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Teaching English in Spain as an Expat

Life is funny because I never really thought I would move to Spain, but after meeting a young Spanish girl I decided I wanted to go check it out. I immediately fell in love with the culture and the people. However, I must clarify that I am actually in the Basque country which some locals do not consider it to be Spain. There is a very strong sense of Basque pride and separatism here.

Donostia-San Sebastian

When I first came to the Basque country, it was for love and vacation. I spent the first few days enjoying the sun, surfing, and spending quality time with my Basque girlfriend. Then it was time to get down to business and find a job! My girlfriend suggested that I teach English since I was a native speaker and she knew that there was a high demand for English teachers. So I began looking into taking a TESOL certification and once I graduated from OnTESOL it was much easier to find work. I’ve had the opportunity to teach English work in several academies, so I hope my blog helps you become an English teacher in Spain.

Read More: Where Can I Teach English Abroad and How Much Can I Earn?

When to Apply for English Teaching Jobs in Spain

October is when all English classes start in Spain, so the best time to apply for English teaching jobs is in September. Everyone starts school in September, then the parents get settled into the routines of getting their kids to school and to any type of extracurricular activities.

Midway into September, their kids have a lot of English homework and need some professional help. This is when they realize that they need to put their children in an English academy in the evenings or call the academy from the previous year, so this is why all the academies get busy in October and not in September when the actual school year starts.

Searching for the Right School

When looking for a teaching job in Spain, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of each academy so you can choose the best option. The best option I recommend is to work at two academies. Maybe work at one academy on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

While the internet is full of resources and recent job openings, the yellow pages remains the best option for finding local schools because very few advertise positions on job boards. Schools will be under “Academias” in the phone book and under the sub-section of “idiomas” (languages).

This is probably a good time to say that if you know Spanish or at least some Spanish, it is a huge help. Sometimes the secretaries don’t speak English very well and navigating the phonebook or looking things up online is all done in Spanish. I did exactly that and was able to get some interviews. Most of the places want an email copy of your CV before you go to the interview so be prepared and have one ready.

After several interviews, I was able to find a summer job for the month of July that paid 17 euro per hour. The next summer I was able to work again in an English program for 5 and 6-year old children. This program offered more hours and better pay.

Job Conditions for English Teachers in Spain

Now that I’m well established as an expat English teacher in Spain, I have been able to make contacts and got my foot in the door at several places.

When weighing out the options I look at the hours, the schedule, how close the school is to home, and the salary. Most academies pay approximately 20 Euro per hour. Some academies pay less, close to 15 Euro per hour, but you can negotiate and ask for more. An internationally recognized TESOL certificate is necessary for the better paying jobs. If you work full time you get around 2000 Euro per month. You can also teach English online or offer private classes for extra income.

Recommended: TESOL Certification for Spain

Class Hours

The schedule for 99 percent of the English academies is from 4 in the afternoon until 10 at night. In the mornings the kids are at school and then go home for lunch. In the evening, they may go to futbol (“soccer”) practice or some other activity before they get to their English class. Although it is rare, there are some academies that have classes all day and other academies that teach specifically during the lunch hour for kids that have a really busy schedule.

Most of the offers I have received, have been part-time teaching positions from 3 to 10 pm, for 5-18 hours per week, and at a rate of 20 Euro per hour. This is why I complement my salary with private tutoring.

Teaching Private English Classes in Spain

As far as teaching private lessons goes, I am relatively new but I can definitely say that I am learning quickly. I began posting flyers all over town on the stop signs, bus stops, crosswalks, metro stops, and announcement boards. I think you really have to be strategic about where you put your flyers. For example, if you put your flyer on a street lamp in a small alley near your house I can almost guarantee it will only get looked at a hand full of times. Whereas if you tape your sign right next to the entrance of the metro it will get looked at hundreds of times and you are very likely to more inquiries.

The way you design your sign or flyer is also important. I made the word ENGLISH much bigger than any other word on the sign and put it in bold. This way even if the people pass by very quickly the important part of the sign catches their eye and for the most part they already know what is being advertised. A lot of the other flyers I have seen are all in small font and you have to stop to actually read any of the words.

Another basic piece of advice for your design and posting of the flyer is to put your telephone number as many times as you can vertically along the bottom and then cut in between each number with scissors so the people can rip a tab off your flyer with your phone number. As a side note to this, I also recommend you tape right above the phone numbers horizontally when taping your flyer to a pole or wall, so that when someone rips off a phone number they don’t rip your sign in half. Believe me, this happens all the time and then your hard work of putting flyers up is ripped apart…. literally.

You must also be persistent with your advertising to be successful. A good idea is to check your signs weekly and take mental notes. Are the phone number tabs being taken? Is it still there? If a lot of the phone number tabs have been taken put another one up right next to the old one. It is obviously in a good location and people seem to be interested. If the flyer is gone it may be that the street cleaners took it down, some rowdy kids ripped it down, or the torrential Basque rain got the best of it. Either way, put up a new sign.

Another option for self-marketing is the Internet. I think the people in Spain use it a lot less than the people in the US. Out of personal experience, I think at least half of the phone calls I have received about English classes have been via Internet postings.

Should I Teach English to Adults or Children?

Teaching adults and teaching children require different teaching styles for different needs, and while you may know which you would prefer, the best way to find out is to jump in at the deep end give it a go.

For most new English teachers in Spain, teaching adults is generally more preferred than teaching children. The thinking behind this is usually that adults are easier to teach than children because children misbehave, and (for the most part) it’s true. Adults already know how to behave, and they are all attending English classes out of choice. This means that they’re usually much more attentive and interested in what you’re teaching.

There are two types of adult learners; those that are trying to pass an exam, and those that want a hobby in their free time. Both of these types of learners require different teaching methods and the style of the lesson will usually be different. For an adult learner taking an exam, their level of English will already be quite high, and they will be highly motivated in learning as much as they can. These classes will usually include a lot more grammar teaching than casual learners. Teaching English to those that want a hobby will usually be at a much lower level and the learning will be slower, as the motivation will not be as high. There is usually a more relaxed vibe to these classes, with games and music incorporated.

Teaching English to children can be highly rewarding for many reasons. Children progress quickly, and seeing that progress is very satisfying. Being a role model is also rewarding. From a teaching point of view, the level of English will not usually be too high, and while it’s tiring, playing tons of games, songs and videos are also extremely fun.

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