Spanish Ministry of Education

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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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.

Yes, I recommend
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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.

Yes, I recommend
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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!

Yes, I recommend
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The program allows Americans and other native English speakers to gain teaching experience, while also giving them the means to see Europe. Because the contract consists of only 12 hours of teaching of week, teachers have plenty of time to prepare lessons and travel through Europe.

Yes, I recommend
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The coordinator at my school was a workplace bully who criticized me for such things as eating too much cheese and disrespecting a co-teacher, who I in fact genuinely respected. The headmaster and director of studies of this ‘bilingual school’ did not speak much English, nor took any interest in learning.

The program involves a great theory to co-teach – native English assistants with supportive regular staff – but the reality is you can be regarded as lowly and unnecessary.

Tensions are high in a country in recession.

The program offers no type of airfare or housing consideration, which is unnerving after you make a commitment with them. I owed 2/3 of my salary for rent and security deposit before I even earned it. I was offered housing in a room, owned by the DOS’ family, only to be unfairly evicted a few months later.

I remember typing a worksheet up for a class in the school’s central office, only to be told to go away somewhere else by the headmaster. He would always be there to criticize and lecture, but never to encourage and inspire.

Some people had better experiences than me and renewed. The stipend does not go far. Beware. I became proficient in the Spanish translation for 'insufficient funds' at my Banco Santander ATM.

There were fun nights out in Madrid, moments teaching in the classroom, and developing friendships with an international crowd, but overall this prestigious 'Ministry of Education' scholarship was not a positive experience.

No, I don't recommend


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