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Barcelona Vs Madrid Vs Valencia - Teaching in Spain

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by worlo24, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. worlo24

    worlo24 Occasional commenter

    Hi guys new to the forum.

    Myself and my wife are wanting to teach abroad (Sept 2016) and are trying to get some information regarding teaching in Spain before we commit to applications etc in the next round of advertising for jobs. We are interested in Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia and was wondering whether anyone could share their experiences of teaching in international schools in either of these places? Also, could anyone shed any light on living experiences/city life etc in either of these destinations? Finally, what is a typical day in an international school?

    I have done a quick search of past posts but most seem quite dated now. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks
  2. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    If you have any specific questions about Madrid, PM me...
  3. Why are you and your wife considering Spain in particular? Why not France or Germany? I'm guessing the weather will be a major factor?

    I could probably comment properly in about 6 months time, as I'm getting on a plane myself in about 5 weeks to start my own adventure.

    The state school system is a long and drawn out process of application, which is best avoided - if you go to Valencia or Barcelona, then you'd have to learn Valenciano or Catalan, this is their language of instruction.

    If you're planning to teach at any international school, then English will be the language of instruction and immersion.

    Rent will generally be cheaper than the UK, and you'd be best to perhaps live within walking distance or at least 2 Metro stops from any perspective school. Public transport is excellent within these two cities - metro or bus.

    Any new school should help with the administration side of things - NIE (Numero de Identidad Extranjero) is a number that identifies you as a foreigner in Spain, you'll need to open a bank account and of course get a mobile phone.

    Some schools may offer some help with finding you a place to live, perhaps a relocation package to cover the costs of moving out there until you get paid.

    Interviews will be traditionally done by Skype. The pace of life is a lot slower in Spain, perhaps frustratingly so at times but you adapt to it quickly.

    My school day is starting at around 8.15am and teachers can leave around 4pm. I was told in one of my interviews that teachers were only expected to take work home to do twice a week. There was no mention of observations, data analysis, book marking, book scrutinies or anything else that British teachers have to deal with - so I'm not sure whether they were pulling my leg, or it's going to be a massive surprise come the 2nd of September.

    No Half Terms, but plenty of public holidays dependent on the city/region you're in. Cataluña has a public holiday on 11th September for example, and the whole country will have the 12th October and 1st November off too - off the top of my head.

    You'd best read a book by Jeremy Dean, it's called "Zen Kyu Maestro" on Amazon to get a better picture of someone who's done this before me.

  4. worlo24

    worlo24 Occasional commenter

    Thank you for the very detailed reply. Hopefully, if it is okay, you could give me a bit more information after a few weeks when you start your job? Yes we have chosen Spain due to the weather and relaxed pace of life to be honest, although we have heard that the international schools there do not pay much? We are not going to save money anyway but are going for the experience - although we will need enough money to live off!

    Fingers crossed that the no mention of observations, data etc is true as this is one of the factors in us leaving teaching in the UK for a few years. On the off chance, I don't suppose anyone knows how teaching couples go about securing jobs if there is only one vacancy? Is it worth mentioning in the letter to the school? Would it make us more attractive to employ? What date do the jobs for the Sept 2016 academic year become advertised?

    Again any additional information from anyone would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all.
  5. Hi Worlo24, yes, I've bookmarked this thread and will reply back in September proper!

    With regards to the pay, I think what you need to think about is how much they pay in relation to the rest of Spain, rather than compare it to what you're used to here. A teacher working in a private international school probably makes very good money, and you can always do extra English conversation classes to top up your income via word of mouth or a cheeky advert in your apartment building.

    There's no pay scale published, but it's always something they mention at interview - money DOES go further though. 50€ is a lot of money in Spain, but convert it back and £35 doesn't seem like much at all. So yes, it would be primarily about the experience you're having rather than the money.

    The Spanish are quite canny about ways to save money as well. Spanish phone companies still charge for texts, so most Spaniards use WhatsApp as a method to communicate as it's included in your data allowance.

    As for the two of you teaching in the same school, I think some schools operate a "primary through secondary" policy, so one of you may have to teach or apply for a specialism that's not necessarily yours. Again it would be about stating this in your letter of application, as well as applying for a school where more than one role is available.

    Subjects such as Maths, Science and English are always going to be needed, but something like Travel and Tourism won't even exist on the timetables.

    If it's an English speaking school, the fact they want native speakers may override the lack of specialism - at least that's how I see it, again a convincing letter of application and CV will sway that.

    By this I'm secondary MFL trained, but my new school has decided they think I'm capable of teaching to primary - yes, they've said all the planning's done, so in their eyes I'm confident enough to teach at that age group.

    I'd strongly recommend starting to learn Spanish before you go, as well as finding your own language exchange partner or private classes once you arrive, just so you can get acclimatised and are able to cope with day to day situations, such as the bank.

    As for the job application dates, I'm not sure but I guess you'll have to keep your eyes peeled.

  6. lottee1000

    lottee1000 Occasional commenter

    As someone who has worked in a private school in Valencia, I will chip in...

    Money: You will not get paid much, most staff here are on half of what they were on at home. Whilst it goes a lot further here, it is still not great, teachers in a public school here get paid more. For living however it is more than enough, especially as you will share the cost of rent. If you need to send any to the UK though, or intend to travel much, it will not go far!

    Teaching day: for the first two years here, I worked hard, including weekends. In my final year I felt neither the pay nor the recognition merited this much effort, so I arrived at ten to nine every day, and left at five. These were the contracted hours, and nothing changed when I stuck to them.

    More to follow, have to go out now!
  7. worlo24

    worlo24 Occasional commenter

    Thanks both of you for the information. We are currently taking Spanish lessons but plan to learn some catalan if we decide on Barcelona. So long as we have enough money to live comfortably then that is fine so thanks both for your input. Just a quick one Lottee - what is Valencia like as a city?

    Thanks toby for bookmarking the thread and I cant wait to hear about your adventures in Spain.

    If anyone else has any additional information, I am all ears.
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    make sure you do a LOT of research about your chosen school / area. my sister, myself, and a number of friends have worked all over Spain and only one of us would EVER consider teaching in Spain again. There are plenty of countries that have a laid back lifestyle and good weather, broaden your horizons if i was you, and you will avoid the total gamble of teaching in Spanish schools. Sorry for being negative, but you really should be warned about how bad things can be in Spain.
  9. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    On the other hand, I've been in Spain -- at two different schools -- since 1980, and although life has had its ups and downs as it does everywhere, I've been very happy here and have found the schools I taught at generally better in most ways than English schools. It's true, though, that there are some very bad schools out there which are interested only in financial profit for the owners. Certainly, it's necessary to do some thorough research before taking the leap...
  10. debbie4us

    debbie4us New commenter

    "By this I'm secondary MFL trained, but my new school has decided they think I'm capable of teaching to primary - yes, they've said all the planning's done, so in their eyes I'm confident enough to teach at that age group."

    Sorry - but that quote speaks volumes about the school you are joining. Does that mean that as a trained Primary teacher I could get a job teaching Secondary MFL at this school?
  11. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    I wouldn't think that says anything about the school at all. A small school aren't going to hire a specialist primary language teacher for a couple of lessons a week when they can just get the secondary one to pop over. I'm a secondary teacher but teach my subject to Grade 6 once a week in the primary as do some of my colleagues.
  12. My new school is bilingual, they teach in Spanish and English. Other languages taught are German and Chinese. They employ native speakers. I do speak fluent Spanish, but every communication I've had with the school has been in English.

    I have taught EfL abroad before, and as an MFL teacher its about using correct and concise target language, maybe with actions.

    The role I applied for was "Teacher of English", but in the interview they asked me if I was interested in working with younger children, with the possibility of also doing Maths and Science.

    I said yes, but clearly as someone secondary trained I did say that I didn't have experience in those areas. They didn't see that as an issue. They suggested working with older primary children as it wouldn't give me the pressure of teaching English phonics, nor getting the kids through the GCSEs on the other end of the scale.

    If they've got English, Maths and Science every day, for a two class entry and a PPA time, I predict my timetable being quite full.

    They told me today on the phone that there's a two week period to visit the school and get organised before the students return to class on the 9th of September.

  13. debbie4us

    debbie4us New commenter

    I agree Tony GT, but the poster is a Secondary MFL teacher who is not being employed to teach MFL in Primary, but to teach English in Secondary and English, Maths and Science to Upper Primary, which he says he has no training for, or experience of. Apparently he won't need to teach phonics to EAL children in Upper Primary - really? I do. The fact that he has been employed to teach English to Secondary and is now being asked to teach a Primary Curriculum and the fact that the school obviously don't see the need to employ a trained Primary teacher would set alarm bells ringing for me I am afraid. I am wrong and I wish him all the best, but I would be interested to hear his views on the school by Christmas.
  14. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Hi Worlo24,

    I've been in the Valencian region nearly 10 years now, my blog zenkyumaestro.blogspot.com

    will give you some views of life inside and outside school. I'll admit that I'm pretty happy here so tend to see the 'bright side' of life as an expat teacher. All the warning about lower salaries and some dodgy schools will have some truth in them, but as long as you know that before you come then you can't complain too much.

    Specifically ref Valencia, although I don't live in the city I do visit often, it's a vibrant place with lots to do whatever your interests. I prefer it to both Madrid and Barcelona, but I've only visited them as a tourist (many times) so you shouldn't give my view on them too much weight. Valencia has the feel of a very big town rather than a city. It has a fantastic dry river which is now a city park (the old river which flooded often has been diverted). The city of arts and sciences is a wonderful place with music concerts in the summer. The downside is that the cost has put an enormous hole in the city's finances. http://www.cac.es/

    If you're into football, there's no better city stadium than the Mestalla, but don't wait too long, Valencia are due to move to a new stadium in a year or two (if they sort out their finances!)

    There's also paella!! http://zenkyumaestro.blogspot.com/2012/02/paella-monumental.html

    Best of luck wherever you go. Listen to the good and the bad about all three cities, especially from people who've been or who are there now. For me, Valencia suits. So eat your heart out New York, Valencia: so good they named it three times! Valencia (city) in Valencia (province) in Valencia (the autonomous comunidad).

  15. worlo24

    worlo24 Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the review of Valencia Jeremy it's sounds a great city. So many opinions and so many things to think about. I really appreciate the guys out in the thick of it go being their opinion of the places they are at or have taught at. Anymore info Is again appreciated.
  16. Debbie, either I didn't make it clear, or I've been misinterpreted:

    The job title was for "Teacher of English". The school operates an all through system from babies, yes, babies to PAU (the Spanish equivalent of the A Level). They have different buildings for the different age groups around the city.

    The students study the Cambridge English exams, and having seen the level of English they can use in primary (on a promotional video), again it's high. I speak a high level of Spanish (perhaps I consider myself bilingual) and yet every communication with me from the Spanish speaking staff has been in English so far.

    The description on the job advert did not specify what level of education they would want the person to teach to - they wanted a native English speaker, someone with a PGCE and QTS.

    I speak Spanish, but I'm not a native and that's not the job I applied for. The other MFL I can offer, French isn't taught, but German and Chinese Mandarin are.

    I'm about to complete a 3 week supply placement in primary, and I do say I have enjoyed it, perhaps a lot more than being at secondary level.

    I'm young enough to take this as a life changing opportunity, and I have taught EfL before, so perhaps this is my dream job, and even if it doesn't work out I can always come home and start again.

    If I love it, well... I'm more than likely to stay.
  17. debbie4us

    debbie4us New commenter

    Hi Toby. If you are being employed because of your qualifications to teach EAL and Cambridge English across the school that is quite a different role to being an Upper Primary teacher or Secondary English teacher, so I apologise if I got the wrong end of the stick! Best wishes for your new job, hope it goes well for you.

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