Spain is often listed as the number one TEFL destination in Europe, and a top location when looking at the entire globe. There are several reasons why so many jet off to teach English in Spain, and it’s not just down to sunshine and sangria. In 2008, the country was hit by a financial crisis which has become known as the Great Spanish Depression; a time when youth unemployment dropped to around 55%. While it’s still tricky for locals under 25 to find work in Spain, the majority of young people say they’d be happy to move abroad to find work, and as such, learning English has become increasingly popular. As a result, young people in Spain are now more highly educated than generations before them. To graduate from university, students must acquire a First Certificate in English, prompting them to seek out extracurricular English classes and courses to get ahead of the game.

It’s not just university students who are focused on learning English in Spain. From the first year of primary school it’s compulsory to learn English in all state schools. The prevalence of native classroom assistants has rocketed, creating rich opportunities for TEFL teachers in Spain. Some kindergartens and private schools teach English to children as young as three years old, so there’s no shortage of opportunities if you like working with young learners.

Something else that contributes to Spain’s popularity as a TEFL destination is the fact that it’s so easy to find work there. Newbie teachers without experience will find themselves in demand even if they have no prior teaching experience. Naturally, the better qualified/experienced you are, the more likely you are to land top jobs, and bear in mind that the most professional schools can afford to be picky. With Spain being so popular, the market is saturated and high-paying jobs will have fierce competition. However, there is so much work available in Spain that even if you don’t score one of these top positions, you can still earn enough to get by and enjoy the Spanish lifestyle.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Madrid, Grenada, Zaragoza, Seville, Barcelona, Malaga, Majorca
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of €1,200 – €1,500 (£1,053 – £1,317 / $1,300 – $1,623). Some positions which are less than full-time or in locations with lower salaries might offer contracts from €700 to €1,000 (£614 – £878 / $758 – $1,083), and others go as high as €1,800 (£1,580 / $1,950) per month. Paid by the hour, you’re likely to make €15 to €20 (£13.16 – £17.55 / $16.24 – $21.67), though hourly rates of under €15 aren’t uncommon. For private classes, €25 up to about €50 (£22 – £44 / $27 – $54) is realistic for the most sought-after teachers.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: For shorter contracts (2 weeks – 3 months) working in summer camps a 20- or 30-hour classroom course would be sufficient. If you’re looking at a long-term role then we would recommend a TEFL course of at least 120 hours.
  • Prerequisite university degree: Not required, although some employers may express a preference for one.
  • Term times: The Spanish School year begins in September until late December. The second terms start in early January until early April. The final term begins late April, running to mid-June.
  • Currency: Euro
  • Language: Spanish
  • Teaching programmes: The Meddeas programme, NALCA Program, Language Schools, Exam Preparation, Private Lessons, Young Learners
  • Age restrictions:Summer camp employers usually have an age restriction, but within long-term roles in language centres, schools, etc., there tends to be no age bias.
  • Previous teaching experience: This is not essential and there are plenty of opportunities for first-time teachers in Spain.

If you’ve taught in other countries (such as Japan) where the kids are quiet, shy and reserved, you might relish the opportunity of teaching some fun-loving, chatty, boisterous Spanish kids. However, there are ups and downs to every sort of learner and many teachers find Spanish students a challenge. With younger students, the best advice is to be a bit stricter than normal when you first meet them (and for the first few weeks of lessons) as if you go in too friendly at the beginning, they’ll walk all over you.

Another wall you’ll hit trying to teach English in Spain is getting students to use English without reverting to Spanish. Students in Spain find it very difficult to refrain from speaking in their mother tongue, whether they’re chatting to their classmate or getting confused about what they’re saying. Being too strict and insisting on ‘English Only’ is a battle that few teachers win, especially with younger students, so get advice from your co-teachers about how to approach the problem and how strict to be. It will be no surprise to you that pronunciation is one of the key skills that Spanish students struggle with the most.

Exam preparation courses are hugely popular, and if you can get experience in this sort of teaching it will make you even more in demand. The work-life balance is good in Spain, but be prepared for unsociable hours. Depending on where you are in the country, the siesta in the middle of the day can mean that your working schedule is split up with both early mornings and evenings. You’re also more than likely to run into an employer who will attempt to pay you less than they should – unscrupulous employers are fairly common and pretty much every TEFL teacher in Spain will come across them from time to time. Teachers attempting to get work without a TEFL qualification are particularly vulnerable to being hired by bad employers, so make sure you’re suitably qualified.

Requirements to teach English in Spain

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Austria £700 - £2,600
($850 - 3,200)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Belgium £1,455 - £1,780
($1,800 - $2,200)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Czech Republic £500 – £1,285
$600 – $1,450)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Denmark £2,900 - £3,900
($3,600 - $4,800)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Estonia £720 - £900
($920 - $1,150)
Preferred September Preferred Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Finland £700 - £3,050
($900 - $3,850)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
France £926 – £1,852
($1,082 – $2,164)
Yes September Preferred No Yes None
Germany £1,1123 - £1,872
($1,297 - $2,162)
Preferred August No No Yes None
Greece £630 – £900
($790 – $1,100)
Yes September No No Yes None
Hungary £390 - £650
($500 - $830)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
Italy £1,054 – £1,229
($1,312 – $1,531)
Preferred September No No Yes None
Netherlands £1,300 - £2,600
($1,600 - $2,800)
Preferred September Yes No Yes None
Norway £2,100 - £2,500
($2,580 - $3,090)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
Poland £400 – £700
($480 – $850)
Yes September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Portugal £616 – £880
($756 – $1,080)
Yes September Preferred No Yes None
Romania £200 - £460
($260 - 580)
Preferred September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Russia £800 - £1,300
($1,000 - $1,600)
Preferred September Preferred Sometimes Yes None
Slovakia £330 - £900
($400 - $1,120)
Preferred September No No Yes None
Slovenia £550 - £950
($700 - $1,200)
Preferred October Preferred No Yes None
Spain £614 - £1,317
($758 - $1,623)
Preferred September No No Yes None
Sweden £1,100 - £2,400
($1,400 - $3,000)
Preferred September Preferred No Yes None
Switzerland £1,850 - £2,475
($2,260 - $3,015)
Preferred August/September Preferred No Yes None
Turkey £170 - £575
($220 - $730)
Yes September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None
Ukraine £215 - £920
($260 - $1,125)
Preferred September No Accommodation sometimes included Yes None

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Living Costs

You probably won’t get rich if you teach English in Spain, especially if you’re a newbie teacher without the experience to go for the highest paying jobs. However, money isn’t what attracts teachers to this vibrant country. Spain is a fun, bustling country with a fascinating culture, delicious cuisine and relaxed lifestyle that TEFL teachers love. Even on lower wages, you can earn enough to enjoy a good quality of life and experience what Spain has to offer. There’s so much work available that it’s unlikely you’ll ever be stuck for classes to teach – and the demand for EFL teachers just keeps growing. Many teachers working in schools and as language assistants subsidise their income by tutoring on the side, which can give your income a big boost. Teaching TEFL online can also be a great way to make extra money at times that suit you.

The cost of living in cities such as Madrid and Barcelona will be higher than elsewhere in the country, but your salary will be reflective of this. By living like a local (avoiding imported food and goods, tourist areas, etc) you’ll find that your money stretches further. Most teachers share accommodation with other teachers or expats to cut down on costs. It’s uncommon for employers in Spain to offer accommodation as part of your contract (unless it’s a summer school) but they may be able to offer assistance and advice.

  • Accommodation: £674 – £1,132 / $843 – $1,416
  • Utilities: £99 / $124
  • Health insurance: State healthcare is good in Spain and comes out of your social security payments. 90% of locals use the National Health System but you can sign up for private healthcare too. Cost of typical visit to GP: £53 / $66
  • Monthly transport pass: £39 / $49
  • Basic dinner out for two: £26 / $33
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.12 / $2.66
  • A beer in a pub: £3.48 / $4.36
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.72 / $0.90
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.37 / $1.72

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

Student Story

“My first year teaching English as a foreign language took me to the North of Spain. I graduated from Cardiff University in the Summer of 2015 and, after a Summer of being an activity leader for a language school in Devon, I headed to live in the small town of Mungia, just outside of Bilbao. I found a job on The TEFL Org website with a company called Meddeas.

During my first year of teaching I taught all types of English to soooo many different ages – it was crazy. But good crazy. I taught English conversation skills to teens in the secondary school, played games and sang songs with younger children in ‘fun, after-school English class’, and even participated in baking and playtime with little ones at home. The experience really pushed the boundaries of my confidence and teaching abilities and I often found myself doing activities that I truly hadn’t anticipated myself doing. I played the guitar and sang Christmas songs with nursery school children; I invigilated exams; I went on a week’s residential trip to the mountains and even I ended up half-directing an end-of-year performance.”

Harriet, TEFL Org graduate

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