Speaking from current experience, Spain is a great country to teach English in. The pay is reasonable and enough to live on, the students can be fun and are enthusiastic, and the sun is out a lot of the time. Building a life here with teaching as my source of income has been a relatively smooth ride. Below is some more detailed information about what you might need, and what to expect.
Visas and papers
If you’re an EU citizen, you’ll have no trouble just arriving in Spain and starting work. However, Spain has it’s own set of papers (NIE and social security number) you will need if you want to be employed here, and most jobs with ask for these when they decide to hire you. You’re legally allowed to be here, of course, but when you start to look for jobs, go to the police station and fill in the paperwork to get an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), for which you will also need to take copies of your passport. It is then a case of waiting in line, filling in the paperwork, and returning a week later to collect your card. The situation is much the same with the social security number, apart from that it will be in as different office (you will have to Google that for whatever city you’re in) and you’ll receive the number on the day. Both are free, and both will allow you to work in Spain for the rest of your life.
If you are not an EU citizen, it is a different scenario. A friend of mine was told that she could find work here without a working visa, it would just be paid cash in hand. She is now back in America because she couldn’t fid anything of the sort. So, if Spain requires you to have a visa to do any other job, don’t presume that teaching English is an exception. Yes, you might find some private work that will pay you directly in cash, but not much that will keep you steadily paid and be able to support yourself. Take out the element of risk, and get a visa.
You can stroll into Spain at any time of the year and find a job. Due to the economic crisis, more and more Spanish people are turning to learn English in order to gain more job opportunities. There is constantly work out there no matter how far through the terms you are. Of course, you are more likely to find something with a solid contract if you apply for either September or January, but don’t be put of if it’s March and the semester is already half done. This was exactly my case and I locked down a contract until the end of June.
You will find more jobs in the bigger cities, which goes without saying. My experience of here in Barcelona is that the city is rife with language schools, and the suburban areas are just the same.
This highly depends on the kind of school you’re working at, and the amount of hours you’re working. It is not uncommon for teachers out here to find themselves two jobs, as some schools only offer you few hours a week. If you manage to bag a 20 hour a week job, you’ll be looking at around 1,000 euros a month. This is enough for you to live a relatively frugal lifestyle, but a fun one nevertheless. In terms of hourly pay, in Spain you will be looking at between 15 and 20 euros an hour, more if you take private classes.
Most of the working hours in Spain will tend to fall either in the morning or evening when it comes to English teaching. Due to Spain’s love of a bloody good siesta, you won’t find too much work at lunchtime or in the afternoons, unless you do business teaching in companies where they hold classes at lunchtimes for employees.
As for how many you’ll get a week, you’re looking at between 15 and 20 on average. If you have 20 or more then you are considered lucky. It doesnt sounds like a lot, but these are just teaching hours; you also have to consider the preparation time that goes into planning each lesson. Having said that, in terms of hours, teaching English isn’t such a hard life.
I thought I would also add some information about what the students are like here in Spain. You may be thinking that surely they’re similar all around the world, but I have heard different reports from different countries.
If you’re teaching here in Spain, beware that Spanish children can be a complete nightmare. You can find terrible children everywhere, but it seems that the Spanish love of life and fiesta quickly passes down the generations. I don’t really blame them, I wouldn’t want to be in school either if it was 30 degrees outside either. The more fun and games you put into your lessons, the more these kids are going to listen to you.
As for adults, they are obviously more keen to learn, but still need a dynamic lesson to keep their attention and enthusiasm going. It’s mostly a matter of personal preference and ways in which people learn, so as you get to know them you’ll figure out what works for them best.