Teaching in Spain: Alternatives to the Auxiliar de Conversación Program

There are several alternatives to the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program with similar parameters and pay. However, when considering which program to pick it’s important to take into account factors outside of wages and teaching hours. If your goal is to live in a specific Spanish community, to get teacher training or even improve your Spanish then there’s a program for you.

COMO_Work in Spain as a teacher

What’s the same across the board?

In each of the programs listed below you will be acting as a cultural ambassador, sharing your experiences and knowledge of English. You will be teaching students as young as 3 and up to 18 years, but duties will vary depending on the needs of your assigned school. Participants in each program will be asked to assist in curriculum planning and in the classroom.

Each program operates on a student visa and provides health insurance to participants.


Duration: Nine months
Monthly pay: Graded scale based on the hours you teach
Visa support?: Yes; student visa
Regions for North Americans: Madrid has the most placements; Andalucía, Canary Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Galicia, Aragón, Asturias, Valencia and Murcia also receive language assistants
Website: http://www.ecmadrid.org/en/language-assistant 

BEDA employs more than 450 auxiliares de conversación each year from a multitude of countries, primarily in Catholic schools in the autonomous community of Madrid. While a vast majority of placements are in Madrid, BEDA is working to expand to other schools in other regions of the country such as the Canary Islands and Andalucía.

Work duties are the same as in the auxiliar program, with a focus on oral language production and assistance with bilingual curriculum in addition to Cambridge exam preparation. BEDA participants receive an orientation and mandatory training sessions throughout the year in conjunction with the Universidad Pontífica de Comillas in Madrid. Private health insurance is also provided.

Applicants are asked to fill out a questionnaire, and successful candidates are then interviewed via Skype or in-person. Upon acceptance into the program a 175€ enrollment fee must be paid. Applications open in early December and close in late January.

BEDA wages are calculated on a sliding scale, with the 2016-17 estimated pay beginning at 873€ a month for 18 hours of work. The maximum assistant hours top out at 24 a week, grossing a total of 1165€ before tax. The school placement you receive decides the number of hours they will need you.

Two advantages to the BEDA program: assistants can renew their positions up to three years (four years total) and training is provided to become official Cambridge English Examiners.

Click here to download the application and for additional information and contacts.

CIEE Teach in Spain

Duration: 10 months
Monthly pay: 1000€
Visa support?: Yes; student visa
Regions for North Americans: Madrid
Website: http://www.ciee.org/teach/spain/

The well-established study abroad program CIEE provides placements within the North American Language and Culture Assistant program in Madrid. The key to CIEE is support and extras: participants can choose to do a Spanish language immersion course or earn a TEFL degree. You can also request working in the professional program, teaching business English while making contacts in the bustling capital city.

CIEE positions are located all around the autonomous community in both urban and rural settings, though you are able to request a specific city or age group when turning in your application. Note that applicants must be under the age of 35.

If you’re gunning for a position in the Comunidad de Madrid, CIEE is the choice for you. Additionally, if you’re uncertain about the transition to Spain CIEE makes your move easy with a four-day orientation and yearlong in-country support under their immersion program. However, there are extra costs to consider, as the program carries a $50 application fee along with hefty program fees upon acceptance: the ten-month program costs $2,000, or close to two months of your salary. That said, the programs are designed for newbies to TEFL teaching in Spain and offer 24-hour support.

CIEE also offers a volunteer course of three months in Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha and has no age limit.

COMO_teaching in Spain

The application deadline varies depending on the program and community you choose, but aim to apply between February 15th and March 1st. Positions with CIEE cannot be renewed; however you can choose to renew with the Ministry of Education or any of the programs listed on this post as a second year applicant.

CIEE also runs Teach Abroad programs in other countries, including Vietnam, Chile and Thailand. Check out their Teach in Spain specifics here.

The Franklin Program

Duration: one academic year (September – September)
Monthly pay: 580€ (18 hours) or 750€ (24 hours). Tuition costs are waived.
Visa support?: Yes; student visa
Regions for North Americans: Madrid
Website: http://www.institutofranklin.net/en/academic-programs/teach-learn-spain-program

The Franklin Program is a combination master’s degree and internship that places applicants in schools either 18 or 24 hours a week in addition to offering classes in various disciplines. Participants choose to study a one-year Spanish Master’s in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language, International Education or Bilingual and Multicultural Education. New for 2015-16 was a blended degree that combines online and in-person learning on Friday evenings.

All school placements, recognized as “internships” by the program within the Comunidad de Madrid and Master’s classes take place at the Universidad de Alcalá in Alcalá de Henares, a university city outside Madrid that is reachable by train. Classes are held in both English and Spanish.

OJO: There are two informational sessions coming up in January: online on January 11th at 4pm (GMT +1) and the other on January 15th and 12pm at the UAH.

Applications are open until January 15th by web. After submitting your application materials online, you’ll be asked to send hard copies to the Instituto Franklin for pre-admission review. Admission decisions will be made by February 15th via email.

Accepted applicants must pay a 550€ program fee to the Universidad de Alcalá to guarantee their spot at the university and school placement.

We get asked if this master’s program has any value in your home country. Thanks to agreements between universities at home and the UAH, your degree is valued as an MA in Teaching.


Duration: 10 months
Monthly pay: 900€ a month for 20 hours; with a host family, 450€.
Visa support?: Yes; student visa
Regions for North Americans: Throughout Spain
Website: http://meddeas.com/

Operating in private schools around Spain, Meddeas is a placement program that offers a bit more flexibility in placement options. Apart from having the company make every effort to try and accommodate your preference in placement ages and regions, Meddeas also allows you to choose whether or not you want to live with a host family. You can also decide on a start date in January, in several cases, and you are welcome to renew, either at your center or another.

You will be expected to work 20 hours a week, which allows you plenty of time for outside activity or giving private classes. There is no cost to the program, though a deposit is required to hold your spot. This deposit ranges from 150 – 350€ and is returned to the candidate upon completion of the grant.

This program will also assign you a tutor, who will clearly outline your job duties and hours, as well as supervise your work. This program could be a good choice for you if you’re looking to save on living costs by staying with a Spanish family, or if you’d like to know all of your job duties before signing your contract.

To apply, you must submit an interest form on the Meddeas website and wait to receive more information.


Duration: 10 months
Monthly pay: 18 hours: 981€.  26 hours: 1441€.  September and June are prorated.
Visa support?: Yes; student visa
Regions for North Americans: Madrid
Website: http://www.ucetampbu.es/index.php/programa-de-auxiliares/auxiliares

Similar to BEDA Catholic schools, UCETAM schools are concertados, half public – half private primary and secondary schools, that are not affiliated with any religious order but instead are part of a worker’s union. You may be expected to take on more of a role within the classroom, as UCETAM gives priority to those who hold education degrees from their home country.

COMO_How to teach in Spain

You should apply to UCETAM if you’re looking for a higher salary and to be placed in Madrid, or want to be 100% clear about what your job duties are. UCETAM has no age limit and is comes highly recommended by past participants for paying participants on time each month. Positions are either 18 or 26 hours and assigned randomly according to the needs of the center.

To apply, you must send an email to the program directly at formacion@ucetam.es, which will then send you an informational packet with application materials and job responsibilities. Your completed application, which consists of a questionnaire, letter of recommendation and current CV, must be received by late February. There is no cost to apply, but applicants are selected based on their application and an in-person or Skype interview. Candidates are selected and notified in late May.

Additional Information

Something else to consider is a combined TEFL degree with guaranteed job placement. Shoot us an email, and we’ll help find a program that suits you.

If you’re fortunate enough to have European residency, you can also find work in private language academies around the country, or even score a position at a private school or concertado. Spanish work contracts pay into the national social security system and provide you with access to socialized healthcare.

Should you be switching programs, your autonomous community may require you to return to your home country and acquire a new visa. If you’re unsure or need extra help with visas, qualifications or anything else, be sure to ask us!

Alternatives to the Language Assistant Program

Have you participated in any of these programs? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Please comment on your experiences below.

Author: Como Consulting Spain

Cat and Hayley are relocation specialists who can help you move to, live in and work in Spain. We'd love to hear from you! hola@comoconsultingspain.com

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  1. If you want to get TEFL certified and have a student visa to teach English legally in Spain, this is a program with International TEFL Academy that combines an accredited TEFL class and 12 months of Spanish language classes and cultural training.

    Teach English Legally in Spain on a Student Visa While Studying Spanish:

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  2. Some really informed advice here. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure it will come in handy for many people with teaching experience looking to relocate to Spain.
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  3. I’m also pretty sure the Franklin Institute goes through UCETAM to place their applicants. You can see at the bottom of the UCETAM website that Franklin Institute is a partner institution just like NYU (it was through NYU I got the job).

    Great roundup of all the teaching programs in Spain! There’s also Fulbright for the more ambitious (never applied but I know people who applied from other countries and the several rounds of interviews that are involved, it sounds very scary)
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  4. Great post, COMO! I do want to comment though, that CIEE does allow you to renew with their program in both Madrid and Andalucia. You are given the option of renewing through CIEE or through the Ministry of Education. Just to clarify :)

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    • This is a great and very informative post! Thanks for the info and contact información as well. I just returned home from working with CIEE very close to Madrid and I wanted to share that it was nearly impossible to renew my 3 month contract with them, and they even sent out an informative email letting all of us know that extensions and renewals were not possible and not permitted. Not sure how it was in others’ experiences, but CIEE was not a program that I would work with again. This post also mentions a 4 day orientation and other extras, which were never received, in my experience. We had a short meet and greet dinner and a 3 hour “orientation” hat recapped a lot of the information they sent us before our arrival. CIEE also did not follow through with the “in country support” part of their program…they facilitated communication and assistant placements with the Ministry, but following this, they did not provide any support in finding homes, organizing and overseeing our placement, or really any check-ins while in country until enough assistants complained online about their lack of support. Would not recommend this company.

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      • Hi Karyn,
        Thanks for your comment. I (Hayley) did CIEE my first year in Spain (cough 2007-2008) and received all of the extra support mentioned in the post. It is my understanding that they now offer different programs and that some come with more support and training than others. I’m sorry your experience with them wasn’t a good one, but I hope your time in Spain is/was!

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      • I went through CIEE and had a fantastic experience, we had a week orientation with accommodations and all the support we needed throughout. I do believe what they offer depends on what program you choose. When I did the program there was no such thing as 3 months but it was back in 2012. In all fairness with 3 months no matter what program you do, you can not get any extension because you do not have a visa to do so. With that said, I’m sorry you had an awful experience.

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  5. I’m applying for the Meddeas programme at the moment so this was really useful. Thanks!

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  6. Thanks for the information. This was really useful! So the Franklin Program gives you a Master in Teaching English and only costs 1000€!?! That’s an AWESOME deal if you think of how much ANY masters program in the US costs.

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    • Hey, J. Yes, the university programs in Spain are ridiculously cheap compared to the US. Hayley did one in the UK, and Cat did hers at a semi-private university in Spain, and both were reasonable. If you want to keep teaching in Spain, but aren’t interested in the auxiliar-type programs, the Franklin Program is an awesome alternative. We have several friends who have gone through it!

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  7. Thanks so much for the information. I’m wondering about something that perhaps you could advise on. In 2011-2012 my husband and I did the Auxilar program. It was fraught with problems, but was still a great experience. We went to Spain as a family and our two daughters, then ages 10 and 16 went to the local, public schools. In about two years I’m looking at early retirement from my job and we’d like to go back to Spain. My husband now has dual citizenship (he got his Irish citizenship through his grandmother). Our daughter would be 15 years old and is willing to enroll into a school in Spain. Our question is where – and which program might be best for us. We have been looking a bit at International schools, or schools that have the IB program, but many are expensive and seem kind of exclusive.

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  8. We really enjoyed your original post. It’s great that you took the time out to update it. Now it’s even more useful.
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  9. Hi! I was led over here by a Spain expat site and the programs look promising. I’m a single female of 60 and have been traveling to Spain since I was 17. I’ve been wanting to live there all my life but the visa issue has always stopped me. I taught English in Japan 3 times in the past dozen years, so I have experience. Once I get there, I don’t plan to leave. Which program would be appropriate for me?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Ana! Many of the program, unfortunately, carry an age limit or are open to those with certain certificates. Madrid, for example, has age limits on the public programs. That said, you can look into a TEFL school or consider the auxiliar program (http://comoconsultingspain.com/how-to-apply-to-the-north-american-language-and-culture-assistants-program/). Keep in mind that there are limits to these programs, which are typically 2-3 years. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more, or want to look into a different route!

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      • Thanks so much for your reply. Ok, I’m open to alternative routes. I don’t have to teach. I was just open to it because I have experience abroad. I’ve been an editor and writer for most of my career, and I currently do freelance editing. I’ve translated from Spanish to English, although I’m not fluent and have been on the rusty side lately.

        Any other ideas you have would be most welcome. Your site is excellent, and I’ll continue looking through it.

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  10. If we ever move overseas I will definitely use this as a resource for a teaching position.

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  11. Thank you for throwing more light on all the programmes. I have applied to quite a few and have always been disqualified without any reason. I make sure I am fully qualified before applying to any and I do so on time too, so I am still at a loss as to why they disqualified me. I am African though, so I want to believe that is the problem. This is just my assumption. Does anyone know of any African who has applied and got accepted? This is really fraustrating.

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  12. Hi! Do you know of any programs that don’t require a bachelors degree?

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    • Hi Maria.
      The government program stipulates that applicants must: “Hold a minimum of a BA or BS by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program, be a junior or a senior, or have become a university graduate.” As for most of the other programs, requirements tend to be similar, but check each website before filling out an application!

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  13. Hi, i am looking to move out to spain and teach english. I have an interview with Meddeas tomorrow but was also looking at the CIEE program. However as i am a British Citizen am i right in saying they only except American or canadians?


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    • Hi Ali,
      I don’t think CIEE or Meddeas necessarily deny applications made by UK residents, however these programs are aimed at North Americans as it is more difficult for citizens of non-EU countries to live and work in Europe.

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  14. Hello! Thank you for all this info!
    I’ve been studying in Bilbao, Spain since September 2014 and I will be leaving this August (2015) to finish my undergrad degree in Illinois. I wanted to know if you had any advice on what program to do if I want to get back to the Basque Country ASAP to teach after I graduate!?!
    Saludos :)

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for reading. The Auxiliares program is always a good bet, but there are no guarantees that you’ll be placed in Pais Vasco. If you’re absolutely sure that is where you want to be, you might consider studying Spanish at a language school and getting a teaching job on the side.

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      • Hi! Thank you for the response!
        I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to apply in January through the program. I am also looking at Deusto University in Bilbao where I did my year abroad because they have Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language masters, would you have ever considered doing a masters in spanish in Spain?

        Like I said I’ve been helping an english academy here for the past year and maybe my best option would be to talk to them about hiring me and signed papers for me, etc.

        Post a Reply
        • Studying a masters abroad is a great option though keep in mind that you might have to homologar your undergraduate degree so that you have access to higher education in Spain. Both Cat and myself have studied distance masters while working in Spain. Cat with a University in Barcelona and myself to get my teaching qualification from a university in the UK.

          As for getting papers through an English academy – unfortunately it’s much more complicated than you might imagine and they will likely not be able to sponsor you. If you’d like more information, feel free to schedule a Residency Consultation with us. Check out the What We Do page.

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  15. Wow. This is a great list. I wasn’t aware of all these options!
    I just made the decision to return to Spain (nunca se sabe) and trying to figure out my visa options since of course, it’s too late to apply for a an English job. I’ll figure out something, one way or another.

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    • Hi Lauren! Had such a great trip back, huh? How long are you planning to stay, and where do you want to go? You can get a student visa if you’re keen on studying. Tt Madrid has TEFL degree and placement options, and other schools will provide you with course of study, invitation letter and sometimes even housing.

      Keep in touch and let us know how we can help!

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      • Thanks Cat and Hayley!
        I want to stay in Vitoria-Gasteiz in Basque Country so don’t have too much flexibility but good to know. I’ve also heard it may be possible to get a student visa if I sign up for a class or two, either at the university or sign up for Spanish classes at an Academy…I’ll see what happens. But you know how it goes, when you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it! Thank goodness I ‘m familiar with the bureaucratic process is here.

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  16. Hello!

    I’ve started the process of looking into teaching in Spain, etc. I reached out to Meddeas and they told me I am ineligible because I graduated Uni back in 2007 (I am 30 now). This is a bummer because they seem to be one of the only programs that offers some placements in Barca. Any thoughts on if this is a rule across many programs? Don’t want to get my hopes up if I’m not eligible! Amazing list of references, thank you!
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    • Hey Meghan, we’re in the 30s camp, too! Meddeas is the only one with an age limit, though the auxiliar program will not let anyone over 35 work in the comunidad. Unfortunately, not too many programs exist for Barcelona.

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  17. Hello

    First of all good information for a person who would like to experience what Spain has to offer.

    Title “Teaching in Sapin Alternatives to” The article mostly talks about Language and Cultural assistants where non-European citizens can obtain a student visa and be placed in a school.

    I searched on Google UK for what are my options for teaching in Spain?

    As a UK citizen. I can teach English in one of the hundreds of international schools or state schools. Yes, I am a qualified teacher.

    Other people’s options for teaching in Spain include:

    Language school with a TEFL certificate or similar
    State schools as a qualified teacher
    International schools as a qualified teacher

    Just my thoughts.

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    • Hi Ray, our audience is primarily non-European, and it is difficult for us to work in language schools without having proper certification and work permission. Hence, other language schools and schemes have not been included. We appreciate your comments.

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  18. Hello,

    I’m an American currently teaching English in the DR, indefinitely for the time being. I would like to be reunited with Spain after a 7 year hiatus (when I studied there in college one summer) and hence an considering applying for the BEDA program. Would the process for obtaining a Spanish student visa (for BEDA) be doable from abroad (as in, via phone/email/working with the embassy here in the DR/having family members get documentation on my behalf)? What exactly does the process involve? Having to travel back to the states would not be something I could really afford to do at the moment.


    Post a Reply
    • Hi Dan, some consulates will allow you to do part of the process via mail or via family members, though you should contact them and explain your situation. Alternately, you can apply for a visa in another country so long as you are legally residing there – we know people who have taught abroad and, without having to return to the US, have successfully obtained visas.

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      • Okay, thanks CCS.

        As a follow-up question to the student Visa, assuming the student visa is successfully obtained, is one able to arrive several months early in the country, or does the student visa specify exactly what day/week/month one must arrive?


        Post a Reply
        • Dan,
          You will have to specify when your program starts and technically you only have 30 days upon entering Spain to begin the process of applying for your residency card. You could travel around a bit before as you have 90 days on your Schengen visa as a tourist, but make sure you get a stamp on your passport on entering Spain.

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  19. Thank you so much for posting all of these options! I was wondering if you could tell me about Fulbright vs any of these? Can I apply for both Fulbright ETA and through the ministry in case I don’t get the Fulbright grant?

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  20. This article could have been comprehensive if it listed the requirements for each school: experience, degree type, certificate…

    Can anyone tell me which, if any, I qualify for in EU (Spain especially) if I am a NATIVE SPEAKER under 30, with 3 years experience, but only a 2 year college degree unrelated to education or language, and no TEFL/CELTA, etc.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Linda,

      This article is directed 100% for Spain programs. Could you tell us where you’re from to better orient you, as some programs are only for North America and/or UK? Additionally, some programs do not specify all of the requirements and instead have a list of ‘desired’ qualifications, though acceptance is determined by an interview. Thank you.

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          • Hi again. I do mot qualify. They want someone either enrolled in a BA program or who has a BA. I have an unrelated 2 year (Associate) degree.

  21. Hello!
    Thank you for your article. I was wondering if you know of any programs in Barcelona/ Catalonia? Also, is it better to be TEFL certified prior to applying to these programs since the universities that offer them cost around $3,000 whereas I see the program for CIEE includes the cost for only $1,000?

    Post a Reply
  22. Hello! Not sure if you’re still responding to this, but what a fantastic resource, thank you! I’m a dual American/Italian citizen and am strongly considering moving to Spain next year to teach English. I’d get my CELTA or some other TEFL certification, but have no real experience other than teaching for a month in Guatemala a few years ago.

    I’m having a hard time because it seems like all the resources are aimed at helping Americans find ways to get a visa–one that I won’t need as a EU member. What is the best way to find work in that case? Should I still go through one of the above programs, or is there more freedom (and maybe more pay) by finding a job directly? And if so, how would I go about looking?

    Thanks so much, I’m just struggling to find info for members of the EU!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Kristen, because you’re lucky enough to have two passports, you won’t have any issues finding work. You should definitely get a CELTA, though, or else your passport may not do much good! April and May are general hiring months, and you can apply directly to language academies or use sites like LingoBongo. There’s also a huge TEFL fair called Spainwise in Cordoba: http://www.spainwise.net/

      Good luck!

      Post a Reply
      • Thank you so much for the reply! Think I’d have luck if I moved in January? That’s the plan as of now.

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