Sep 4, 2008

Madrid's TEFL market

After my last two whiny posts about work blues and the face of fear, I've decided it's time to take my head out of my ass and write something useful about Madrid's TEFL market. One of my American readers asked me for more information so I've decided to write up a post on the topic.

In my experience finding work teaching in Madrid as a non-EU citizen is easy enough, finding a school to sponsor a work visa is unlikely. A great number of teachers work here illegally (without papers). Check out Dave's ESL forums for the many heated debates on this matter - the pros and cons, the risk and rewards. For some the choice to work here illegally is intolerable, for others it is simply the reality and a price worth paying to be here in Spain. There are many North Americans and Australians teaching here... and there's still a lot of work here for EU and non-EU teachers although the industry is at times dodgy and the boom is definitely slowing down.

Madrid is a vibrant city and my Spanish students have been fairly easygoing, lovely people. I teach for two academies. Most of my experience has been at companies teaching adults although I have also taught classes in the academy. An article published in El Pais on Sunday July 27th spoke of a 20% decrease in in-company training for next year. In Madrid, a lot of companies use money for "training" on English classes. This is where the bulk of the work lies. Academies get these contracts and then they look for teachers to fill the positions. Basically, here a teacher rides the metro from one company to another, teaching classes. Sometimes you get blocks of classes, sometimes not. Most teachers teach between 20-25 hours per week which may not sound like much until you factor in the many hours of commuting from company to company and lesson planning - all unpaid.

For those looking to teach English in Madrid, I recommend getting your TEFL Certification here then using the school's contacts to find work. Spain is a 'who you know' type of place. This is the route I took in 2006 and was offered hours from the TEFL training center's sister language academy before I even graduated. Last year, the same academy offered me an in-company 18hour/week block outside of Madrid. This year, due to cutbacks, the company canceled all but the elementary level classes and reduced 18 hours of classes to 6 per week. Even my academy has felt the pinch and consolidated their two office spaces into one to save money. So times are a little tougher for everyone these days.

If you've already got your TESOL, TEFL or CELTA, my advice is to blast out your resume to all the schools then pick, choose and negotiate a suitable schedule and rate. Lingobongo is a good place to start. It'll cost 10 euros for a CV mass blast but it pays for itself. All the academies here want to pay you the least amount possible. None are great. Some are worse than others, obviously. Don't accept less than 15 euros/hr, especially if you have experience and certification. You also need to be here when you apply for jobs. I don't know a single teacher who got their job while still in their native country. It's a bit of a confusing, stressful, mad scramble for hours in September but there's usually enough work to go around. Teachers are still in demand here.

The best time to move to Madrid is September because most companies don't restart English classes properly until October. Once you have work you need to begin saving your money for the many unpaid, canceled classes due to holidays like Christmas, Easter and month-long August vacations. This is not a place to come to make money. It's a place to come for the sun, laid-back people and cheap travel around Europe.

Further reading with great information:
Dave's ESL Spain forums - a goldmine of information and tips from seasoned teachers about the industry.
Teaching English in Spain Links
TEFL teaching in Spain - dispelling myths
About the TEFL sector in Madrid, Spain


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