El Castell de Guadalest, Spain
In El Castell de Guadalest, Spain ©

Jānis Skribāns, used under licence and adapted from the original.

Applications for the 2019-20 English Language Assistants programme are open now.

Why choose Spain?

Spain’s geography boasts beaches, cities, mountains and national parks, all within a relatively short distance of each other. The country is made up of 17 autonomous communities (comunidades) and 2 autonomous cities (ciudades autónomas), all with their own cultures and even languages. Spain is the perfect base from which to visit other countries, such as Portugal or Morocco.

  • Spanish is one of the most important languages to the UK’s future, according to our Languages for the Future report. It is widely spoken, and is the official language of 21 countries.
  • You will be in post from 1 October to 31 May. Appointments to Comunidad posts in Madrid run from 1 October to 30 June.
  • You will work around 12 -16 hours per week. The hours of work and stipend vary by region.
  • There are many posts available and opportunities for a wide variety of candidates. The Spanish Ministry for Education is interested in receiving applications from students and graduates from a wide range of academic disciplines. 
  • Change for 2019-20: pre-existing Spanish language proficiency is no longer required to take part in the programme.

Am I eligible?

To be a language assistant in Spain, you must:

  • fulfil the general eligibility criteria 
  • be aged 60 or under
  • proficiency in Spanish is not required, but recommended.

Spanish nationals who hold only a Spanish passport are not eligible. Spanish dual nationals in possession of a non-Spanish passport are eligible and should provide details of both their passports on the application form.

What posts are available?

Due to the growing importance of language-learning in Spain in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of language assistant posts in the country. Undergraduates required to complete a year abroad at a UK university will still be treated as priority candidates, but we also expect to be able to offer a large number of posts to graduates or students of other subjects.

There are posts available in Spanish secondary schools, primary schools and state language schools (Escuelas Oficiales de Idioma, for adult learners).

Many schools in Spain have prominent Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) programmes, in which they teach a variety of subjects in English, including maths, science, history, geography, art, music and physical education. These schools often refer to themselves as 'bilingual schools' or as having bilingual departments. CLIL programmes are most prominent in the communities of Madrid and Andalucía, where there is a focus on maths and science, but can be found across Spain. You should therefore be prepared to help with English activities in a range of subject areas. 

Where can I go?

Posts are available in all Spanish regions, including Islas Baleares and Islas Canarias. Many posts are in small towns or villages.

Every year a number of posts are available in Ceuta and Melilla, autonomous cities bordering Morocco in North Africa. While Spanish is the official language of these cities, their proximity to Morocco makes working here an exciting opportunity for anyone with an interest in Arabic or North Africa.

Applicants may express an area preference. If you wish to do so, you can choose one from Group A, one from Group B, and one from any of the three groups.

  • GROUP A: Asturias, Ceuta, Extremadura, La Rioja, Melilla, Navarra, País Vasco
  • GROUP B: (Islas) Canarias, (Islas) Baleares, Aragon, Cantabria, Castilla la Mancha, Cataluña, Galicia
  • GROUP C: Andalucía, Castilla León, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia

The areas listed above refer to regions and not towns or cities, although they may share the same name (e.g., Valencia, Madrid). It is not possible to apply to a particular city or district within a given region. You should expect to be allocated anywhere within your region and keep in mind that you may be allocated to a region that you did not select.

Languages other than Castilian are spoken in certain regions. These include: Basque (País Vasco and parts of Navarra), Galician (Galicia) and Catalan (Cataluña, Islas Baleares and Valencia). While Castilian Spanish is widely spoken, it is not always the dominant language (particularly in Cataluña). We recommend researching these differences before you apply for a post.

If you need to be in a specific region due to your language studies (e.g. you are studying Catalan), please tell us this on your application form, in the section asking your motivation for your regional preferences.

In certain regions of Spain, there are cultural and religious sensitivities regarding the wearing of religious clothing and clothing that conceals the face. In some schools in the region of Melilla, wearing a burka is discouraged - although this is not true of all schools. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us, and we will try to ensure that you are allocated to a suitable school.

How much will I be paid?

You can expect to receive a stipend of approximately €700 net per month in Spain.

This may vary by region. Some assistants in the Madrid and Valencia Comunidad will receive approximately €1,000 net per month, and some in Murcia €875 net per month.

The first payment of your allowance may not arrive until late November, so you should take around £1,000 to £1,500 or a credit card to cover initial costs. You may need more in larger cities. You will probably have to put down a deposit on accommodation and invest in things like mobile phones and possibly extra furniture. 

In some regions, the dates of appointment, hours and salary vary slightly. Assistants working in state language schools may occasionally have to work evenings. Please check these conditions when you receive your school allocation details from the Spanish authorities.

You will be employed and paid either by the Ministry of Education or by the local Comunidad Autónoma, and will hear which type of post you have been allocated to when you receive your regional allocation email.

Neighbourhood in Seville, Spain
Seville, Spain. Photo ©

Johan Mouchet, used under licence and adapted from the original.

What is the application timeline?

  • March: some applicants may be invited to a telephone interview to follow up on areas of their application.
  • May: applicants find out whether they have passed the assessment stage.
  • May/June: applicants find out whether they have been allocated a post, and if so, in which region. Some applicants may be placed on a short waiting list.
  • June to September: applicants hear the location of their school. Each Spanish authority (autonomous regions and the Spanish Ministry of Education) works to its own timescale. For this reason, you may not find out your school allocation until September. Please be patient regarding this.

Successful candidates take up their post in October 2019.

For more information, download our English language assistant lifecyle (PDF, 800KB)

Will there be an induction course?

If you are appointed through the Spanish Ministry of Education, you will be invited to an induction course in Madrid in late September/early October. The course will cover all the administration for living in Spain and will give you the opportunity to meet other assistants of all languages.

Assistants who are employed directly by their Comunidad Autónoma will be invited to a similar induction course in their local area. Information regarding the course will come directly from the Comunidad, and may not be available until arrival in Spain.

I've worked as a language assistant in Spain – can I apply again?

If you are currently, or have previously been a British Council-appointed language assistant in Spain, you may be eligible for the 2019-20 programme. Different Spanish regions have different rules. A guidance document giving full information will be published on this page shortly.

Non-British Council language assistants who are currently, or have previously worked in Spain are also welcome to apply.

As we need different information from returning language assistants, you must complete the application form as set out in the guidance document. 

Back to the main English language assistants page.