8 Reasons to Teach in Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación
In my second year of working as an auxiliar de conversación (also known as a North American Language and Culture Assistant) in Spain, I simply adore what I do and love that I have this opportunity to live in Spain. With applications for next year opening soon, I started thinking about all the reasons I would recommend this program to others.
This program is far from perfect, sometimes presenting a variety of frustrations (mostly bureaucratic), and I won’t say that living overseas isn’t full of challenges. However, it is a pretty damn fantastic opportunity, and I love my life teaching English in Spain. Here are 8 reasons I would recommend a year as an auxiliar de conversación to anyone who wants to experience Spain, live as an expat abroad, or have the adventure of a lifetime.
Why Join the Auxiliares de Conversación Program?
1. Spain is ridiculously amazing
I mean, obviously I’m rather fond of it, being in the middle of my fourth stint in Spain, but, really, it is. The culture, the lifestyle, the landscapes, the sights… I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you for now since I think this entire blog is a pretty good love song to Spain. Whether you’ve already fallen in love with the country on previous travels or have yet to be acquainted with España, it will steal your heart forever.
2. You have plenty of time off
Working only 12 hours a week (16 in Madrid), you’ll have no shortage of time to explore your city in the afternoon and all of Europe with three (or possibly four) day weekends every weekend, plus bank holidays up the wazoo. Travel around Europe is relatively inexpensive, meaning you realistically could spend your weekends exploring Spain’s diverse regions or jet-setting off to the beautiful Amalfi Coast, romantic Paris, lively London, or a number of other fascinating destinations.
3. Spanish fluency is a definite plus
There’s no better way to pick up a language than immersing yourself in a country where it’s spoken, no matter how basic or advanced your skills are to begin with. Of course, you can surround yourself with all English speakers and never improve your Spanish, but if you’re determined to learn, you will. In today’s globalized economy, and with today’s exponentially growing Spanish-speaking population in the U.S., Spanish is a definite asset.
4. You actually can save up money while doing this program
On first glance, an auxiliar de conversación salary of €700 (or €1000) a month may not seem like a lot, but if you’re wise with your money and spend a few hours a week doing private lessons, you actually can finish your year in Spain with some money in the bank. You’ll need to arrive in Spain with some saved money since you won’t get paid immediately, and it’s no six-digit salary, but you can fairly easily make more than you spend, which makes this program incredibly affordable compared to a lot of working abroad programs.
5. What else are you going to do, anyway?
With the current state of the economy, finding a decent job back home is going to be a major struggle. Rather than working yourself to death searching for a job that barely interests you, why not spend a year teaching in Spain? As long as your meet the minimum requirements and apply early enough, even if you have no teaching experience, the North American Language and Culture Assistants/auxiliares de conversación program will grant you a position. Way easier than sending in a trillion resumes.
6. Teaching is a fantastic experience, no matter your interests or field of expertise
No matter your career goals, teaching — especially teaching in a foreign country — will do wonders to prepare you for whatever lies ahead, building confidence, communication skills, and an open mind. Plus, who can complain about getting paid to hang out with adorable Spanish kids?
7. When better than now?
If you have a deep desire to see the world, when better to do so than now? You’re younger than you’ll ever be in the future, you have fewer responsibilities than you will when you’re older, and you may not yet be tied down to a career or a spouse and kids. Twenty years from now — or even five — it will be infinitely more difficult to just take off and live in another country for a year. Live your youth to its fullest!
8. What do you have to lose?
You’re only committing to 8 (9 in Madrid) months in Spain, which will fly by in no time. Even if you’re absolutely miserable, which I promise you won’t be, you’re not legally bound to stay here, so you can always flee Spain for greener pastures or just stick it out and use your time as a valuable learning experience. But I have a strong feeling you’ll have an absolute blast.
As I mentioned, applications for this fall open January 10th, and, since admissions are more or less on a first-come, first-served basis, applying as early as possible is highly important. Be sure to research the program and Spain well, weigh the pros and cons (Liz of Memoirs of a Young Adventuress summed up the cons well in this post, and read the comments for varying perspectives), but, mostly, just go for it! If you have any questions about the application process or life as an auxiliar de conversación, feel free to contact me. ¡Suerte a todos!