HomeTeaching Around the WorldSemester to Siesta: A Guide to Teaching in Spain

Semester to Siesta: A Guide to Teaching in Spain

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Semester to Siesta: The Guide to Teaching in Spain

We all know of someone – either a friend of a friend or someone in the family – who decided to up sticks and move to Spain. In fact, there are at least 5.2 million foreigners living in Spain, just over 10% of the total population.

In fact, Spain is one of the highest-ranking nations for foreign population, so there must be a good reason why people flock there. 

Well, actually, there are quite a few.

Teachers benefit from advanced teaching technologies and well-resourced classrooms, whilst still retaining the amazingly intuitive and healthy balance between work and rest that the Spanish are famous for. 

Without further delay, let’s look at some of the most pressing questions you’ll need answering before your exciting journey teaching abroad. Here’s our guide to teaching in Spain.

What is the Spanish Education System Like?

Being a modern country, Spain views education as an absolute, unwavering necessity, precisely why school is compulsory (and free) for children between the ages of 6 and 16.

Consequently, there are a lot of opportunities for all kinds of educators, which translates to foreign workers as well. 

Their further distinction between simply ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ levels is the ‘Bachillerato’ stage, seen in the diagram from Education Reform in Spain by Alvaro Marchesi (above).

Other than the unique name, it’s all pretty standard, so most overseas teachers won’t really notice many fundamental differences, having no trouble transitioning to the Spanish classroom.

Spanish students learn the typical curriculum, resting on the core humanities, sciences and mathematics.

As a result, it’s entirely viable for people to find positions within various subjects but, undoubtedly, the most opportunities will be in teaching foreign language studies, specifically English.

How do I get a Teaching Job in Spain?

Let’s break this down into two parts. Firstly, how do I work in Spain, and secondly how do I teach in Spain?

As you’ll be aware, if you plan to be employed in a foreign country, you’ll usually need to have the correct visa and work permit.

However, by virtue of the European Union’s freedom-of-movement policies, any EU citizen can travel and work in Spain without these hassles.

In fact, even members of non-EU countries can negate work permits, but this is dependent on the laws of your prospective host country. In most cases, these rules make life vastly easier.

If your home country has no visa agreement with the EU, you will need to enquire further into the laws of the country you’re planning to go to.

When you arrive in Spain, you will be required to initially report your presence to the relevant local authorities, before officially registering residence after 3 months. This is for security, tax and official documentation purposes.

When it comes to teaching requirements in Spain, you’ve probably heard it all before. Regulations for foreign teachers are comparable to most other Western countries, meaning you’ll of course need the relevant qualifications to be eligible.

The Requirements for teaching English Language in Spain:

  • You must be a native English speaker
  • You are NOT (necessarily) required to hold a university degree
  • You will need a relevant qualification, such as CELTA, TEFL, TESOL or other
  • You will NOT (necessarily) need extensive experience

It’s kind of obvious when you think about it, but Spain has made it clear that being a native English speaker is qualification enough to teach the language in question.

As with any field, the more experience you do have, the greater range of possibilities there are. 

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What kinds of teaching jobs are there in Spain?

  1. Language Assistant
  2. Classroom Teacher (Public School)
  3. Classroom Teacher (Private School)

Loosely speaking, there are 3 main avenues to go down. Before worrying about their respective salaries, we will just go through the fundamentals of each:

1. Language Assistant

These positions occur in government institutions, hence they are lead by the Spanish Ministry of Education and through options like the British Council program. In the instance of the mentioned program, you’ll need to hold a UK or EU passport. 

As a language assistant, you will work approximately 12 to 16 hours a week, though the exact amount will vary, based on the institution, or even the region, as there are 17 autonomous communities in Spain

You will receive assistance in planning lessons, but you are expected to deliver them to the class yourself.

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2. Classroom Teacher (Public School)

If you’d like to teach in a public school, you actually do need a degree from an accredited institution. Furthermore, you’ll need a post-graduate teaching qualification. 

If you love juggling or multi-tasking, you could do it in Spain – a Máster Universitario en Profesorado en Enseñanza Secundaria, as they say – but either way, you’ll need to adhere to the same stringent requirements of the modern school system.

As a result, it’s rare to find foreign teachers in these public schools. It doesn’t help that the application process can be famously long and arduous either. 

3. Classroom Teacher (Private School)

For those who are interested in greater responsibilities than a language assistant, yet find themselves without a degree, getting a job in private schools and institutions are the way to go. 

Just to clarify, “private” isn’t synonymous with “international”, although international schools are encompassed within the collection of private facilities.

In actuality, any establishment that receives no government assistance and wholly privately funded is – you guessed it – private.

This includes language centres, academies, local community schools, and some charter schools, all with significantly more flexibility in their hiring of foreign workers. 

As a classroom teacher in a private institution, you can enjoy the responsibilities that come with a dedicated teaching post, whilst also getting creative with less rigid school methods. 

Note: International schools, as usual, have the highest requirements and salaries. If you consider yourself the best of the best, you can forego teaching job sites and just use an online directory before making personal enquiries with those establishments. 

What is the Teaching Salary in Spain?

There is a decent salary to be had when teaching in Spain. As you will of course be required to pay tax, the table below reflects gross (monthly) income. 

Type of PositionSalary in Euros (€)Salary in British Pounds (£)
Public Sch. (Language Assistant)900 – 1200  770 – 1025
Public School (Teacher)1700 – 2400 1450 – 2050
Private School1300 – 18001110 – 1540
International School1900 – 3000 1620 – 2560

Unsurprisingly, international schools offer the highest rate. As a language assistant, you may find it difficult to have any real sense of luxury, but that is to be expected considered the hours worked. 

Public schools actually offer a significant sum, so at least there is appropriate compensation at the end of that long paperwork trail. If you do have a degree, it may be worthwhile to go through the process; but be warned, the standards are very high. 

After-tax deductions, you’ll still be able to save some money, but don’t expect to have absorbent amounts of cash left over each month, as we found out from our cost-of-living analysis.

What is the Cost of Living in Spain?’

The average cost of living, for a single person in the most expensive city of Madrid, is around €1,200. As you go further from the big cities, the cost of liveing goes down and you’ll find that you actually are able to save a tidy sum.

You will surely be happy to hear that the cost of living in Spain is relatively low when compared with other Western-European countries. Yet, don’t be too thrilled as the expenses can quickly build up.

According to Numbeo, “a single person’s estimated monthly costs are €682.16 without rent [in Madrid].” If we then add rent, say €650 for a 1 bedroom apartment, we soon begin to see how much you can actually save.

Considering more generous estimates, like the above calculations from International Living, you’ll find that a couple can live in the city of Alicante for just under €2,000.

However, previous visitors do remark on the importance of having some savings to fall back on in order to live lavishly, at least for the first month.

The takeaway is – by all means – don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking you won’t be able to afford to teach in Spain. Once you know the ins and outs, you will find ways to cut spending without sacrificing your quality of life.

Many ex-pats report that the day-to-day costs, as in supermarkets and afternoon drinks, are remarkably lower than those of nearby countries or the US.

What is Spanish Culture Like? 

Spanish culture is renowned for being relaxed, laid back and social. The food is fantastic, the fiestas are vibrant and fun, the culture and history are incredible and, yes, siestas are a real thing!

There’s no use holding a Spanish person to the same punctuality standards as the Germans or Japanese, as the people of Spain would rather master the skills required for their truly relaxed lifestyle. 

When in Spain, it’s equally common (and accepted) for a local or a train to arrive a little late.

The perpetual fluidity of the collective Spanish schedule is just a reflection of their attitudes towards life, namely that they refuse to let modern pace get the better of them. 

It’s true, the seemingly exaggerated siesta culture actually is rooted in fact, but there’s so much more to do in Spain than a midday nap.

There are countless local festivities and events (fiestas) that will be unique to the area you find yourself in.

Meanwhile, the Mediterranean cuisine will surely have you gain a few pounds unless you don’t mind partaking in the nation’s favourite sport, which is (by far) football (soccer).

Whether it’s tempting tapas bars, beautifully scenic city strolls or flurries of flamenco, the Spanish people know exactly how to live.

The people of Spain are notably very social, loving to meet friends and making any excuse for a gathering or party.

Generally speaking, the relaxed Spanish prefer to play nice and avoid confrontation, embodied by the phrase ‘más se consigue lamiendo que mordiendo’, literally translated as ‘licking achieves more than biting’, meaning it’s better to go about things nicely than in a hostile manner.

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Why Should I Teach in Spain?

  1. Scope of the Job Market
  2. Simpler Paperwork Process
  3. Spanish is the World’s Third Language
  4. The Greatness of Lateness

If you’re still unconvinced about life as an educator in Spain, I urge you to hang on for another minute.

There are plenty of reasons why someone would find teaching here a rich and rewarding experience; to name but a few:

1. Scope of the Job Market

Year on year new language centres, private schools and programs open, desperately trying to attract more teachers to the sunny spells of Spain.

A simple internet search will bring up hundreds of independent job sites with thousands of positions, so there is little excuse if anyone tries to say they couldn’t find anything. 

2. Simpler Paperwork Process

As we mentioned, if you’re an EU citizen, it’s far more pleasant and convenient to go through the documentation stages linked to teaching in Spain.

You will still need to send this, fill out that and whatnot, but compared to many stricter host countries, Spain comes out the clear winner. Endlessly handling forms is fatal (death by boredom), so less paperwork means less stress. 

3. Spanish is the World’s Third Language

While you are most likely travelling to Spain to help students with the amazingly interesting concepts of past perfect tense and the zero conditional, you have an equal chance of having friends and colleagues to help you with Spanish.

As the world’s third most spoken language, the potential of learning the local lingo is huge, and – we’ll add – highly fun!

4. The Greatness of Lateness

It’s typical of Asian schools to start as early as 6.30 am (in hotter summer periods), but the Spanish will rarely get to work on anything before 9 am.

Their lunch, or comida, is served between 2 pm and 4 pm, and their dinner around 9 pm, one reason why their cities remain so lively after dark. 

This slow approach to life has a noticeably calming effect on the foreigners who go there, especially those who have come from the constant buzz or busy-minded places.

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Conclusion

If you are interested in teaching in Spain, rest assured that there are options available to you regardless of your formal qualifications.

Providing you are a native speaker, you will have no problem finding a gratifying position in a brilliant school, with a bountiful salary that goes with it. 

To learn more about global teaching opportunities, read through our Teaching Around the World series to find out more.

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Paul Fulbrookhttps://teacherofsci.com
Paul Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher, writer and education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started teacherofsci.com to help support teachers everywhere with the everyday struggles that they are all faced with, both in the classroom and at home.

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