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Monday, January 16, 2012

Casting Oars: How to Teach in Spain

So I am trying to move to Spain next year. I think I’ve made this pretty clear. But, how? Illegally hide out in someone’s suitcase? Nah! I’m short enough, but I think the airport scanners may find me out.

The European Union, like the US, is having a really hard time right now with employment. So it’s pretty understandable that they aren’t handing out jobs all willy-nilly to foreigners like me that want to move there and soak in the culture. However, there is always a loophole. Enter: Teaching and Cultural Assistants!!!

Basically the idea is that Spain wants to be more competitive on a global scale while taking advantage of the fact that it would increase tourism and cash flow to have Americans come over. Put the two together and you have the programs that I am applying for. They allow a few thousand Americans and Canadians to come over for a year and assist teachers in teaching English. You are by no means a “real teacher” in this scenario. You teach for 12-16 hours a week and make 700 Euros a month (approx. 1000 USD). From what I understand, I could be placed with teachers of any subject and it will be my job to help them infuse English into their lessons. Simple enough! Especially after 5 years of lesson plans, parent conferences, detentions, referrals, faculty meetings, middle school hormone surges and physical altercations over lunch. This should be like a vacation with a paycheck.

So the programs I went through (both land you with the exact same job):

CIEE ( This is a program that you have to pay for (a few grand, in fact). I like this option solely because it offers the option of a 2 or 4-week language immersion. You stay with a host family while attending daily Spanish intensive classes. For someone like me, with sub-par language skills, this seems like it would be really helpful. They also hold a week long orientation where they give you useful information on how to open a bank account, get your NIE card, and, I don’t know, how not to get mugged while looking like a helpless tourist. Their application is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate.

Spain’s Ministry of Education ( - This is a free application. I like to think of this one as the “thrown to the wolves” method of teaching in Spain. There is no language immersion or easing into Spanish life whatsoever. But, you do get to hold on to your cash and use it on some awesome European travel. This application is a little confusing and entirely in Spanish. Although, there are some helpful manuals available that walk you through the whole process. (This link takes you to the 2012-2013 application manual. It will tell you step-by-step how to navigate the site and where to input information…it’s in English, too! Yay!) (This link takes you to last year’s manual…obviously not updated but it does tell you a clear list of what needs to be sent to your consulate…)

Both ways to apply are on a first-come, first-served basis. So the earlier you apply the better your chances. More so than anything they are just looking for completed applications. CIEE does not add you to the line until your entire application is complete. The Ministry of Education assigns you an Inscrita number as soon as your CV is created online…you can upload all needed documents once you get your number (be quick…the smaller the number, the higher your chances).

My CIEE application is complete and I am just waiting to hear back—they should be letting people know in late February/ early March.  Also, I sent everything in for my Ministry of Education application (#355) and had my status changed to “Registrada”…keep in mind that “Admitida” is the holy grail of statuses in this case…that should be coming soon *fingers crossed*

There’s plenty more to say on this topic, I’m sure…but quite frankly…I’m tired of typing…this weekend has been quite full…. what with: Epic lesbian parties, amazing curry goat, and vegging on the couch to celebrate MLK day.  So I’m off…anyone else going through the application process? How’s it going for you?

Hasta pronto!


  1. Hi!

    I saw your blog linked in the forums, and I thought I'd stop by! Your blog is interesting, and I like the way that you write! I especially like the headline below your blog title; nice little play on words :)

    I'm currently admitida, #42 with a first choice of Catalunya (fingers crossed). How long have you been registrada? If it's been more than a week, I would call them, because it seems that sometimes things can get lost in the fray!

    I also think it's great to see another woman of color heading off to Spain. Let's take over! :D

    I hope to read more of your adventures and to maybe even catch up with you in Spain! :)

  2. Well aint you fancy! Can't wait to read more about your process and travels. Congratulations on taking the bull by the horns with this process. Ole! Will you get to see any bullfighting in Spain, or is it banned?