How to Teach English in Spain

There are still opportunities to teach English in Spain.

The Basics

Since 2006, EU nationals have been able to work in Spain without a work permit, so it is difficult for workers from North America to find an ESL position in Spain. In Spain, the worker applies for the permit, all documents must be in Spanish and it can take anywhere from six to eight months to secure a work permit.

Most employers prefer to hire native English speakers with an undergraduate degree, as well as certification in TEFL or CELTA. You can complete your ESL certification prior to leaving for Spain, whether in a classroom or online. There are advantages to completing an ESL teaching certificate since many employers, worldwide, prefer to hire certified employees, and because the schools are often quite helpful in supplying job postings, at a minimum, to their students, which can help speed up the job search. Some ESL schools even have relationships with employers and you can also network with the students to find out about positions.

It is advantageous to speak Spanish prior to securing a position in Spain, but it is possible to get by with only rudimentary skills.

Finding Work

You can also look in the Spanish Yellow Pages for a language school or use a vertical job posting engine, such as SimplyHired, which has a Spanish job posting site. Usually you can search on the vertical search engine in English and find job postings in both Spanish and English. There are also postings for ESL teachers on ESL websites, such as Dave's Internet Café.

It is easier to find work in Spain if you are already there, since you can make use of community message boards in public libraries, cafes and supermarkets.  You can also use these same services to advertise private language lessons; however, unlike a contract position, private language lessons are often unstable and can be cancelled at a moment's notice, so it is difficult to rely on them to pay for all of you living expenses.

Many job seekers focus on Madrid or Barcelona for work, but there are many opportunities in the north, as well as in the Basque region of Spain, so don't overlook these areas when searching for positions.


The cost of living is high in Spain, so you will need to find a position that offers close to full-time hours, which for teachers is usually around twenty-five hours of instruction. There are also opportunities to teach at lunch hours in businesses so you could have a part-time contract in the morning, teach over lunch and then teach again in a school or with private students in the evening. It is not uncommon for evening classes to run as late as ten at night, so be prepared to work late.