A Quick Guide to Teaching English in Spain

Teach English in Spain

Why should I take a TEFL course in Spain?

Regardless of where you plan to work after your course, taking a TEFL course in Spain will give you the opportunity to get to know a diverse culture, revel in a country steeped in history, enjoy a lively social scene and spend time on terraces or at the beach soaking up the sun. If you plan to stay in the country to work after your course, obtaining your TEFL certificate in Spain will give you a great head start when looking for work, some solid connections and a community to make you feel at home right away. Having a Spanish mobile or address while job hunting can make all the difference too!

What types of English teaching jobs are available in Spain?

Nowadays, classes which will help students pass official exams such as the Cambridge First Certificate, Advanced or Proficiency are in high demand due to competition in the workplace or the desire to study or work abroad, and therefore the need to prove a minimum level of English. General English classes are also popular as are classes teaching Young Learners. This could be after-school private classes, help with English homework or simply spending time with them and chatting in English, giving them the confidence to speak. In the larger towns and cities there are plenty of opportunities to teach Business English as well. This is usually arranged via an agent or language school. Some of the most common classes to be picked up are private classes with individuals, going to their home, or them coming to you, or alternatively meeting in a neutral place like a cafe or library to give them tailored one-to-one classes. In most cases, English teachers in Spain tend to offer a mix of everything, using the private classes to fill in the gaps in their schedule around hours in an academy or for an agency.

Where are the most jobs teaching English in Spain?

There is high demand all over Spain for English classes, even more so in cities like Barcelona, Malaga, Madrid, Seville, Cadiz and Valencia. Obviously in small villages there will be limited opportunities but classes can still be picked up in some of even the remotest places in the country.

What are the requirements to teach English in Spain?

You don’t need a degree to teach English in Spain. The most important thing is to possess an accredited TEFL certificate such as the Trinity CertTESOL or Cambridge Celta which proves to employers that you have received a high standard of training from experienced tutors and completed observed teaching practice. In order to be accepted onto these courses, you would need to demonstrate that you would be able to deal with the academic demands of an intensive course, which might be a description of your educational or work experience.

There may be some individuals or schools who make special requests for a background in a specific area or a minimum of x years teaching, but this is not that common. There are also a lot of successful teachers whose first language is not English. In general, Spain is very open-minded about this, but it can also depend on the region/school/individual.

Do I need to have experience to teach English in Spain?

It is not necessary to have teaching experience before embarking on a TEFL course. However, employers will expect you to have had teaching experience while doing your TEFL course. Online TEFL courses are not looked upon favourably, and employers can be quite particular about employing you without experience on your TEFL course at the very least, as they will be concerned about their student retention. Without teaching experience, you will not be prepared for teaching their students.

What are the visa requirements to teach English in Spain?

Unless you have an EU Passport, you’ll only be allowed to stay in the Schengen Zone on a tourist visa for 90 days. The Schengen Zone includes Spain and most other EU countries. If you plan to stay longer, you need to apply for a different visa. You have two options:

– Short-term student visa (4 to 6 months)
– Long-term student visa (minimum 7 months)

With the long-term student visa, you are eligible to legally work for up to 20 hours per week, which is more or less full time teaching.

What’s the best way to find English teaching work in Spain?

If you have chosen a good TEFL course provider, you should be offered a comprehensive careers service (www.oxfordtefl.com/work-and-visas). In order to find work in Spain, the first thing you would need to do is make sure that you have updated your CV with any relevant skills and experience. Pass it by a couple of friends for advice and email it out to as many schools as possible. Follow up with the school a week or so later or even drop in if you are in the area (an appointment might be necessary). Find out which teacher Facebook groups are popular in your chosen location, join those groups and stay updated with any classes or substitutions up for grabs, and ask questions to get a good idea of the job market in that location. Ask teacher friends or your careers advisor for recommendations of websites such as tusclasesparticulares.com and superprof.es to place an advert or respond to adverts.

Ultimately, the best way to find work in Spain is through good work of mouth – if you are a good teacher and you care about your students, you will find work. People speak to each other and recommend teachers constantly, so make sure you do a good job and that you are professional. Pay attention to what you wear – and smile!

When is the best time of year to look for English teaching jobs in Spain?

The academic year runs from September/ October to June, so the best time to be available and looking for work is in September. In August most schools close and do not respond to emails. There are usually summer camps for young learners in July or intensive courses which run over 6 or 8 weeks throughout the year which also provides further opportunities. The second best time to find work is in January when new groups might open (New Year’s resolutions to learn English!) or a teacher leaves. Private classes are always available.

How much money can I make teaching English in Spain?

The amount you can earn will depend largely on where you are, how many hours you teach per week, which company you work for and what combination of classes you teach. As an example, in Barcelona, the following rates per hour are:

– General English €14 – €18 per hour
– Business English €15 – €20 per hour
– Exam preparation classes €15 – €19 per hour
– Teaching Young Learners in an academy €14 – €19
– Private classes 1st year teaching €15 – €20
– Private classes experienced teachers €20 – €30 per hour

Time preparing classes, marking homework or travelling is not usually paid extra. As a new teacher, you may only teach 20 hours per week as lesson planning can take longer at first. As a more experienced teacher, you may be better and you can plan your lessons faster and more instinctively, meaning you could take on 25 – 30 hours per week.

Looking for more information?

Email tesol@oxford tefl.com or visit www.oxfordtefl.com

Fran Austin

Fran Austin

Fran Austin drove to Barcelona from the UK to study and teach English, and fell in love with the city. She taught English as a foreign language between 2005 and 2013 and during that time, she also ran her own English immersion courses in Winchester, UK. She is qualified in the Trinity CertTESOL, Trinity DipTESOL, Diploma in Educational Management, Leadership and Diploma in Professional Marketing. She is now the Sales & Marketing Director for Oxford TEFL, which offers fully-accredited and recognized TEFL courses and teacher development courses in Barcelona, Malaga, Cadiz, Prague, London and Kerala.


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48 comments and teachers' experiences of Spain

Note - Some of these experiences were shared before the article above was written

  1. Andy

    As a friend of mine said once: “being an English teacher is like being a monkey.” Not only are we English teachers trying to make a difference by helping people speak our language, but we are entertainers for an hour to an hour and a half; therapists as we hear about their problems in life; saints for the patience we have for their pronunciation and correcting the same mistakes we hear over and over; babysitters for a group of 5 to 10 teenagers in a summer class; fortune tellers when we can finish their sentences before they can because we know the mistake they’re going to make and, finally, cheerleaders when we see that they’re either making progress or not, and they just need a little encouragement to keep going. If you really look at it, it’s a real bargain for them because it’s like one-stop shopping! So, who could ask for more?

    Spain is a great country with a lot to offer anyone, especially work for English teachers. I’ve been living in Madrid for 4 1/2 years and have been teaching English for most of this time. Anyhow, I hope the advice here will help you if you’re thinking about making a move and working in Madrid, or other places in Spain.

    Spain is a great country with a lot to offer anyone, especially work for English teachers. I’ve been living in Madrid for 4 1/2 years and have been teaching English for most of this time. Anyhow, I hope the advice here will help you if you’re thinking about making a move and working in Madrid, or other places in Spain.

    In comparison to other western European countries, Spain is behind in its level of English, and it’s trying to catch up. They know this and know that English is extremely important to move ahead in the working world; therefore, the demand for English teachers is high. Teachers can find work at academies and/or have private one-to-one classes. The school term generally begins in October and ends during the last half of June, although, private classes will start up again in September. The pay, of course, is better from private classes than from an academy, but you’ll find that most teachers work with both. However, if you plan to stay and work here in the summer, please note that those private students may not want or need classes in July and August. With that in mind, start thinking about summer work in April and May. English is offered at many summer camps for kids, and academies will offer intensive courses during this time, too (July-September). Working at an academy can be a blessing or pain. They basically all work in the same way and pay, more or less, the same. Hourly rates range from 9 to 15 euros. This, of course, depends on the academy, your experience, when you teach (e.g. nights or weekends) and where you teach (e.g. business English at a company, which may or may not be in the city center).

    A good knowledge of Spanish will help you understand the mistakes your students make, which are generally literal translations (e.g. the misuse of prepositions, sentence structures, etc). If you work at an academy which offers free Spanish classes for foreigners, take advantage of it. Whether you just want to brush up on your high school Spanish and learn something other than “una cerveza, por favor” or start from scratch, it will help you in the long run.
    You will be surprised to find how many people don’t speak English, or they speak very little. Although, keep in mind, that a Spaniard will feel really embarrassed to speak English and will doubt that they said something correctly. I’ve even asked my students: “What would you say if someone came up to you on the street and asked you: do you speak English?” Most responded by saying either “no, I don’t” or “I speak a little.” Of course, I said to them that the person probably just wants directions to the Puerta del Sol rather than discussing the meaning of life on the corner of Gran Vía!
    UFF! Just count down from 10: ten, nine, eight…Now, I feel better.

    You will find that Spanish students are quite friendly and willing to learn, but they’ll want you to perform an overnight miracle. Unfortunately, we can’t wave a magic wand, like Harry Potter, and make them speak English. You will also find that Spaniards are also shy. This seems the contrary to what you may think when you see them in any social atmosphere. They will also be the first to put themselves down when they talk about their level of English with you. You will hear them say that they have a low level, their English isn’t very good, and they’ve forgotten what they had already learned…7 years ago. Although, jumping into the deep end first (i.e. having an intermediate level and wanting to do a First Certificate class) isn’t uncommon to hear about either. Furthermore, don’t expect all of your students to study outside of class, unless, perhaps, they’re preparing for an English certification exam. Many will simply say that they “don’t have the time to study.” I think this is a half-truth. I think if you want to do something, you make time to do it. Although, contrary to popular myth, Spaniards do work a lot. They work long hours during the day, which generally begins between 8am and 9am and generally finishes between 6pm and 8pm. So, if they don’t do the homework you assign or review the last lesson and vocabulary, just accept it. It’s really up to them if they want to increase their level or not.

    Housing is a big issue in Spain. Rents are high, apartments/flats are small and salaries are low. Don’t be surprised to find a 30 sq. meter flat or studio for over 600 euros a month. Word of mouth is your best-bet for finding a place. Of course, you can go around the neighborhoods looking for “for rent”/”se alquila” signs or look in the newspapers. Those newspaper ads can be dodgy too (i.e. seems good when you read about it, then you see it and think better of it), or they’ve rented the place that very same day the ad comes out. If you go out to live on your own, keep in mind that owners may want a 3 month’s deposit with the contract; so, don’t be surprised. Also remember, renters have more rights than the owners when you have a contract. Even though your contract may be good for 2 years, it’s actually good for 5, and the owner can only raise your rent each year according to the rate of inflation (IPC). After 5 years, the owner may raise it to whatever he/she wants to. If you go through an agency, keep in mind that you’ll lay out even more money for a flat.

    Students generally have class twice a week, and the majority want to have class after work. So, most of your time in class can be spent between 4pm and 9pm leaving you with chunks of the day free to do…whatever. Keep in mind that Madrid is growing rapidly, so, be sure you’re not travelling all over creation just to give English classes. Madrid has an extensive transport system, but if you have to do one class in the suburbs and then come back into the center for another set of classes, you’re going to quickly burn yourself out and drive yourself crazy from racing from one class to another. Cities do have monthly passes, which generally go up in price each January. The current rate for a pass in Madrid is 37.15 euros (zone A).

    Overall, Spain is a good place to live and teach. Getting useful advice by speaking with other English teachers here will help you enjoy your experience and understand the “Spanish way,” which in itself can be mind-boggling, frustrating and can drive you to drink, however, it can also be fun, exciting and memorable. ¡Buena suerte!

    • Carmen

      The ‘Spanish way’ can drive you to drink?

  2. Salome

    Coming from the States, it’s difficult to accept or adapt to some working conditions here. For example, most teachers work split shifts, like 8 – 10am doing company classes, then 2 – 4pm at another company, and rounding off the day with more classes from 5 – 9pm in the evening. Add in some 3 hours for travel time per day and you’ll soon start wondering what was so great about Spain in the first place. If you’re fortunate, you land a job with a reputable academy, be offered a contract with benefits, have some flexibility with schedules so that you’re not teaching or travelling 24/7 and you’d have your own time to do things unrelated to work. However, you would compromise income potential (which isn’t great, but it’s sufficient to get by). It’s amazing what a difference 200 Euros per month can make. So why do it? Because despite all the drawbacks, it’s a change from the routine trappings of life in the States, and it’s a joy to teach people who actually want to learn and can have fun doing so. So, if you’re proactive, organized, work hard, you can eventually come to reap some non-monetary rewards. It’s not for everyone, but it’s an invaluable learning experience in itself.

  3. MVC

    I left Northern Ireland 12 years ago to come and work in Spain for a nine month contract, and I’m still here! I think it’s a really great help if you’ve got at least some knowledge of the language before coming here. Try not to stick to a group of only English speakers, that means it’s extremely difficult to improve your Spanish and get to know the locals.

    Try to avoid the typical tourist areas which are more expensive and go for smaller towns. There are a few projects in the pipeline now for bi-lingual schools because the way English is taught in schools is quite bad, I mean the education system, therefore so many academies exist for that special help. Working in Spain can be difficult at the beginning, I’ve known people who came here, stayed a few weeks and left, they thought it wasn’t worth hanging in there.

    I’ve now worked for four different institutions. My first job was in a teacher training college, the typical “language assistant” you’ve seen in secondary and grammar schools at home. Then in private academies, where the money was quite bad, but it’s all experience and you’ll know not to get taken in again. I must admit it depends on the academy, the one I work in now pays quite well and it’s run by a lady from England, where we’re all “native” speakers – what’s most in demand at the moment.

    I began working with young adults and adults and also company classes. I have some really nice memories from those students, the majority are interested in learning and do listen, whereas you get the typical company crowd, some take advantage of the classes, others simply pass their time. I’m now working with children from 4 years old upwards and I must admit it’s the most rewarding age group – children are little sponges: they repeat and use everything you say, so be careful! It’s hard work because until they are 7+ we don’t use textbooks as such so there’s a lot of preparation, but if you’ve got lots of ideas you should do well.

    I’d just say GO FOR IT! It’s a change in routine, climate, eating habits but that’s what we explain to many of our students and what can make it such an adventure, also it shows you how independent – or not – you can be. Give it a go and see for yourself. Good luck!

  4. Jill

    I’ve read with interest the experiences of other teachers in Spain, however this is such a big diverse country that it’s not possible to generalise. I’ve lived and worked on the north Costa Blanca for almost four years. Having worked in England both as a general and business English teacher I came to Spain with the expectation of finding work without too much difficulty. I did eventually find a few hours working in a language school but the pay was less than half of what I earned in the UK and the resources and general working conditions abysmal. Speaking with other teachers this seemed to be the norm in this part of Spain. After a few months I decided to go it alone. Registered as a self-employed teacher and advertised. Four years down the line I have as many students as I can manage (I even have to turn some away now), a good, steady income and much more job satisfaction. The downside? Long Spanish holidays and fiestas mean that there are periods when I don’t earn anything, but because I earn more the rest of the year I can cope with this. Life in Spain is great! Bueno suerte!

  5. Nige

    Don’t do it! The wages are bad, the Spanish are disorganized. Language Schools are awful places to work, you do all the work and they get all the money. Spain is not cheap any more. I can’t wait to get home.

    • Rhys

      It sounds like you just happen to have a bad job, me and plenty of other have fun, well paid teaching jobs at organisations that respect us.

      • J

        Define “well paid”. Why don’t you say the name of your company so that others can also get “well paid teaching jobs at organisations that respect us”. BTW, from what I’ve seen these types of schools are not the norm.

  6. Veronica

    The working conditions in language schools in Spain are not very good even for Spanish people who studied English, this is my problem and to be honest if you don’t teach in a private or public school, the work (teaching world) is quite limited and normally bad. I’m trying to find a school to finish with this horrible timetable and find at least a stability in my working hours and my salary.

  7. Shorey

    Summer camps are hell. You work 16 hours a day and do not get an hourly rate so you end up getting less than the minimum wage. TEFL teachers should form a union to stop the exploitation of teachers. Please do not take jobs with poor wages. It makes them low for all of us!

  8. Anonymous

    Well, I’ve been in Spain since February and started working for a well known language school at the beginning of March. Yes, it can be difficult here, but I’ve never heard anyone say that teaching is easy. I gave up my job in a factory where I’d worked for 13 years to become an English teacher and I don’t have any regrets. I’m still struggling with the Spanish language and with the hours and now the summer is upon us. But it is a rewarding job and if you have passion and motivation, you can be successful.

  9. Michelle

    Yes, I would agree the that the wages are less than McDonald’s but you work longer! Nice country but teachers put up with very poor work conditions because so many teachers are happy to work for schools that give poor wages just to live in Spain.

  10. Kyle

    25 hours a week contract but you work 40+hours a week. This is so true.

  11. Andy

    The growth area is in company classes, the so-called “Business English” classes. You can earn a reasonable amount of money, especially if you work freelance (not so difficult, really.) What I would say is that it takes time to build things up… contacts, a sensible timetable, knowledge of the market, etc. Don’t expect to come out here and be earning enough from day one. I’d say make sure you have enough to survive for a year to be on the safe side. You can find work quickly through agencies and academies but that’s where you’ll tend do get ripped off (lots of hours, not a lot of money.)

  12. Anonymous

    Teaching in Spain has been a great experience. The border of Galicia and Asturias was the chosen location. Very low rents of under 300 a month for a beautiful beachside apartment term time. The friendliest people, although English is not spoken too much. A couple of language schools to choose from in the surrounding areas but not up to much, run as businesses by unqualified staff with not much attention to the students’ needs. Privates much better for a basic lifestyle. I found the area expensive for food, clothes, alcohol (apart from wine and cava) everything apart from rent and tobacco, shampoo, cosmetics… extortionate prices. I find the UK much cheaper. Hope to be back to Spain though when I’ve been back to the UK to top up my income for the summer. I’d recommend it, but have a little money in the bank for a decent standard of living.

  13. Claire

    Hola, I have taught English in Spain for many years working in language schools across the country. I found myself working for 8.00 per hour on the Costas and 15.00 per hour in Toledo. A few years ago I decided to work for my self so I set up a language school in Spain. I now earn more than ever. I have written down all my tips and advice about how to set up a school in Spain http://www.myscuola.co.uk be your own boss.

  14. Ignatius

    All the wonderful advice above seems to have forgotten one thing: If u don´t have papers/residency, good luck being able to make ends meet in Spain. To work as an illegal…hey didn’t you always wonder what it was like to be a wet-back? u can find some, and now less with the crisis, academies that have no option. If the phone rings and the academy says they don´t have a teacher: LOST SALE! Can´t have that in these tough economic times. It gets even better in January since a lot of teachers have thrown in the towel or their allotment of free beer coupons has run out. The truth is Spain is not serious about learning English. If they were, they would open visas for North Americans to come work here if only for one or two years. If you DO have papers, everybody wants you to be an Autonomo. This means you have to pay the government over 250 euros per month, depending on your age, as tribute for your hard work. Best of all is the 20 some days you don´t work in Xmas, the 10 or so days you don´t work in Holy Week, July-hardly any work, August-NO WORK!-and the innumerable other St days u don´t work and u don´t get paid for, you still have to pony up and pay the King his ransom..;he he If you like teaching kids, you have UE residency or you have the one year Teacher Certificate, you may be able to get a job that pays the in-year holidays but you still will NOT get paid summer holidays. VIVA ESPANA Anybody know where Manolo Escobar lives let me know.

  15. Steven

    I moved to Zaragoza from London 4 months ago and think its the best decision ever! I teach in a small friendly school for about 28 hours per week! I take home around 1150 euros and my rent in a flatshare is 250 euros including all bills! Do the maths!! I live like a king here, travel wherever I want and even manage to save!!

    • Esther

      Hello Steven. We are moving to Zaragoza in June from the UK after my husband retire. I am Spanish but my husband is English. Can you give us some advise what he can do to find a part time job in Zaragoza as an English tutor? We have pensions and our own flat in Zaragoza, we only need an extra income and something to do few hours a week. Thank you.

  16. Renata

    I have to echo what Steven said. I also moved from London 2 and half years ago and although my salary is less here, my quality of life is much much better. Why? Well, I work for a private language academy for 24 hours a week. My take home pay is around 1300 to 1400 euros a month. My commuting costs are zero. My workplace is a ten minute walk away in a city. I have a great timetable where I only work afternoons and evenings meaning there’s plenty of time to go out to Spanish bars after work. I have a nice large flat where if I choose to have a lodger to pay the bills my monthly accommodation costs are in total including bills around 300 a month. This means I have plenty of spare money to spend on good wine and eating and drinking out. Then there’s the great weather, and the students are in the main lovely, my company look after me well. There are opportunities to further my knowledge by more training that is offered. Don’t worry about the language I came to Spain knowing about 6 words. I soon picked it up and can get by OK now. There really is no reason to leave!

    The downsides? Well, working in a medium sized city saves me the high rental costs of Madrid or Barcelona but it can mean a limited social life. Fortunately I get on well with my colleagues who I mostly socialise with. It is difficult to get to know Spaniards well. They are very family orientated and tend to go out in big groups and stay with life long friends and families. Although generally the cost of living is reasonable, some things are a lot more expensive than the UK, the Internet for starters!

    The weather is superb but it’s actually too hot to stay here in the summer and I always go back to the UK to work in a summer school.

    But all things considered its a wonderful life… yes I think I’ll stay!

  17. Gemma

    Wow, mixed opinions. I moved to a small village 50km from Madrid 2 years ago. I started offering private classes 17 months ago. I have now just trained up a new teacher and looking to take on a second teacher in the next few weeks. As someone said the Spanish people really do want to learn English and the parents are understanding the importance of their children learning. I’m now looking at opening an Educational centre for English but also for other school subjects. The public educational system isn’t great so parents want help with all subjects. I have an awesome life, I’m a single mum who can plan lessons around my daughter, the sun is shining and I’m independent. I’m not rich but my lifestyle is better than I could ever have living in the UK! And, the cava really is cheap!!

  18. George

    Watch out for the famous “envelope”. Most EFL teachers in Spain will know what I’m on about, that is to say varying chunks of your wage being handed to you cash in hand. It may look fine at first, but that means your social security contributions are being dodged. The concrete result? Less sick pay if you fall ill, even lower dole money if you’re unemployed (in Spain it’s calculated proportionally to your contributions) and, of course, FA pension which means all those years of hard work will contribute little or nothing when you’re old and frail. An alarming number of Spanish “Academies” do this, no matter the nationality of the owner. “This is Spain”, is the token answer, a reference to the fact that loads of small businesses in Spain pay their staff cash in hand.

    Spain is a beautiful country. The food is great, the drinks are amazing, the night life, the people, etc, but a TEFL job in Spain is the closest to a dead end job you could possibly find. Sure, there are exceptions, but the rule is casual contract after casual contract, zero career progression, long and dysfunctional timetables, students who don’t give a s*** (no coincidence the Spaniards are officially at the bottom of European tables when it comes to languages).

  19. Catrina

    The maximum you will earn as an autonomo in the south of Spain is 1000e for only 8/9 months of the year. In fact 700-800 is probably more like it because of the limited hours of work 5-9pm ish. You need to have a reasonable level of conversational Spanish. The usual problem with being autonomo is finding enough regular work to make it possible to pay 250 euros per month. For autonomo in the 3 summer months when there is no money to be made for most people. It’s a common problem i.e making enough to pay the autonomo fees, southern Spain.

  20. Nice polite English person stuck in horrible hostile rude corrupt Spain

    I have worked for 10 years illegal, 15 hour a week contracts, while actually working 13 hour days, 5 days a week, killing myself for the owners of the academies. I received a letter from the government, that shows I have accumulated 4 years worked in 10 years. When you have no work in the summer, and need to claim the dole, you get less, so it’s hard to survive. Corruption is rife here. They think nothing of lying and cheating, it’s in their nature.

    Apart from the terrible exploitation of foreigners here, you have to put up with racism, ignorance, and arrogance. People here really love themselves, and they think they’re the best! Yesterday I went to look at a flat for rent, and the landlady said she didn’t like foreigners! Another told me that foreigners come here with no house, begging them to rent flats! Ha, us begging? They’re the ones demanding too much money, for dirty pokey flats.

    They want you to teach them English, but you get nothing in return, apart from isolation, and exploitation, and having to pay for overpriced shitty accommodation.

    I was in Valencia, and now I’m in Galicia. I wouldn’t recommend either to anyone, however, Galician people are more backwards, considering the whole of Spain is at least 50 years behind the rest of Europe, and is considered to be the worst country in Europe, verging on third world standards! What standards!

    I haven’t mentioned that they’re very sexist, and women here are second class citizens, and that brothels are legal, and if you have a Spanish boyfriend, beware, he may be paying for sex, and telling you he’s busy working! For them it’s the norm to pay prostitutes, and some of them meet their girlfriends in brothels. They have no education about diseases! What bothers me the most, is that the girls working in the brothels, are sometimes brought to Spain by the mafia, and are misled. It’s human trafficking, and to make things worse, the government claims tax from the brothel owners, but the girls work with no contracts, and have no rights to dole, or pension! What double standards. But this is human trafficking I’m talking about here! Hey why does the government claim tax and encourage this, and they know it’s happening, but they’re only concerned about money. They have no shame. ¡Sinverguenzas!

    If foreigners like Spain, it’s for the booze, sunshine, and cheap sex. There really is nothing else here to like. The people are rude, and corrupt. They have psychopathic genes.

    If you’re a girl, don’t expect a boy to commit to you. They’re the worst boyfriends in the world. Very selfish, and they usually want to live with mummy, sometimes until they’re 40 years old.

    I must mention, that my own mother is Spanish, but she left the country at 18 years old, like millions of others who emigrated from Spain, to find a better life. When Spaniards leave Spain, they realise that their country, and people are not the best.

    Another thing to bear in mind, is that Spain lived it’s best years in history from 2001 to 2008, the industrial boom. They built like madmen, and really badly, and now they have millions of empty, overpriced flats. Now the building industry has gone for many years, they have to rely on tourism, ha, they hate us foreigners, but they need our money! Also the sex industry always does well here, because it’s run by the mafia (and Spanish government), and is very cheap.

    I should write a book, but I don’t want to waste more time on this pitiful place, which is a shambles. So I will now put my energy into getting the hell out of here.

    • Rhys

      If everything smells like poo, check your own shoe ;)

  21. Katelyn Krygowski

    This year will be my second year working as an Auxiliar de conversacion in a small village outside of Malaga. I’ve loved the job despite the extreme lack of organization of the Junta de Andaluci­a, our boss, per say. It´s been fun, especially as a Sociology and Spanish major to learn about my community and begin to create some English programs which mold to the needs of this particular community.

    I´m interested in becoming a public school teacher but, due to the fact that I´m American and don´t have my degree in the English language (I wouldn’t of course as a native speaker) it seems that I won’t be allowed to take the oposiciones. I’ve asked absolutely everywhere from the consulate, university, edificio negro etc etc but no one seems to know. If any of you have an answer or know someone who might I would really appreciate your help.

  22. Mike

    Your qualifications don’t matter, Katelyn. Unless you’re a Spanish citizen (with a Spanish passport, not just temporary legal residence) you’re officially barred from entering the public teaching sector.

  23. Anonymous

    “Nice polite English”, you seem to have pretty high standards for yourself. Don’t be such a bag of prejudices. Spain is a wonderful country.

  24. Anonymous

    That’s not true about needing to be a Spanish citizen to become a civil servant here. Only certain jobs (for example, the Police exam, I think) are reserved for Spanish nationals. I know several British people who have passed the oposicion for primary and secondary school teaching. Anyone who is EU and resident here can sit for the exam, as well as people of any nationality (including Americans) who are married to Spaniards or other EU members.

    I am not sure about the requirements for primary education, but to become a secondary school teacher you must have a degree “homologado” by the Ministry of Education and also have the new Master en Formacion del Profesorado, available at all universities here. It’s not even necessary that any of those degrees be in English…

    To the angry English girl… damn. I’ve experienced xenophobia here and have heard harsh words about being a foreigner, but I also have made some wonderful friends. And my husband, a Spaniard, is one of the most principled, most respectful, most hard-working people I’ve ever met. What I don’t understand is…if you’re English and your mother is Spanish, why work here illegally?

    What I find most frustrating is the backwards, verbose legal system that thinks itself efficient while being the opposite. Please, Spain, stop writing fifty Real Decretos per day and get to work on my Residency Card, that I’ve been waiting for these past 10 months!

  25. Sarah

    I agree working for a private academy is quite horrible. You’re always over worked and under paid. They do whatever they can to rip you off.

  26. Paul

    I have lived in Madrid since 2010 and got lucky working in the same area as what i did in Dublin before moving out here (sound technician). I´m earning half of what i made in Dublin but yet at the same time i find that rent here is not that much cheaper than Dublin and wages are crap. Going out here in the city centre is expensive, a bottle of beer in a nightclub can easily cost 6 euro (and i´m not talking anything fancy by the way), i wouldn’t pay that back home. It´s a good standard of living and if your sensible with your money you can make it go a lot further. I did teach English here in 2000 for a year and i hated it. Travelling all day on the metro and maybe doing a total of 3 hours work. Like someone else said if you can get a job not in the big cities, cost of living is less. I´m really surprised though how people who have studied in University, have languages etc. are paid so poorly. I know engineers and people with really good qualifications working for around 1000 euro a month, they are known as the “mil euristas”. Hopefully i´ll end up going somewhere nearer the coast where cost of living isn’t so high.

  27. Jamie

    I have to agree with many comments here. I work for a School in the north of Spain, my contracted hours are 30 per week but I regularly go above this by 4 or 5 hours plus they want me in the school to prepare classes for at least one hour per day so 40 hours per week actually in the school.

    Next I have to drive to companies some of which are over an hour away from the school! the driving time is in no way taken into consideration with my working hours. Part of my salary is based on a ‘food and transport’ allowance which is always removed if I take holidays or if its a fiesta day in Spain meaning I regularly have less money than stated on my contract, I think once in the past 12 months I have received the 1200 euros promised.

    My old contact is about to end and the latest for my new contract is that they want to open on a Saturday. Originally it was Monday to Friday and the weekend was a great relief now my hours could be spread over 6 days! I really don’t want to do that, the thought of another 12 month of working 8am-10pm for 6 days a week for an average salary makes me feel sick.

    I will promise you, maybe not all, but most academies want to take, take, take and give you very little. Of course the culture in Spain is very different from Britain and the overall pace of life is more relaxed but it’s very hard to join in with this kind of life if your working round the clock all week. I left Britain because I felt I was working way too many hours, but now I look back and think maybe I had it easier then and I was compensated a considerable amount more for my efforts.

  28. Meena

    Only come to Spain if you have a definite job with an agreed salary and hours in a reputable academy. Come over for an interview – do not rely on Skype. ASK: how long have you been in business? how many students do you have? How many teachers do you employ? What are the options for doing more hours, extra classes etc.? Your employer should tell you where to get a social security number etc. ACCEPT that you will never be more than than a “mil euroista” and that your position will be insecure (ie your contract is for 9 months only) and that you will have to live in a shared flat, not have a car or any holidays. OTHERWISE stay at home and look for something else. 50% of Spanish people under 35 do not have ANY work, those in work are facing constant reductions in benefits, working hours and income. Things are not getting better and people are losing patience…
    Hi guys! I am trying to not be too biased. Some people’s reviews are completely negative, some are overly optimistic. I will try and not be too negative. I harbor a lot of resentment. This is really hard for me. I have lived here now for 3 years (more or less). I have 10 years of teaching experience in several countries, and I have dual citizenship (I am American). I work here legally.

    So here’s my thing – if you are in for a “party,” maybe it’s your place. Most of the teachers I meet here are in “Peter Pan Mode.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that…Peter Pan was a happy character, not suicidal so I really can’t judge a person if he/she wants to be happy. Anyhow, getting side-tracked. There are the Peter Pans, and the “Maria Jose’s.” A Maria Jose is often an American/foreign/British woman who (sometimes it can be a Jose Maria), is obsessed with Spanish culture. They want to meet their future “Pedro/Alba” and just settle down here. These Spain “aficionados” just live and breathe Spain. I have met many of this type, and they seem sincerely happy. But what’s going on in their lives? They’re sweating their asses off in underpaid academies, and often turning their backs to their precious university degrees – sometimes these Jose’s and Maria’s are lawyers in their home countries, nurses, economists, etc. I kind of think- you gave up a country with a high quality of living, a great career, great earning potential, etc., for what? To babysit children from 6 pm to 8 pm Monday to Friday? Oh sorry, I said “babysit,” I mean “teach English.” And what else? Oh, you get to go for tapas on Saturday night! Hmmm, OK?

    As for myself, I am in my thirties. I am not in Peter Pan Mode, and I am a partial Maria Jose. My partner is Spanish. However, I do not want to live here forever, and neither does he. We are probably moving to Edinburgh in a month or two. He has an amazing job opportunity, and I want to do work that is associated with what I studied- not English teaching.

    My advice (if you are not Jose Maria, Maria Jose, or Peter Pan), come here for a “bit” (maximum 3 years), and then get out. Take the cultural experience, learn a language or improve it, and enjoy! But if you’re not in my three categories- please leave after a while. There’s nothing more depressing than talking to these 40 something year old teachers in academies saying “honey, what are you doing? Get out!”

    On a side note- a woman mentioned something about cheating Spanish boyfriends. Surprisingly, she may have a point, but I won’t say it’s every guy. It does represent a large portion of men here. I have been cheated on here, and yes they do have a thing for prostitutes in the “club de carreteras.” When I was cheated on my boyfriend had contracted a STD, and was clueless about was a STD! He’s an executive with a MBA!

    Boyfriend beware/Academy beware/Spain more than 3 years beware!

  29. Bruno

    Interesting thread.

    1. It is appalling that SO MANY so-called “language academies” carry out dodgy practices so routinely.

    I spent a grand total of 5 years in Spain and I’ve seen all sorts. From cash in hand (in varied proportions) to dodgy payslips, and total contempt for both teachers and students (customers). Unpaid useless training/meetings, control freakery, counting how many photocopies you make, expecting you to work 12-hour stretches with spurious gaps in between…expecting you to teach from 4-year old kiddies to top lawyers.

    2. A lot of it depends on *whereabouts in Spain*. Many schools in touristy areas know they can take the mick.

    3. A lot if it depends on the supine and apathetic nature of many EFL teachers (of which I was one). So many just come to Spain taking ANY, and i mean ANY job offer. No interest whatsoever in working conditions. I’ve seen schools paying 700/800 a month for 25 to 30 hours teaching. They do so because there are enough plonkers who’d say “oh yeahhhh, great!”.

    A few years ago, I threatened a former employer with court action once I clocked that all of their payslips and dodgy “fijo/dicontinuo” contracts were a true work of art. I didn’t budge. I gave him an ultimatum. He paid through his nose.

    If only more EFL teachers stuck up for themselves…

    Spain is great, but it’s also corrupt to the core.

    FACT: Purely from tax evasion in English academies, the Spanish government could recover an absolute fortune.

  30. Jaded teacher

    Hi, great thread, would like to add a few comments. I only spent a short time teaching in Spain and for me it was a real eye-opener. I agree completely with Bruno about the tax evasion, I had read about this practice before I came, but I didn’t expect it to be the case with British owners, as was my experience. I jumped through considerable hoops to keep my boss happy, i.e. being punctual, attending (unpaid) weekly meetings, countless other duties which I cannot mention here for fear of recriminations. In return I was treated appallingly by the academy when they decided I wasn’t the kind of teacher they wanted (i.e. silent, cowering, non-questioning). A year later I am still angry, as a Teacher you have absolutely no power in Spain, and these academies continue to get away with scandalous behavior.

  31. Sam

    Amazing…I can’t believe you guys are complaining about working long hours when most Spanish would bite your hand off for any kind of work!! I myself leave home at 8am and get back home at 9pm… Monday to Thursday… but then I have a 3 day weekend. 2 weeks for Christmas, 1 week for Easter, 2 months in the summer etc etc… I think it’s a good deal! Work hard but you have LOTS of holidays! If you possess half a brain you’ll know better than to work for dodgy academies for 8 euros an hour and not save anything for the holidays! You’ll always get work here, the financial crisis has helped our industry. People now are actively looking to learn English…its the IN thing at the moment and companies are using the excuse of a high English level to toughen the recruitment procedures. I’m going freelance next September!

  32. Mitch

    Well, Ive been to Spain twice now and taught English. I’ve also worked in financial services here for a mere 1000 euros plus commission.

    I have to say I prefer to teach English. Its the most fun I’ve ever had and really i feel like I’m helping a few people out along the way.

    A bit of hard graft and the use of a few brain cells I’m now taking home just under 2000 euros a month.

    I only teach private and if it is not close enough then I say no. Majority of my classes are business’.

    I charge 15 euros each. Class of five. 5 Business’ and some private too. Its only takes up 2-4 hours of my day. So plenty of time for my beautiful senorita and to be a house husband :D

  33. Anonymous

    Everyone who has put comments on here are right about Spain. I know I’ve lived here 9 almost 10 years. There are positives and negatives. Unfortunately, I’ve gone through hell here just trying to live. Machismo, liars, cheating husband, high prices, corruption in the court system. However, there have been advantages to my experience, everyone asks me to teach English, but it´s true they don´t want to pay much. There are really good people here, but as stated before it´s difficult to get to know people in the beginning, especially the first couple or more years trying to learn Spanish and the way people express themselves.

  34. Mark

    Don’t be a fool and accept too low pay from an academy or privates: it only serves to ruin the market for the rest of us, and means you’re being exploited. Always ask for more, or go somewhere else.

  35. Kathy

    Hi to all! I have read most of your comments and I must say that all of you are saying the truth about work as an English teacher and Spain, nevertheless I would like to add something important about the wages. I have been living here for 25 years and have taught English for 20, the other 5 I spent as a translator at home. In my 20 years of teaching I have stayed away from LANGUAGE ACADEMIES, all of them pay more or less the same and it’s definitely not enough money to live and a lot of hard work. I have stayed away from them from day 1 because of it. The first 10 years I decided to do tutoring and I have to say I made very good money with it, much more than with a language school, it’s all a matter of organizing yourself and your schedule. You will always work in the afternoons but if you are a good teacher you will have steady income from September to June.

    The last 10 years I have worked solely as an In-Company teacher looking for my clients directly, not through the Language Schools. I would like you all teachers to know that Language Companies are charging their clients an average of 55 euros/hour so obviously if they are paying you only 14-16 euros – they are ripping you off.

    I always tell other teachers not to let the language schools set the pay rate because they need us, they need NATIVES, there are not enough good native English teachers to go around, so WE are the ones who should set our pay rate and if they want a good teacher they will have to pay for it , and believe me they will ! Nevertheless, if there are natives who are willing to work for the lousy amount of 14 euros/hour, they are not doing themselves or anyone else in the business a favour. I am charging a minimum of 30 euros/hour. and if someone contracts me for many hours a week, I give them a discount. During the school year I make an average of 24,000 euros a year.

    With this I want all the new coming teachers to know that if we, the native teachers ask for more money, the language schools would have to accept because the students, parents, and companies only want natives so we are the ones who can set the pay rate and if all of us do that it will be easier for everybody.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for more money, if you have a good CV, and experience as well as doing a good job, they will pay it.

    I have been making a decent living for over 20 years! Remember Spain needs natives but natives do not need Spain so please ASK FOR MORE MONEY when you are at the interview! Kathy on 16 Oct 2013

    Hi again, I just wanted to add to my previous comment that I feel really sad reading all the comments about the poor pay rates so I would like to add that you can easily get 20 euros/hour by tutoring/private classes and going to their homes. The people who even look for a private English teacher usually are well off families, the others won’t even think of the possibility.

    If you are wondering… how can I get contracted directly by a family? Well, just put up an ad, either on websites or newspapers. I would recommend the “ABC”. Invest a little money on adds, they work. As for getting a company to contract you directly, well just do it the American way, go directly to a company and leave your CV in the HR department, or send it through their website and if they phone you for an interview , don’t ask for anything less than 30-40 euros/hour. To do this will take up time, and obviously if you go to a Language school it will be quicker to get a salary, but you will never make good money unless you negotiate with the owners.

    Remember if we all ask for more money at Language Academies, they won’t have a choice and will have to pay more… It’s a matter of offer – demand. Be brave and you will be doing yourself and everyone else in the field a favour.

    • Malcolm

      so interesting to read :-) I´ve been doing it nonstop since 1986 and never considered the translation option though I do help students or proofread. Mainly because I can´t imagine worsening my eyesight with long hours in front of the screen

  36. Anonymous

    I am currently two days into a language camp in Galcia and I cannot understand why the ministry of education think that this is the best way to teach children? Clinical classrooms, absolutely no materials NO BOOKS!!! no colours and also no organization, and we get blamed? no one knows whats going on…it’s a mess! And the poor kids are just there to learn but are obviously fed up – the food is not nutritious, the people who lead the place are about as warm as as a cold brick and it has no creative element.

  37. John R.

    Well, I wish I could talk to some of the people who posted here! Experiences are very varied-from dire to absolutely wonderful. (I will write my experiences of Spain later in this message). I think Kathy’s comment from 2013 was fascinating. She did mostly private classes, but said:
    Remember Spain needs natives but natives do not need Spain so please ASK FOR MORE MONEY when you are at the interview!
    And that’s just the problem. We British people can be a bit too diffident and forget that there is such a demand in Spain for learning English. We get carried away by the charming people, good weather, nightlife and so on, and then think “I’m so desperate, I’ll do ANYTHING to live here!” Last year, for fun, I researched teaching in Madrid on YouTube, The manager of a private academy there said that there was now a shortage of English teachers, so that none of them were unemployed, which unfortunately was driving down teaching standards. She also said that the school had lost contracts with valuable clients. She made it sound like deplorable news. But it’s good news – for us! The schools will be raking in LOTS of money whatever happens, but they do need us, or they cannot function, especially now when demand is high. So when a reasonably professional teacher does turn up, he or she has some bargaining power. Private classes are also a possibility.
    I’m an experienced teacher. I have taught successfully in the Far East, but had been warned off Spain – even by a tutor during my month-long TESOL course. She spoke of the meanness and unprofessionalism of a Spanish academy she had worked in.
    I had studied Spanish at university. I wanted to return to Spain. A few years later, I got a call from a school in Madrid. Could I come in August? There was a PERMANENT contract! That was an obvious lie, and indeed there was no contract at the school. What I found was a school without a syllabus. I could not plan more than one day ahead, or even be sure who was coming. It was all adults and all inside the school. Pay was actually not too bad. It was livable. But I was given the sack after 6 weeks. Now the boss and her husband praised me greatly: I was well-organized, prepared all my lessons in advance, and my lessons were good. But I wasn’t “capturing” enough students. I wasn’t “dynamic” enough, whatever that means. I found Madrid to be as fascinating as ever, but I decided I could not teach there. Even so, a couple of students from that school wanted me to teach them privately.
    Later I wondered why it seemed easier to teach Spanish people in a UK summer school than in Spain. Well, it does depend partly on the management. I went to an academia in Melilla. It was better, in that it gave everyone contracts, and paid into our accounts. The owners were 2 lovely people. But the new DOS had just finished running a sweat shop in China. It showed. He invented all sorts of paperwork, and I don’t just mean simple record-keeping – I mean doing the same thing 4 different ways, and also making it very hard for us to focus on teaching if we wanted to do his paperwork perfectly. I realized that my students came first. So I slackened off on some of the extra stuff. Because of the extra stuff, I did at times work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. half of which was not class time. When I prioritized actual lessons, my stress level reduced, I had more free time and felt a whole lot better.
    I have taught in China, but not at the sweat shop I mentioned. What I had done was to get feedback from western teachers at the school in China before signing up. Once that happened, I was able to cut out the really bad schools. But in Spain I never did that. Is it possible to get this kind of feedback in Spain?

  38. Chris

    Referring to the comment from “nice english person”,
    – spanish are very friendly , but there are many exceptions especially among the older generation who are more traditional and suspicious of foreigners.
    – According to some my male students (who went to these brothels) and newspaper reports , the vast majority of girls working in these brothels are Spanish or Latin American, who are not forced into prostitution, but do it because of the impossibility of finding a job.Tragic enough , but the proportion of Spanish ladies will decline as the economic situation improves. Human trafficking occurs with street prostitutes(Nigerian,Romanian), or at small apartment sized brothels controlled by a Chinese pimp (with Chinese female victims). They regularly get busted by the police, but not enough I think. And I think the police need to go after the clients too, because paying for sex from a woman who is forced into it (sex slave), for me is unacceptable criminal behavior.
    – Yes, its true that teachers get badly bad, but one needs to negotiate from a position of strength, a ‘take of leave” stance,
    to get a good pay, and not accept to be paid in cash, or if you do, get paid weekly , and refuse to work, if there’s even a one day delay in payment – a least your loss is limited to one weeks pay( rather than 1 months pay).
    This is experience I learnt from Italy, where there’s even more of these ‘pirate’ schools, who are really scamming their students with unqualified & inexperienced teaching staff.

  39. Rosalinda

    Your answer was just what I nedeed. It’s made my day!

  40. Emma

    If you would like to teach in Spain, it is worth looking at interesting, cultural cities apart from Barcelona and Madrid. Salaries tend to be more or less the same, but the cost of renting is much more affordable. Socially, it takes a while to get started, so be prepared for some lonely months until you find your feet. I teach twenty six hours to earn the same kind of money I would have been earning in England. Wages are getting better in Spain as good language schools want good quality teachers. However, you may find yourself putting the hours in. Be prepared to work long hours, but with none of the accompanying stress of teaching in Britain.

  41. John

    The language centres in the bigger cities of Spain are more demanding when it comes to qualifications/experience. They usually request 2 years’ experience, preferably with children, and a university degree… look before you leap!

  42. Anna

    I adore Spain but one thing that really gets up my nose is their lack of organization and the telling of fibs. I recently accepted work here, in Seville, teaching English for an organization that was funded by the government. Yet on closer inspection the contract I was given was not considered a real contract, nor was I paid the promised amount for my efforts. My advice is not to let yourself be pushed over by their relaxed attitude. Ask a lot of questions and don´t accept anything that you are really counting on. Make sure you have money saved for all the rainy days and always keep your options open regardless of having a contract. What I have learnt from my experience working in Spain is that the rules are made up as they go along. However, saying this, if you don´t have to worry about money, life here is amazing and leaving to go back home is going to be hard.

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