Teachers are often attracted to jobs in Spain because of its reputation for sunny weather, delicious cuisine and a rich cultural life. But after the 2008 economic crisis, what are the chances of getting a job and developing your career? The Gazette spoke to Borja Uruñela from the Andalusian Association of Language Schools (ACEIA) to find out more.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as an English teacher in Spain?
Most teachers choose Spain because of the lifestyle, the weather, the food and the culture. Some teachers decide to move on after a year and go back home or to another country, but we see a good number who settle in and make it their home. The disadvantage is probably the work conditions when you start teaching. The salary is not very high and sometimes it is not easy to find work in the summer. To overcome this, teachers continue training and getting experience in order to get a position of higher responsibility which offers better conditions.
How easy is it to get a job as an English teacher in Spain?
There has been a 100 per cent growth in the number of language schools since the 2008 economic crash because of the rush for people to learn English and work abroad. But students are more demanding now as they want to see results fast. This means that schools and teachers are under more pressure and are actually more demanding than previously. Teachers are now expected to be familiar with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the different certifications. More and more employers will expect a year’s teaching experience, especially teaching exam classes, and a B1 level of Spanish in addition to the usual qualifications.
Teachers should be aware of a number of newer language schools, often in small towns, offering cut-price tuition to compete with more established institutions. These do not always offer good pay and conditions, or even contracts, and half of your pay may come ‘under the counter’ to avoid tax.
What requirements do teachers need to meet?
Most schools require a native-like level of competence in English, a university degree and a teaching certificate such as a Celta or a Trinity Certificate in Tesol. Some schools or positions might also require some teaching experience and a qualification to teach young learners. Most Aceia schools will not accept online teaching qualifications as they don’t include any teaching practice, which is essential for most recruiters.
What’s the minimum wage for a teacher to live on in Andalusia (southern Spain), for example?
Salaries vary and so does the cost of living across Andalusia. For example, accommodation is usually more expensive in cities than in small towns. Our experience is that teachers need around €1,100 per month to cover rent, food and basic necessities. We also see that as teachers stay longer their expenses increase and therefore they need a higher salary. Teachers can increase their salary by increasing their teaching timetable, and also by taking on responsibilities in their schools, becoming a speaking examiner or doing teacher training.
Are there any particular controversies around English language teaching in Spain?
Tefl is one of the few sectors where origin plays a big role in the recruitment of teachers, and schools often reject very effective teachers who were not born in an English-speaking country. Aceia has publicly opposed this practice, along with other groups such as Tesol Spain and Tefl Equity. What we have seen in Spain in the last twenty years or so is that a lot of language schools have based their recruitment selection on the fact that applicants must be native speakers – they don’t even have to be qualified teachers.
This ignores other key factors such as teaching qualifications and experience, personal abilities, commitment, motivation and what we consider essential: vocation. We have also seen that some schools who hire both native and non-native teachers offer them different conditions according to their place of origin, rather than their performance.
What about Brexit?
We still do not know how Brexit will change the process of recruiting British applicants but we are worried that they might need visas in order to work in Spain. This would slow the hiring process and certainly make it more difficult. Brexit is bad news, not only to school owners but also to teachers whose home is now in Spain and who don’t know what the near future will bring.
SALARIES & RENT
What requirements do teachers need to meet?
Most schools require a native-like level of competence in English, a university degree and a teaching certificate such as a Celta or a Trinity Certificate in Tesol.
Average cost of accommodation?
Teachers need around €1100 per month to cover rent, food and basic necessities. Salaries vary and for example, accommodation is usually more expensive in cities than in small towns.
If you are looking for a job in Spain, consult some of the best-known associations of languages schools and websites:
– ACEIA – the Andalusian Association of Language Schools
– FECEI – Federación Española de Centros de Enseñanza de Idiomas
Borja Uruñela, from the Andalusian Association of Language Schools