As a North American, our legal working opportunities in western Europe are somewhat limited. Luckily there is a program for us that will give us the opportunity to teach English in Spain. Read on to find out more.
The North American Language and Cultural Assistant Program is a program run by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports that aims to place native English speakers into English classes in Spanish public schools. According to the official website:
the program provides Spanish students and teachers of English … an opportunity to broaden and increase their knowledge of the English … language and North American culture through interaction with native speakers.
If accepted, I would be an assistant (also referred to as an auxiliar) to a Spanish teacher that teaches English in a Spanish public school. Edited May 2012: *Due to the economic crisis, the program has cut back on placements for the since the 2012-2013 year. I suggest you apply as early as possible to increase the likelihood of getting a placement in future years.* Edited April 2014: As of this year, the certain regions of Spain are still not accepting new applicants. There is still many positions available, but make sure you apply early to increase your chances of getting your first choice region. The current requirements to be considered for the NALCAP are:
- Candidates must hold a U.S. or Canadian passport.
- The candidate must be a native or bilingual English or French speaker.
- The candidate shall hold a minimum of a BA or BS by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program or be an upcoming Junior or Senior student at their university or be a university graduate.
- Candidates must be in good physical and mental health.
- Candidates must be in a position to present a certificate of good conduct or lack of criminal records when applying for his visa
- Candidates must have an intermediate level knowledge of the Spanish language at minimum. [Note added August 2015: While this will certainly be helpful living in Spain, this requirement is not actually verified. When I came to Spain in 2012 I only have a very basic level of Spanish and was able to get around fine. If this requirement is the only thing holding you back from applying, don’t even worry about it. Seriously.]
- Candidates should be between the ages of 21-35.
The assistant works 12 – 16 hours a week, 4 days a week. Pay is 1000 Euros per month in Madrid, and 700 Euros/ month everywhere else in Spain. Assistants will also be given “general health benefits”. The program runs for 8 months, from October 1st to May 31st (until June 30th for those in Madrid), with the option of renewing for a second year.
I should also mention one major problem with NALCAP that some auxiliare’s are facing. There have been issues with payments being VERY late (as in 4+ months). This topic is discussed at length in Facebook groups for the program. Most of these payment issues are happening in the southern region of Spain.
Based on the discussions on Facebook, Madrid (my first choice) does not seem to have as many issues. So after thinking about it, I’ve decided I will still go ahead and accept the position if I am offered it. [There is also the option of doing private tutoring on the side, and I plan to do that to add to my income while I’m there.] Here’s a list of other resources, but feel free to ask me any other questions you have about the program (or anything really for that matter).
- The Manual (PDF): Instructions on how to apply, what documents you need, which consulate you should contact and more details on the program. If you are interested in this program, I suggest reading this first.
- Facebook has a few of groups dedicated to this program. This is the most active group: Auxiliares de conversacion en MADRID
Why do I want to teach English in Spain?
In my opinion, the pay and benefits are not nearly as generous as the ones for teaching in South Korea (which I did from September 2010 to September 2011). However, the big pull factor for me is that it is in western Europe, a region that I would absolutely love to be able to explore again. There are limited programs that allow Canadians to work in Europe, especially for those like me that don’t speak French, Spanish or German fluently.This program is basically my only choice if I want to live and work in western Europe legally in the next few months.
That being said, I’m excited at the prospect of living in Spain as I’m interested in the Spanish culture and language. I visited Madrid in spring 2007 and while I wasn’t blown away by the city (we went there right after Rome) it had its charm. The people of Madrid, known as Madrileños are fairly polite and a few were nice enough to help us when we got lost. I’ve been reading current auxiliare’s blogs from all over Spain and they seem to enjoy it. I think I would really learn a lot by living there. Also, since western Europe is relatively small and traveling within the area is not too expensive, I would probably be able to finally go to some places I’ve always wanted to visit (Barcelona and London come to mind) as well as revisit Rome and/or Paris!