How to Teach English in Spain (For Americans)

So you want to teach English in Spain too or at least you’re thinking about it? Well, welcome to the club! But first, you should read this: Top Reasons You Should and Shouldn’t Teach English Abroad.

Still interested? Great! Then let’s get started.

Spain is one of the EASIEST countries to teach English in. Why?

  • Their most popular teaching program, Auxiliares de Conversación, is run by the Spanish government so it is legit (you don’t have to worry about being scammed.)
  • You are not required to have a degree in teaching, a TEFL, TESL, TOFU, or any of those vague, mysterious certificates. You do, however, need to at least have a high school diploma.
  • If you’re from the U.S, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK or anywhere in the EU and you can speak English fluently, you’re pretty much guaranteed a spot unless you apply too late or you have a horrible track record.
  • Spain LOVES native English speakers in their classrooms because they want their children to practice their English with native speakers as much as possible!

What’s the application process like?

Well, it’s a bit…complicated. Depending on where you’re from, where you’re going, and who you ask, you’re going to get a slightly different answer.

WHA?

Spain bureaucracy is NOTORIOUS for being inconsistent. One officer might not even look at you and the next might ask you for 10 things that you’re not even sure what for. So just to preface, these are the steps that I TOOK to get into this program but know that yours will vary slightly.

Year that I applied: 2017
Where I applied: New York City
Where I teach now: Pais Vasco AKA Basque Country!

Got it?


1. The Application 

This website makes me shudder.

Every year, the Auxiliares de Conversación program opens up their applications in January or February. The application is FREE and is done online so you’ll need to have a printer, a scanner or someway to upload documents.

Documents you’ll need:

  • Passport
  • A copy of your high school or university diploma (one or the other)
  • Your state license or I.D

Main parts of the application:

  • A short essay on why you’d like to teach in Spain
    The top 3 regions you’d like to teach in Spain
  • Preferences for the age group you’d like to teach and the setting (rural, suburban, or urban)
  • Any related experiences

Note:

  • The program will try their best to honor your preferences but nothing is guaranteed. Everything is on a first-come-first-serve basis so APPLY EARLY.
  • Barcelona is NOT a region. Catalonia is but if you put that down, you might not end up in Barcelona.
  • Madrid is usually the first choice of most first-year teachers so if you’re applying late, just know there’s a good chance you might not get it.

2. Acceptance Letter and Placement

Sometime around late April or early May, you’ll receive an acceptance (or rejection) letter in your email. In it, it’ll also state which REGION you’ve been placed in. Once you receive this email, you’ll have 3 DAYS to respond. If you miss this, you’ll LOSE your place.*

  • If you’re not happy with your placement, there’s not much you can do. You can TRY emailing the program but from I hear, they rarely budge.
  • If you’re not sure about whether if you’d to go yet, I’d HIGHLY recommend accepting it first because you can always renounce it later.

Note:

Because there’ll be a lot of people rejecting their positions, the program will email everyone AGAIN at the end of summer to see if anyone is interested in these spots. So if you missed your acceptance email for whatever reason, don’t lose hope! Wait patiently for this email and pounce on it once you see it.

3. Wait for Your “Carta De Nombramiento”

What is this fancy sounding thing? The “Carta de Nombramiento” is an official document from the region you’ve been placed in stating which school you’ll be working in, the time you’ll be there, your stipend amount. Essentially, it’s like your contract.

You can expect this document to arrive about a month after you receive your acceptance email. Once you get it, guard it with your life. You will need this to get your extended visa in Spain.

4. Apply for Your Visa 

Unfortunately, this process is quite lengthy, so I’ve broken it down into several parts:

Part A – Background Check

There are 2 options:

  • A state-level background check – for those of you who’ve only lived in one state in the U.S.
  • A national-level background check – for those of you who’ve lived in MULTIPLE states. This is also sometimes called the “FBI History Check” because it’s done by the FBI.

Where do I get one?
It depends on your state but usually, their offices are located in your city hall/downtown area. They may be government run or non-government run agencies that represent them. You’ll have to pay them a fee to process your background check for you. I paid: $110 (However, I’ve seen them for much lower rates like $60. Shop around.)

Part B – Getting an Apostille

A very expensive stamp.

An “apostille” is a fancy word for a giant stamp on your background check from the U.S Department of Justice in Washington D.C. (Yeah…I don’t get it but you need it.)

For national-level background checks – you have to find a “channeling agency” to mail your documents to D.C to get the apostille. Then, they’ll mail it back to you.

For state-level background checks – I’m not 100% sure because I had to get the national background check but from what I heard, you can go get your apostille somewhere in your state. Find out where that is for you.

Note:

This entire process can take up to a month. I was able to get it all done in 2 weeks but you should plan for 4 weeks because you never know, they might send your files to Timbuktu by accimisspell mispell your name, etc (It happens!)

I paid $55 for this entire process.

Part C – Get a Doctor’s Note

“Spain? why?”

For your visa, you must also get a letter from your doctor saying you are healthy and fit to work in Spain. This letter must contain their letterhead, stamp, and certain information listed on your consulate website.

Part D – Schedule Your Visa Appointment

Okay, fine, not as dramatic but it felt like it.

Unfortunately, there are only 9 Spanish consulates in the entire United States, which means if there isn’t one in your state, you’re going to have to travel to one. It used to be that you can just mail your things in but in 2017, we had to go in person.

Cities in the U.S with Spanish Consulates:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Washington D.C
  • Puerto Rico

Note:

  • You have to go to the consulate TWICE: once to APPLY and another to PICK UP your visa (although I did know a girl who was able to get her friend to pick it up for her.) Sucks, I know.
  • I’d recommend scheduling your visa appointment about a month after you start your background check process because they fill up fast. However, don’t schedule it until you’re pretty sure you’ll get your background check papers and doctor’s note because, without them, your visa appointment will be pointless.
  • I don’t remember the exact amount but I think I paid $120 for my visa and it had to be a check from U.S Postal office.

Part E – Go to Your Visa Appointment

On the day of your visa appointment bring everything listed on their website and whatever else you think might be helpful. Bring copies of everything, they’ll not make copies for you.

Part F – Pick Up Your Visa

Depending on your consulate, you’ll be told to go back in a week or month to pick up your visa. It’s a piece of paper plastered onto your passport. When you get this, make sure all of the information on there is correct.

Note:

The visa will say “Student Visa” on it because you have to apply for a visa extension once you get to Spain. That’s when you’ll need your Carta de Nombramiento.

Total amount I spent on background check, apostille, and visa: $285

Woohho! Now you’re set for Spain! But wait…

the work continues.

5. Apply for Your NIE and TIE

Once you get to Spain, you’ll need to get your NIE and TIE. MY WHAT?

  • An NIE (from what I understand) is similar to a social security number in the U.S but it’s NOT a card. It’s simply a SET OF NUMBERS. You’ll need this to open a bank account, to get paid, and a ton of other things.
  • A TIE is your Spanish I.D card. This card has your NIE # and picture on it. It is what allows you to stay in Spain until the end of your school year.

Note:

Every region in Spain has its own instructions on to how to get your NIE and TIE so you’ll have to look them up yourself. But if you made it this far, congratulations! You’re now ready to apply to teach English in Spain!


ONE LAST IMPORTANT NOTE:

Application and visa instructions can change ANYTIME. Before you begin your application and any of the steps above, check the official program website and consulate websites for the most up-to-date information. I’m not responsible for any changes. It’s YOUR responsibility to find out what you need exactly.

Questions? Comments? Leave them down below and I’ll try my best to help you!