ESL Employment

Teaching English in Madrid

At some point in all of our lives, we've most likely dreamed of traveling. For some of us, the description of an ideal job is one where we can combine getting paid with seeing the world. For those truly interested in a job that requires travel, teaching English in a foreign country can seem a viable option.

If you're considering teaching English abroad as a career, consider Madrid as your destination. While it's not the first city in the world many people think of when they think of this job, it can be a wonderful destination for English teachers... and offer you the experience of a lifetime.


For British citizens who wish to teach English in Madrid, the process is fairly easy. Spain tends to draw most of its foreign English teachers from the pool of Great Britain and Ireland. However, if you're American, teaching in Madrid isn't impossible. It just requires a little work.

An American citizen will ideally need a work permit in order to teach in Madrid. If you cannot find an employer willing to sponsor you for a work visa (and many of them won't, as the process can be long and arduous), you also have the option of traveling to Madrid on a tourist's visa. Tourist visas, however, do expire every three months, so you will be forced to leave the country and have your visa stamped and renewed every time this happens. English teachers abroad have used this method in Spain for generations, and it's perfectly legal and possible to do so. Some employers may even help cover the cost of the required travel.

In order to have the widest selection of jobs available to you, you should plan on having a BA in some subject, a working knowledge of Spanish, and ideally some sort of certificate for teaching English. This can be a TEFL certification from America, or a CELTA, which can be earned in Spain. If necessary, consider traveling to Spain on a six-month student visa in order to earn your CELTA, find a job, and locate lodgings in Madrid before your teaching tenure begins.

What to expect in Madrid

The main problem you'll most likely encounter while teaching English in Madrid is the cost of living. Salaries are fairly low in this city, and not just for English teachers... yet rent, groceries, and transportation are extremely expensive. You should anticipate some trouble finding an apartment, as there are not many rental properties in Madrid and the ones that do exist may be out of your budget. Although it's uncommon, if your teaching job should offer you teacher's housing, jump at the chance!

The best way to prepare for teaching English in Madrid is, unfortunately, to save up some money. Particularly as a first-year teacher, your salary won't increase unless you choose to stay in Madrid and devote a great deal of time to furthering your career. The low salaries and slow advancement are the main reasons many English teachers choose to move on from Madrid after their first year of teaching is completed.

Now, for the good news. There's a reason many people choose to begin their teaching careers in Madrid. As a cultural Mecca, the city offers an amazingly rich experience to any traveler from abroad. As an English teacher, you won't just be experiencing it as a tourist, but as a genuine citizen.

Because most English teachers do move on from Madrid after a year or so of teaching, the job turnover rate is high, and as a first-year teacher you should have very little trouble finding a position. With money in the bank and the right papers in your hand, teaching English in Madrid should be a truly positive experience.

By Michelle Simmons

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