Congratulations on your decision to take the road less traveled and teach English in Spain! Spain is a diverse, historic country and has much to offer from intricate artwork to rich tapas. Teaching in Madrid is a wonderful opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, meet people from all over the world, teach energetic students, and travel easily throughout the rest of the country and Europe.
The first thing you should know about Madrid is that both the region and the capital city share the same name. Just because you apply to teach in Madrid doesn’t guarantee you a placement school in the middle of the capital. Other cities in the region include Aranjuez, El Escorial, and Alcalá de Henares. Most Language and Culture Assistants choose to live in the capital and commute to their schools each day. A longer commute can be justified by a 4 hour/day, 4-day work week!
As a language assistant, you will not be leading your own classes, nor will you be lesson planning or grading papers. The nature of the position will vary from school to school, but you can expect to be assisting various classes with small group work, lesson reinforcement, conversation practice, and cultural presentations. Language assistants in Madrid will earn 1,000 Euros a month which is a livable wage considering it's untaxed and the cost of living is lower than many U.S. cities. Most language assistants supplement their income with private tutoring, earning an average of 15-20 Euros an hour. In my experience, I was approached by my students' parents for tutoring opportunities.
Madrid is a great choice for those interested in experiencing a large city with an international presence. From the Royal Palace to the Prado Museum, Madrid is busting with culture, art, restaurants, and beautiful parks. Thousands of students, Language Assistants, and tourists from around the world make their way to Madrid each year. If you're not keen on the big city life, there are dozens of smaller towns in the surrounding area where you can live and explore. If you're looking to improve your Spanish while in Madrid, language academies, intercambio events, and other language-learning opportunities are sprinkled all over. With a part-time work schedule, you’ll have time outside of the classroom to develop your Spanish with locals and international students.
For a small-town Oregonian, the size of Madrid seemed a bit daunting, but the city’s highly developed public transportation system quickly dissolved my uncertainties. Easy day trips from Madrid include the UNESCO city of Toledo, Salamanca, Segovia, Ávila, and El Escorial. Being in the center of the country also makes traveling throughout Spain easy and efficient. If you are under 26, you can get your abono transportation card for only 20 Euros a month. Generally, you can get into most museums, concerts, events, etc. for discounted prices or for free throughout Europe while you're in your 20s.
International travel: Budget airlines will allow you to travel internationally for sometimes less than 100 euros/flight depending on the day and time you depart. Portugal is right next door to the west, Morocco to the south, and France to the north. Your three-day weekends will come in handy if you're looking to check off some destinations on your bucket list!
Choosing to work and live abroad is a huge decision, but an open mind and patience will allow you to grow and appreciate the new environment you've chosen. At the end of the day, the most important factor to keep in mind is the strong positive impact you will have on your students. You’re there to help develop their English communication and open their eyes to life abroad in North America. Especially if you work with young students, be prepared to be greeted as if you were a celebrity! Most students interpret your life being exactly like what they see in movies, so this is your time to share similarities and differences between your two cultures.