• Spain edition
 
JobTalk Spain
Here's how Americans can teach in Spain
The Spanish Government's North American Language and Culture Assistants Programme is popular but far from perfect. Photo: Jorge Macri

Here's how Americans can teach in Spain

Published: 20 Jan 2014 16:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2014 16:54 GMT+01:00

Thinking about signing up for the Spanish government's North American Language and Culture Assistants Program? For The Local's latest JobTalk, we spoke to Spain-based English teacher Cat Gaa about the positives and the pitfalls of taking part.

It's not easy for people from the US or Canada to find work in Spain, but Spain's North American Language and Culture Assistants Program is one option available. 

The programme, which is run by Spain's Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, gives North American native English or French students the chance to assist a teacher in English or French programmes in Spain's elementary, secondary or language schools.

Teachers work 12 to 16 class periods a week — giving them enough time to get involved in other activities — and generally stay for a year or two, although priority is given to first-year applicants and some applicants even manage to wrangle a third year.

These language assistants receive a salary of €700 ($950) to €1,000 a month. They are provided with an orientation course and full medical insurance but have to pay for their own travel to and from Spain.

While the programme is mainly aimed at people aged 21 to 35, older applicants can also sign on. But take note: people aged over 35 can't work in Madrid. 

You also need to be in good health, have a university degree, or be in the process of completing one, and undergo a background check. Basic Spanish is also expected.

"I had a very positive experience of the programme," Catherine Gaa from the US told The Local.

"It's very difficult to work as a US citizen in Spain but the programme provided me a with a visa, a salary and basic health cover," she says.

"I was treated like another teacher and got to know my students and colleagues very well.

"I also wanted to get involved in curriculum development and the school where I was working let me do that."

But Cat warns that there are negative aspects to the programme — including the clunky bureaucracy of the  application process and the critical issue of payments. 

"It's important to be aware that your payments won't always won't come in time, or sometimes come in a single lump sum, which means there could be money management issues," she explains.

Other problems with the programme are mostly due to its booming popularity, which Cat puts down to the lack of jobs in the US since the economic crisis kicked in.

"Overall organization of the programme is pretty poor and I don't think the Spanish government has the resources to plan it.

"They also need some sort of job description, as the programme is growing so fast and there is no one single definition of what it entails," Cat says.

The huge popularity of the programme has another downside. When people apply, they can nominate which Spanish regions they would like to work in. With more and more people applying, however, many people are not getting their first choice.

"I think attitude has a great deal to do with how successful the programme is," says Cat. "I tell people to be prepared to not get their first choice and be open."

In terms of general advice, Cat says it's important to bring enough money with you, and to be prepared for things to be different.

"Come with an open mind. Spain is not the US and it's not always easy."     

The online application process for the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program for the 2014–2015 school year closes on April 9th.

For more information on the programme and how to apply see Spain's Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport website here. To read about one person's experience of the complicated experience of applying for the programme, see this post on Cat Gaa's blog, Sunshine & Siestas.             

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines

Spain ejects seven illegal migrants from tiny island

Spain on Wednesday sent back to Morocco seven sub-Saharan African migrants who arrived at an uninhabited Spanish island near the Moroccan coast on an inflatable boat, officials said. READ () »

Real Madrid fans jam streets after Cup win
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas displays the Copa del Rey trophy. Photo: AFP/Gerard Julien

Real Madrid fans jam streets after Cup win

Thousands of cheering Real Madrid fans welcomed their team back to the Spanish capital early on Thursday after winning the Copa del Rey with a 2-1 victory over arch rivals Barcelona. READ () »

Rising imports boost Spain's trade deficit
File photo: PromoMadrid/Flickr

Rising imports boost Spain's trade deficit

Spain's trade deficit jumped by more than a third in February compared to the almost 20-year low it hit a year earlier, official data released on Wednesday shows. READ () »

Fake terrorist jailed for extorting businessmen
His extortion methods, commonly known as revolutionary tax, were actually employed by ETA until 2011. Photo of phone call: Shutterstock

Fake terrorist jailed for extorting businessmen

A man has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars after he pretended to be a member of Basque separatist group ETA in threatening letters sent out to 100 Spanish businessmen. READ () »

Spanish king's plane breaks down again
Spain's King Juan Carlos (centre) at the first UAE-Spain Economic Forum at the Emirates Palace hotel on Monday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP

Spanish king's plane breaks down again

Spain's King Juan Carlos saw his return home from the Middle East on Wednesday delayed after the military plane he was travelling on experienced engine problems, the fifth such incident in recent months. READ () »

Punches thrown during packed Easter parade
The aged victim of the attack received emergency treatment after the incident. Screen grab: 8 Andalusia

Punches thrown during packed Easter parade

Holy Week celebrations in the Spanish city of Seville were marred by violence on Tuesday when a young man attacked an older man in a dispute over the best spot to watch a passing religious procession. READ () »

Spanish restaurant to be world's most expensive
Sublimotion will offer a “gastro-sensory” spectacle to the lucky dozen; including lights, sounds and levitating dinner plates. Photo: YouTube

Spanish restaurant to be world's most expensive

The Spanish party island of Ibiza will soon house the most expensive restaurant on the planet, where a meal for one will cost the (not so) lucky customer a staggering €1,500 ($2075). READ () »

Immigrants gatecrash 'forgotten' Spanish isle
Isabel II Island, with a military barracks that houses around 30 soldiers is the only one of the three Chafarinas Islands which is inhabited. Photo: Miguel González Novo

Immigrants gatecrash 'forgotten' Spanish isle

Seven would-be immigrants arrived on the Spain's tiny Isla del Congresso on Monday, startling the small band of Spanish soldiers stationed on a neighbouring island. READ () »

Spain's 'corruption king' turns violent in prison
“I’m not a criminal,” Bárcenas shouted as he refused to be handcuffed behind his back, a requirement for prisoners travelling in Spain. Photo: YouTube & Pierre Phillipe Marcou/AFP

Spain's 'corruption king' turns violent in prison

The former treasurer of Spain's ruling Popular Party won't be allowed to walk the prison courtyard for nearly five months after directing insults at Civil Guard police officers and refusing to be handcuffed. READ () »

Catalan report is wrong on independence: EU
Young activists calling for independence for Catalonia take part in a 'human chain' on the region's national day on September 11, 2013. File photo: José Jordan/AFP

Catalan report is wrong on independence: EU

The European Union has once again said an independent Catalonia would be automatically left out of the EU, a day after lobby group for the region's government released a report arguing this would not be the case. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
'Monkey Jesus' restorer to star in music video
Culture
Seven surprising facts about Spain's Holy Week
National
Spanish tax office sells bras for extra cash
Society
Abortion Travel: 'The agency that should never exist'
National
Top expat moans about Spain on Twitter
Society
Email gaffe reveals how Spanish firms exploit young workers
National
Man hacks off own fingers in insurance scam
Travel & Tourism
Top ten: Spain's best beaches 2014
National
Lovemaking lands woman at bottom of well
International
Jobless Spaniards to be kicked out of Germany
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Health
Serial texter suffers first case of 'WhatsAppitis'
Politics
Six reasons why Suárez is Spain's best loved PM
Politics
'Energy giants out to kill off Spain's solar sector'
Society
Spain's hottest jobs 2014
National
Man dies while taking selfie on top of train
Society
Spanish PM turns down free English course
Travel & Tourism
Top Ten: Spain's coolest hotels 2014
Culture
A to Z of The Local's picture galleries
Culture
Scientists discover why some of us 'hate' music
Features
How Barcelona is getting it wrong on cannabis
National
'Spain could be a world leader in solar power'
Society
Could this Spanish Duchess claim the Scottish crown?
Society
Global 'British grub' map satisfies expat cravings
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,392
jobs available