These days travel and international experiences are more encouraged and commended than ever, and not surprisingly, there is a vast variety of companies and organizations that offer “Abroad Experiences,” and specifically, Teach Abroad Programs. I can’t speak to all of the other programs out there, but the following is a guide to Teach Abroad with CIEE.
It’s a nonprofit, nongovermental organization and the “world leader in international education and exchange” (www.ciee.org) hence the Council on International Education Exchange name. They offer everything from study abroad to work abroad, internships, volunteer programs, and all things in between. Whatever you’re looking for, CIEE has something for you. CIEE offers an extensive list of Teach Abroad Programs, including programs in Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, and Vietnam. Moreover, they offer different programs within each of those categories to suit each individual’s specific needs.
The following is specific to Teach Abroad Spain. Feel free to explore more of the different country options here, and you are sure to find your perfect fit. They have so many options. Whether you want to learn Spanish or Korean, teach for 4 months or a full year, travel to a certain destination, or if it’s your first time or 100th time abroad, CIEE has got something for that!
Who Can Teach Abroad?
You! Well, most likely, let’s check the requirements…
- BA/BS degree (any major)
- Native English Speaker
- U.S. or Canadian citizenship
- Under age 35
- Spanish skills (*More on this below)
- A general interest in teaching, immersing yourself in a different culture while also sharing your culture with others. Basically, a positive attitude will do the trick.
*As far as Spanish skills go, they are very flexible. They offer different programs for those who have hardly any Spanish skills at all, as well as for those with extensive Spanish language and culture experience.
CIEE offers a variety of programs, which is the reason for the range of program fees. If you have a lot of experience and don’t feel you need as much assistance from them, it’ll be about $1,000. However, they also offer programs in which you can take either a two-week or four-week Spanish Immersion class to help you with your language skills. This also includes a few nights stay in a hotel upon arrival for orientation, as well as a homestay (all meals/laundry/etc. included) during the 2-4 week Spanish course. If you choose to get TEFL certified (more on this later) that’s an extra $1,000.
At first glance, it seems a bit expensive, right? But, when you think about everything it includes, it’s reasonable.
- All pre-departure assistance (They talk you through the visa process and offer tips and tutorials on any questions you may have.)
- School placement (They set you up with a job so no need to worry about the hunt or interviews!)
- iNext Travel Insurance
- Orientation (Includes info on health and safety, your role as a Language & Culture Assistant, support in changing your Visa into a residence card, finding an apartment, and so much more!)
- Airport pick-up
- 2-5 night’s hotel stay and possibly homestay
- Transportation ticket to city you are teaching in
- 24 hour assistance throughout your entire stay in Spain
- Optional TEFL add-on
What’s Not Included?
I’ll be honest, it’s definitely an expensive endeavor to teach abroad, but to me, and I think most would agree, it’s worth every penny. (Note: some programs provide accommodations and reimbursement for your international flight!)
- International Flight
- You are in charge of booking your own flight, although they give you the date you should arrive so they can meet you at the airport to pick you up.
- While they provide a few night’s stay in a hotel (it’s a nice one) upon arrival, you are in charge of finding your own living arrangements and paying the monthly rent. CIEE does offer assistance, though, with finding a place to live!
- While CIEE assists you with the process of obtaining a Visa and provides some of the necessary documents, they do not cover the Visa fees.
The Application Process
It’s pretty straight forward, and remember you don’t even need to go through interviews!
- Apply. Click here. Start a new application, make yourself a username, password, and general profile, and get going!
- The application is pretty straightforward. You need to include your resume, a couple of letters of recommendation, as well as a letter of intent. All pretty standard application “stuff.” $50 Application Fee.
- Get Accepted! CIEE reviews & accepts applicants on a rolling basis within a 2 month window of the application deadline.
- Submit your application as soon as you can! There is a high need for English teachers in Spain, so they try to accept as many qualified applicants as possible.
- Once accepted, confirm by paying the deposit.
- Placement. CIEE will work on placing you, once you complete your placement preferences (see more below!) Once placed, they will notify you and you confirm by paying the rest of the program fee.
- You’re ready to go…almost!
The Pre-departure Process
Unfortunately, there is quite a bit to be done in order to Teach Abroad in Spain, but I promise you it’s worth it, and like I said, CIEE assists you every step of the way.
Materials you need to submit and shit you need to get done:
- First things first – VISA
- The VISA process is a long one, but take it one step at a time. You need to have a passport that is valid at least 3 months after you return home, so hopefully you already have that, or it will take you a bit longer. Learn more here.
- Medical Physician Form (This is a part of the Visa application, too)
- Go get a physical and have your doctor type out a very specific statement saying you’re in good health to go abroad.
- Medical Questionnaire
- Answer general Y/N questions about your health.
- Proof of Graduation (Transcripts/Diploma)
- Passport Scan
- Flight Arrival Information
More on Placement
Things have changed a bit:
Placement used to be in Andalucía, the southern region of Spain, from cities and rural towns all over Sevilla, Málaga, Córdoba, Granada, Cádiz, Jaen – basically all of the Andalucian provinces or in the Madrid area. Once accepted, you would fill out your placement form listing your top 3 choices and which age group you would prefer to work with. You still choose whether you would rather work in a primary or a secondary school; however, CIEE currently only offers placement in the Madrid area. This may change again in future years.
You may also list if you are traveling with a friend or partner, and there is a section for you to list what factor is most important to you. For example, is it crucial that you work in a primary school, or is there a specific neighborhood you wish to teach in? For me, I listed that the most important factor was being placed near my boyfriend who was traveling with me.
My #1 choice was Sevilla, and I got placed in Sevilla (the province) in the city of Osuna, about an hour outside of Sevilla city, in a primary school. My boyfriend was also placed in Osuna. We were able to live in Sevilla and commute to work each day. So in general, I’d say CIEE does a GREAT job of placing participants and doing their best at accommodating each person’s preferences. Applying as early as possible may help!
Money, money, money, money. You won’t be rolling in the dough, but you will be able to live quite comfortably.
- For Andalucía 700 Euros/month (although this doesn’t currently apply)
- For Madrid: 1000 Euros/month
Teacher contracts in Andalucía were for 12 hours/week while those in Madrid are for 16 hours/week. When you think about how much you make an hour, it’s pretty decent money! Plus, the cost of living in Spain is cheap. Think 1 euro beers.
You get paid by the government, who provides your school with the money to pay you. The government in Spain is notorious for late payments, although I nor any of my friends ever had any issues with this. If you do, CIEE is there to help – bet you didn’t see that coming.
P.S. This includes PAID vacation. Spain has A TON of fiestas and “puentes” aka long weekends, so you get about 2 full weeks off plus a variety of other days and still get paid for it. Good deal.
Side Note: Private Lessons
If you want to make some extra money on the side for, ya know, traveling or going to the discoteca, private lessons are the answer. SO many people in Spain don’t speak English and are trying to learn. They are definitely in need of native English speakers and who better to learn from than you? Put up ads at your school or random places around town with your information or check out www.tusclasesparticulares.com! It’s an awesome site where you can list your information and what you offer as well as look up potential students who are looking to learn English. During orientation, CIEE goes over helpful private lesson information, as well!
CIEE helps you adjust to your new home away from home upon arrival. The first couple days of Orientation are filled with information on “Finding an Apartment”, “Getting a Cell Phone”, “How to Private Lessons,” and they help you get your TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjera – what you change your visa to when you arrive in Spain). They give you a Spain Guidebook, maps, a planner, and other helpful materials to get you set up. Throughout your stay in Spain, they are there to help you in any way they can and answer and and all questions that come up. Need to see a doctor? They will give you recommendations. Having issues with your school? Talk to CIEE. Plus, they provide tips and resources for teaching English each month. It’s comforting knowing you have someone to rely on, and everyone that works there is nothing but welcoming, helpful, and so friendly!
What about TEFL?
Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate. It is NOT required to teach in Spain. Bottom line: you do not need it.
Honestly, I think it is totally up to your preferences whether or not you opt for the TEFL certificate add-on. I decided to do it because I thought it would be a good thing to have on the resume. I majored in Spanish in college, taught Spanish to elementary students, and just thought it might be another good thing to add to the list. Was the class all that helpful to me? Not exactly, but I don’t regret doing it. It certainly increases the program fees, so if you’re looking to save money, don’t worry about it. If you’re nervous about teaching English and want to be more prepared, you might enjoy it. However, as a Language and Culture Assistant in Spain you are not the lead teacher, and you won’t be able to predict what exactly you will be doing in each of your classes anyways. So again, you be the judge. Just know you’ll be 100% fine without it.
[Note: For some countries, a TEFL certificate is required.]
I LOVED my time in Spain as a Language and Culture Assistant. It was the most incredible experience, and I thoroughly appreciated everything CIEE did to make it happen. Yes, it’s a little expensive, and no, you don’t make a fortune, but teaching abroad is certainly not about making money. Moving and working abroad is definitely a culture shock, so I believe going through a program such as CIEE is the best way to make the transition as smooth as possible. It is awesome knowing when you land that they will be waiting for you and ready to help you get settled into life in Spain. And, the whole not having to actually hunt for a job on your own in a different country is pretty amazing. The only issue I’ve ever had with CIEE would be their video tutorials. Occasionally their website is a little slow, and the videos don’t always work. I find using a PC is helpful, but don’t fret, you go over most of the information at orientation anyways!