It should come as no surprise that Spain has always been a popular destination for prospective TEFL teachers.
After all, Spain is a country with so much to offer. The nation has several distinct cultures and histories, from the French-tinged Basque region to Catalonia, Andalusia to the islands. History, sun, sea, sand, so much to explore: what could be better?
With its fantastic location, nestled in southeast Europe, with Africa just below, the Mediterranean to the side and mainland Europe to the north, Spain is a traveller’s dream. Not only can you take sojourns along its 505,935 km² span, but you’ve also got gateways to distinct parts of the Earth.
So, with all that said, how does someone get into TEFL teaching over in Spain? Or, how does one get on the ladder to becoming a fully-fledged English language teacher? That’s where the Meddeas programme comes in.
The Meddeas programme allows budding TEFL teachers to work as teaching assistants while earning a monthly stipend and undertaking TEFL training. You can go solo, or stay with a host family in Spain – a fantastic opportunity to soak up some real-life experience on the continent!
Countless TEFL teachers have got their start through the Meddeas programme, so what’s it all about? How can someone gain entry into the programme, and what are the long-term benefits?
Let’s explore one of the most popular teacher placement programmes in the TEFL world!
What is the Meddeas programme?
Above all, the Meddeas programme is a huge opportunity for aspiring TEFL teachers. It’s also a fantastic chance to live and work in Spain, building vital teaching skills and expanding your cultural knowledge before launching into a career teaching English as a foreign language.
Let’s get more specific, though: what does the Meddeas programme involve?
Successful Meddeas applicants will work in Spanish schools, partaking in multilingual teaching, and helping a main teacher of English. You’ll be someone who helps students across Spain – from a range of ages across different schools – engage in meaningful English conversations and assist the teaching staff in their lesson planning and execution of classes.
By providing foreign language conversation practice for both the faculty and staff, you’ll give students a taste of the patterns and rhythm of the English language, while in kind, learning about Spanish culture, what it takes to be a language teacher, and gaining vital classroom experience.
There are around 20 hours of teaching time in most placements, which gives any successful applicant ample opportunity to practice conversations with pupils, build up relationships with teachers, and also to experience some of the delights Spain has to offer. What’s more, you can earn a wage doing it – Meddeas provide a monthly stipend of €878 – €1,140, which is allocated based on how you’re accommodated in Spain.
If you choose independent housing, you’ll receive all of the monthly stipend, but if you pick the host family option, you’ll live in a Spanish household, who will receive some of the monthly income.
What are the requirements for the Meddeas programme?
At this point, you’ll be wondering what you need to be an outstanding applicant for the Meddeas programme.
Wonder no more! For starters, you’ll need to be a fluent English speaker, with a university degree from the last four years, or hold a postgraduate/master’s degree related to education or linguistics. Of course, you’ll need to have no criminal record whatsoever, and you’ll need to have a valid passport – because not being able to travel internationally would make things considerably tricker!
No Spanish knowledge is required, although it makes sense to learn at least a few phrases before you head over.
Of course, Meddeas get a lot of applicants, so you’ll need to truly stand out in the application process – as we’ll cover a little later on.
There are no fees to take part in the Meddeas programme, however, there is a “refundable deposit of €850” to be paid if your application is successful. This is merely to demonstrate commitment to the programme.
Having a TEFL certificate is a major boost in finding work worldwide, and would definitely aid any Meddeas application. The industry standard is 120 hours of TEFL training, and while the Meddeas programme does include TEFL training on-site, having a certificate in advance will help you to hit the ground running once you’re in Spain.
Applicants with criminal records will not be accepted.
Meddeas Assistant Language Teacher Responsibilities
So, what does a Meddeas Assistant Language Teacher actually do?
Foremost, it’ll be your job to get students talking. Specifically, talking in English, mastering basic conversations, using the correct tone of voice, going over tricky grammar rules in spoken English, and in general, generating discussion. There’s no replacement – from a student’s perspective – for someone who instinctively speaks the language they’re trying to learn. Getting students to sing and dance is, obviously, a bonus!
Part of your responsibilities will be constant proactiveness. You’ve got to help a teacher to engage with students, so it’s your job to come up with ideas for exercises, activities, games, all sorts. If your class isn’t vibrant with conversation and enthusiasm, something’s not quite right. Keeping the energy up and the ideas flowing is a big part of the role.
Speaking English with groups of students is a major part of the job. If, for example, a teacher is preparing a task, or marking work, it’ll be your responsibility to break down classes into groups, and it’ll be your responsibility to keep the conversations flowing (in English!). For students, having the experience of speaking to you will be a significant boost!
It’s not just the students, either. Part of your job will be to help teachers. Even if they’re fluent in English, there are dialects and idioms, for example, that only come with experience of speaking English day-to-day. Conversation practice with teachers, then, is a crucial responsibility.
More broadly speaking, it’s also a chance to be something of a cultural ambassador for the country you’re from. Students will have questions about you and what life’s like where you’re from. In kind, it’s on you to learn about their lives, learn about Spain, and help grow both your own knowledge and the students’.
Meddeas application process and training
Do you fit the requirements, are a native level speaker of English, and like the sound of the work you’d be doing with Meddeas?
Then it’s time to get into the application process. What will you need to do?
First, you’ll need to do some life admin. Can you feasibly take at least one term abroad to work as a teaching assistant in Spain? Do you have any prior TEFL certification, that could really help in your application and in the classroom?
It’s important to know the three different types of Meddeas experience. There’s the Advanced Programme for candidates who hold a degree in Education, or a degree in English Language – or any degree along with a TEFL certificate. Secondly, there’s the Graduate programme for candidates who hold any degree, but not necessarily a TEFL certificate or an English-specific degree. Finally, for current students, or those on gap years, there’s the Speaker’s Programme. The monthly stipend, and the size of classes you help with, depend on which tier you’re eligible for.
Do you have a preference to work in a certain region within Spain, or are you open to being allocated somewhere you’re less familiar with? Finally, when’s the best time to apply, and do you have time to make an application?
If you have answers to all these questions, it’s time to get into the process of making your Spanish teaching dreams come true!
First, there’s an application form. Here, you’ll detail your career experience to date, explain where you’d like to teach in Spain, what age ranges you’d like to assist with, and more. You’ll also need to send your CV in support of your application.
Then, if you’re deemed eligible, the application period ends and the interview process begins. Meddeas will contact you for a first interview, then a second with a “Meddeas delegate”, if you’re initially successful. These have been over Skype in recent years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but by the time you apply, these interviews might be in person.
Teaching Job Openings/deadlines
Meddeas’ different programmes run “September/October to May/June or January to June” depending on the kind of institution you’re working at, and what their school year looks like.
There are no deadlines for application, although be sure to apply well in advance of when you’d like to start.
Included in the Meddeas programme is a fantastic opportunity – a chance to study at a Spanish university! What’s more, tuition is entirely covered by Meddeas, meaning that you can essentially gain a qualification for free.
Successful applicants will spend one day in either Madrid or Barcelona, after which, you’ll move on to where you’ve been assigned a school. You’ll then complete the online course during the academic year. The university will acknowledge that your classroom time goes towards academic training, but you’ll also have 360 hours – 15 days – to complete a full programme, with tutor support from the university.
The training is compulsory, and obviously, you’ll be graded based on your performance in individual modules.
The benefits of the Meddeas Programme
It’s hard to think of what could sound better for the TEFL-curious than the Meddeas Programme, especially for those who have a particular interest in Spain.
Although you don’t get to choose where you’re placed, that should be cause for excitement rather than trepidation. There isn’t an inch of Spain that isn’t idiosyncratic and interesting in its own way, whether you’re in the Basque region, Andalusia, Madrid, Valencia or anywhere else. Each region’s unique culture, food and customs should prove enticing for any budding traveller.
The experience of hands-on classroom assistant teaching is a great first step for any TEFL teacher. For starters, it means your first classroom experiences in a teaching role aren’t running the show – you can see what works, experiment a little, and take advice from veteran teachers who have worked with different age groups.
It’s also a chance to try creating teaching materials or become adept at using the teaching materials on offer at a school. As a native-level English speaker, you’ll have insight into what works and what doesn’t, in terms of curriculum. That gives language assistants a crucial role in helping any school’s language teachers. Meddeas is also a chance to not just help to teach English, but work in an environment that supports multilingual teaching. For any prospective language teacher, that’s a great insight.
Also, when you’re working 20+ hours a week, paid school holidays are always a nice bonus. Not only can you gain teaching experience, but you can also gain international experience – i.e., you can find out whether working abroad truly is for you, but with the safety net of Meddeas being a reputable language assistant program.
Perhaps foremost, working as a language assistant on the Meddeas program just sounds like fun! Working and living in the heat of Spain, gaining much-needed experience as a teaching assistant and building important relationships in a foreign country. The teaching time leaves ample opportunity to explore your surroundings, and of course, you can learn Spanish, since you’ll be using it outside of the classroom every day.
Meddeas programme salary
The salaries, or stipends, as we’ll call them, differ depending on the kind of Meddeas experience you have.
If you’re on the Advanced Programme, with bigger class sizes, you can expect to be placed in a bigger city, and receive a stipend to match. This reduces if you’re on the Graduate Programme, and again if you’re on the Speaker’s Programme. Additionally, you’ll receive a larger stipend if you’re not staying with a host family, but the security and safety of having full board accommodation during your time in Spain can’t be written off.
According to the Meddeas programme, the monthly stipend ranges “from €878 to €1,140 for the independent lodging option and from €400 to €691 for the host family lodging option”. This is certainly enough to live well as a young professional across Spain.
The kind of previous teaching experience you have and your qualifications will determine what kind of language assistant placement you get from Meddeas.
For accommodation, you can either sort out your own rental property in Spain, or stay with a local family.
The advantages of staying with a Spanish family are obvious. You can help others to brush up on their English, and they can help you to learn Spanish. You’ll gain some first-hand local knowledge of where you’re staying, and you don’t have to worry about paying for rent, utilities and other costs you might come across while renting.
However, if you’d prefer to set off alone, your monthly stipend will be larger to accommodate this. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice and will be covered in your application form.
Meddeas programme: Pros and cons
So, let’s weigh up the pros and cons of the Meddeas programme. While it’s a great opportunity for a range of different, budding TEFL teachers, it might not be the right one for you, specifically.
Pros of the Meddeas programme
If you’re looking to gain experience but aren’t ready for the responsibility of leading classes, being a language teaching assistant (LTA) is perfect. You can input your ideas into lesson plans, and show off your knowledge of the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand, for example, to students who are eager to learn from you. However, you aren’t accountable for their exam results, in the same way a teacher would be.
The monthly stipend means you can get your first taste of earning money for a sort-of teaching role. You can learn how to budget effectively, make the most of your money, and see just how far it can take you. Staying with a local family might help, but it’s also a great chance to set off on your own for the first time, into the big, scary world of work.
The relationships you can build with Meddeas are valuable. From a career perspective, you can network with Spanish schools, so that when you’re ready to teach solo, you have at the very least, a great reference. You might even end up teaching in the school you were assigned to by Meddeas when you launch your TEFL career properly. Additionally, Spanish kids
Cons of the Meddeas Programme
While there are obvious advantages, it might not be the best choice for everyone. For one thing, being an LTA is a valuable experience, but you might be better placed to find a teaching programme where you can attain real experience of leading a class.
Another issue is that, with Meddeas, you are obligated to study at a Spanish university. This is obviously great if you’re in want of further qualifications, but it might feel like a lateral move if you’ve not long finished a degree and/or TEFL course, and feel ready to teach.
In terms of earning potential, if you have a TEFL certificate and a degree, or a TEFL certificate alone, you could probably be worth more on the job market than Meddeas is offering. While the monthly stipend is likely more than enough on a month-to-month basis, anyone with an inclination to stay in Spain for a longer spell is likely to need more in terms of savings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Meddeas program?
The Meddeas programme is an initiative which allows prospective English teachers the chance to work as Language Teaching Assistants (LTAs) across Spain. You’ll also get to study at a Spanish university, along with 20+ hours of direct classroom time a week.
Q. Is Meddeas worth it?
If you’re looking to gain teaching assistant experience in a fantastic location, Meddeas is absolutely worth it. You’ll get the chance to teach English to groups of students, and soak up Spanish culture, even taking in a qualification through a reputable Spanish university. Any language assistant is a valuable commodity, and you’ll be treated well while you help to teach English in Spain.
Q. How much do you get paid for Meddeas?
The monthly wage for successful Meddeas language assistants ranges from €878 to €1,140 if you’re living independently, and from €400 to €691 if you’re staying with a host family.
Q. How long is the Meddeas program?
The Meddeas programme lasts for a school year, so either September/October to May/June or January to June. If you receive a glowing review from the institution you’ve been working at, you can apply for an extra year. Language assistants typically teach for 20+ hours a week.
Q. Is there an age limit for Meddeas?
No, there is no age limit to teach English as a language assistant with Meddeas.
Q. Do you have to know Spanish for Meddeas?
No. You don’t need to know Spanish to partake in the Meddeas programme.
Q. When is the Meddeas application due?
Meddeas receive applications all year round.