Coronavirus Update: At the time of writing, all programs included in this article are scheduled to run in 2021. This is an ongoing and rapidly changing situation; please consult individual providers for up to date program information, and ensure you research travel restrictions and health precautionary measures in your destination of choice. Go Overseas urges you to consult the following resources, and, most importantly, to travel safely!
People from all over the world are drawn to Spain's relaxed lifestyle (where else is it socially acceptable to take an afternoon nap every day?), excellent nightlife, delicious food, and sunny skies. These qualities, combined with the cheap cost of living, make Spain a top destination for expats who want to go overseas. But if you're moving to a country you need a job there, which, for English speakers in Spain, often means a job teaching English.
Anyone serious about teaching English in Spain needs the right preparation and qualifications. That's where TEFL courses come in. A TEFL certificate shows employers that you're a well-trained teacher, and is trusted around the world. In-person TEFL courses usually include practice teaching hours, which allow you to show that you can actually handle a class. When pursuing an English teaching career in Spain, we recommend enrolling in a course located in the city you'd like to live in so that you can benefit from the connections your school has with companies in the area.
Go Overseas has crunched the numbers, and the following academies are the cream of the crop. Most of these courses are located in Madrid or Barcelona, two of the most fun and energetic cities in Europe. All of these schools are top notch, and attending any of them will prepare you to be an excellent teacher. Read on to make an informed choice before you go overseas!
How did we pick these programs?
In choosing the best programs to be included in this article, we took into account two main factors: the review scores of each program and the number of reviews that program had received.
For all programs on Go Overseas, we ask reviewers to rate six key variables that reflect the core components of any experience. These vary depending on the type of program, but include items such as Housing, Support, Fun, Value, Safety, and an Overall score. We average these scores in order to find a numerical representation of the typical experience, and we use this number to compare all of the many programs in a certain category.
From there, our goal is to choose those programs which are truly the best: they have more and better reviews than the average for similar programs and are verified by enough reviews for us to feel confident giving our stamp of approval. Lastly, we base these decisions on our own industry knowledge. We want to make sure we're recommending programs that are vetted both by you, the users, and us, the experts, so that we feel confident the programs included are the best of the best!
The programs listed below are not ranked in any particular order; instead, they reflect a breadth of excellent program options.
#1. - Oxford House: World Recognized CELTA Course in Barcelona
Oxford House in Barcelona is one of the most intense courses available, lasting 4 weeks (134-hours!), and resulting in the prestigious and internationally recognized Trinity/CELTA qualification. Trainees teach real students by the end of the first week, which gives plenty of time to improve actual classroom skills. Graduates generally find jobs within the first 21 days of finishing the course and have access to Oxford House’s global database of teaching jobs for the rest of their lives.
According to one recent graduate Oxford House goes “above and beyond”, with on the ground support services that make transitioning to a new country smooth sailing. Staff assists students with finding places to live by setting incoming trainees up with appropriate accommodations for the month they will be earning their certificate or allowing them to make their own arrangements using a private group whose members have been vetted to ensure their legitimacy.
Oxford House also provides extended visa support, which comes in the form of a visa service and an ongoing student visa option for non-EU citizens. Navigating another country’s immigration policies can be quite the challenge, so this kind of expertise is an excellent asset to any academy. For those who need to be on a student visa to stay in the country, Oxford House provides the Developing Teacher program, which consists of Spanish classes taught at the onsite language school and ongoing teacher training. Not only will you be legally allowed to work in Barcelona, you’ll have a supportive network behind you to help you succeed.
#2. - TEFL Heaven: TEFL + Job Assistance in Madrid
TEFL Heaven is a four week intensive TEFL program located in Madrid, one of the most vibrant and charming cities in Spain. Madrid is also the business capital of Spain, so the more lucrative business English teaching positions are available in spades. Recent graduate Tiffany says, “I learned more about grammar and the English language in this 1 month TEFL course than I had in my 18 years of education in the states.”
The helpful staff do a lot to ensure that students can focus on learning. TEFL Heaven provides visa support to non-EU citizens through 36 weeks of Spanish classes that ensure legal residency (and the ability to work) through a student visa. Trainees also have the option of sharing housing with other students during their course, which takes some of the stress out of finding a place to live from afar.
Recent TEFL Heaven graduate Alex explains that there’s “no shortage of demand. I've received a tonne of emails within 48 hrs of completing the course.” He attributes this deluge of job prospects to the school’s connections and CV help. The TEFL Heaven staff continue to check in with their graduates, ensuring that everyone remains employed and more or less happy.
3. Oxinity: 120-Hour TEFL Course with Job Guaranteed
Oxinity (The Oxbridge English Teaching System) has significantly more hands-on teaching experience than most programs, challenging trainees to teach over 20 hours of classes with real students at all different levels of English fluency. Oxinity provides tons of individual attention to trainees, with daily small group meetings (capped at 5 students!) to ensure that everyone gets the individualized attention they need to succeed.
A cutting-edge program, Oxinity has developed a mobile app that allows teachers to access lesson plans and course materials from their phones--a godsend for the day you forget your books at home. This platform allows teachers from around the world to share the innovative ideas, giving Oxinity graduates a real edge when it comes to keeping classes fresh over the long term.
While many schools offer a standard TEFL certificate, Oxinity provides multiple teacher training options including stand-alone module certificates for those who want to focus on specific areas of instruction. Oxinity is also the only company with a program specifically for Au Pairs, which focuses on teaching English to young learners.
#4. - TEFL Services International: TEFL in Barcelona
TEFL Services International gives students a little more free time than some of the other schools on this list, which can be a big benefit for those who would like to actually enjoy their first month in Spain rather than worrying about homework. The school wants students to embrace Barcelona, taking them out for tapas and encouraging them to have fun. This approach extends to TEFL International’s unique accommodation plan, which places students in apartments with people who already live in Barcelona as a way to help them integrate more seamlessly into the local culture.
But this school doesn’t skimp on the quality of instruction. The trainers are highly professional, with at least Masters degrees in TESOL. TEFL International has a dedicated career advisor who makes sure that students will find employment upon graduating. The school also has ongoing courses to help graduates brush up on their teaching skills and reasonably priced Spanish classes.
#5. ITA: Get Paid to Teach English in Spain with a TEFL Certification
International TEFL Academy (ITA) provides one-on-one pre-enrollment guidance to help you get set up, as well as personalized job search advice. Unlike many other large TEFL companies, ITA is committed to individual attention and making sure each of their graduates has a job at the end of the program. Megan, a recent alum, says that ITA's "constant support and guidance is priceless."
ITA has locations in both Madrid and Barcelona, giving you the same connections in both cities--a big advantage for those who want to live in different parts of Spain. Their extensive alumni network (15,000 worldwide!) is a great resource for anyone who wants to try out teaching in countries besides Spain and can help you connect with other expats when you arrive. This kind of ongoing, global community can be a real advantage for those who love to travel to new places, as well as a great way for teachers who've settled in Spain to meet new friends.
ITA's website also has a blog with a whole subcategory of posts dedicated to teaching in Spain. While updates are infrequent, the advice will be useful for anyone with a pursuing a TEFL.
This is also one of the few programs to award scholarships, though these funds seem to be limited to the online and Chicago programs at the moment. Since job placement assistance is restricted to those students that take the in-person course, we recommend forgoing the scholarships and paying for those connections to employers.
While any of these programs will certainly train you to be an excellent English teacher, the various quirks and benefits we’ve outlined above show the broad range of choices available to you when you go overseas. Which one is the best in the end? The one that fits your needs the best. Choose wisely!