The city of Barcelona will wow you with its architecture, food, and culture. Set along the seaside, it's a major tourist hub that boasts one of Europe’s largest football clubs. It's also the capital of the Catalan region and is the second-largest city in Spain.
You will find the beautiful works of architect Antoni Gaudí scattered throughout the city. The most famous of his projects is the Sagrada Família, a unique gothic basilica in the heart of Barcelona. Take a stroll down La Rambla while evaluating the best restaurants for some thirst-quenching sangria. Soak in the colorful vegetables and meats available in the massive outdoor marketplace of La Boqueria. Are you ready to take advantage of everything that Barcelona has to offer?
Private Language Academies/Schools:
Language academies are basically tutoring centers that specialize in language instruction. These are a great place of employment, especially if you wish to get a work visa. While these centers are open throughout the day, they tend to have a heavier class load in the afternoon and the evenings. This is a great option for those looking to take Spanish language classes abroad. You might even be called in on weekends, however, you should still have plenty of time for travel. Language academies are also on the lower end of the pay scale, which is another factor to keep in mind.
There are companies that hire instructors to shuttle around to various offices and individuals in order to instruct the English language. These jobs tend to pay a bit more but come with more hassle since you are not fixed in a single location. The other issue with this option is that you will work some odd hours in order to work around a typical business day.
The option that offers the most flexibility, as well as the potential for a higher salary, is the private lesson route. You make your own hours, and you can usually charge a higher amount for the one-on-one instruction that you give. Since you would be self-employed, this is also the option that is the least secure. If you choose this method of employment, make sure that you have the qualifications to back up your prices.
When and Where to Look for Jobs
The worst time to find a job is during the summer months, especially between July and August. Most Spaniards will be off on vacation, so it is a relatively slow period. In September, the market starts to pick up as schools and academies scramble to fill positions. It would be best to time your job search with a coming semester since that is when people are signing up for lessons.
If you have gone through a certification course, you can always use their recruitment services to help you find employment. If you want to hit the ground running, your best bet is to dress business casual and to make yourself known to the schools, academies, and companies around town. Look online or through the local newspaper to see who is hiring. Personal networking is incredibly important in Barcelona and establishing connections will be the fastest way to find employment.
In general, it's easiest to find a job in Barcelona once you're on the ground and in-country. However, you can find a few jobs on online teaching job boards or teacher search websites.
English teachers are ubiquitous in Barcelona, so make sure to have an English language instruction certification of some sort. Whether you choose TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, or any of the other programs, bring your certification with you.
If you decide on an on-site program, definitely try to go for one in Spain, preferably in Barcelona. By completing your qualification in Barcelona, it will allow you to network before the actual job hunt. To teach in a state school, you will have to pass a rigorous series of examinations all in Spanish called the Oposiciones. If you want to work in the public school system, another option is to become a language and culture assistant through the Spanish Ministry of Education.
Salary & Cost of Living:
- Salary: For most of these jobs, you will be earning a set amount per hour. This amount can range from $12 to $40 per hour. Your number of hours will fluctuate, however, you can count on working around 25 hours per week. The language academies pay the lowest end of the scale, while the in-company jobs pay the highest. If you engage in private tutoring, then you would set your own rate around $25 and up. Keep in mind the price that other tutors are charging and make sure you can back up your rate with previous teaching experience or qualifications.
- Housing: There are different options for housing in Barcelona depending on how much of your paycheck you want to leave intact. The cheapest is to rent a single room which costs around $325 and up. The second is to share an apartment with multiple roommates. This is around $390 and up per month. If you really feel like living large and want your own space, you could splurge on a studio apartment. This would run you around $780 per month. Of course, finding housing in the most popular tourist areas would run up your bill the most. Try to look for quiet neighborhoods that are safe. You could also enroll in a teaching program, like Cultural Homestay International, that combines living in a homestay in Barcelona with teaching English to the local family that hosts you. This would be the most effective option if you wanted to learn Spanish or Catalan.
- Cost of Living: Double check if utilities are included in your rent. If not, then water and electricity will run you around $90 to $200 per month, depending on the type of living situation you have. Of course, staying in to cook is the cheapest option for food, as long as you try to buy inexpensive produce. If you choose to eat out, restaurant meals range from moderately cheap at around $13 to very expensive. For a few dollars, you can get some basic sandwiches or tapas. A cheap bottle of wine will run you about $5 and a pint of beer will be around $3.
Classroom & Work Culture:
Make sure to dress business casual in the classroom, on par with what you wore when job hunting. Depending on what option you choose, you will likely be teaching students that range from young children to the elderly. Maintain a friendly formality and ask other teachers about more specific acceptable interactions with students.
Barcelona, and Spain in general, tends to be laid back. Try not to let little frustrations with bureaucracy get to you. Also, learn to work with the two-hour siesta in the middle of the day, not to mention the relatively late eating habits of the Barcelona people. In terms of greetings, do not just go in for a cheek kiss when it comes to strangers. You will be fine with a handshake and a polite greeting. Once you become more familiar with people, then wait for them to initiate any changes in your greetings. Eventually, you will likely move to the kiss-on-each-cheek phase.
Contributed by Cecilia Haynes
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Is it expensive to live in Spain?
While larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona can be on the more expensive side, the cost of living in Spain is lower than in most European countries. A room in a shared apartment in a city center like Madrid can range from about €250-€600 euros ($270 - $650 USD).
Is it safe to live in Spain?
Spain is a very safe country. But, just like the rest of Europe, Spain is notorious for pickpockets. It's important to not carry your passport around and always keep an eye on your phone!
How much money do you make teaching English in Spain?
As a Language and Culture Assistant teaching in public schools in Spain, you can generally earn €700 per month (€1000+ in Madrid). Teaching in private academies and language schools you can earn between €15 - €20 per hour, equaling about €1,500-€2,000 per month if you work full time. You can earn upwards of €20 per hour if you tutor privately.
Can you teach English in Spain without knowing Spanish?
You don't need to speak any Spanish to teach in Spain. Native English-speaking teachers are encouraged to speak only English in most language schools and academies. While it's helpful to know Spanish when dealing with the Spanish government or for the visa process, it is not necessary for your day-to-day teaching job.
Do you need a degree to teach English in Spain?
There are a number of ways to teach English in Spain--some require a degree and others do not, however, all require native fluency in English. While most programs require a Bachelor's degree or an Associate's, there are programs, such as through CIEE, which only require you to be enrolled in a university. It's also possible to teach English without any higher education certification through volunteer programs.