So, you’ve heard about them, the mysterious Auxiliares de Conversación.
You’ve heard that some people have gone to Spain in the hopes of teaching English, living in Europe, immersing themselves in another [great] culture, eating tapas, enjoying siestas and wine, and hanging out with Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem (okay, this is a stretch).
Yes, you’ve heard it right!
One of the ways you can legally stay in Spain is by becoming an auxiliar de conversación, an English language assistant. As an Auxiliar, you will be assisting English teachers during fun activities in the classroom. Auxiliares are needed for students to practice what they have learned in class, especially in terms of speaking English.
I have been reading a lot about this myself and am about to become one (fingers and toes crossed!), so I compiled the frequently asked questions in a two-part blog post. The first part addresses FAQs in the general sense, while the second part will try to answer questions specific to auxiliar de conversación applicants from the Philippines.
Part 1 starts now!
1. What is/are “Auxiliares de Conversación”?
The Language and Culture Assistants Program is an initiative of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. The program itself was established way back in 1936, with the first language exchange program between Spain and the United Kingdom.
The program has two main objectives:
- To improve the quality of the country’s foreign language education by integrating native speakers into the classroom and help promote a deeper understanding of the foreign language and culture
- To contribute to the professional development and spread of the Spanish language among the language assistants
2. When does it happen and who can apply?
The program is open yearly. You can join the program if you are a graduate or a student at least on your second year of your bachelor’s degree and you are a citizen of the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Fiji, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, the Solomon Islands, Sweden, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Vanuatu.
3. What exactly do you do as an auxiliar/a language assistant?
Your main role is to assist the Spanish teachers teaching English or other subjects that may be taught in English. Your focus is to help improve the oral or speaking skills of the students through conversation practices by topic, creating presentations about your country, preparing classroom materials, make recordings of the language, and help the teachers in marking the evaluation papers. You may also be asked to train the teachers when time permits. The teachers are from public primary and secondary schools, and language schools.
4. How long does the program run?
The program runs from October 1 until May 31 (or June 30 for other regions).
5. How many days and hours does it take per week?
Auxiliares are in the school for 12-16 hours, depending on the school and region. Generally, auxies work for 4 days in one week.
6. Do you need to be fluent in Spanish to join?
Not really! But a grasp of the language will be helpful in your everyday transactions with Spanish people (like buying stuff at the grocery store or going to a Spanish government office for some paperwork). The program used to require a DELE level of B2 but has since been more relaxed. The most important thing is that the language assistant is proficient in English.
7. How much does an auxiliar receive and do you need to pay taxes?
For most regions, auxiliares get €700 per month, while in Madrid and Valencia, auxiliares receive €1000 per month, tax-free. Pay is sent every first week of the month, but it varies per region. As to the tax, it’s essentially a student stipend. You may have to read through your own country’s tax scheme to be sure.
8. What are the requirements to join the program?
The general requirements are as follows:
- Be a citizen of any of the participating countries
- Have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree or at least in your second year in university
- Native-level English proficiency
- Of sound mind and health and no limitations that would impair your ability to teach
- Have a clear police record
9. Are the visa and airfare covered?
No, you have to pay for your own visa and airfare. The program covers:
- Your monthly stipend
- Your health insurance for the duration of the program
- Initial training course at the start of the school year
- Paid Christmas and Easter school holidays
- Official certification issued by the Spanish educational authorities
You also have to pay for your own accommodation. Since the program ends in the summer, you won’t be paid during the summer holidays.
10. What is the timeline for the whole program?
Generally, the application process starts in mid-January when the Ministry sends out the call for applications. Applicants register through the portal called Profex. Once completed, they are given an inscrita number, which gives an idea of how many applicants have registered for the program. The initial status is inscrita.
After a few weeks, the Education Adviser responsible for the country or region within the country reviews the applications and changes the status from inscrita to registrada, meaning the Ministry has received the application and are currently reviewing them.
The call for applications closes in mid-April. Once the applications are reviewed and certified complete (meaning no missing or incorrect documents), the status changes to admitida.
The next status change is called plaza aceptada. This is when the regional placement is sent out, and the applicants have 3 days to either accept or reject the placement. Finally, once the school placement is sent out, the status is changed to adjudicada.
Stay tuned for the next set of FAQs!