Spain: To Teach or Not to Teach?

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Teaching Location: Logrono, Spain
Type of Teaching Job: Teacher in an Academy
Student Age Group: KIds, Teens and Adults
Monthly Salary: 1150 Euros (~$1,225 USD)
Monthly Rent: 225 Euros (~$240 USD)
Living Arrangement: Shared housing (2-bedroom apartment)
Monthly Savings: 500 Euros (~$533 USD)
Contract Bonuses: None

Teaching English in Spain - Blog Story by Benjamin Greensmith

⋯ By Benjamin Greensmith ⋯

Living and working in Spain, can at times, not match the stereotypes and expectations that we all believe and fall prey to, me included.

I write this from a rather poky apartment in a non-descript northern Spanish city. The rain in Spain falls mainly here and like much of Spain there are no never ending beaches or non-stop partying, just the ever gently flowing Rio Ebro, never ending horizons and the stress of the day all washed away with a bottle of Spanish wine.

Galicia, Spain
A small cove in Galicia at sunset, taken after climbing with some good friends.

Things I Love About Teaching English in Spain

Lifestyle and Flexibility

What I love about teaching in Spain is the flexibility you can achieve here. You don’t have to be tied down in a 25-hour a week contract if you don’t want.

This is a ‘who you know’ not ‘what you know’ culture.

If you want to work only a few hours a week, you can choose a place with a low cost of living and have a real adventure or if you want a hardcore teaching job in the centre of Madrid then it is more than possible to get this too. If you couple this with the boundless energy of the students and adults driven to learn English, then your experience here can be quite pleasant but it is not the place for the naïve: you need your business head on and you need to adopt the Spanish approach of ‘numero uno’.

It is your life so make the most of it.

Travel Destinations and Culture

That compartmentalises two of my favourite things about teaching in Spain into one neat paragraph and the third is, in my opinion, the most important. Spain is an open, relaxed country where you can travel, see beautiful, off the beaten track, places and walk in and out of a hundred different cultures all under a seemingly never ending sky.

To immerse yourself is vital in order to understand the people you teach and to travel, really adds the icing on the cake of what could be a wonderful and bemusing adventure into a very interesting culture.

Bilbao, Spain
A Christmas trip to Bilbao, photo taken on the puente de ayuntamiento of the wonderful river.

Things I Dislike About Teaching English in Spain

Teacher Bias

One of the things I strongly dislike in Spain is the old school teaching practises you find here. They still believe that native teachers are supreme, despite EU law saying otherwise and at times you can feel on your own, when you are thrust into a classroom with only a chalk board and a tatty book to get you by.

Spain is a baptism of fire for all wannabe teachers and can really make or break you.

Communication Problems

I came to Spain expecting someone, somewhere to speak English… I was wrong. They have a low level, and that is that. If you mix this with their inherent lack of confidence when speaking another language, it can at times be frustrating.

I have been at my wits end at the bank trying to get something important sorted, only for the bank manager to burst into solid English almost 30 minutes into my struggle.

Having some Spanish under your belt before you arrive is key and then trying to get that level up whilst you are here is vital.

Management Issues

I don’t hate the way they do things here per se. However, you must always be prepared for class times to change, people to cancel classes for no reason and an altogether different set of standards and etiquette that can leave you puzzled and at worse disheartened.

There is a huge disparity in standards amongst teachers, schools and academies: from the finest establishments, to the worst, all within one town. You have to be smart and always switched or you might find yourself working long hours for low pay with an exploitative boss.

Vineyards near Logrono, Spain
Vineyards just outside Logrono, going on and on as far as the eye can see over the flat plain.

To sum it all up, If you are thinking of coming to teach in Spain I would say “go for it” but make sure you do your research and try your best to find out if it is a culture you actually want to be part of because you might just come here for a year and waste your time or, like me, you might be here for a year and stay for several more…

If you are interested in finding out more about teaching in Spain and like my writing style then check out my blog.

Contact Benjamin Greensmith


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