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Teaching English in Europe by Susan Griffith

Teaching English in Valencia, Spain

A Great Place to Combine Work and a Vacation

You may think of Spain as a great place to go for a vacation—sun, beaches, and all-night celebrations. Imagine yourself living there.

Last year I taught English in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city and capital of the region. Foreign tourists don’t overrun the city, as they do much of Spain, and the foreign community is smaller than in Madrid or Barcelona. This makes it easier to meet locals.

Moreover, the city itself is an appealing and inexpensive place to live, with a pleasant historic center and numerous art museums. The waterfront esplanade, lined with restaurants and bars, where on summer weekends the dancing goes on until sunrise, is only a 10-minute tramway ride from the center. A 3- to 4-hour bus ride, the cheapest and most convenient way to travel, brings you to Barcelona in the north, Madrid in the west, and Alicante in the south. The famous party island of Ibiza is an overnight ferry ride away.

In Valencia, as in the rest of Spain, people are lining up to learn English. University students need English to find employment upon graduation, and companies tell employees that career advancement depends on their ability to speak English. As a result, English language schools are opening up all over Spain.

Most teachers are English or English speakers who have a European Union passport, which allows them to work anywhere within the EU. However, the Spanish government recently passed a “Law on Foreigners” which has made it easier for non-EU members to apply for a job.

The two main schools are Opening English School, the company I worked for, and Wall Street Institute. The students learn grammar through interactive computer language programs and then sign up for group classes with native speakers. The material is standardized, so teaching is as easy as reading and following the binder. Little preclass preparation is necessary. You do have some opportunities to plan extracurricular activities, a relaxing way to get to know your students (both schools accept only adult students) and have some fun.

Other English language schools in Spain include Berlitz, the Cambridge School, and the British Institute. Then there are small private schools, some of which may be great but others pay teachers very little and may close in the summer.

Private tutoring is another way to make money. The going rate for English language lessons is about $11 an hour. Post signs at student hangouts and around the university. Valencia has one of the largest universities in Spain, and many Spanish students want to live with a foreigner so they can practice their English. Just post signs that read Chica/Chico busca un piso comapartido (Guy/Girl looking for a shared apartment) and leave a phone number where people can contact you. Post signs at student hangouts and around the university.

For More Information

English-Language Schools

Opening English School, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 11, 46002 Valencia; 011-96- 352-90-00, fax 011-96-352-83-80.

Wall Street Institute, Plaza de España, 1 bajos, 46007 Valencia; 011-96-352-70-70, fax 011-96-351-35-17, www.wallstreetinstitute.com.

Red Tape
Apply at the INEM office for a N.I.D., a requirement for signing a work contract. Once you have a contract you must apply for a N.I.E. (Número de Identicación de Extranjero) or identity number for foreigners at the Ministerio del Interior (also known as the Policía). With your NIE and Permiso de trabajo, which is a letter from your boss saying that you are employed there, you can apply for a Tarjeta de Seguridad Social (a social security card), which entitles you to healthcare. My advice is to bribe a Spanish speaker, someone you know at work or a roommate, to help you out.

SUSANNE EINEIGEL started traveling seriously after high school and has worked throughout Europe. She lives in Vancouver, BC.

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