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 Auxiliares 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?
There are countries all over the world where English teachers are in demand, and Spain is really trying to ramp up the English level of its citizens. 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, which is where teaching English in Spain programs come into play.
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 Language Assistants in Spain program 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 at times 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 a month? And getting paid just to speak the language you’ve been speaking since birth? Maybe I need to mention tapas, and cheap wine and the 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 are cheaper than soda is winning already.
Also, Spain is in Europe. Obviously. This means it’s within easy travel distance of a ton of places, 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, as far as English language assistant programs go, I can highly recommend this Language Assistant program in Spain, and it’s the only option for teaching English in Spain through the Spanish government. 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.
Read More: An Ode to a Year in Spain
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41 thoughts on “Teaching English in Spain With the Auxiliar de Conversación Program”
Thanks so much for linking the NZ Guide – I have been struggling to find all the right information.
No worries! Hope it helps, it definitely did for me! Let me know if you have any questions.
I definitely want to do this eventually (maybe after saving some money by teaching in South Korea?). Do you have a suggestion on what regions to apply for? I think that would be my most stressed-over aspect of the application!
HI Victoria! It really depends on your personal taste. If you want the big city life I’d go for Madrid, but I chose Andalucia because it’s a cheaper place to live so I know my money would go further, plus it’s the warmest and sunniest! A lot of it anyway. The regions are organised into groups, and you can’t actually choose Madrid then Andalucia as a back up for example because they are in the same group, so you just have to choose your favourite from each small group which is a bit easier. Really, I think wherever you go the experience is what you make it, and you can always renew and change regions in the second year!
Any more advice on the British Council option for the UK lovelies here?
Just adding in a link to the British Council page now! It’s all the same sort of thing but done through them instead!
Oh my goodness: I loved reading about your experience and this post was quite informative too.. I’m actually considering applying now as I’d love to improve my Spanish 😀
Thank you! I’d recommend it!! If you’re thinking about it go ahead and you can always see what happens :).
Hey, thanks for making this post! It’s super helpful to those of us thinking of applying this year to get perspectives like this 🙂
I’ve seen on older application guides that several regions had (temporarily?) cut funding to their programs – for instance I know in 2013-14 Catalonia and Valencia weren’t available, but I couldn’t find anything about it in the materials provided on the government’s site. Do you know if there are any regions barred for the 2017-18 year?
No problem! As far as I know nothing is currently barred, but they do change things at a later date sometimes! I do know some people who are in Valencia this year so at the moment, although they may be second year students as they did open the program for them. Catalonia I have no idea sorry, I don’t they the program has operated there at all recently. It’s worth noting both this regions have languages other than Spanish as well, so if you’re looking to improve your Spanish they may not be best choice!
It was a wonderful write-up, I must say. It has the appropriate information. Well, I got so engrossed in it that I actually get a feeling to apply for such a program and come to Spain hahaha…
Thanks for your comment! Well it’s worth checking out 🙂
Dear Migrating Miss
Thank you for a wonderfully informative piece! Was just wondering: how does one go about finding private tutoring jobs while in Spain?
You’re welcome! I found jobs mostly through word of mouth. Teachers at my school, parents or friends of friends would ask for private lessons. I did end up doing some work through Academies which was normally advertised locally, or in Facebook groups for Auxiliars in my area. 🙂
Do you know of any ESL teachers over 6 getting teaching jobs? what is the possibility in Spain?
Hi! I’m assuming you mean 60? I’m not sure sorry, as I worked as a conversation assistant rather than a full teacher. This is something you could look into doing with academies or just go ahead and apply for some jobs. I would say you probably need to speak some Spanish at least to apply on your own without a program though.
How are you? Your blog is very interesting.
I am a uk qualified teacher .
Can we talk ?
Hi Shay! Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions and I’ll see what I can do, but as a qualified teacher this program may not be the right thing for you 🙂
Hi! I am interested in applying in this program but its say “You should also have basic communicative skills in Spanish.” I speak enough spanish to get around but I am NOT fluent at all. Do you know what they mean by that?
If you speak some Spanish and can get by then that would be enough. The application process is in Spanish so you’ll need to get through that, but I honestly didn’t really speak Spanish at all and I was able to get through it! Many people I knew didn’t speak any Spanish at all. Any Spanish you know will help and it will be nice to communicate with more teachers at your school etc, but you shouldn’t really speak Spanish with the children anyhow, and most people will want to practice their English!
So I have family in Valencia and I would really like to be placed there. What would be the chances of me getting that spot? Also, am I able to reject the spot the wish to give me and reapply until I get the Valencia location?
Hi Javier! Unfortunately you can’t be guaranteed a specific destination. You might be able to request it but there’s no guarantee it will be given to you. I’m not sure that rejecting other placements will increase your chance of then being placed in Valencia. The Valencia province isn’t so big, so although you may not get places in the city as your first choice you might get into the province within commuting distance. There’s really no way of knowing until you apply! You can select it as your first choice and maybe add a request and see. I would still encourage you to go as many people have said they didn’t get what they initially wanted as a first choice but ended up really loving it. Also, second year Auxiliares get first preference so you could switch then if you stayed!
Hi Sonja! Thanks for writing this! You mentioned some placed might not pay you in a timely manner. Do you know what those teacher do about rent and other expenses? Not being paid for a few months sounds a little scary, especially being a foreigner abroad.
Hi Nina, you’re welcome! Most people take savings to cover them for the first few months. Normally it’s solved after the new year. Or in some cases, the school may advance you the money and they will then be paid back by the government. It just depends how big your school is and where your pay comes from. A lot of people also teach private lessons on the side so get some money this way. If they tell you they haven’t received the money from the government for your pay you need to be clear that you need to be paid, regardless, then sometimes they will pay you from the school’s own money if they have enough.
Hi Sonja! I am very interested in teaching in Spain but with 700 a month, how could you afford an apartment? How did you worked that out?
Hi! I shared an apartment with a friend and the cost was only €250 a month, so there was plenty to spare! This was in Almeria however, and some other places will be more expensive. A lot of people also do extra classes 🙂
Hello Sonja, you say people can apply with “at least half” of your university finished? Do you know people who have applied having only completed their sophomore year? Asking for a friend (I was an AUX for two years, LOVED it)
Hi Meghan! This is the info I found for North American Auxiliars: “Hold a minimum of a BA or BS by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program, be a junior or a senior, or have become a university graduate. Alternatively, you can also be a community college student in their last semester of studies by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program.”
It says junior, but I assume that would be at the application stage, so she may need to be IN her (or his) junior year to apply.
Hi Sonja, I just found out about this program and applied right before the deadline so my inscrita number is really high. Do you know if they accept everyone or is there a cut-off number? Also, how long did it take for you to receive your placement? Thanks!!
Hi Michaela! Unfortunately they’re not able to accept everyone, it just depends on how many places they need that year and how many people with lower numbers accept. For example, there are around 2500 places, however people in the 4000s do get accepted as a lot of people decide not to go and reject the placement. It can mean you may not get your first choice region as they just place people where they need them, but there’s still a chance! If you don’t make it the first year definitely apply again, it’s an amazing experience! There’s still plenty of time to hear though as placements will only start going out this month and since your number higher you’ll need to wait for them to get up to yours, so it could be a couple of months! Good luck!
Hi Sonja! Thank you for providing all this information! I applied back in March and right now I’m in the “admitida” stage of the application. Do you by any chance know how likely I will be accepted? My inscrita number is 4051 and I’m nervous that I’m too high up there. Thanks 🙂
Hi Natalia! That’s so exciting that you’ve applied :). It’s hard to say as it changes every year, but there are roughly 2500 places. Although your number in higher a lot of people with lower numbers won’t actually go on to accept their placements. The only thing is you’ll have to wait a bit longer for them to get up to your number, and you are a bit less likely to receive your preferred region. Having said that, I know so many people who loved where they ended up and it wasn’t what they initially thought. It’s what you make it! Fingers crossed for you, but it might be another couple of months before you hear!
Hello!! Such a great post! I applied for the first time, and got my application in 10 days after registration opened. My registration number is 1839, but I’ve only gotten one email about two weeks ago (beginning of April) and all it said was that “We have seen that your application remains only “inscrita”.” and i can disregard if i submitted all the PDFs to my regional adviser. When did you hear that you were accepted?
Hi, I’m not sure as I used a slightly different system from New Zealand the first time I applied! I received my offer in April though, so hoping you may have heard by now or you will hear soon. They continue to offer for a few months!
My girlfriend is applying to do that program from here : (link hidden)
As the deadline passed on the ministry application, they say it’s still possible, she got an interview through skype, and now, she has to sign the contract and pay a 875$ fee to the company.
The thing is, it look super pro and safe, but I don’t know if it’s a scam…
Cause it been recomanded by (link hidden) and it’s a serious company, language assistant did go to spain with them.
Any chance you know anything about it ? do you think it’s a scam ?
Thank you very much.
Sorry I don’t know anything about it! There are other programs available that are not the ministry program so it could be one of those, although the name isn’t familiar. For those you usually do pay a fee to them for placement, and the pay and terms are usually different to the ministry program which you would never pay for. Sorry I can’t be more helpful! If she definitely want’s to do the ministry program I’d recommend waiting, or if you find it looks legitimate and like the terms then go for it!
I think I might be in a similar position to your girlfriend! I applied after the government deadline, via a a company that I shall call C_____S_______, who are asking for a 1050 euro fee. It all looks legitimate, and they are supported by an existing company called M_____s, who have lots of reviews online, but I’m still a bit nervous in view of the large fee. I assume it’s an official, just greedy, recruiter! Did your girlfriend go ahead wit’s the payment? Thanks, Jess.
Can Australians apply? And if so, where?
Yes I believe they can! You’ll need to find out who runs the program there. I had a quick look and it seems to be through PROFEX as well as through the Education Office of Spain in Australia so give those a search :).
Hi! Thanks for sharing your adventures! I’m currently getting my English degree with a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language. My question is if you know others to bring their family along with them? In my situation, just one child.
I think you can bring your family! But best to check with whoever administers the program in your country to see what you will need to do.