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How can you save money on schoolbooks in Spain?

Everything is getting more expensive in Spain, and schoolbooks are no exception. With the return to classrooms just around the corner, here are some tricks parents can use to cut costs in terms of textbooks and other material.

how to save money on school books in spain
In 2022, parents in Spain will spend on average €405 per child on 'la vuelta al cole'. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Most children in Spain will be going back to school in the second week of September, which still leaves quite a bit of time to get all the new materials and books. However, it’s best to start as early as possible, as a scramble for books in early September often causes them to run out, and prices to go up. 

In 2021, families in Spain spent on average €386 per child on their return to school, with books and other materials making up about half of the expense. 

In 2022, with rising inflation affecting pretty much all living costs, it’s no surprise that what parents will pay for schoolbooks will be even higher (the overall return to school cost per child is expected to increase to €405). 

For infantil (0 to 6 years), parents can expect to spend €101 per child on schoolbooks, for primaria (6 to 12) it will be €187 and for secundaria (12 to 16) the average expense is €260.

READ ALSO: Why are books so expensive in Spain?

Keeping this in mind, parents should be armed with all the tricks in the book to help reduce costs, so here are some handy cost-cutting tips: 

Compare prices in different bookshops

The website Ahorra en Libros allows you to compare prices in different bookshops, so you can find the cheapest new books. You can search them easily by using the ISBN number.

Independent bookshops

Many independent bookshops will give you the maximum authorised discount of 5 percent on books for Bachillerato (high school), and up to 10 or 15 percent for primary and secondary schoolbooks, so it’s worth asking for a discount.

Second hand websites

Of course, the best way to save money (and to be less wasteful) is to buy second hand. Websites like OkLibros and Relibrea have been set up in recent years specifically to help people find schoolbooks.

Meanwhile many parents have also been using re-sale websites like Wallapop, where users can buy, sell or exchange with people in their neighbourhood.

Some bookshops like La Casa del Libro also have their own second hand book sections, which you can search on their website.

When buying used books, be sure to check that the ISBN number matches the one in the list provided by the school. Text books have to be reedited with new information every few years, so some of them get outdated very quickly.

Getting in touch with other parents at the school

Perhaps the most effective way of swapping books is by getting in touch with other parents. It’s likely many of the books on the curriculum will be the same as the previous year, so it’s worth trying to find someone in the year above who can pass on their books, and someone in the year below who might be able to reuse yours.

The school’s own second-hand scheme

Many schools have been organising their own book swaps, where children effectively “rent” their books and return them at the end of the school year. However, this means the books need to be looked after throughout the year and kept in good condition if you want to get your deposit back.

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SPAIN AND THE US

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

The governments of Spain and the United States have agreed to recruit more English and Spanish-language assistants from each other’s countries as a means of bolstering bilingual education in the two nations.

Spain and the US to exchange more language assistants in bilingualism push    

Spain’s Education Minister Pilar Alegría and US ambassador to Spain Julissa Reynoso met on Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding which will reinforce educational cooperation between the two countries. 

The agreement had been previously signed by Miguel Cardona, the United States Secretary of Education, who tweeted: “This week, alongside [Spanish] Ambassador [Santiago] Cabañas, I signed a memorandum supporting the study of Spanish language & culture in the US, and the study of English in Spain”.

It is in fact a renewal of a memorandum between the United States and Spain which has facilitated mobility of both conversation assistants and students between the two countries in recent years.

The aim of this newest memorandum of understanding is to further strengthen student and teacher exchange programmes and promote bilingual and multicultural teaching in both educational systems.

No exact details have yet been given about how many extra language assistants will be given grants to join the programme. 

Several teacher recruitment sources suggest the current number of North American language assistants (including Canadians) heading to Spain every year is between 2,000 and 2,500. 

The Spanish government has stated that in 2023, this figure will be around 4,500, which represents a considerable increase in the number of US and Canadian citizens who can apply through the NALCAP programme, which stands for North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain. 

According to Spain’s Foreign Ministry, the following requirements must be met by US candidates in order to participate in the programme:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and have a valid passport
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or be currently enrolled as a sophomore, junior or a senior in a bachelor’s programme. Applicants may also have an associate degree or be a community college student in their last semester.
  • Have a native-like level of English
  • Be in good physical and mental health
  • Have a clean background check
  • Be aged 18 – 60.
  • Have at least basic knowledge of Spanish (recommended)

NALCAP recipients receive a monthly stipend of €700 to €1,000 as well as Spanish medical insurance.

Application dates for 2023 are usually announced in late November. See more information on the NALPAC programme for US nationals here

According to The Fulbright Program, one of several US cultural exchange programmes that organises the recruitment of US nationals for Spain: “English Teaching Assistants assist teaching staff at the early childhood, elementary, middle school, high school, vocational and/or university level for up to 16 hours per week, with an additional two hours for planning & coordination meetings. Responsibilities include assistant-teaching, in English, subjects such as social studies, science and technology, art, physical education, and English language.”

READ MORE: The pros and cons of being an English language assistant in Spain

There are also currently more than 1,000 Spanish teachers working as visiting teachers in the United States, Spain’s Moncloa government has said, without adding yet how many more will be recruited in 2023.

Additionally, more than 1,000 North American students now take part in the Spanish Language and Culture Groups managed by the Spanish Education Ministry’s Overseas Education Action (or Acción Educativa Exterior, AEE).  

Canadian applicants can find out more about working as language assistants in Spain by visiting the NALCAP Canada website.

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