Meddeas helps to place you in schools throughout Spain, working with mostly private and concertado (semi-private/charter) schools. They help you with the visa process, documentation you need while in Spain, and are a resource for help during your time in Spain. I have found that they are very responsive and if they don't have an answer for my question they take their time to assist me or reference me to who I should speak with.
One thing to keep in mind is that every experience greatly varies. Meddeas works to place you in the school, but each school has a different idea for how they want to use their language assistants, so you need to be flexible and understanding that Meddeas although they provide guidelines of what to expect, isn't in charge of your actual teaching experience so be sure to have a conversation with your school about expectations and if this changes or they expect more than what Meddeas states you can then talk with Meddeas for support in this process.
Meddeas also requires you to take an online TEFL course (or Early Education course or Advanced TEFL course depending on your prior experience) while in the program. This course depending on your professor can be helpful, but in my opinion, it isn't the most useful course I have taken. Although I do well on the assignments and have learned somethings, I have had to rely on my prior education classes I took at university, and I know that friends who have no experience have had to put a lot more work into the class to understand concepts that are shared or understand how to lesson plan since their professors didn't give them enough guidance. For being a program that accepts people with no experience I think this is an area that can be improved, to provide more help for teachers who are experiencing the classroom for the first time.
Meddeas offers two options for living: with a host family or independently. If you live with a host family you receive less of a stipend since your room and board is provided by your host family. I chose the host family option because I had studied abroad before and loved being with a host family, but I have found this experience to be a different one. When studying abroad you don't have as many responsibilities and there are no expectations except for sharing your culture and learning about your family's culture. Whereas with the Meddeas option you are expected to have English days two times a week (depending on your schedule) and 2 Saturdays in a month. So there is a responsibility for teaching and interacting in English. I at first didn't think I would mind this and since I loved my host family experience I decided to sign up for it, but after being in the program for six months and now on my second host family (since my school splits the time among two families) I realize that it wasn't the experience that I thought it would be. I love my families and I'm really appreciative to have lived with them, but I think that having to speak in English and help give lessons to the children or the adults in the family is a tiring expectation. If it naturally happened I think I wouldn't mind it as much, but to go from teaching English all day to coming home and two days of the week continuing to teach in English or play games with the children is more tiring than I had expected. I miss my host family days where when I came home from a school day I could choose to speak whichever language I wanted and was able to do the activities I want while having a family to come home to. If you have never lived with a host family and have a lot of energy and want to experience an authentic living situation I think the host family route is great. But if you are wanting more independence or know you need time away from constantly being an English teacher, then maybe consider independent living.
Overall Meddeas has allowed me to travel and teach which is what I wanted from this job. I really enjoy my students who range from an age of 8-18. They keep me laughing and I feel as though I have learned a lot about myself from teaching them this year! To be a teacher in Spain you need patience, flexibility, and creativity! Students enjoy your lessons when they are entertaining and engaging. Often times classes are changed around or a teacher may ask you to talk about something you were not prepared for, so that is where the flexibility comes in. And lastly, you need patience to accept Spanish culture and to be able to control the energetic/talkative students.
With all this in mind, I would recommend Meddeas for people who want to teach in Spain. It's a well-supported program. There are no fees for the program, but there is a deposit that needs to placed and you have to pay for airfare to Spain, travel/accommodation to the induction meeting, and visa fees (so keep that in mind). No experience is needed to apply. There are different teaching options depending on your experience. You are able to give preferences during your application process. You will take an online course and receive TEFL certification. And most importantly, you will be able to teach English and share your culture with your students!
What would you improve about this program?
If you are accepted into the program you begin with an induction meeting that is an all-day meeting in Barcelona. I found that this meeting which consists of training sessions and a lot of paperwork to not be the most beneficial, especially since I have had experience teaching in the past and felt as if the sessions to help with lesson planning weren't too helpful. I think there should be separate sessions for people with some experience and people with absolutely no experience (since this program doesn't require you to have teaching experience). I understand that there is paperwork that needs to be completed so that aspect of the day made sense and getting to meet other language assistants and create a community is also helpful, but I think they should reconsider the sessions that are given and the timing of the meeting.
I would also change the expectations of living with a host family. I think that it should be encouraged that the language assistants can talk with the host family and come up with a schedule that incorporates English activities without making it feel like too much and allowing for time for the language assistant to have downtime. Maybe have meal times every day be English times, or have the times spread out for a couple of hours each day. Make it so that one English activity needs to be done in the day and that this is scheduled in. I think if the English days fell more naturally and with fewer expectations then it would be not as tiring and feel like you are a part of the family rather than a teacher living in the house.