Saturday, August 15, 2009

Answers to reader questions

Randy recently posted a comment with lots of questions (see the comments for my previous post: Absolutely nothing to do with Spain!). Since the comments were getting kind of long, I thought I'd do my best to answer his questions in a separate post. Here goes!

1) Should I take my TEFL certificate training in Dallas or should I move to Spain and then get it there?
-- One advantage of doing a TEFL course in Spain is that you have instant connections for teaching jobs. Many of the TEFL academies are also English academies (meaning they also provide English classes for Spanish people), so you can often just get a job through them when your course ends. If not, they may provide you with the names of specific academies or even people to contact. One final advantage is that you can start looking for a potential job while working on your TEFL certificate, since you'll already be in Spain. In your free time, you can go around to academies or post ads offering private classes.

2) What about finding a LEGAL English teacher job in Spain BEFORE moving there? I hate the idea of moving to Spain and THEN trying to find a job.
-- I understand not wanting to move to Spain without a legal teaching job. However, if you do not already have your legal residency status sorted out, it's difficult to find a job before you get there. (I should also warn you that I know of a few people who were scammed -- they were told that a job would be waiting for them and that the academy would sort out their visas, etc. They had to pay several hundred dollars for the "visas" and of course were left with no job, no visa, and no money.) There are two options for North Americans to get legal, paid teaching work ahead of time in Spain: with Fulbright España or through the Ministerio de Educación. Check their websites for deadlines, pay, etc. and ONLY go through the official websites (there are several scams that pretend to be one of these services). When I last checked, the site for the Ministerio did not have any active information, but maybe they just need to update it, so I'd just keep an eye on it. One problem with these programs, though, is that the pay tends to be pretty low.

3) How hard is it to find legal work as an English teacher, given that I am NOT an EU citizen and am competing with British teachers that ARE EU citizens? With determination, will I be able to find a job? I know unemployment is over 20% now too! Surely there has to be a way to get a stable job!
-- I'm not in Spain at the moment, so I don't know how much the unemployment has affected English teaching. In the past, Americans could almost always find some sort of teaching job. Some academies won't hire Americans without working papers, others say they won't but really do, and others will just take anyone. And most private students don't care (or ask) if you're legal or not. To get a better idea of the current situation, you could try posting in a Spain expat forum, such as Spain Expat or Notes from Spain.
-- One other thing -- have you looked into getting a residency visa through your kids? I know there's something called reagrupacion de familia that allows non-resident foreigners to join their family members who are legal residents of Spain. However, I know NOTHING about how this works (e.g., how long the legal residents have to be in Spain before bringing family over). You could try calling the Spanish consulate near you to see if they have information, or search for info on the Web.

4) I am guessing that I will need 1350 euros per month (AFTER taxes, see below), and that factors in NO misc type expenses at all! Yikes. Remember, I am single and support 2 kids half the time.
Monthly Expenses Guess (in Euros):
• 600 rent

• 100 utilities
• 400 groceries
• 100 car gas
• 50 car insurance
• 50 phone
• 50 internet
Just how accurate are the above expense costs? Do I NEED a car?

-- Again, I would post this in one of the forums I mentioned above, so you can get the most up-to-date information. When I left Spain last year, my rent for a 2 BR flat in a fairly crappy neighborhood was 700 euros per month. My Internet/phone package (though only calls to land lines were free) was almost 50 euros per month, but then I had a cell phone as well (and most numbers I called were cell phones, so I had to pay for those). My guess is your expense estimate is low for one adult and two teens, though you could probably cut down on the groceries and maybe car gas (depending where you're driving). Of course, I'm also basing this on Madrid. In other parts of Spain, rent can be much, much cheaper.

5) What can I expect to earn, per year AFTER taxes, in Spain as an TEFL English teacher with no EU citizenship?
-- It depends where in Spain you're living, how much of your salary is through an academy versus private classes (you'll usually earn more per hour for private classes, but the students may cancel more often). It also depends whether you can find work in the summers, since most academy work dries up. Again, once you target a place (or at least general area -- Andalucia, Madrid, Pais Vasco, etc.) where you want to live, go on the forums and look for people who have taught in those areas.

6) Who should I email for further advice? I am looking for individual Americans that live in Spain and that I could email with questions!
-- I think you know what I'm going to say! The two forums I mentioned above, as well as MadridMan's All Spain Message Board and ESL Cafe's Spain Forum.


Kathryn Barker said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. It really helps to hear about the experience from someone who's been there, and who writes about it so well.

musica said...

Thanks for your comment, Kathryn. I'm glad people are reading the blog and enjoying it. I have fun writing it and hope that it will help people get the most out of their time in Spain... There are so many great things to see and experience there!

John said...


I would love to interview about teaching English in Spain, if you can spare about 30 minutes.

Please email.

musica said...

Hi John,

Thanks for your interest. What sort of interview do you mean? For your own personal interest or a publication? Just curious!


John said...


The interview is for my teaching blog. I want to give people an idea of what to expect teaching English in various countries around the world.

It would be great if you could answer some questions by email.


audrey said...

Hello good day to you!

I’ve read your blog and find it very much interesting. Can you do me a favor? Can I ask you to post my link in your blogroll/sidebar? In return with that I’ll write an article for you which are related to your blog. In this way, we both can benefit since there would probably more visitors in your blog and mine as well. It would be my pleasure if you will accept my request. Thanks in advance!

Keyword: Study Languages

Best regards,
Audrey Morales

Tom said...


I have been looking for a contact form on this website but couldn't find one, sorry to use the comments.

We're two English teachers living in Barcelona, and we've just set up a new website for teaching online. We also publish our own books. We're contacting bloggers in Spain to see if they'd like to join our affiliate system and make money from selling our TEFL books.

We're giving away a large percentage to initial affiliates as we've just launched. If you're interested, contact me and I'll send you some more info.



Josh said...

Your blog caught my eye (Sorry about contacting you here; I couldn't find any other contact info for you), and I think you'd be a good fit for a little part time job. Read on if you're interested!

We're building a Madrid travel guide for the iPhone and other mobile devices, and we need your help!

We are looking for people with discernment, common sense and above all... attitude... to help us populate our new Madrid Brink Guide by becoming Brink Guide Editors. (

The job is not complex... we give you a URL where you log-in to upload short reviews of unique venues or activities with a pic in a user-friendly web form. We pay $5 USD per item uploaded to your PayPal. Some of our freelancers report being able to upload more than 20 entries a day.

We need original photos and a few original words (but not many - the reviews can be very simple - certainly not more than 75 words at the very most. "Best tapas in Lavapies, bar none." would be a perfectly fine entry. - As long as it really is the best burger from that area. Equally good would be, "Pedro tells us his burger is the best 1/3 pounder in town. We concur. Try the salty relish."

We do want special attention to the small shops clinging for life - like the barber shop that\'s been there 78 years, or the shell shop or thrift shop or tattoo shop that is somehow less commercial than the rest. We are also interested in the best clubs, mechanics, biking routes. We want to be a resource for anyone new to town.

What we don't need to be is exhaustive and complete. We want to feature the 30 best bars, the 15 best hotels, not every bar and every hotel. We'll let Frommer's stake out that territory.

Above all we want the Brink Guide to celebrate the margin, to reveal venues and activities that exist just under the surface of things. We want the local perspective of experienced space and time travelers... the judgment of gifted amateurs, rather than the jaded opinions of seasoned professionals. We are not at all interested in the starbuckization of cities, rather we want to see the small, unique businesses and the commerce they produce.

If this interests you please send 3 sample items from Madrid to We need:
1) Name of the Venue or Activity
2) Description
3) Address
4) Phone
5) Email and Web site (if they exist)
6) Photo 500 pixels wide no bigger than 500k.

If we like your samples, we'll pay you for them and hire you to write more!


Alex said...

Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog.
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