Saving Money in Spain: Top Tips for Teaching English

top tips for teaching English

This is a guest post from my friend Liz. Liz writes Memoirs of a Young Adventuress which is about traveling and expat life abroad. Four years ago, she said goodbye to the freezing cold New England winters and ‘hola’ to sunny, warm Spain, and hasn’t looked back. Unsatisfied living in the same place for too long, she has called several cities in Spain home, from Salamanca to Madrid, Córdoba and Málaga, and now Logroño in the north. 

Living and traveling around beautiful sunny Spain couldn’t sound more perfect. Long days spent on a sandy beach combined with dancing all night in a disco filled with energetic and sleepless youths seems like many a 20-something year old’s ideal summer, at least it is for me. Combined with the famously cheap lifestyle (150 euros for rent? REALLY?) and shockingly lax attitudes concerning work and time, living in Spain can truly feel like a never-ending vacation. But that day always comes when you pluck up the courage to check your bank account and you want to faint (“was running with the bulls worth all of that?!” and “There should be an extra digit in there!”).

Nothing ruins a vacation or living abroad more like running out of money. However, if you are a resourceful native English speaker, Spain is the place for you! About 20 years behind the rest of Europe when it comes to speaking English, there is no shortage of eager Spanish men, women and children willing to shell out a bunch of cash for an hour of conversation in English.

Here are my 4 best tips for finding teaching jobs and saving money while in Spain:

Top Tips for Teaching English: Spread the Word

The best way to find classes in Spain? By word of mouth. Tell anyone and everyone you are looking for new students, whore out your name and number wherever you go and I guarantee you’ll have a bunch of new students within a week. Otherwise, put up an add on a site like and you’re sure to get a lot of messages. If you are in Spain in summer, there are usually a ton of day camps looking for native English speakers for a week or two. A great way to see a new part of Spain, hang with locals, and make a quick buck.

Top Tips for Teaching English: Google is Your Friend

Never taught English in your life? Doesn’t really matter in Spain! No one cares if you have a CELTA, TESOL, TEFL or any other fancy acronym certifications. For the most part people want conversation and there are a million free websites online with great ideas of what to do in an hour-long class. Just google the magic words “ESL conversation topics” and you’re good to go! Even if you are asked to teach more in-depth topics, google has a plethora of free ESL sites to chose from. Teaching English is simple really. If you are energetic and enthusiastic in class, can think on your toes, and have some semblance of a plan, you are set.

Top Tips for Teaching English: Live Like the Spaniards Do

There’s a reason everything is so cheap in Spain; in case you haven’t seen the news in the past year, their economy is in the gutter. Not that you’d know that living here except for the prices. People happily chug along with their everyday lives, spending very little money but having a great time. Instead of going out to an expensive dinner, go for tapas or pinchos, much cheaper. Take advantage of 1 euro pint nights at the local bars and carpool or walk everywhere. Wait to go shopping until the massive sales season in January and July. If Spaniards can live off of less than 500 euros a month, so can you!

Top Tips for Teaching English: Travel in Groups

As much as I am a fan of solo travel, in general I find it’s cheaper to travel in groups. If you get a group of 4 or 5 friends together and rent a car, it’s generally much cheaper than taking the bus or train. Splitting a room in a hotel or hostel is almost always more cost effective than staying alone. Sharing meals and going out in groups while traveling is also a great way to meet new people and get to know a new place, as well as save a good amount of money too.

5 Responses to Saving Money in Spain: Top Tips for Teaching English

  1. crazy sexy fun traveler August 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Another reason that confirms there is mess in Spain (which I love btw) that they do not require any TEFL etc. 😉

  2. Expatana August 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    Liz, great post on the basics. I’m glad there’s still any kind of market there considering what’s happened to their economy. I mean … who has money for lessons? Anyway, glad to hear you’re living successfully there.

    A question lots of us have that never seems to go away: How are you managing legally — or did you manage to get papers through family or something like that? That’s exactly why I never managed to get there to work. I’m not about to go the under-the-table route at my age. But the dream never goes away.

    • Kaley [Y Mucho Más] August 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

      Actually, a lot of unemployed people are taking English lessons. They do have their unemployment pensions, so they use part of that (and their free time!) to brush up on their English, which will most likely be a very important requirement for any potential employment.

      And Liz did the Conversation and Language Assistant program, which is run by the Spanish government and gives you a Spanish student visa. After two years, though, you no longer have preference, so it’s hard to stay unless you a) start a master’s, b) get married to an EU citizen, or c) become a “pareja de hecho” with an EU citizen.

  3. Expatana August 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I knew it had to be something like that. No other way in. I’m too old for the program you did — there was a limit — but I’m still happy to see that other Americans made their way there. Looking ahead now to running a mobile business and seeing if that can get me in. Keep on trekking happily there. It reminds me that it’s still there, waiting …


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