Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Should you look for Spain TEFL jobs in May?

A lot of people (like me, six years ago) have the great idea of hopping a plane to Spain in May, June, or July to start their new life as an EFL teacher while enjoying the hot weather and exploring the many beaches of Spain. If you have a LOT of money saved up and don't mind blowing through your savings before ever setting foot in a classroom, go for it. But don't say you weren't fairly warned...

Here's the thing: The Spanish academic year ends in June (both for company classes and kids), and many academy students start cancelling their classes in May anyways. So the academies have no need to take on more teachers until the next academic year starts, which seems to be getting later and later each year. It used to be you could find plenty of classes in early September, but now most seem to be starting in late September or October. In July and August, there are some academy classes, but not many. Most English teachers in Spain either go home for the summer, stay in Spain to work at summer camps, or go to England or other countries for better-paid summer school work.

When I came to Madrid in May 2002, I was able to get just seven hours of class per week through mid-June. I then found two weeks of work at a summer camp in July and spent the next seven weeks struggling to get by without blowing through my savings. Friends of mine who arrived at the same time had the same problem. You can always get lucky and happen upon an academy that's suddenly lost a teacher and had a bunch of classes open up, but you certainly can't count on it.

If you really want to spend the summer here, try searching for jobs on There are several summer camps in Spain posting jobs now -- even if the camp is not in the same city where you eventually hope to live, it could be an entry into Spain. The only problem is that camps will give priority to teachers who are already in Spain, since they can feel more confident that the teachers will in fact show up for work.

My advice is to wait until late August or early September, and spend the next few months saving up as much money as possible. When you first get here, you'll probably have to spend at least a week in a hostel while searching for an apartment, and then you'll have to pay a deposit on your room or flat. And even if you find work right away, your first paycheck won't come until the end of the first month. Plus, if you're coming from America, remember that the dollar is really low against the euro these days.

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