FAQ: Programa de Auxiliares de Conversación
I’m so happy that my blog has become useful to some of you who are interested in teaching in Spain. I have been getting inquiries via e-mail, Instagram, and Facebook for the past few months so I decided to write a FAQ about the program I’m doing in Madrid. Feel free to comment or message me if you have more questions!
1. What are you doing in Spain?
I am an “Auxiliar de Conversación” or a Language Assistant in Madrid. I am one of the 10+ LAs from Ateneo de Manila University working here in Madrid. Some Ateneans are working in different cities around Spain.
More details (in Spanish) can be found here
2. How were you able to apply?
Those who are citizens of the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, and The United Kingdom (to name a few) are eligible to apply to the program through the PROFEX. You can check the PDF for the year 2017-2018 here.
Filipino citizens go through a different process. In my case, I applied through my university. From what I know, the other universities who are tied up with the program are the following: Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas and University of The Philippines. I am honestly not quite sure if these are the only universities that can apply to the program.
For the Ateneo students: I chose to take a minor in Spanish (15 units) which was required to apply for the program. I graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts and a Minor in Spanish. Meaning to say, You can graduate with any degree but make sure you minor in Spanish. However, I heard that those who graduated in 2017 who took 12 Units of Spanish subjects can apply for the program as well.
3. How did you apply for the visa?
You can check my post on how to apply for the visa with a Philippine passport here.
4. Do you get paid?
Yes, depending on where you are in Spain. Madrid and Valencia get paid higher than some cities. E-mail me for the exact details :-)
5. Does the program pay for your flight and visa application?
No. You get the monthly stipend in Spain. You need to pay for your flights, visa application, and lodging on your own.
6. Do I need to know how to speak Spanish?
For the program itself, you are not supposed to speak to the students in Spanish. You are there to teach them English so you should not communicate with them in Spanish. I work in a High School and they later on found out that I speak Spanish. It also helps to know Spanish because you will have to translate things for them and to also avoid misunderstandings.
For daily life, of course learning Spanish would be best. It is always nice to learn a new language and what better way to speed up the process other than living in the country that speaks it!
Living in Spain
1. Is the monthly stipend enough for the cost of living in Spain?
For Madrid, yes. I am able to pay for my rent, groceries, etc. with the amount I get paid monthly. I also earn money on the side so that I can have more funds for traveling.
For the other regions, I also think that it is enough because the cost of living depends on the city. Rent in other regions are more affordable so it just balances out your salary.
2. Do I need to bring money before going to Spain
Yes, I suggest that you bring extra money before going to Spain because you will have to pay for your transportation, and you might have to pay a deposit to the place you're going to live in.
3. Will I get paid as soon as I get there? Do you get paid on time?
We usually get paid at the end of October or within the first week of November
In Madrid, we get paid on time. We usually get paid on the last day of the month or the first day of the next month. Example, for the November salary, we get paid either on November 30 or December 1. If not, it gets delayed by a few days. Other cities however, sometimes get paid weeks or months later. I heard this was the problem for those assigned in Valencia.
4. When should I go to Spain?
I arrived Madrid on the third week of September 2017. It was enough time for me to find a place (I found a flat with my friend by the end of the week). But from my experience, I suggest that you fly to Spain a little earlier that the third week of September because the flat hunt is getting a lot more difficult and it's a lot easier to find a place when you're in your city already. I'm saying this because you will have to fix your mobile number in order to contact the landlords and agencies (sometimes in Spanish), and it's best if you visit the apartments / rooms because viewing photos online isn't enough.
Earning on the side
1.Do you have a part-time job?
Yes, I do. I tutor students after work
2. Is there time for a part time job?
Definitely! In Madrid you work for 16 hours, get off at around half past 4 for primary, and half past 2 for secondary. You have time afterwards to tutor students.
You work 4 days a week so you can also use the day-off to work
3. Do I have to earn on the side?
This is up to you. It depends on how much you spend. I have to earn on the side because my rent is expensive. I also feel unproductive without having any afternoon activities during the days I have work. - I also take Spanish classes!
I tutor students after work and use that money to shop and travel. I also had savings at the end of my first year. Earning on the side helps a lot!