Auxiliar de Conversacion Program: Apply to Teach English in Spain

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.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to live in a coastal town like I did my first year! (La Coruña, Galicia)

UPDATED FOR THE 2024-2025 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.

Useful resources:

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 (I highly recommend you learn or continue learning but you will not be checked to prove your skills, as you would be in the TAPIF program in France).

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 12th, 2024 at 12:01 am CET and will close on April 5th, 2024 at 11:59 pm CET. In an unprecedented upgrade to their current application system now known as Profex 2.0, the Ministry of Education had some major technical issues on the original opening date of the application. That being said, they delayed the start of the application process for this year but announced it a bit late on their TikTok account. Though it has officially been 10 years this month since I first applied, I can’t believe I am typing this and able to say that I’ve lived to see the day the Ministry revamped Profex.

(If you still want to teach in Spain during the current school year, keep an eye on another program’s website, BEDA, which is known to re-open its program’s application process at different times during the year. Their current application period for the 2024-2025 school year will close on March 15th, 2024) 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 have been known to reopen their 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 (2000-2500 or lower), 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’s population is around 4-6 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 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 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 while they are a valid option for the 2024-2025 school year, be absolutely sure you want to go there as there are fewer than 10 placements available.**

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 (on the same page where you see them listed or later -after you submit your application – 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.)

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

The email I received with my very first regional placement in Galicia (May 2014)

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.

regional placement acceptance on Profex for auxiliar de conversacion program
Your status will go from admitida to plaza aceptada on your Profex application.

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 emailed the Ministry and convinced 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.

Sigh.

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.

If you’re big into podcasts, make room for one more in your life! The Aux Life by the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program (NALCAP) is a show that features all sorts of inside looks into what life as a language assistant is like in today’s world. It appears to release episodes during the second half of the year to help build up to the new school year so be on the lookout for updates as you start preparing your Spanish student visa application in June or July.

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.

Madrid school participating in the auxiliar de conversacion program
Now you’re just a few months away from entering your first classroom as an auxiliar in Spain and making an impact on young students who will most certainly change your life. Are you ready?

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. 🙂

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