Teaching English in Madrid is one of the two most popular - and most realistic - options for teaching English in Spain. The other one being teaching English in Barcelona I chose Madrid because I wanted to learn Spanish - Barcelona prefers Catalan - and I like dry heat. The descriptions of the city that I'd read also appealed to me.
There was also work teaching English in Madrid. There still is, and outside of September and October, it still requires some effort to find. A lot of English teachers come to Spain to seek work teaching English. Barcelona is, at present, the more trendy destination, and is well located near to France, and not far from Italy and Switzerland.
Madrid, on the other hand, lies in the heart of Spain. From here you can explore the dry plains of Castilla La Mancha and Castilla Leon. The cities of Salamanca, Toledo and Valladolid are not too far, and can certainly be visited over the weekend. Portugal is not that far to the west and Morocco to the south.
However, teaching English in Madrid is not a party, and can be quite hard. You can avoid a lot of the hardship by arriving in September to look for work, while it is available. There are plenty of language schools [escuelas de idiomas] in the yellow pages [paginas amarillas], which can be found online.
Send your C.V. and cover letter to lots of schools. Wait a few days, then call them all - hundreds if necessary. If you arrive out of season - as I did one cold February - the offers of work may be few. Remember that part-time work often leads to full-time work later, after you've proven yourself in the classroom.
You need a TEFL certificate, either CELTA or Cert TESOL, to find work teaching English in Madrid. A few more experienced teachers work without, and a few new teachers as well, but this is a much harder way to go. If you want to teach English in Madrid, it's a good idea to take the TEFL certificate in Madrid itself. This way you will be able to network and discover local opportunities. I took my CELTA at the British Language Centre in Plaza Castilla many years ago, and found the course to be very helpful. IH also offers a course that is popular.
There is work available teaching English in Madrid in language schools teaching both children and adults. There is also a lot of work teaching English in companies.
A common complaint in teachers' rooms in the Far East is "How do I get Xiao Ming to speak?" In Madrid it's more likely to be, "How do I get Maria to stop talking for half a minute?" The Madrileñoes, and Spanish generally, like talking and can be fun to teach.
The main problem of teaching English in Madrid - once you've found the work - is the very common situation of teaching split shifts. Many schools will ask you to teach at 8 in the morning, again at lunchtime (12-2pm), then again in the evening, often until 9:30-10pm. This, of course, is tiring. Especially if the job involves a lot of commuting backwards and forwards across Madrid on the metro and bus system.
I did this, but I managed to fit a lot of hours into 4 days (Monday-Thursday). Friday to Sunday I was free - or thought I was. In practice I needed to spend most of Friday recovering from the stress of 4 manic days.
It is possible to find a full-time job in a language school which does not include the split shifts, although the pay may be quite a bit lower.Here is a useful website for getting more information on teaching in Madrid
If I had wanted to continue teaching English in Madrid, this would have been my next step. Once you have built up some contacts in Madrid, and once you gain a working knowledge of Spanish, you have 2 of the basic requirement to suceed in teaching freelance in Madrid.
The other requirement is to have a business sense. If you have all 3 of these things, then you have the chance to earn a reasonably good income. Many freelance teachers still maintain a part-time job in a language school, at least at the beginning, so as to ensure an income when the private classes cancel - and they will.
It's best to become as busy as possible, then when cancellations happen, it will feel like a welcome break, rather than a loss of income. This article by Victoria Fontana explains the work permit situation for freelancing in Spain.
If you decide to register as self-employed and work as a full-time freelance teacher, remember that few people stay in Madrid over summer. A successful freelance teacher will certainly earn more than a teacher in a language school – possibly a lot more. However, make sure that you save enough for the summer vacation, otherwise you may be forced to teach on a summer camp to make money.
Atocha Station in Madrid
Madrid is a dry city with little green, apart from the wonderful park - El Retiro - but little else. If you love being close to nature, then teaching English in Madrid could make you feel claustrophobic. In this case you would be better off in looking for work teaching English in Galicia, Asturias, San Sebastian, or elsewhere in the north of Spain.
However, if you love city life, teaching English in Madrid is a good opportunity to experience a lively city. The nightlife here is busy - many websites cover this aspect of living in Madrid.
Madrid is also a good place to learn Spanish. You could get away with not speaking any of the language in many Asian countries, but not in Spain. Without any knowledge of Spanish it would be easy to feel isolated in Madrid.
If you are seriously considering coming to Spain, start learning Spanish now. Check out your local library for self-study courses. The BBC's Mi Vida Loca is a fun place to start.