Being a teacher abroad: an experience of professional and personal growth


Teaching in a country different from your own is a challenge that involves getting to know other educational systems, living with professionals from other places and is also a complete linguistic and cultural immersion.

Being a teacher is a rewarding activity regardless of the educational stage in which we work, but being a teacher abroad can provide an extra degree of excitement and enrichment.

The possibilities for Spanish teachers

The Spanish Ministry of Education has Departments, Attachés and Technical Advisories that promote the dissemination of the Spanish language and culture in different countries around the world. Through these entities, and other self-owned centers or with agreements , a Spanish professional can be a teacher abroad and facilitate the learning of Spanish through two main actions: direct teaching, on the one hand; and advice to teachers or learners of the Spanish language, on the other.

Let’s start with the first of them: direct teaching. This learning of Spanish with Spanish teachers is offered in school and out of school in more than forty different countries on five continents. We find Spanish-speaking teachers at all non-university levels: early childhood, primary, secondary and vocational training.

Within formal school learning, we find educational centers of Spanish ownership (which are governed by the Spanish educational system) and others of mixed ownership (or with an agreement) that provide complementary education to that of the country, allowing students to obtain their own qualification. both from the country of origin and from Spain. In both, Spanish teachers teach both the subject of Spanish Language and others typical of our curriculum such as Spanish Literature or Geography and History.

Being a teacher abroad: extracurricular activities in Europe

Unofficially, some countries such as France, Germany or Switzerland have Spanish language and culture groups (ALCE) . These groups are centers that facilitate the learning of Spanish and its culture for Spaniards or descendants of Spaniards. These are blended extracurricular classes for students between 7 and 18 years old, also taught by Spanish teachers.

This extracurricular learning of Spanish with native teachers can also occur through the Cervantes Institute , which is present in 45 countries and offers different training modalities for children, young people and adults. In addition to this direct teaching, among the functions that a Spanish teacher can perform abroad through the programs of the Ministry of Education is also technical advice to resource centers, teacher training and the organization of events and conferences where the pedagogy of Spanish as a foreign language is delved into.

These actions aim to support the teaching and dissemination of our language and culture through the development of materials, revitalization of spaces and activities, etc.

What do I need to be a teacher abroad?

The requirements to be able to be a teacher abroad depend on the type of function and the specific country we want to go to.

To be a technical advisor and carry out the advisory and resource center tasks described above, it is necessary to be a teaching officer in the teaching staff or secondary school teaching staff. In addition, you must have a minimum of three years of experience as a civil servant performing tasks related to language teaching, have advanced knowledge of the language of the country in which you want to work, and apply for a merit-based competition. In addition to the assessment of these merits, theoretical and practical tests are developed for the selection of professionals.

On the contrary, if what we want is to be in the classrooms and teach directly to the students, we can also apply for teaching positions without being civil servants. Even so, it is necessary that we have the qualification that qualifies us for teaching, knowledge of the language of the country we are going to go to, and teaching experience. Depending on the country we want to opt for, additional requirements or different access tests may be added.

However, there is also the possibility of being a teacher abroad without having a civil servant position or previous experience in teaching. It is through the figure of the Spanish conversation assistant abroad. The conversation assistant is a teacher who collaborates with the teacher of the subject in improving the students’ oral competence. Requirements to access this position? Be a graduate or final year undergraduate student.

Selective processes

To become a teacher abroad in any of the named centers and modalities, in Spain public selective processes are opened (mostly between December and February) that are published on the website of the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports .

To stay up to date with calls, experiences and requirements, it may be interesting to participate in the Telegram channels of the same Ministry , as well as follow different educational unions, which convene webinars and publish explanatory documents.

Being a teacher abroad is a profitable adventure for the teacher, who is immersed in a different educational system, and for the students, who have the possibility of having a native speaker in their classroom.

Author Bio: María Victoria García Cuenca is a Educational counselor and university teacher in the area of ​​Education at the International University of Valencia