After all, this is usually what attracts people to Spain in the first place and ends up with many expats settling for life. Although it may seem an antiquated stereotype, the simple fact is that life in Spain is just more laid back than it is in most English-speaking countries. Even major cities, despite all their hustle and bustle, manage to avoid the ‘rat race’ feeling associated with work-life in the UK.
This has much to do with the Spanish people and their culture. The Spanish are, in general, a very social, family-oriented people who enjoy and value life. Basically, they’ve got their priorities straight. Of course, the excellent climate doesn’t hurt, and much of Spanish life is conducted on terraces and in the streets. Food, drink and conversation reign supreme and, as a result, meeting people, making friends and learning the language are much more achievable in Spain than in many other countries.
TEFL positions in Spain are easy to come by, as there is no shortage of language academies. Many language schools are quite small, however, and may require teachers to work ‘off-site’ in other schools or businesses. It is not uncommon for teachers to work split shifts with most teaching taking place in the evenings, on Saturdays, or while students and employees are on their lunch break. Although working hours may seem antisocial, it is unlikely that you will feel like you are missing out. Spanish restaurants generally do not start serving food until around 8pm and even on week nights, bars and terraces will be busy late into the evening.
Initial teacher training, such as the CELTA, is a basic requirement for most credible language schools, although it is possible to get work without this. Some may ask for two years’ experience, but this will usually be waived if you come across as enthusiastic in the interview. It is always recommended to inquire about in-house training, as a quality school will provide this, and may even pay a nominal sum for attendance.
Spanish students are generally open and outgoing. They want to enjoy their lessons and will expect opportunities for speaking practice. They are often happy to chat away at the beginning of lessons, so it’s a good idea to try and incorporate this into your lessons and listen out for linguistic issues and any special interests your students might have. It is not uncommon for adult groups to invite their teacher out for drinks or a meal at the end of a course.
The Cambridge suite of exams are seen as very important here: many students and parents will want learners to take Pre A1 Starters, A1 Movers and A2 Flyers in Primary, and A2 Key, B1 Preliminary and perhaps even up to C1 Advanced in Secondary. For adults, the Cambridge B2 First (referred to by Spanish students as ‘the First’) in particular is a benchmark requirement for many jobs and the C1 Advanced for most local school teachers.
Salaries and healthcare
Salaries are low in Spain compared to the UK, and that can be off-putting for many thinking of making the move. However, this is also the case for many Spaniards (known as ‘mileuroistas’ as they earn a wage of around 1000 euros per month), and you don’t need much to have a good standard of life. Food, alcohol and travel are generally cheap, and most cities have a multitude of free or inexpensive cultural events taking place on any given day of the week.
Any legitimate work contract will entitle you to state healthcare and Spanish hospitals and healthcare centres are generally well-run and of a good standard. It is essential that you get your NIE (the national identification number for foreigners), social security number and a bank account as soon as possible when you begin work, but most language schools will arrange all the necessary paperwork and appointments for you and tell you where to go.
As Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities, the culture, climate and language can change quite dramatically from region to region. From bagpipes and cider in the north to flamenco and sangria in the south, there is plenty to see and do, and Spain is relatively easy to get around. Most major cities have a metro and are easy to get around by bike or on foot, and cities and towns are well connected by an extensive rail network. Spain also has many cultural festivals and if one falls, for example, on a Wednesday, many Spaniards will extend it to the weekend, creating what’s known as a ‘puente’, or ‘bridge’, so you will have plenty of opportunities to get out and about!
The decision to live and teach in Spain can be put quite simply in terms of what is most important to you: saving money or living life. If it’s money you are after, Spain may not be the place for you, but if you want to make the most of your time on Earth, Spain is a good place to start!