If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Snapchat you’ll notice I sometimes refer to my job teaching English in Spain. Yet I seem to be travelling all the time, and blogging, and taking siestas. So what is this mysterious job I have that somehow pays the bills yet gives me so much time off (to sleep)?
The Auxiliar de Conversación Program, or the English Language Assistants Program in Spain.
And applications for this year have just opened!
So what is this Auxiliar de Conversación program?
Spain is really trying to ramp up the English level of the country. Teachers are required to have a certain level of English, and there are bilingual schools all over the place. The thing is though, they need a bit of help. The Spanish government invites a certain number of people every year from English speaking countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to come and be conversation assistants. If you’re from the United Kingdom the British Council has a Language Assistants in Spain program that runs in the same way with equal pay and hours, the applications are just done through them instead. You’ll need to have completed at least two years of university, but the program is offered to graduates as well.
Your job is to help the teachers and students in bilingual schools across Spain with their English. This is everything from pronunciation to easy chats to explaining academic concepts in English. You can be in a primary school, secondary school, or even both.
So… this is actually a job?
Yes! In return for your hard work of..uhhh… 12 hours per week, you’ll receive €700 per month. If you are placed in Madrid then you work 16 hours a week for €1000 a month. You sign a contract to work from October – May for four days a week with one guaranteed day off. There are at least a several long weekends and some whole weeks off like at Easter and two weeks off at Christmas.
There’s a catch right?
You have to move to Spain? Not exactly a hardship. But in seriousness, not really. Of course there are criteria you need to meet to be accepted. These can vary for each country, but you will always need to have a university degree or have completed at least half of your studies. Some countries have age limits, and although all of them require a basic level of Spanish, not all of them confirm what that really means. Essentially, it’s at your risk to go with hardly any Spanish. But it is possible. I know because I did it, and when I say hardly any I mean none…
You don’t get to choose the exact place where you want to live, so you need to be a little flexible. You do get to rank your preferred regions and what size place you would like, so you can have a fair idea. If you get placed in a teeny town, don’t worry. You can often carpool or commute from a bigger place nearby, or embrace the pueblo life. Some people say being placed in a small town is the best thing that ever happened to them in the program!
Now if you google the Auxiliar program you will find some negatives about it, because they’re no secret. Some of the regions aren’t rolling in money, and the government can take awhile to release the funds to pay the Auxiliars. This means if you’re placed in a small school in Andalucia you may not be paid for the first few months. Don’t let it put you off, just be prepared! They also suck at communication and are pretty unorganised with telling you anything. Because Spain. And getting an ID card is a nightmare but that’s a whole other rant. Basically, research, roll with the punches, and know the benefits of getting to live in Spain and do this job are well worth it.
WHY should I apply?
I mentioned living in Spain right? And siestas? And only working 12 hours a week for €700? And getting paid just to speak the language you’ve been speaking since birth? Maybe I need to mention tapas, and cheap wine and sunshine and beautiful scenery. Are you applying yet?
Spain is an amazing country in itself. There’s so much to see here, and the relaxed attitude is so different from anywhere else I’ve lived. I think Spanish food is highly underrated, and any place where wine and beer is cheaper than soda is winning already.
Also, Spain is in Europe. Obviously. This means it’s within easy travel distance, and you have the entire summer to go wherever you like. You can earn extra money tutoring during the year and travel or go home for the summer.
Europe also isn’t the easiest place for non EU citizens to live. There are lots of working holiday programs around, but then you need to find your own job. This way you already have a job and technically a support network through your school before you go so there’s a lot less stress!
Spain is one of the cheapest places to live in Europe too. The money you earn in the Auxiliar de Conversación program is enough to live on, and if you’re frugal to do some travel. But because you have so many free hours so you can on other tutoring work, or spend your time freelancing online. Working as an Auxiliar has given me a base income so I don’t need to worry about what I’ll live on, while giving me the time to pursue my passion for blogging. Win-win.
If you always wanted to learn another language but you never quite got there, this is the perfect opportunity. While I don’t think you just learn a language by living abroad it does put you in the best situation to really do it.
And I mentioned living in Spain right?
Well hurry up and tell me how to apply then…
You need to get some documents like your Bachelor Degree, your passport and a work reference together, and then you get to tackle the wonderful (not) application database called Profex. This is what you use to apply, accept, and reapply if you want to stay for another year. It’s clunky, not fun, and in Spanish, but there are pdf guides to help you and treat it as your test to get into the program. Pass Profex, and everything else is a breeze.
Here’s a link to the USA Auxiliar de Conversacion information page and the New Zealand guide to Profex applications because the United States one isn’t working for me right now to link to (although it should be basically the same). Don’t be overwhelmed by the Spanish, Google Translate has just become your new best friend.
In all seriousness, I can highly recommend this Language Assistant program in Spain. I’ve just passed the one year mark of living in Spain and I absolutely love it here. I wouldn’t take back my decision to move to Spain for anything, and if you’re the least bit intrigued, I would urge you to look into it more. It might not be what you expect, but it could be one of your best decisions ever.
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