Meddeas' Language Assistant Programs in Spain



Meddeas is a Spanish organization present in five countries that supports multilingual teaching in more than 200 educational centers. It offers the opportunity to teach English in Spain through Language Assistant programs. Recent graduates from all the main universities in the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa have already joined our programs.

"During my two years as a Language Assistant, I learned as much as I taught. The phrase “you get what you give” seems very appropriate for this invaluable work experience and I’m going to tell you why. Being a Language Assistant is more than a placement: it’s an opportunity. I never felt dread on a Sunday evening at the thought of going into school on Monday. I never begrudgingly spent time with my energetic and eager students. However, I feel like that wouldn’t have been the case had I not put in time and effort planning my lessons". Rebecca E. 2017/18.Source: Meddeas Language Assistants’ Blog).



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Yes, I recommend this program

Meddeas Language Assistant Program

I am currently in my second year with Meddeas. From the beginning of the application period, to moving to Spain, to questions throughout the two academic courses, the Meddeas team has been more than helpful. They assisted with any need or doubt that I had while aiding me through the paperwork. Meddeas has been a great opportunity for me to put my love of teaching to use in a culturally different environment. I have loved my time with Meddeas while teaching and learning from my Spanish students. The Spanish culture has also brought me great joy. I have loved learning from my UIC course, my tutor, and other Meddeas assistants the benefits and joys that they have experienced in their city. The Meddeas Experience allows you the opportunity to learn and grow in an unknown environment while gaining the knowledge to continue to self-develop and grow into a different version of you. Meddeas gave me a great opportunity to teach and I am thankful for it.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The Canarias are full of delicacies, eat it all! When I first arrived to the islands, I saw a lot of food that had weird names, weird combinations, or looked weird in general. Just eat it all! Try everything new that you can and you probably won't regret it. Some of my current favorite foods are Canarian foods :)
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Yes, I recommend this program

Meddeas Review

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.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Unbelievably rewarding!!

Meddeas: Meddeas has been extremely helpful through the whole process in terms of USA documentation, visas, Spain documentation, etc. Sometimes they don't have all the answers, but in all honesty, the laws and regulations are changing per city in the US pretty fluidly, so I can only imagine managing other countries, too. On top of this, I've heard that other programs don't help with this aspect, so it's definitely a huge benefit. Moreover, Meddeas has given us opportunities to connect with other language assistants through FB pages and our induction meeting. I think the greatest plus side of this program is that you don't have to pay any fee to commit to it, just a deposit that (if you meet necessary criteria) will be given back to you at the end of your term. Going off of that, you get paid monthly and receive a TEFL certificate - again, with no cost to you.
School: The school's truly are going to vary immensely by location, type, grade, etc. My experience has been good so far, but it does require patience. The US system and Spanish system work at different paces. In my personal experience working in secondary, the teachers don't prepare much more than a day ahead of time for a lesson, which was off-putting at times. However, it didn't interfere with my job much as I was mostly taking students out of class in groups to practice speaking for Cambridge Exams. The teachers were the sweetest and truly care about their students' development.
Host Family: My host family is the absolute greatest. I've been blessed with having a family that treats me like one of their own. Aside from teaching the family, I really have bonded with the kids and learned a bunch from them in Spanish, culture, traditions, etc. They'll for sure be invited to my wedding in the future :)

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
As opposed to other comments where Language Assistants have their families as a second job, I've experienced a lack of work to do. The kids are extremely disinterested in learning after having been in school from 9am - 5pm every day. The family also hasn't committed to maintaining a regular schedule with me for English Speaking Days because of the kids' varied schedules. So, I often feel like I'm not doing enough. I try to compensate by speaking English more often than not, even on off-days. This is a bit of a bummer because I'd like to practice Spanish more, but I know it's my own fault for not bringing it up sooner to the family. Just a regret, not a complaint! If you join the program with a host family, don't be scared to lay down the rules as they are written in the contract!!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Meddeas Review

I've had a really great experience here in Spain. I was fortunate to be placed with two other language assistants at my school. Through this, we've been able to create a strong support system, something necessary when you're away from the comfort of your home, family, and friends. The two girls I work with have become my best friends throughout these past several months. I've met many people through this experience and have been able to create a more positive outlook on life. The school I work at has all the teaching materials I need to do my lessons. The classrooms are equipped with SMART boards, black boards, computers, speakers, etc. The English teachers I work with are supportive and want to help me grow as a teacher. They allow me the freedom to plan and teach my lessons independently but also step in when feedback is necessary. I love working with them and I love this job because there is so much trust and independence from the very beginning! This is the perfect learning experience for someone who wants the freedom to teach what they want immediately without having to go through a training or school program. I also really like how we are able to take a TEFL course on the side through the International University of Barcelona, Catalunya. While it will be helpful to have TEFL on my resume, I wouldn't say the course is that beneficial. The teachers aren't helpful and during our monthly online class portion, they read off scripts instead of having a conversation or seminar based class. The online class is a waste of time. Some of the assignments are helpful, however some are so pointless. Sometimes, it seems as if they only give assignments because they need to--not because it will actually help us become better teachers. I wish our course was more focused on class management skills and linguistics. The teachers don't give any sort of feedback on any assignments. My teacher even mixed up one of our assignments with another class she had! My classmates and I were all so confused until one of us brought it up and the teacher finally admitted she was wrong.

While I teach, I also live with a host family. When you apply with Meddeas, you have the option to live independently or live with a host family to immerse in the language and culture. When you live with a host family, room and board are provided in exchange for English lessons all day twice weekly and two Saturdays a month. I chose to live with a host family because I thought I would be able to save more money and learn more Spanish. While my host family here has been so kind and helpful in making me feel comfortable in this new country, there are also some things I wish could be improved. I begin school every day at 9am and usually end at either 1pm or 2pm. Right after school ends, I have to give English lessons all day until the children go to bed. This means playing with them and teaching them English for 8 hours a day on top of the work day 9-2pm. So on English days, you are working from 9am-11pm (a 14 hour work day!!) I understand I did sign up to live with a host family so this is my job, however it can be extremely exhausting. On English days when we have school holidays, you're expected to be with them all day from when they wake up to when they go to bed because there is no school--so your school holiday isn't really a holiday. Then on English Saturdays, you spend the whole entire day with them. I'm lucky that my family likes to sleep in on the weekends so our days normally don't start until 10 or 11am, but it's still a reallyyyy long day!! It's very typical for Spanish families to have au pairs and care takers so in the beginning, I found myself becoming an au pair as well as having my own job as a language assistant. I've had to clarify with my host family that my job wasn't to be an au pair or babysit the kids. Other than this, I've been able to create a strong relationship with my host mom and we'll definitely be keeping in touch and visit each other in our home countries come the future. We go on hiking trips a lot and have visited the beach house a few times. We also went to see Cirque de Soleil which was such a cool show and experience! I'm lucky I live with this host family as I've been able to build really great relationships with the adults, however the English days with the kids can be exhausting.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I were to do this program again, I would most definitely pick living independently over with a host family. Additionally, living independently allows you so much more freedom to do private lessons on the side. Currently I do about 8 lessons a week (about 80 euros) but if I didn't live with a host family, I could do up to 25+ hours a week, which could be 250+ euros or an extra 1,000+ euros a month (without taxes)!! Where I live, you can find rent as cheap as 175 euros /month and food is extremely cheap, so teaching lessons over living with a host family definitely makes up.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Recommend the program, just not the host family

This program has been an incredibly enriching experience. Compared to other English teaching programs in Spain, I have had zero issues with being paid on time and the support staff is quick to respond to offer advice for any issues that may arise. I love the school where I teach and feel I have learned a variety of skills that will prepare me for any future career I may want. However, the only regret I have for this experience was choosing to live with host families. If you live with host families, you are required to spend two afternoons per week and two Saturdays per month teaching English. You receive less of a stipend because your rent and food are covered by your family, but the program massively favors the family. I work around 72 hours per month teaching English to my host sibilings. My first siblings were 11 and 6 and my current siblings are 9 and 4 so you can imagine how fun it is to keep them engaged for 4-10 hour long English lessons. While it is called a host "family" I feel much more like an employee who lives in the house. The parents will leave on English days to go out and sometimes I do not see them for 8 hours and it is just me taking care of the children. In my current house I do not need to set an alarm because my 4 year old host sister wakes me up screaming at 7 every morning. I think the idea of living with a host family is great, because you can learn the language and save money, but it is basically adding a second job to your original job of being a language assistant.

What would you improve about this program?
Give different options in addition to the two evenings per week and two Saturdays per month with host families by setting a number of hours instead of a specific number of days (example: two hours every weekday, 3 hours two days a week and 4 hours one day a week)

Set an age minimum for the children of the household (I would recommend at least 8 years old)

Have some sort of host family questionnaire for Language Assistants asking about allergies, age preference (young children vs teenagers), food likes and dislikes, and hobbies, level of Spanish, and for families asking the level of English of the children, hobbies, and their expectations so that both the Language Assistant and family can feel more prepared upon the arrival of the student.



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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it seemed liked the best offer compared to similar programs. The pay and the support seemed to be better than other language assistant programs in Spain. I felt like the interview process was very thorough and that the interviewers really got to know me as a person. When I got accepted I received a lot of helpful information as well.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They assisted me with the different processes for getting to Spain and staying there legally. Although I had to get and pay for my visa and TIE myself, they gave me valuable information and deadlines and they were great as keeping in contact; I'd bombard them with emails and they were always quick to provide an answer to my burning questions.

They matched me with a wonderful school and with a fantastic host family. I felt like they really listened to my preferences in my interview and they were careful to place me somewhere that I'd be comfortable and an environment in which I could thrive.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Stay on top of the workload and take in the experience with open arms. It is always best to be over prepared especially when it comes to legal documents like TIE and visa forms. Also, the online course can be stressful but as long as you remain on top of the assignments you will be okay. Don't let your doubts or fears keep you from missing out.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I work every day from Monday- Friday with a half hour break for breakfast and a two hour lunch break. I go to the classes with the main teacher and take half of the class to present my own lesson. I also meet with the english team once a week to plan the next week and it is very helpful because it keeps me prepared and on the same page as my colleagues. After school I usually do some private lessons or work on my assignments for the online class. I also spend a lot of time with my wonderful host family!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest fear was being alone. I was so scared to come to a new place and not know anything or anyone. I found a lot of friends through this program and I've also bonded with my host family and the people I work with. I know I could count on them if I needed anything! I realized that I had to put my self out there and ask people if they were free to hang out even if that meant risking rejection.

I also realized that there is so much power in saying "yes". People were so open to getting to know me and they would offer up their time, help, or companionship; all I had to do was say yes. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened up a world of possibilities for me.

What was the biggest culture shock?

Perhaps the biggest culture shock was how the children in my school behave. The kids are very touchy feely with the teachers and they love to give hugs and even kisses! Coming from a culture where hugging a teacher is taboo I quite like being able to show love to my students!