March 15, 2016 No Comments

Making a Living In Spain Teaching English As A Foreign Language

Many people of all ages dream of a life in Spain but are afraid of not being able to support ourselves. Apart from the obvious work in bars and clubs, there are other ways to make a reasonable living, and one of these is to teach English as a second language.

This can be done informally; taking on students in your own home, or indeed theirs, although you should do this Teach English in Spainlegally and register as self-employed (autonomo). Once you have done this you will be required to pay tax and other contributions, and will be entitled to state healthcare.

You will need to have enough funds to support yourself in your new country, until you make yourself known and find suitable students. Once you have established yourself and found some willing students, you can proceed to arrange classes; either in groups or one-on-one private lessons.

A basic knowledge of Spanish is helpful, but not imperative; I know one girl who takes on private lessons, where she only speaks English and her students have to keep up as best as they can. She starts by taking the student on a walk; pointing out things like flowers, trees, buildings, street lamps and so on, so that the student first learns names of objects. In subsequent lessons at home, she goes on to teach simple verbs, like walk, talk, etc; by demonstrating the actions. This is a difficult system for the student, but actually a very effective one.

With a little basic Spanish, this would of course be a lot easier for the teacher as well as the student, but it is by no means necessary.

If you wish to work in a language school or through an agency, then you will have a much greater chance of success if you acquire certification. One recommended programme for this is TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is a course of one month, including phonology and grammar, methodology, foreign language, and lesson planning, along with practical teaching and critique.

You will find sites where you can study the TEFL online; for example, or you can sign up at universities and specialist schools in most major Spanish cities.

Another useful website is, which offers advice on which certification is required for certain positions, how to go about getting it, and offers many teaching resources.

If you are already familiar with the area in which you choose to settle, then you should be able to find somewhere to live quite easily. If however you are going into unknown parts, then it is advisable to book at least a couple of weeks in a hotel with full or half board to give you time to look around, familiarise yourself with the area, and get yourself known. You may find a flat share opportunity, or you could look for a studio or apartment through an agency. To rent a place on your own, you will need at least three month’s rent up front; one month in advance and two months as deposit. Taking on a long-term rental will work out cheaper per month than for a seasonal rental, and also if you rent just for the summer, many places will ask you to pay all the season’s rent in the first 3 or 4 months. This eliminates the risk of you disappearing before the summer is over; leaving the owner with an empty un-rentable place for the last few months of autumn.

Once you are settled in you’re a place, you can begin to arrange your lessons. Depending on your living situation, you choose to take them at home, or you can visit your students.

If you decide to work for an agency or school, the marketing side of things will be taken care of for you, but if you want to work independently you will need to promote yourself. This means making up flyers and distributing them in the neighbourhood; starting a page on social media and posting regularly; advertising in local newspapers; any means possible to draw attention to your new undertaking.

Work out how much you are going to charge. You may have different prices per hour for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students, and relevant prices for private one-on-one lessons and group lessons. If you intend to take groups in somewhere other than your home; perhaps the back room of a bar or a small conference area in a hotel, then you must take into account the rent for the space when deciding on prices.

You will probably earn more working for yourself than for a school or agency, but you are also responsible for every detail from arranging sessions to lesson planning, accounting, marketing your services and the legalities of the business.

The best policy is to sign up with a gestor (a legal agent who does the work of a solicitor and accountant together) who will make sure you are legal, have all the right papers and are paying the correct taxes and contributions.

Every foreigner working in Spain should have an NIE number (Numero de Identificacion Extranjeros, or Foreigners Identification Number) and your Gestor can get this for you. Once you have this number it is yours for life; so make copies and keep the original safe. Every time you undertake anything legal you will be asked to produce your passport and the original of this number, which comes on a green A4 paper; a coloured photocopy is usually acceptable, as long as you have your original passport.

As you work with your students you will likely find word-of-mouth will bring you more work. As a bonus, as they learn English, you should find you Spanish improving too!

You will likely soon meet the local expat community, of which there are many members from various EU countries, and in most parts of Spain. This will help you to find your way around, and if you make a few friends who speak Spanish, this may be a big help to you too. If you find another English teacher who speaks Spanish, you could perhaps work together; you take the advanced students and pass the beginners on to her, for example.

Teaching English as a second language is a viable way to make a living in Spain in 2016 – native speakers are much sought after, and the nature of the job allows you to have a flexible timetable and have time to enjoy all the benefits of the wonderful country that is Spain.

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