Teaching English in Spain

Spain Overview

Very popular as a TEFL destination, especially with Brits looking for a less stressful lifestyle, Spain is actually a very mixed bag. Some teachers speak of great weather, lovely beaches, nice people and a reasonable salary. Others complain of exploitation by language schools, atrocious wages, hopelessly disorganized employers and nationalism. Therefore you need to be really, really careful which company you decide to work for. Whatever you do, you are not likely to have much spare cash at the end of the month and for anyone wishing to stay for a long period it would be a much better idea to set up your own language centre. Needless to say, this takes time and contacts and is only really applicable to EU citizens or those married to Spaniards. Accommodation costs are high in Madrid and Barcelona and you may be asked to pay up to three months of rent as a deposit. For those wishing to test the water, it’s a good idea to teach at a summer camp in Spain for 2 or 3 months. However, you should expect long hours and mediocre pay.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres and self-employed 1,000 – 1,500 Various shifts, sometimes the dreaded split shifts of mornings and evenings 2 weeks plus national holidays
International schools and universities 3,000 upwards 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work 10 weeks plus national holidays

Main places for jobs

Madrid, Murcia, Basque Country, Canary Islands.

Typical requirements

Degree, TEFL certificate, EU national or Working Holiday Visa or Student Visa holder.

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1. Before signing a contract, ask to speak to both past and present employees for their opinions of the language centre or school. There are lots of crucial questions to ask at interview. Will you be paid for travelling time when working in other areas of town? Will you have to endure split shifts? Are free Spanish lessons part of the agreement?

2. Consider becoming a self-employed tutor so that you can work when you like and potentially earn a much higher salary.

3. Learn some Spanish before you arrive. This will make day-to-day life much, much easier and it is almost essential for private English lessons.

Red tape

As with most countries in Europe, it is a lot easier for EU nationals to find work as the paperwork required is significantly less than when applying to employ non-EU nationals. Most employers will be not be keen to go through the arduous process of sponsoring an ESL teacher from outside the EU. Therefore teachers from outside the EU tend to work on Tourist Visas. This is common but be aware that it is technically illegal. Another option for those from either Canada or New Zealand is the Working Holiday Visa. Unfortunately Americans and Australians are not presently eligible for this. Americans can sometimes work on a Student Visa.

Cost of living

High – accommodation, food and transport. The cost of living has risen sharply in recent years but unfortunately the average TEFL wage has remained pretty much the same. Expect to have to supplement your regular hours with extra classes.

Tax and salary information

Employers generally pay your income tax for you and as usual you should expect to be paid on a monthly basis. Many EU nationals (particularly British and Irish) decide to become self-employed tutors as the profit margins and flexibility can be attractive when compared to working for a typical language centre.


High demand for English tuition Lots of red tape for non-EU nationals
Delightful weather and beaches High living costs and relatively low salaries
The option is there to become a self-employed tutor in the longer term It can be difficult without Spanish language skills

Directory of Recommended Schools, Language Centres and Recruitment Agencies

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Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in. This is a free service for teachers.

1 Comment

  1. jill wright says:

    Hi! if you want to teach in a private school in either infant, primary or secondary level you will need a recognised teaching degree! Good luck!

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