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Teach English in Barcelona: Insider Tips and Job Guidance

Updated on January 5, 2011

Thinking about teaching English in Barcelona?

As I sat drinking my coffee one morning in my California home, the thought of teaching English abroad crept into my brain once again. I decided the bustling coastal city of Barcelona, Spain would be the perfect location for me. A few months later, I found myself waiting in the rain for a taxi out front of El Prat airport with luggage in both hands and the address to my new apartment in my coat pocket. I was a little scared. This is what I wanted, but how would I ever find a job in this foreign city? How would I even attempt to teach English?

If you find the thought of teaching English in Barcelona often creeping into your brain, please, read on. The following will provide some advice on choosing the right certification program, finding work, and surviving abroad.

TEFL Barcelona

Finding a teaching certification program

Becoming certified to teach English as a foreign language will be the first step in your search for a job. While not necessary, it is highly recommended. Like a high school diploma, a certification course teaches important skills and greatly increase your likelihood of finding work. There are many organizations to choose from to become certified to teach in Barcelona.

I received my certification through TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) Barcelona. This is an intensive one month course. The content includes: grammar and phonology, foreign language, methodology, lesson planning, and 60 hours of teaching practice and critique. TEFL Barcelona also offers job guidance and a bounty of on-site resources. The classroom becomes not only a place to learn, but a place to make new friends and network for future jobs in the city.

This is only one option of many. I suggest exploring various certification programs on your own. Review course outlines, prices, read testimonials, contact former students and program directors to find out which program is right for you.

Already an English teacher in Spain?

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Finding work teaching abroad

While current job availability in Spain is at a low, the availability of English teaching jobs is not. Many out-of-work Spaniards are taking this time to improve their English skills. As a native English speaker, you have the advantage.

First things first: fine-tune your CV (resume) in European style. Include a photo, related coursework (specific classes), and any relevant teaching/volunteer experience you may have.

Teach at a school

Knocking on doors, shaking hands, and handing out as many copies of your CV as possible is essential. Unfortunately, if you are an American citizen without a work visa, finding employment can be difficult. Difficult, but not impossible. Schools in Spain now face an expensive fine if they give jobs to illegals, and for many, it's not worth the risk. In my experience, I found this to be a problem in about half of the schools visited. The other half - the ones willing to take the risk - were excited to have an American English speaker (legal or not) as opposed to British English.

You can search the Paginas Amarillas online to find schools in and around Barcelona. Dress in business casual attire, visit schools, leave your CV and follow up. Another particularly useful tool online is Lingo Bongo. You can use this site to find private classes, teaching jobs and language exchanges. Not to mention, they will send your CV out to every language school in Barcelona. If the thought of teaching in front of a class is too intimidating, there are other option. Teaching private lessons can give you a more casual and independent work schedule, with just as much income.

Give private lessons

Giving private lessons is another great way to teach English to various ages and proficiencies, and get some income. Creating your own schedule, price, and class locations are some obvious advantages. Why not hold English lessons on the beach at sunset for 20 Euro an hour? Mango mojitos and the present tense? Sure. To find private lessons, you can post an advertisement offering your services online at Loquo, and on Craigslist. You can check the classified ads listed in The Metropolitan, Barcelona's English speaking magazine. Another useful and popular monthly magazine with classified ads in English is Barcelona Connect.

As with any business, it will help to advertise yourself. Print flyers offering your services and post them around town. But don't waste your time (or paper) by plastering these just anywhere. The most effective locations - where they won't get ripped down - to post these will be at any of the local Universities, bakeries or English bookstores in the city like Come In or Hibernian). Networking is crucial. Network with everyone. Students and strangers. Eventually, business will come your way.

Summer camps

As the school year comes to an end, the need for English teachers does not. There are many summer camps for kids and adults that are designed to offer fun activities while teaching them English. These summer camps vary in location and length. Some will be day-to-day in the city while others might host you for weeks at a time in the forest. Research available summer camp positions in the same manner I suggested look for a job at a school.

Teach business English

Many large companies are focused on ensuring their employees are knowledgeable in the English language. They will hire native speaking English teachers to help their employees with this. The job comes with two sides. Lesson planning for business English may be a bit more difficult than teaching elementary English (teaching students how to present a business plan), but the position often involves a higher paying salary.

Ready to teach in Barcelona?

Teaching English can be a rewarding experience. It's an amazing opportunity to travel, meet new people, challenge yourself and do new things. The need for English teachers is at a constant demand in Barcelona and all across the world. Below is some advice and some useful links for when you do find a job.

Insider Tips

Be professional - The nightlife in Barcelona can be outrageous, but it's important to not show up to class with no sleep, red-eyed and smelling of fermented grapes.

Be prepared - Have a lesson plan ready ahead of time. Prepare extra activities in case you have extra time. Remember the military's 7-P's: Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

Have confidence - As a new teacher, you may sometimes doubt your abilities. Remind yourself of one simple thing: you know English! If your students stump you on some technicality, look it up later and get back to them.

Have fun, be yourself - This is the most important. Genuinely enjoy yourself and the material you are teaching, and your students will do the same.


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    • profile image

      English grammar 

      7 years ago

      TEFL International is one of the world's largest TEFL course providers with a network of twenty schools worldwide. TEFL International's reputation and the high quality of this course give you all the skills, experience and credibility you need to embark on your first teaching position as a TEFL teacher wherever in the world that may be.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      9 years ago from California

      thanks for reading mattversion81 - I say teaching in Spain would have some differences than in Taiwan. One i'm guessing the younger students desire to learn. At least for me, specifically younger students, were forced to attend English classes after their normal school day...many didn't want to be there and it forced me to be a strict teacher at times. l think the culture in Asia raises students more disciplined and apt for the classroom. Anyways I'm glad you found the hub useful.

    • mattversion81 profile image


      9 years ago

      I used to teach English in Taiwan...but the magic ran out of living in that country. I have been back in Canada working, but itching to find a new experience and I think that teaching English in Spain might just be it! Thanks for the idea and for all the useful information.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      9 years ago from California

      teach english in italy - Working for yourself is definitely ideal, but much harder to work out... thanks for the comment

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      9 years ago from California

      blue parrot - I am unsure about the current laws in place towards illegals seeking work. I will have to check into that.... I do however, know that in recent years, employers face higher fines for hiring illegals, making them less likely to take the risk of hiring you if you don't have papers.

      I haven't heard of Vaughan systems either, but I guess I can see his viewpoint. I like the fun part, not so much expensive. I knew a company who had classes held from 5-7 at a beach bar...mojito included

    • blue parrot profile image

      blue parrot 

      9 years ago from Madrid, Spain

      I don't know about the law now, but some years ago you could still get around the citizenship requirements by applying for a permit for work "por cuenta propia" in your case as an "empresario". You would say that you run an English teaching agency or a school.

      Have you looked up Vaughan systems? They are very very big on TV and the radio 24x7, founded by an American now representing some 1000 English teachers. His complete know how is on the net. By now he has become cynical but most resourceful. His idea is that since they will never learn, good English classes have to be expensive and a lot of fun.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      9 years ago from California

      thanks for the comment blue parrot. this is true...and i did find it easier to find work in a smaller town just outside of barcelona, still an easy daily commute. As i mentioned, posting flyers is effective at either english-language book stores or bakeries, but i never did try hairdressers...that is another good tip. anyways, thanks again for the info.

    • blue parrot profile image

      blue parrot 

      9 years ago from Madrid, Spain

      You looked for your first job in Barcelona. If you had tried in a smaller town instead, it would have been a lot easier. Look for a small but busy little town of around 20 000. Advertise online and ask at the local book shop and computer shop and maybe at the hairdresser's whether they would let you hang up a paper offering classes.

      In a larger city you ought to place your sign on the notice boards of the local EOI = Escuela Oficial de Idiomas = Official Language School. Offer trial classes or mini-courses of one month.

      You don't need any of those ESL certificates. -- And what about the Vaughan language schools? They run "English speaking villages" in Spain. They specifically prefer people who are not professional teachers. There is no pay, but room and board, and you sign up for only a short time. They are very big. Look them up on the internet.

    • profile image

      Teach English in Italy 

      9 years ago

      Spain and Italy seem to have a lot in common, especially about finding a job teaching English as a non-EU citizen. It can be hard, and sometimes the best option is to work for yourself!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      jeff i really like your articles. i want to go to spain and teach. keep the good work coming


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