Spanish Ministry of Education

Why choose Spanish Ministry of Education?

The program provides Spanish students and teachers of English or French an opportunity to broaden and increase their knowledge of the English or French language and North American culture through interaction with native speakers.

The Assistants will also have the opportunity to learn about the Spanish language and culture and use their experience upon their return to the United States or Canada, thus developing cultural understanding between the citizens of Spain and the United States of America and Canada.

The Spanish Autonomous Regions will assign all candidates, individually, an elementary or secondary school. Candidates may not choose a particular city. The Ministry and some of the Regional Education Authorities will organize orientation seminars at the beginning of the school year.



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No, I don't recommend this program

Horrible program!

This program is horrible and Madrid is even worse! Madrid is racist AF and this program is not supportive at all! In fact when I reached out to complain about harassment from a local teacher they did nothing!!!!!!!!! This program is trash and I would LOVE to tell it to the people who run it. The ones in charge don’t care about the teachers especially the black ones and they only look out for their own. Madrid sucks. Tres cantos (Antonio osuna “bilingual” school suck and so does this program. Yuck.

  • Program not supportive
  • Program will not address concerns
  • Program does not take accountability
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great for a gap year (or, if you're me, semester)!

After plans with another program fell through, I received an email in September 2013 inviting me for an auxiliar position for the 2013-2014 school year. With the length of the visa process, I wasn't able to start until January 2014. So many components of the program are luck of the draw, but I'll explain my experience with each feature by feature.

Benefits: 16 hour work week for a monthly stipend of 700 or 1000 euros, depending on where you're placed plus three day weekends every week! This was definitely enough to get by in Madrid; I paid about 450 total for my rent and transit pass.

Support: Definitely the weakest component of my experience there. Once you receive your offer letter, you're on your own when it comes to getting a visa, residence card, housing, and more. Since I arrived mid-year, I missed the big orientation session and start-of-year training. I was fortunate enough to have the other auxiliares at my school catch me up to speed. Support at the school itself can be a wildcard as well. Of the three teachers I worked with, one put thought into her classes, one did well but left nothing to prep us for his paternity leave, and one let her students color while I took over the bulk of the teaching. It's really up to you to make the most of it, which leads me to...

Fun: What I remember most about my time in Madrid! Between three day weekends, the sizable expat community, and the endless wanderings I found myself on, this is what would make me recommend the auxiliar program. There's always new cities to explore, and sometimes the school even has little functions of their own that you can partake in. For those of you placed in a primary school - the cute kid potential can be high.

Facilities: Barring a few wonky doors and some old facilities, my school's were mostly passable. There were lots of different teaching materials made by former auxiliares, and we made our own materials as well. The way that the English library was organized didn't make the most sense to us, which occasionally hindered our lesson planning.

Safety: The village we taught in was about as safe as they come, but that was my experience during the day. I generally felt safe in Madrid too, but be sensible about big-city life and guard your belongings closely.

Overall: As an auxiliar, you will laugh with your fellow expats about adapting to a foreign culture, cry about how disorganized the system can be, and learn so much more about yourself through the process of doing something on your own. And if you're looking for a career in study abroad or international education, this is a great place to start...though not always the most forgiving from an administrative standpoint.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have benefited from more resources on finding housing and getting around in the beginning. At schools, make sure that if a teacher goes on maternity/paternity leave, that the classes are adequately covered. Because our job titles are "assistants," we are in no way qualified by the program to conduct entire class sessions by ourselves.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Opportunity

Like many who studied abroad in Spain and fell in love with the country, I applied for this program as a way of coming back to Spain. I (like many) was hoping to return to where I studied abroad, Madrid, but due to the high volume of applications was placed in Palencia (yes with a P), Spain. It was honestly the best thing that could have happened. I was placed at I.E.S. Alonso Berruguete and was lucky with how prepared and enthusiastic the English department staff was. The head of the English department reached out soon after I received my letter as well as a few other staff members (including the P.E. teacher!) who all made me feel welcomed. I was a little nervous about being placed in a smaller city that I couldn't find much information about but I LOVED my experience. The teachers were very well-organized, communicative, and friendly.

HOWEVER, I would say this experience isn't for everyone.

This is not just paid vacation for a year, it is a job and one that should be taken seriously and does require prep-work. You are not required to be a master teacher nor know every grammar rule to a T however, expect to plan activities, answer general questions about the English language, and help manage classrooms. You should be comfortable with public speaking and be comfortable with the fact that some students may not be interested in what you have to say (at least at first). They don't train you for this job (see how program can be improved below) so you should prepare yourself by reading classroom management strategies, collecting personal stories you can share with students, and speaking with other program assistants.

Also, a general knowledge of Spain and Spanish is very helpful, especially if you aren't placed in a touristy city. Although it is not "required" for the job, it will help you make the most of your experience and make things like getting your residency card, opening a bank account, and daily life way easier and enrich your experience. They also don't mention this (to my knowledge), but the orientation was conducted in Spanish.

Your experience can really depend on which region/school your are placed in. I've heard of some people being paid late or having horrible experiences with their departments but I never had any problems with mine. The stipend of 700 euros per month was enough to cover living costs but I supplemented travel and spending time with friends with private classes. With careful budgeting I was able to travel, have a great time, and still have savings at the end of the year. Like other people have said however, definitely have enough money saved up to get you through the first few months just in case. I was lucky enough to find private lessons and my region paid on time but I heard other regions are less punctual with payment.

The hours were great, I worked about 12 hours a week and that left plenty of time to find private lessons to supplement, travel, and meet up with friends. I would say the work/life balance is probably the best I'll ever get!

Some of the benefits of living in a smaller city were the commute (took me 5 minutes to walk to school!), the low cost of living (my studio apartment was 250 euros a month + utilities but you could definitely find way cheaper), and a very tight-knit community. There was plenty to do and I was able to get very immersed in the local community culture.

Definitely keep an open mind if you apply for this program and ask questions in the auxiliar Facebook groups. Many language assistants have great information and even if official information is difficult to find sometimes, you can get all the support you need in these groups.

Overall, would definitely recommend to those willing to have a great experience, are open-minded, and are hard-working.

What would you improve about this program?
-More pre-departure guidelines and training
-Maybe a website with resources
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Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommend

I was an auxiliary in Spain for 2 years. Not only do you only work 12 hours a week, but you have plenty of time to travel and see Europe because of the work schedule. I was also able to find additional work in English academies private tutoring students. The pay isn't great but there's always money to be made elsewhere. I definitely made lifelong friends while there. Three other of my roommates we're from Ireland and England and until this day I still communicate with them, they were also there teaching English like I was.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have to say it could improve by having people I hope you get settled in, for example, housing, getting all of the legal paperwork completed.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience for the open-minded

I was an auxiliar de conversacion for 2 years in Extremadura. I absolutely loved the experience but it had very little to do with the work I was doing. The "English" teachers were terrible and completely unmotivated. Students passed because teachers didn't want to deal with the trouble of failing them. There was of course some very bright students that even asked for extra work. However, if you want to be a teacher then this program probably isn't for you. This program is for somebody who is looking for an easygoing job that will allow them to live in Spain and experience the culture. You usually only work from 12-16 hours per week so you have plenty of time for hobbies and travel. Your experience depends a bit on luck. I got placed at a great school with great people that were easygoing and happy with me aslong as I did my job. I know other people that had terrible teachers that made them do work that was out of their scope. All in all, I strongly recommend this program as a gap year between graduating college and getting a real adult job. I traveled all over Europe and met some amazing people!

What would you improve about this program?
More guidance and guidelines. There should be a standard for both the school and auxiliares. We were never given any instruction on how to teach. It was very much a figure it out on your own method. Their are really no guidelines so a lot of the times assistants are taken advantage of. I was required to teach art classes by myself when I'm terrible at art. I ended up teaching advertising and photography because it's the best I could do. I even had to give an exam where all the students cheated and there was nothing I could do because I technically wasn't a real teacher.
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Alumni Interviews

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

Joelle Messianu

Joelle is a Mexican American that grew up in Miami, Florida. She studied psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park and then moved to Extremadura, Spain to teach English for two years. She then decided to complete her Masters in Corporate Communication from IE Business School in Madrid. Ever since, she's been working as a PR professional with top global grands and trying to make time for traveling.

Why did you pick this program?

The main reason is because I wanted to move to Spain. It seemed like the best fit for me in terms of compensation, hours, and experience.

I also liked the idea of working for the Ministry of Education.I thought it would be a better resume builder than some other programs.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Keep an open mind and talk to strangers (contrary from what my parents taught me growing up).

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

DO IT!! You only live once and it's the most rewarding experience out there. It's a great way to get to know yourself and learn about different cultures.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

I was placed in a town with 4,000 people in the most remote area of Spain (Extremadura). I had hoped to be placed in Madrid, Spain. But because of an error in my application, the request never went through.

Anyways, I debated even going abroad because when I read about the town called Hervas, wikipedia said "wild pigs roam the area". Having grown up in Miami, it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around it. Anyways, I can definitely say that living in pueblito in Spain was the best thing that's happened to me to date.

What made this experience unique and special?

The people. I was "forced" to interact with people completely different from me that opened my mind to a different way of life. I learnt what it meant to enjoy life and nature.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

I worked less than 20 hours a week and traveled twice a month. What else is there to say? I was living the dream! I also went hiking at least twice a week. And napping was completely acceptable and encouraged.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?

The place and people. Hervas, Spain is completely gorgeous. It's a small serene town filled with charming streets, a well-conserved Jewish quarter, beautiful mountains and plenty of bars & young people to enjoy it with.

My Spanish also improved a lot. I now work in Spanish. Another big thing for me is that it made me get over my fear of public speaking. I remember my hands used to shake the first couple weeks of class.