Teach English in Madrid in Schools with ConversaSpain
The 2020-2021 school year has started as usual in public schools in Spain. As you know, the Auxiliares de Conversación programs have different start dates (October, November, and January) and the October participants have already started at the schools. As of today, the Regional Education Authorities and ConversaSpain intend to continue with the program this academic year. We hope that this unfortunate situation passes as quickly as possible, and we send all of our strength and positivity to all of you.
ConversaSpain is a Spanish organization that offers teaching placements in schools in Madrid for English speakers. This is an opportunity to gain valuable, international experience and get paid while living in one of the liveliest and most authentic regions of Spain. Candidates wishing to live and teach English in Madrid through ConversaSpain must hold a +3 degree and come from a country where English is the official language.
Participants in ConversaSpain teach English in Madrid as auxiliares de conversacion. This means they won't find themselves in charge of entire classes, and won't be responsible for grading or discipline. Teaching in Madrid assistants not only develop valuable skills for their resumes but also have time to experience Spanish culture and learn the Spanish language.
Some highlights of ConversaSpain's program for auxiliares de conversacion teaching English in Madrid:
Positions managed by the Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid (regional Education Authority)
Schools placed in the rural and pueblo locations
16 teaching hours per week (4 consecutive days a week)
Health coverage included: private insurance (non-EU participants) or EHIC coverage (EU participants)
Participants are required to hold a +3 degree
Main Benefits of Teaching English in Madrid with ConversaSpain
ConversaSpain offers 4 different options to teach English in Madrid starting on October 1st, 2020/ November 2nd, 2020 or January 2021 until June 30th, 2021 (dates TBC). The options and costs are adapted to a range of diverse backgrounds and interests.
– Basic Option (1,450 USD)
– TEFL certification included (1,890 USD)
Ximena J., participant in the immersion week program
“I'm really happy I did the Spanish Language and Culture Immersion Week in Spain. I feel I would have felt more lost without it. The immersion week is perfect for someone who is getting out of the bubble and needs some guidance in the city, also to get a head start. It feels good to get comfortable with the city and meet new people, have a set schedule, so you don't have to plan everything. You can get some paperwork done meantime, and then the next week you are in the orientation and ready to start”
The 4 options have important benefits:
Most Schools Placed in Rural and Pueblo Locations in Madrid
Most schools are placed in rural and pueblo locations in the Madrid Area, which gives participants the amazing opportunity to immerse themselves in the authentic Spanish culture and language. At the same time, they live close to the capital city of Madrid. Madrid public transportation system is well known due to its low price and convenient network. Some participants might also teach in a school on the outskirts of Madrid. Madrid City has around 3.3 million inhabitants, with a metropolitan area population of 6.5 million.
Mollie P., assistant teaching in the outskirts and living in Madrid city center.
“My school is on the outskirts but I live in Madrid center and spend 100% of my free time there. There is very easy public transportation to travel to the school from the city center (metro and bus). I love living and teaching in Madrid because it's very diverse, exciting, and there's a lot to explore. It's easy to get around within the city and beyond. Can go anywhere in Europe easily from Madrid: From Madrid, you can really make anywhere a weekend trip. One weekend I took an hour bus ride to explore Toledo (free with my metro pass) and it was a really interesting, historic Spanish city. Another weekend, I hopped on a 60€ flight to Germany to visit a friend. On a three-day weekend, I took a cheap, direct flight to Marrakech”
Moreover, it is in Madrid where the Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter) can be found, the home of great writers during the Golden Age of Spanish literature, such as Miguel de Cervantes, Gongora, Quevedo, and Lope de Vega.
Nowadays, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the world. Those looking for English teaching jobs in Madrid will also have the chance to learn a language spoken by more than 437 million people worldwide. In addition to this, Madrid has a huge international community, so a low level of Spanish is not a barrier.
Carl R., English teacher in Madrid.
“All my Spanish comes from pushing myself to attend as many social events as possible. During my first three months, I did not understand anything. However, I kept studying, listening, and asking a lot of questions. I’ve slowly but surely learnt. There are great ways of meeting new people and learning the culture and the language faster in Madrid”
All over the world, people associate the word “tapas” with Spanish gastronomy. However, Madrid gastronomy goes beyond the stereotypical “tapas” with a wide variety of bars, cafés, restaurants, markets, and culinary tours. This region has been influenced by international cuisine, but tradition and high-quality regional and national products firmly remain. In 2018, Madrid hosted the ninth edition of the “Gastrofestival Madrid”, an annual cultural festival which brings chefs, critics, and food enthusiasts from all over the world.
Exploring Madrid’s History through its Centenary Restaurants
The oldest restaurant in the world, Botin, is in Madrid and was founded in 1725. In addition to this, 12 other centenary restaurants in Madrid offer an opportunity to learn more about the history of the city, the region, and its famous gastronomy. Within the walls of these establishments one can experience the savoir fair of generations of chefs, and the best recipes of a country with a long and diverse culinary history. One of the most famous and traditional plates from Madrid, “Cocido madrileño”, is a chickpea-stew with meat and vegetables, can be found in some of these restaurants.
Other Gastronomic Experiences in Madrid
Another way to experience the gastronomical essence of the Spanish culture is to try the wine. Wine tourism is extremely important in the region of Madrid, with 20 wineries with D.O. (Designation of Origin) in three areas: Arganda, San Martin de Valdeiglesias, and Navalcarnero. Itineraries and visits to the wineries are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a chance to learn about the production process of wine-making and the architecture and history of these beautiful locations.
As previously mentioned, “tapas” are world famous and essential to Madrid and Spanish culture. The “tapeo” is a fun, relaxed and social culinary custom for most Spaniards, which takes place in bars. A beer or a glass of wine in a bar with friends will be served with small portions of food, from elaborate and traditional takes on patatas bravas, rabas, bocata de calamares, huevos rotos to simple plates of cheese, ham, olives.
Confectionery has always been a significant part of Madrid’s gastronomy. Sometimes linked to religious events, delicacies such as the famous roscón de Reyes, the torrijas, the rosquillas de San Isidro, or the huesos de santo can all be considered family favourites. Perhaps the most famous, chocolate con churros, can be found all over Madrid, and the rest of Spain, in typical bars and are very popular among both locals and tourists.
Participants teach in Madrid 16 hours per week, so there is time to explore the region. Some of the places to visit in Madrid that shouldn’t be missed are:
- San Lorenzo de El Escorial – Declared a world heritage by UNESCO in 1984, this is a monastery and royal site built by Felipe II with a high historical and cultural value.
- Chinchón – A picturesque and antique village home to a renowned medieval square, surrounded by 15th to 17th century galleried houses, cafés, and mansions.
- The Royal Palace of Aranjuez and Kings Gardens – Another world heritage site, declared by UNESCO in 2001. They offer a large botanical variety and historical monuments, 50km distance from Madrid’s center.
- Patones de Arriba – A small and charming village with several archaeological sites, some of them dating from the upper Paleolithic period.
- Alcalá de Henares – The birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the famous Spanish writer, is another world heritage city in Madrid. It is also the first planned university town in the world and the university is delightfully settled amongst 16th- century buildings.
Practical Information for an English Teacher in Madrid: Cost of Living and Accommodation
Cost of Living in Madrid
Participants who teach English in Madrid receive €1,000 per month, which is enough to live as a young professional or student in the region. To give some context, salaries in Spain are much lower than those in Australia, the UK, or the US, for example. According to Numbeo, the world's largest database made up of user-contributed data, the cost of living in Spain in 15% lower than in the US, and rent in Spain is 42% lower than in the US.
Sasha K., who has been teaching English in Madrid, gives some examples of the cost of living in Madrid in the blog compared to San Francisco, her hometown. In term of accommodation, she says you can "expect to pay anywhere from €350 to €600 for a room in a shared apartment". Sasha also explains that her "entire shopping cart filled for the entire week costs €20" or thas "a 'café con leche' usually only run between €1 and €1,50".
The cost of living in Madrid is significantly lower than in the U.S., but so is the average salary. Spain might be cheap for a quick visit, but once participants are living and teaching in Madrid, those low prices no longer seem like such a bargain. Still, with a little bit of budgeting, they find the quality of life is good in Spain.
Finding Accommodation in Madrid
In order to find accommodation in Madrid, participants must go through an apartment hunting process which may take some time and effort. However, it is possible and there are affordable rooms to rent in shared flats. When looking for housing, it is important to understand the difference between a room or "habitación" and an apartment or "piso". It is not recommended to rent a whole flat bearing in mind the monthly stipend. It's more realistic and socially favorable to share an apartment with students or young professionals.
It is not a good idea to sign a permanent accommodation contract before visiting the area, and the school’s location. Furthermore, once at their school, participants may find that some other teachers are interested in sharing a flat. Our recommendation is to:
1. Book temporary accommodation online for the first few days /weeks teaching English in Madrid.
2. Select some suitable apartments/rooms for permanent accommodation before the travel, and arrange some viewings in advance.
3. Visit those apartments and check other opportunities in the school area once in Spain. Do not sign a contract until seeing the place.
4. Make a decision and move to the permanent accommodation soon after starting at school.
Melissa H., participant teaching English in Madrid.
“September and October are the hardest months to get housing in Madrid, so it would be good to advise future participants that it's worth it to come earlier to start the process. They should also be prepared to stay in a hostel, an Airbnb, or a friend's place for a few weeks (at least) while they look for somewhere to live, and to organize this temporary accommodation well in advance. It's important to have certain requirements and conditions in mind for the flat, but also to be ready to accept something that's not completely perfect. In the end, it is possible, but it's more difficult than I had expected it to be!”