Teaching English in Spain

Despite the current economic crisis in Spain, with an unemployment rate at one of the highest in Europe, demand for classes is still high. Many people now find that they need to improve their level in order to get work or stay in their current job. When recruiting new employees, companies often stipulate a minimum level of English, which means more demand for classes.

If you’re looking for a job teaching English in a language school in Spain, timing is everything. The main recruiting period is usually from around mid-August with interviews in September for courses starting in late September or early October. The other popular time is January, when some teachers don’t return after the Christmas holiday, leaving schools with vacancies they didn’t expect to have. You should start taking your CV around the schools you’re interested in a month or so before you want to start work. Language schools usually prefer you to be living in Spain when you apply, because so many people accept jobs and then return to their home country, never to be seen again. Also, teachers can often be needed at very short notice (maybe a phone call for an interview, then the interview within 2 days, and then your first class within a week of the interview). Therefore, your best bet when it comes to finding a job is to actually be physically present Spain and search locally. The biggest job markets are in the biggest cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, and Seville are the four most popular cities for teaching in Spain. This doesn’t mean you should stick to these only; there are jobs in smaller cities or towns too, but you will need more time and patience.

August is the month most Spaniards leave their normal residential homes for their beach or mountain holiday homes, so finding work can be a challenge at this time of the year. This does NOT mean that you won’t find work during summer! While it will be more difficult, it is possible to find temporary work with summer camps where Spanish children and adults learn English. For summer work, start your job search in April or May. 

Simply being a native English speaker gets your foot in the door, but you’ll need more to land a decent job. Ideal candidates for most good schools in Spain are native English-speakers and have a recognized English teaching qualification.

Most good schools in Spain usually pay a monthly salary between EUR 1,200 to EUR 1,350 before taxes for teaching 24-26 contact hours each week. You may earn more or less depending on your individual school, your qualifications and experience, and the number of hours you teach. It is entirely possible to live on this salary alone if you are frugal and budget carefully, but don’t expect to save a lot of extra money from teaching at a school alone. If you’re hoping to travel on weekends or splurge often, plan to take on more work outside of your school hours (private lessons are a great option). While the pay is usually better in major cities, the cost of living is also higher. A room in a shared apartment is about EUR 350-400 per month including all expenses, so if you are earning about EUR 1200 per month, which may average to a little less, you can live well whilst experiencing living in another country.

A great way to supplements your income is to offer private tutoring, or “clases particulares”. Depending on how many students you teach, the amount of hours you work, and how much you charge, you may even make more money than working in a classroom environment. Perks of private tutoring include working in a one-on-one setting, choosing your clients, setting your own rates, and determining your hours. Rates usually range from 14 to 25 euros per hour depending on your experience (TEFL-certification means higher pay), the city, and the types of lessons you offer. Challenges include having to prepare all of your own materials and dealing with no-show students or last minute cancellations. It can also be difficult to market yourself to find prospective clients. While there may be more available students overall in bigger cities, there will also be more competition – so head to lesser known areas where not as many English speakers reside. Post flyers on notice boards, talk to other teachers, network like crazy, use your local connections, and advertise your lessons on the Internet.