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Teaching English in Barcelona

Written by Thomas

Every year, thousands of foreigners flock to Spain, searching for sunshine and a better quality of life. Thousands of Spaniards head in the opposite direction, leaving their country in the search for work overseas that Spain’s economic problems are preventing domestically. Their departures bring an opportunity for English speaking arrivals; Spain is a country with a high demand and big market for English teachers.

In Barcelona, knowledge of English is hugely beneficial for the job prospects of Spanish residents. It is equally important for those who want to leave the country. The economic crisis has triggered a significant growth in the number of English students.

“Parents don’t want to cut back on their children’s education and unemployed people want to fill the ‘language gap’ on their CV,” explains Aidan O’Toole, vice president of the National Federation of Private Language Schools in Spain.

This means that there are also a lot more schools and a lot more investment in English teaching. But while there are good career prospects for English teachers, the job sector can be a complicated one to navigate.

One of the most confusing issues for potential TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers is the qualifications.  It’s true that not every school requires a teaching qualification of any kind, especially if you’re a native speaker. Even being a native speaker is not always essential. But a teaching qualification will certainly help, especially at the more established schools, who may also require a university degree and teaching experience from applicants.

If you decide to sign up for a TEFL course, make sure that the qualification provided is officially accredited before applying. The British Council recognises both the University of Cambridge’s Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and Trinity College London’s Certificate in TESOL (CertTESOL) as valid qualifications for their accredited schools. The two qualifications are widely recognized throughout Spain and Barcelona.

Both courses can be studied at home before arriving in Spain, but there are also several good schools in Barcelona that teach them. Often they can also arrange accommodation for students.

Options available include intensive, part-time and online courses. The intensive courses are demanding, but successful applicants who pass the course will generally receive their qualification within one month to six weeks. The courses are arguably more useful for improving your job prospects than learning how to teach, but they do offer a major benefit in providing the opportunity to conduct practice lessons in front of a classroom of students. A decent knowledge of English grammar is required to enter the course, and a better knowledge to pass it. Investing in a good grammar book is recommended. English Grammar in Use is one of the most acclaimed.

The job market for English teachers can be divided into four major sections: international schools, language schools, academies and private lessons. International schools normally require a teaching qualification beyond a TEFL course. For the others, the requirements and schedules are more varied.

For the school year, which runs from September to June, candidates should apply for teaching positions early, ideally in the May that precedes the new school year. But full-time teaching contracts are rare, and teachers generally have to combine several positions and/or private lessons to make ends meet. Programs that charge you a fee for finding you a placement are notoriously untrustworthy. Although the school year ends in June, English language summer camps provide an additional employment opportunity. Positions for these jobs are generally advertised between March and June.

As well as applying to schools for work, English teachers increasingly find employment online, through responding to or placing their own advertisements. Pay varies, but private lessons charge an average of €15 per hour, slightly more than group lessons. Business English classes pay somewhat better, generally starting at €20 per hour. Some of the best places to find or advertise for work are Loquo, tusclassesparticulares, lingobongo, and Spainwise.

English teachers looking to work in Barcelona may want or rent a flat in BarcelonaShBarcelona has Barcelona apartments available to buy or rent whatever your requirements.

About the author


Thomas is a freelance journalist living in Barcelona. He writes about business, travel, film and sports.

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