Teaching English in Spain as an American – Things You Should Know

Americans interested in teaching English abroad should have Spain on their radar. This country is drenched in sunshine, high in demand for English teachers, and a short flight away from other incredible European destinations.

As you begin researching ways to teach English overseas, you’ll realize that each country has its own unique programs, requirements, and advantages. As someone who has spent the past four years teaching English in Spain, I’m happy to walk you through some of these specifics.

It’s comforting to know companies like the TEFL Org have your back when it comes to teaching English overseas. Their 120-hour online TESOL training course will set you up for a successful TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) career, no matter where you choose to work.

Not all programs in Spain require a TESOL certificate. But, it will set your application apart and give you the tools to succeed from the first time you step into your classroom.

If you’re curious about what it’s like to teach English in Spain as an American, it’s useful to learn about the programs available. I’ll share information about that and will help you gain insight into the legal processes and other challenges that are specifically relevant to Americans working in Spain.

After exploring these factors, you can get excited about the many reasons Spain is a great place to live and work!

Also Read: Moving to Spain as an American – What I Wish I knew

So, let’s dive right in! Here is everything you need to know about programs for teaching in Spain, challenges for Americans, and why life in Spain is so worth the effort!

Teaching English in Spain: What You Need to Know

An American teaching English in Spain

TESOL Programs Available for US Citizens

I’ve met people teaching English through various programs in Spain. Many of them found out about their program by word of mouth. And while it’s great to get the thumbs-up from friends, I recommend learning the specifics of several programs before deciding which is best for you.

Here are the highlights of some of the most popular programs available for US citizens to teach English in Spain.

1. North American Language and Culture Assistants Program

This program is offered directly through the Spanish Ministry of Education.

It places teaching assistants in public schools all around the country. It is one of the most popular programs, and it is the one I have been teaching through for the past four years!

  • Requirements: You must have a university degree, and be a native English speaker. You are not tested on your level of Spanish; however, you need a basic level in order to complete the application paperwork.
  • Program duration: This program runs from October through May or June, depending on the region you are working in.
  • When to apply: The application period is open from January through May.
  • Specifics: This program allows you to state your top three regional preferences on the application. You may not get your first choice, so it’s great to go in with an open mind. Wages range from 700-1000€ a month, and you’ll work between 12 and 16 hours a week, depending on your location.


CIEE is a third-party provider that offers a program for teaching English in Madrid.

You’ll work a similar position to those offered by the previous program, but this service requires a fee and provides assistance through the tricky paperwork and other processes to get you set up in Spain.

  • Requirements: You need to be a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree. There is no language requirement or previous teaching requirement.
  • Program duration: This program starts late August or early September and runs through the end of June.
  • When to apply: The application dates vary annually, but typically opens around the start of the year and runs until early March.
  • Specifics: With this program, you will be working in public schools in Madrid around 16 hours per week. You will work four days a week and earn 1000€ per month.

3. Meddeas

Meddeas is a Spanish organization that places language assistants in school around Spain.

You’ll receive training, participate in workshops, and have in-country support to help you along the way. Unlike some other programs, there is an interview process when applying through Meddeas.

  • Requirements: For their advanced program, you’ll need to be native in English and have a degree in English or Education, or any degree with a TESOL certificate. There are other program options where your degree type doesn’t matter.
  • Duration and when to apply: This will depend on which program you apply for. You can choose between a 9-month program, which has a March deadline, or a 5-month program, which has a November deadline.
  • Specifics: With Meddeas, you will work 20-24 hours a week and receive a wage of around 1000€ per month.

Other programs worth considering are BEDA and the Fulbright program for Teaching English in Spain.

Now, there is plenty more demand for native English teachers in Spain. However, searching outside of programs that are specifically set up for Americans can become tricky and lead to legal complications.

Challenges for Non-EU Citizens

Teaching English to adults

Unlike EU citizens, Americans are only permitted to stay in Spain for 90 days, unless we come with a visa stating otherwise.

Working visas in Spain are difficult to secure for Americans because in order to get one, you’ll first have to land a job.

Unless you are already in Spain on another visa that you plan to modify, you will have to apply for a job, interview, and be hired while still in the US. Then, in order for a Spanish company to hire an American, they will have to submit paperwork requesting authorization for you to legally work in Spain. This will only be granted if they prove they couldn’t find any Spanish or EU citizen to fill the position. Most companies prefer to forgo this paperwork, so they find qualified Spaniards or EU citizens to fill most roles.

Programs like the ones I mentioned above can help you navigate this dilemma and secure legal work in Spain as an American. This does mean months of paperwork and planning prior to making the big leap across the pond, but it is doable and so worth the effort.

Here’s a quick and simplified run-through of what this process will look like for you as a non-EU citizen, wanting to teach English in Spain:

  1. Receive your paperwork stating you have been accepted to participate in your chosen program.
  2. Gather materials necessary to apply for a long term student visa in Spain.
  3. Make an appointment to apply for the visa at your state’s consulate, and show up in-person to submit the application.
  4. A few weeks later, you’ll receive your passport in the mail with a newly affixed visa, and you’re ready to head to Spain!
  5. Once in Spain, you’ll need to apply for a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjera), which proves you are allowed to stay in Spain until your program’s end date. After the program ends, you’ll automatically enter the 90-day tourist visa status, so no need to worry about leaving right when your teaching program ends.

Why Spain is a Great Place to Work

Life in Valencia
Living in Valencia, Spain

Don’t let the tricky paperwork process scare you off. Once you’re living the Spanish lifestyle and enjoying your new teaching job, you will be so glad you jumped through the necessary hoops.

Here are just a few reasons why I love living in Spain, and plan to continue teaching English here for a fifth year!

The Weather

Spain is one of the warmest countries in Europe, making winters mild and outdoor activities plentiful.

After a day of teaching, you can enjoy the after-work custom of unwinding with a refreshing drink in a bustling plaza!

Learning Spanish

Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in America. This makes it an excellent choice for Americans looking to learn a second language.

The Lifestyle

The Spanish lifestyle is laid back, and people proudly enjoy a work-to-live mentality. This is a nice change from the often fast-paced American lifestyle.

The Spanish savor life with regular festivals, and always make time for an afternoon siesta.

Also Read: 5 Crazy Spanish Festivals You Have to Check Out


Americans will also enjoy the low cost of living that Spain offers. Your wage will get you through, and you can always pick up tutoring clients for more travel money!

Teaching English in Spain as an American – Conclusions

a whiteboard for teaching

While teaching overseas as an American has its challenges, I hope seeing the opportunities and advantages will encourage you to pursue this dream.

Through teaching English in Spain, you’ll learn skills you can take back to the American job market later, and you’ll be left with incredible memories to last a lifetime.

If you are interested in living in Spain, also read:


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tips for teaching English in Spain

Emma Smith

Author: Emma Smith
Emma is an American who teaches English in Spain. She fell in love with the country, the culture, and the language. She enjoys exploring Spain in her free time and sharing her experiences of life in Spain as an American.

1 thought on “Teaching English in Spain as an American – Things You Should Know”

  1. Excellent article! I have a Masters in Education with an Endorsement in Gifted Education. We are thinking of moving to Spain.


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