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The Best Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain

Julia Coursey
Topic Expert

Julia is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama. She taught in Spain for several years before starting graduate school.

Top Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain

Moving to another country where you don’t know anyone and have no job is a fairly daunting prospect. So when I did it, I decided to make it easy on myself. I chose to get a TEFL certificate during my first month in Spain. By the time the month was over, I had friends from my program and knew my way around the city.

More importantly, I had the supportive staff at the school to help me through the visa process and finding a place to live (and of course I learned how to teach!). This kind of support is invaluable, so it’s important to choose a great TEFL program in the city you want to live and teach in. Different locations will appeal to different people, so we’ve compiled a thorough list of different cities that you’ll enjoy living and be teaching in.

Madrid

Top Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain: Madrid

Madrid is far and away the best city in Spain for teaching English. As the business capital of Spain, there are always executives looking to improve their speaking skills. I had a job in hand by the end of my graduation day and had no trouble finding additional work when my needs changed a year later. The bigger the city, the more opportunities to work; Madrid is one of Spain’s biggest cities, and there are many opportunities you can seize with your TEFL certificate in hand.

No one can spend a weekend in Madrid and think it’s all business. There’s always something to do and plenty friends to make. I joined an English language writing group and an English improv troupe, both of which were full of people from around the world (and were the main ways I made Spanish friends as well). I have never made a better decision than moving to Madrid.

I can personally recommend TtMadrid, where I got my TEFL certificate in 2012. Since then they’ve grown to include a Spanish language school, La Aventura Espanola. The month-long course at TtMadrid included a crash course in English grammar, lesson and course planning, and, most importantly, a huge amount of observed teaching. This counts as classroom experience, which many companies prioritize when hiring an instructor. The people at Tt are lovely. They helped me through a number of real and imagined crises my first month in Spain, and continue to send me emails about job openings, a service available to all of their alumni.

Popular TEFL Courses in Madrid:

Barcelona

Top Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain: Barcelona

Barcelona is the center of the literary and art world in Spain, with some excellent museums and bookstores aplenty. The city is as wild as its inhabitants, with Gaudi facades punctuating the gridded streets, while the dark corridors of the Barri Gòtic give a medieval feel to the architecture of the old city.

There are some aspects of Barcelona that make it less appealing--the hipsters and the tourists. Barcelona has more (and more annoying) tourists than most other cities in Spain.This has increased rent prices and decreased patience with expats among the locals. The Barcelona hipsters are often a few years behind the American hipsters they imitate, which can be a little awkward and lead to some mediocre Edison bulb-bedecked restaurants. Both of those groups help bolster the English teaching market, though, so they are worth putting up with.

Popular TEFL Courses in Barcelona:

Seville

Top Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain: Seville

For those looking for the quintessentially Spanish experience, Seville is a prime contender. The heart of Andalucia, Seville has the best flamenco in the world. The city smells like orange blossoms in the spring and locals picnic by the river whenever it’s warm (which is most of the year; the summer might even be described as uncomfortably hot).

There’s also a large English teaching community and plenty of demand for classes, as Seville is the financial center of southern Spain. Rents are cheap and many apartments come with roof terraces that allow for excellent house parties. Seville is also a great place to immerse yourself in Spanish, as it’s one of the few spots on this list that doesn’t have a widely spoken regional language; this means you can work on your Spanish fluency while teaching in Seville without needing to worry about a third language

Popular TEFL Courses in Seville:

Cadiz

Top Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain: Cadiz

Cadiz has a more intimate vibe than some of the larger cities, while still being tons of fun. The city is more exciting in the summers, with music festivals and outdoor adventures. Access to the Atlantic means good surfing and more energetic beaches than those on the Mediterranean. The city also has a rich history that is reflected in the old school vibe of the architecture.

The accent in Cadiz is more challenging than that in Madrid (or even Sevilla), so be prepared to work harder at understanding people. However, there are fewer English speakers, which means you’ll have more opportunities to practice your Spanish and more students to teach. Unemployment is much higher in Cadiz than the other places on our list, but people often want to study English while looking for a job. These students are generally diligent, but will suddenly disappear if they find work (or can no longer afford to pay you). This kind of situation works out well for those accustomed to freelancing but can leave others quite stressed about the monthly fluctuations in income.

Popular TEFL Courses in Cadiz:

Malaga

Top Cities to Earn Your TEFL Certification in Spain: Malaga

If you’re all about the beach, teach in Malaga. Malaga is a big tourist destination for British visitors, and as such has a healthy English class market. It may be difficult to feel integrated into the city as a native English speaker because of this--it can be hard to feel like a local when everyone assumes you’re on vacation--but there’s plenty of expats to make you feel welcome. Because this is a choice retirement spot, older teachers may find Malaga particularly appealing.

Popular TEFL Courses in Malaga:

Once you’ve decided on a city, check out our TEFL city pages for more program recommendations! Or just go with the city whose soccer team you like the most (just saying -- in Madrid, you get two!).

Either way, you’ll experience Spanish culture, earn your TEFL certification, and set yourself up better for your future teaching career and to find a teaching job in Spain.