Unlocking Opportunities: Top 5 Benefits of Teaching English in Spain Through an Abroad Program
Are you a prospective English as a second language (ESL) teacher considering your options abroad?
If so, you might have questions about the most effective, easiest path to land a rewarding position in a reputable school.
Here, we’ll explore one of the two main ways to find paid (not volunteer) ESL employment in the global marketplace: a Teach English Abroad Program.
We’ll also cover the distinctions between ESL programs and ESL recruitment services.
What is an ESL Teach Abroad Program and what does it do for teachers?
A Teach English Abroad Program, as the name suggests, helps places its participants in paid positions as English teachers across the globe.
Most Teach Abroad Programs focus on a specific country or region.
To do this, these enterprises help tap into networks of English-teaching schools (public, private, or both).
Many leading ESL programs have established long-lasting ties with these schools that they have cultivated over time, so there is mutual trust and cooperation.
So, essentially, what a Teach English Abroad program brings to the table is help streamlining the job search and hiring process, plus ongoing logistical support throughout the duration of your time teaching English abroad.
Most Teach Abroad Programs, again, operate within a specific geographic area. A few of the most common destinations for foreign ESL work where programs help send teachers are:
- Spain (RVF International’s specialty)
- South Korea
- Costa Rica
ESL recruitment vs Teach Abroad Programs: what’s the difference?
Sometimes Teach Abroad Programs and their unique services are referred to by other related terms such as “ESL agencies” or “ESL recruitment services.”
However, the terms, while similar, are not exactly interchangeable.
Here’s a pair of essential differences between an ESL recruitment service and a Teach Abroad Program and it’s support:
- ESL recruiters and agents broker relationships between teachers and potential host schools, whereas Teach Abroad Programs help place teachers in positions in schools. In other words, Teach Abroad Programs are responsible for more administrative functions on behalf of teachers than recruiters and agents.
- Teach English Abroad programs typically extend institutional support to the teacher throughout the duration of his or her stay in country, whereas ESL recruiters often collect a finder’s fee after the teacher is onboarded and then conclude their relationship with the teacher.
RVF International, for instance, as part of our Teach English in Spain program, provides help with placement support, visa support, residency support, and logistical help with everyday issues in Spain rather than just dropping you off in Spain all alone.
The bottom line for ESL teachers: before signing on the dotted line, take the time to understand how the ESL service you are thinking about using works.
Does it merely make the initial connection between you and a host school, as agents and recruiters do, or does it go the extra mile by helping to place teachers in a position and providing support throughout the contract?
Other important things to understand about job placement services
Let’s survey a few basic realities about Teach Abroad Programs that you should keep in the back of your mind when considering using such a program:
- In some cases, a solid TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) program – which trains English teachers to thrive in non-native-English-speaking classrooms – might offer a job placement guarantee after you complete the course.
However, if your TEFL course does guarantee job placement, it’s likely to be more expensive than the average cost for TEFL courses with no job guarantee.
- The devil, as the saying goes, is always in the details. Let’s emphasize again that whenever you’re considering using a Teach English Abroad program, be sure to read the fine print.
- Vet any program you’re seriously considering by checking independent, third-party reviews online. These are more likely to be authentic and unbiased as opposed to reviews on the company’s site.
Again, some Teach Abroad Programs legitimately deliver the proverbial goods. Others are less reliable. Due to the internet’s Wild West ethos, the onus is unfortunately on you, the teacher, to sort them out.
Caveats aside, let’s move on to the numerous benefits of a well-run Teach Abroad Program.
Teach English Abroad Programs benefit #1: Build lasting friendships
Traveling abroad can sometimes be isolating and lonesome. That’s just the nature of the beast.
When you enroll in a program like RVF International, you’re granted immediate access to a network of kindred spirits with a shared wanderlust.
In many cases, if you are placed in the same school, you’ll serve alongside your new colleagues on a daily basis.
These are relationships that often last well beyond your time together in the trenches, so to speak, in Spain. Some may span decades.
Teach English Abroad Programs benefit #2: Ditch the dreaded visa paperwork
Take it from someone who’s been through trial by combat with multiple immigration services from Vietnam to Ukraine: if you can possibly avoid braving a foreign immigration office on your own, snatch the opportunity!
As Kafka infamously lamented, government bureaucracies are always somewhat opaque and chaotic by nature. When, on top of that, the bureaucracy is conducted in a foreign language with unique customs and procedures that you might be unfamiliar with, the challenges they pose multiply.
To visualize, imagine your typical dreary trip to the DMV for a standard license renewal – except, in this instance, all of the paperwork is presented in Chinese characters and all of the tellers speak Chinese.
If that sounds like a nightmare (it is), then using a program’s services like RVF International is probably your best bet.
Teach English Abroad Programs benefit #3: Making sure you’re paid well and supported
If and when you take on the global ESL job market on your own, you will notice a wide variance in listed salaries and benefits across schools.
Unless you are very familiar with the local market, it can be hard to know what you can expect in a decent contract in the way of salary and benefits.
That’s where a Teach Abroad Program and it’s services and support comes into play. Good ones ensure that you are well-compensated for your valuable labor and taken care of the entire time you’re teaching abroad.
Teach English Abroad Programs benefit #4: Logistical support
I touched on logistics a little earlier with the immigration paperwork example.
But, in fact, a solid Teach Abroad Program will help with much more than just the visa application process.
Depending on the organization, a program may help with housing, transportation, translations, and other everyday needs that English teachers in foreign countries have.
Teach English Abroad Programs benefit #5: Personalized services
It’s in everyone’s best interest – the school’s, the Teach English Abroad Program’s, the students’, and yours as the teacher – that the school you are ultimately placed in is an optimal fit.
To ensure that happens, at RVF International we take the time to listen carefully to all of our participants during the onboarding process.
We want to know about your goals, your teaching preferences, any unique personal challenges, etc. so that we can help place you in the most compatible teaching position possible.
Our mission, at all times, is not just that you make it through your teaching year but that your experience as an English instructor in Spain is a time of thriving and personal enrichment that you can use as a springboard into bigger and better things beyond.
Potential downsides of a Program
Of course, using a recruiter/teach abroad program isn’t right for every teacher.
Based on my experience with the global ESL industry, you might be better off on your own if:
- You already have a well-established social support network in your desired host country
- You are familiar with the local ESL market (average teacher pay, standard teacher benefits, etc.) in your desired host country
- You’re already well-seasoned in terms of identifying and applying for quality ESL jobs and navigating the process in your desired host country
Contact RVF International to learn more about the value we offer to new ESL teachers
For more authoritative information regarding your options as an aspirational ESL teacher, please don’t hesitate to contact us.