Every year, thousands of English-speaking individuals choose to embark on an exciting journey – teaching English abroad.
Among the plethora of destinations available worldwide, Barcelona has emerged as a hot favourite. With its intriguing mix of tradition and innovation, ancient and modern, sea and mountains, Spain’s second largest city presents an attractive landscape for aspiring English teachers.
This Step-by-step Guide to Getting Started Teaching English in Barcelona is designed to provide insights and extensive details to help you navigate the process of becoming an English teacher in this vibrant city.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Evaluating Your Qualifications
To teach English in Barcelona, certain qualifications are almost universally required everywhere.
Firstly, as an English teacher, you’re expected to have a high level of proficiency in the language. Native English speaking teachers are often preferred (though it is illegal for organisations to specify they only want to employ native English speakers), but non-native speakers with a high level of fluency can also find many opportunities.
You may not need to present an official certificate of your level of English but it will help your CV stand out if you have one. Find out some top tips for teaching English as a non-native English speaker.
Secondly, your teaching abilities come under scrutiny. Relevant experience in teaching, particularly English teaching, can significantly enhance your application. Schools look for individuals with an understanding of pedagogical methods, lesson planning, and classroom management.
Thirdly, having a university degree can broaden your job prospects. While not mandatory in every institution, it is sometimes preferred, especially in reputable language schools and international schools in Barcelona.
Lastly, while not a strict requirement, possessing Spanish language skills can prove to be an advantage. Not only can this ease your day-to-day interactions, but it also signals your commitment to integrating into the local culture, which can impress potential employers.
Getting Certified to Teach English
Almost every school in Barcelona will require a reputable English teaching certification. The most in-demand qualification is the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Other qualifications, such as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) are also accepted. These certifications equip you with the specialised skills needed to effectively teach English as a second language.
TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA courses cover a range of essential topics such as understanding learner needs, planning and delivering lessons, managing the classroom, and assessing learner progress. Find out the main differences are between CELTA and TEFL certifications.
The process of getting certified to teach English as a foreign language typically involves a mix of theoretical learning, practical assignments, and teaching practice. Course lengths vary but expect to invest a substantial amount of time and effort.
Both online and on-site courses are available for most certifications, each with its own set of benefits. Online courses can provide flexibility and teaching practice via an online platform which is ideal for those who plan to teach English online in the future. On-site courses offer the use of the school facilities and face to face teaching in a physical classroom.
Find out about our online and on-site CELTA courses:
Understanding the Job Market in Barcelona
The job market for teaching English in Barcelona is diverse and dynamic. It presents a range of opportunities, each with its unique set of advantages and challenges. You can expect to teach anywhere between 18 – 28 hours a week as a full-time English teacher. On top of these hours you need to consider the amount of time it will take you to plan classes, travel to work and any other administration tasks.
Private tutoring, for instance, offers flexibility but requires effort in finding students, managing your schedule, receiving payments (often at the end of each class) and travelling all over the city. Approximate pay per hour: €20 – €25.
Language schools provide more structure and regular income but might come with rigid schedules which you will need to stick to until the end of the term. Schools often offer English classes in the evenings and even at the weekends, when students are finished with regular school or work. Salaries for English teachers in Barcelona vary depending on the institution, your qualifications, hours worked, and sometimes, the age and level of the students you teach. Approximate pay per hour: €15 – €18.
International schools offer attractive remuneration packages and professional development opportunities. These positions are often competitive and usually require advanced qualifications and experience. Approximate pay per hour: Varies
Timing is critical when seeking English teaching jobs in Barcelona. Most schools hire at the beginning of the academic year in September / beginning of October and mid-year in January when new groups often open up. While jobs can be found year-round, aligning your job hunt with these peak hiring periods can increase your chances of securing a position. It’s crucial to research and have realistic expectations about potential earnings.
Preparing Your Application
A well-crafted application can set you apart from the competition. Your CV should be concise, clear, and tailored to highlight your qualifications, skills, and experiences relevant to teaching English.
Your cover letter should complement your CV, providing a glimpse into your personality, teaching philosophy, and motivation for wanting to teach English in Barcelona. It’s your chance to make a strong impression and convince the employer that you’d be a valuable addition to their institution.
Having strong references can further enhance your application. These could be from past employers, professors, or anyone who can vouch for your capabilities as an English teacher.
A teaching portfolio, if you have one, can be a powerful tool to showcase your teaching style, lesson plans, and student feedback. Your CELTA course portfolio will be very useful to you if you have just graduated.
As an Oxford TEFL graduate, you would receive free access to our comprehensive careers service and be in the best possible position for finding a great English teaching job in Barcelona. Find out about the Oxford TEFL careers service.
Navigating the Job Application Process
Job opportunities are abundant on online job portals, language school websites, local newspapers, Facebook groups and expat forums.
We can recommend joining these Facebook groups:
- Oxford TEFL CELTA graduates Facebook group
- Barcelona TEFL Teachers Association Facebook group
- Barcelona Expats Facebook group
Networking can also open up unadvertised opportunities, so make use of any connections you may have in Barcelona or the teaching community. You can also consider attending our monthly language exchange and networking events.
Once you’ve found suitable job openings, it’s time to send in your applications. While each institution will have its own application process, generally, you’ll need to submit your CV, cover letter, and any other requested documents.
If your application is shortlisted, you’ll be invited for an interview. This could be conducted online or in-person, and is your chance to showcase your abilities, enthusiasm, and fit for the job. Preparation is key, so anticipate questions related to your teaching style, classroom management, and your reasons for choosing Barcelona.
It’s worth noting that it is highly unlikely that any school will hire you before you have moved to Barcelona. We also recommend getting a Spanish mobile number as soon as possible and adding this to your CV.
Once you’re offered a job, carefully review the contract. Make sure you understand all the terms, including work hours, salary, benefits, vacation days, and termination conditions. Don’t hesitate to negotiate terms or seek clarification if needed.
Legal Requirements for Working in Barcelona
For non-EU citizens, obtaining a legal work status in Spain almost always involves getting a long-term student visa on which you can work legally for up to 30 hours per week (which is more than full-time teaching). The process can seem daunting but it is doable!
It’s advisable to start this process as early as possible and at least 3 months prior to your expected arrival date.
Whether you are an EU citizen or a non-EU citizen, most schools will also require a clean background check as you might be working with children. Once in Spain, you’ll need to register with the Spanish social security office, which will grant you access to healthcare services, and get your foreigners identity card and number.
Preparing for the Move
And now the next exciting phase begins – preparing for the move to Barcelona!
Deciding where to live in Barcelona should take into account factors such as proximity to your workplace, cost of living, safety, and the availability of amenities. Barcelona is composed of various neighbourhoods, each with its unique character, so spend some time researching which suits you best. Find out how much it costs to live in Barcelona.
As for accommodation, options range from renting your own apartment to shared housing. Both have their advantages – while having your own place offers privacy and control, shared housing can be a great way to meet people and reduce living expenses. Be aware of rental scams and agency fees which can be very high. Always ensure you check the contract in detail before signing and moving in.
Some schools offer housing as part of their employment contract. Even if yours does not, it never hurts to ask if they have any advice for securing a suitable living space. Find out about the Oxford TEFL accommodation service.
Opening a bank account in Spain will make managing your finances easier. Many banks offer accounts for expats, which come with online banking facilities to conveniently track and manage your money. You will probably need your passport, NIE (Foreigner Identification Number), employment contract, and proof of address to open an account. Some banks also require you to have a monthly salary entering your account. Bring some cash and savings with you from your home country, as this will make the transition easier.
When packing, consider the Mediterranean climate of Barcelona, which is typically warm and mild for around eight months of the year. The winters can be cold but only for a couple of months. The summers can be extremely hot and humid. So, make sure you pack for both warm and cold weather if you are staying for a few months or more. Depending on your teaching institution, you may want to pack professional attire for teaching and also some teaching resources, such as books, flashcards, and art supplies.
Adapting to Life in Barcelona
After your arrival in Barcelona, the process of cultural adaptation begins.
Barcelona is a city with a deep history and distinctive Catalan culture that permeates every aspect of daily life. There are many local traditions, festivals, and public events to engage with. Understanding cultural nuances and respecting local customs can make your transition smoother. Watch this video of an Oxford TEFL graduate’s experience teaching English in Barcelona.
While many people in Barcelona speak English, especially in the city centre, learning Spanish will enrich your experience. It not only aids in basic communication but also opens up opportunities for deeper connections with locals. Additionally, the locals will appreciate it if you learn some Catalan, as it shows respect for their culture.
Don’t miss out on the wide variety of social and cultural events that take place in Barcelona. Participate in language exchange meetups, join clubs based on your interests, volunteer for local causes, or just explore the city’s exquisite cuisine, stunning architecture, and beautiful beaches. This will help you build your social network, learn more about Spanish and Catalan cultures, and feel more at home in Barcelona.
As far as learning Spanish goes, there are many resources you can use. Software like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone can be incredibly useful. Enrolling in Spanish classes is also a great way to meet people. Your school may even offer free Spanish lessons from time to time. And just wandering around the city, reading signs and talking to people, can go a long way in improving your Spanish comprehension. Find out about Oxford House Spanish classes.
Ready to start teaching English in Barcelona?
Embarking on the journey to teach English in Barcelona can be a life-changing decision. Although the process involves several steps – from getting the right qualifications and navigating the job market, to understanding the legal requirements and adapting to a new culture – the rewards are well worth the effort.
You’ll gain professional experience, immerse yourself in a rich and diverse culture, and have the opportunity to impact the lives of your students.
Would you like to join our community of English teachers in Barcelona? Find out about our highly rated CELTA courses in Barcelona.
Are you a non-EU citizen, but curious about living and working in Spain? We’d love to help! We have a nearly 100% success rate in obtaining teaching visas for students from the US, UK, Canada, and more. Find out how we can help you study and work in Barcelona with this package.