Thinking of trying something new, taking a gap year, or changing career paths? You’ve come to the right place. The Auxiliar de Conversación program in Spain can help you achieve whatever goal you’ve set for yourself this year, even if you don’t exactly see yourself starting a teaching career.
UPDATED FOR THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR
First, go to the Ministerio de Educación’s website and take a look at all the materials they provide. Also, check and see if you meet all the requirements to apply. (I can almost guarantee that you will!) If you are from Canada, please refer to the Ministerio’s page specifically geared for Canadians.
- Application guidelines (2023-2024)
- Frequently Asked Questions (2023-2024)
- NALCAP Estimated Timeline (2023)
- Recommendation Letter Guidelines (2023-2024)
- Recap of Required Documents to Submit
- How to Navigate Profex Handbook (2023-2024)
What’s required of you?
- Be a native speaker of English and a passport holder of one of these nationalities: American, Canadian, UK or Australian or New Zealand
- Be over the age of 21 and either a college graduate or in your last year of studying
- Be able to pass a health exam to prove that you are well enough to teach all 8-9 months of the school year in Spain.
*Speak Spanish at a basic to intermediate level (recommended but you will not be checked for it).
Personal note: I don’t recommend applying for the program if you only know a few words of Spanish as you’ll most likely find that Spanish government offices and your future coordinators and co-workers will likely not be able to communicate everything you’ll need to know about your role (and answer your questions) in English. Knowing Spanish at least at an intermediate level gives you a little more solid ground to stand on and express yourself.
Anyway, the next step is to submit your application on a platform called Profex. The application opens on February 9th, 2023 at 12:01 am CET and will close on April 4th, 2023 (cut-off time not yet specified).
(If you still want to teach in Spain during this school year (2022-2023), keep an eye on another program’s website, BEDA, which is known to re-open their program’s application process at different times during the year. Their current application period for the 2023-2024 school year will close on March 20th, 2023) Take a look at BEDA’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for any lingering questions you might have about their program, its requirements and the application process.
Normally when the application period opens on the first day at 12:01am CET (6:01pm EST), the system gets overloaded and malfunctions a lot. It can even shut down and stop working for a short while. It’s because the application number you’re given matters a great deal as to which region of Spain you will be assigned.
Note: BEDA’s Language Assistant Application typically opens in early December and closes in mid-March. They may reopen the application later on in the year but plan to apply for the program during the above-mentioned time frame for your best chance at receiving a placement.
Ultimately, the number matters more if you are looking to receive a placement in the capital, Madrid, as the Comunidad de Madrid employs the most auxiliares here than in any other region of Spain. Generally speaking, the lower your number, the more likely you will be to get your preferred region and get a placement (and ultimately your school placement) way sooner. But the bottom line is that if you do apply to the program and turn in all the required paperwork on time, you will still receive a placement.
STEP ONE: Inscrita
To get to this stage, you need to create an account with Profex and fill out general information such as your full name, passport number, basic contact info, education, work history, and an optional photo. You will also need to choose your city population and age group preferences (primary/elementary, teens, adults). Age preferences are divided up by levels such as primary, secondary, bachillerato (last two years of high school), trade or formación or an EOI (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas).
Next, you will select your regional preferences, one from each of the 3 groups.
Give each group a number from 1 to 3.
1 being your top choice and 3 your least preferred (but a region you would still like to live in.)
Grupo A: Asturias, Ceuta y Melilla, Extremadura, La Rioja, Navarra, País Vasco
Grupo B: Aragón, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Galicia, Islas Canarias
Grupo C: Andalucía, Castilla y León, Islas Baleares, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia
**Important update: Since 2016, a few regions have regained funding and started up their auxiliar programs again. The Comunitat de València, Cataluña and las Islas Canarias (since 2017) now have an auxiliar de conversación program up and running again. Check the links above for more info on the region’s programs and to learn more. **
Keep in mind that you are choosing a region in this step, not a city. If you want to be an auxiliar in a big city (Madrid proper has around 4 million people) such as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia or Bilbao, research the population of your preferred city and then check off the corresponding box in the city and age group section. I was fortunate enough to receive all three of my placements in the cities where I lived and didn’t have to commute more than 45 minutes (the longest commute being in Madrid). Other auxiliares have been placed in the outskirts of a city or in a small town, with a commute lasting up to 2 hours one way. Be aware of this but also be open to whatever type of placement you receive, whether it’s in a city or in a small town. Both have their advantages and disadvantages!
**Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish territories in Morocco) don’t have a history of giving Americans placements in the program and aren’t a valid option for the 2022-2023 school year, so don’t select them.**
Learn more about life and the cost of living in each region in Spain by checking out former auxiliar Liz Carlson’s helpful guide.
To be assigned a number, you need to upload the following documents to Profex (in the same page where you see them listed or later -after you submit your application-in Documentos Anexos, the section for any missing documents you need to upload.)
* A scan of the ID pages of your passport (the first two pages in an American passport)
* A scan or photo of your college diploma(s)
* A carta de motivación, a short letter of around 200 words explaining why you want to do the program
* A signed carta de recomendación on letterhead from a professor or employer (if you’ve been out of college for more than 5 years, the government requests you have your current or most recent employer write you a recommendation).
Personal note: In my first year my inscrita was #2309. I applied in early February about a month after the application opened. If you want to get placed in the region of Madrid, APPLY EARLY and aim for a number under the 1000-2000 range. My second time renewing (and the year I requested Madrid) my number was 971 and I received a placement within the city of Madrid.
STEP TWO: Registrada/Admitida
When I first applied for the program in February 2014, I had to mail a completed and signed checklist to the branch of the Ministry of Education in my jurisdiction. (I lived in Florida at the time so I had to mail it to Miami.) Find yours here. It includes Canada, too!
You had until the last day of the application period to mail it off and as long as it arrived within two weeks of the postmark, your application would be accepted. This year in 2019, on the main application page, the program no longer requires you to mail anything to a specific office. They now only accept documents if they’re uploaded online – which makes things easier on both sides!
To give you a general idea of how long it takes to get to this step, I’ll share my timeline. I applied on February 9th, got my inscrita number and then they changed it to registrada, then admitida on February 24th. Going from registrada to admitida was simultaneous so hopefully, it’ll go the same way for you.
STEP THREE: Adjudicada
So, after waiting patiently -or not so much!- for your regional placement, an email like the screenshot above will arrive to your Inbox with the long-awaited answer: where you will live in Spain!
Since 2016, the government has only given you 3 CONSECUTIVE DAYS (días naturales) to accept your regional auxiliar placement so ignore what’s in my email from 2014. As you can see, in my first year, I received my regional placement on May 16th, 2014. Two to three months is about the normal wait time to receive a placement in regions other than Madrid. It could take more or less time, depending upon your inscrita number.
If you decide to reject the placement or miss the acceptance period, your application online will say rejected or rechazada. If you wanted to accept your placement but didn’t get the chance to, I’ve known people who email the Ministry and are able to convince them to give them a second chance to accept their placement. So, if you find yourself in that sticky situation, email them!
Just in case: add the Profex email address to your contacts to avoid finding an important email in your Spam folder. (Or just refresh your Inbox frantically every few hours every day as I did back in the day, haha.)
STEP FOUR: Carta de Nombramiento
Now, the fourth and final step of this whole anxiety-inducing, nerve-wracking process!
The school appointment letter will indicate which school you’ll be at for the next 8-9 months.
For most regions in Spain, it arrives just 2-3 (long) weeks after you get your regional placement. In Galicia, I received my carta on the morning of May 30th. I literally woke up that morning, rolled over, grabbed my phone and checked my email first thing and saw the letter of appointment email from the Xunta de Galicia. It was one of the best things to wake up to that year.
However, if you chose Madrid as your number one preferred region, expect to wait to receive your carta after school ends for teachers in the Comunidad de Madrid, which is around June 30th every year. While I was waiting for a placement during my third year -and switching from Galicia to Madrid-, I didn’t receive my regional placement until mid-May and then the digital copy of my carta (which serves as the hard copy, too) until July 12th.
It was a bit of an aggravating situation as I had been visiting Madrid for about 5 days on a short vacation that year in 2016 but I was also trying to do some paperwork. The last part didn’t happen as the carta email arrived a few hours before my flight departed that evening.
Such is life sometimes.
Anyway, now that you’ve gotten to the fourth and final step, you now have everything you need to apply for the visa at your respective Consulate and can get started on preparing for your big move to teach English in Spain! This PDF guide is one of many manuals that provide a good overview of the auxiliar de conversación program, its requirements and what is expected of language assistants in Spain.
*2023 Update* – The Ministerio de Educación has finally increased the amount of the teaching grant (ayuda económica) from 700€ to 800€, with an added uptick in weekly required hours from 12 hours to 14 in most of the regions.
Once you have received your school placement, I’d recommend getting in touch with your school by early to mid-September. Schools in Spain resume classes around September 8th every year so if you email your coordinator before that time frame, it’s likely you won’t be able to get a hold of someone beforehand. If you are brand new to teaching in Spain or haven’t taught here during the COVID-19 pandemic (but were an auxiliar before), the Ministerio’s website encourages you to become familiar with the updated entry requirements into Spain and its new health protocols. Learn the six main ways (las 6Ms) to combat the virus in both your daily life and at school. The chart is available in English, too.
When you get to the step of booking your flight, packing for Spain and then boarding your flight typically in late September, remember to download and fill out the Spain Travel Health Form (no longer required since 2022).
At any rate, you can fill it out in English and fill it out for you as an individual or as a family or a group if you are traveling with a partner or one or both of your parents and entering Spain together. It’s a form that gathers all your information such as name and contact info, passport number, vaccination status and the number of vaccines administered, flight and seat number and arrival date.
Watch a recorded webinar with live commentary and questions from the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, which oversees the Auxiliar de Conversación program to hear real-life experiences from past auxiliares. It aired in August 2022 and would be helpful for prospective language assistants to watch and learn from. (Until the Ministry releases a copy on their YouTube channel, here is one from the University of Michigan.)
I hope you found this guide to the application process helpful and easy to follow. I applied for my student visa at the Spanish Consulate in downtown Chicago so unfortunately, I can only answer questions specific to that Consulate’s process.
For everything else, ask away! Do you have any remaining questions about the application process? Do any veteran assistants want to add any tips? Join the discussion below. 🙂