Teaching Freelance in Spain

by Tom
(La Rioja)

Question - In the article "Teaching English in Spain" it is said that it's possible to work as a freelance teacher in companies in Spain. I live in Spain but am finding it difficult to discover what it is exactly that I need to do so. So, what requisites are there to teach English as an 'autonomo' in Spanish companies? Thanks in advance for any help...

Answer - First I'll assume you can teach well, and have a good amount of experience (preferably in Spain). I'll also assume you have a good working knowledge of Spanish. Without these prerequisites it will be difficult to be successful as a freelancer working for companies.

As you've found out, it's not easy finding this kind of work. This is good, because the barrier stops everybody from doing it. There are many 'freelancers' who teach privates, or teach through intermediaries - such as language institutes. This can be a way to begin, but if it's all you do, it may not be worthwhile financially.

So I'll assume you want to deal directly with companies in Spain. If you do this, and if you find enough work, then you can make quite good money.

First, you need to live in an area where there are a lot of companies which might need the services of an English teacher. I think where you live may be a problem. Madrid and Barcelona have far more companies than anywhere else. I imagine it's possible in places like Bilbao and Valencia, although I've never met any freelancers working there. If you live in a smaller cities there will be less, perhaps much less, work available, and it may be difficult earning enough to live, especially through the summer months, when there is very little work of any kind.

Second, it's probably a good idea - although not required - to get some experience with language schools that have a lot of outside company classes. The uncomfortable, split shift kind. Perhaps you already have this kind of experience. Apart from gaining relevant teaching experience, this will allow you to make contacts and network. However, be careful of cutting out the language school. However you make contacts, it's something you need to do.

Third, the technical steps for becoming an autonomo are straightforward - if not easy - and are laid out fairly clearly in this article on the website Spain Expat. Also check out the list of articles on their homepage. If you need help dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy, you could find a good gestoria (ask around) to help you. You will, of course, have to pay a fee. It may be worthwhile, depending on how much time you want to spend on this.

Remember that once you register as an autonomo you will have to pay around €250 a month in social security, whether you are earning money or not.

Fourth - and most difficult - you will need to persuade companies to sign contracts with you. You will be competing against established language schools who already have lists of contacts; so you will need to offer something beyond what they are offereing.

If you are an experienced teacher, it will be hard (but not impossible) for language schools to consistently match your quality. Language schools have many teachers of mixed ability. However, no company will know how good a teacher is until after he or she has taught their staff. The longer you are freelancing, the better. Once you establish a good reputation (which takes some time), then word of mouth recommendations will help grow your business.

Price is another advantage you have over a language school which will automatically have more costs. As I mentioned above, some freelancers in Spain actually work for middlemen - language schools. While this may work for a year or so, it's not a good idea for the long run. The pay will be too low. However, it may be worthwhile working as an autonomo, and accepting this kind of work, if you also do a lot of freelance translating work.

You will need to contact companies directly. Prepare a good sales letter and leaflet/brochure, and email them to hundreds of local companies. If one is interested, then that's a good start. I recommend you set up a website to sell yourself. Show your experience, and be creative. Perhaps show a video of one of your classes.

If you really want to do this long term, then own your own domain name. If you're not sure yet you could go with one of the free blogging services like wordpress or blogger.com.

I hope some of this helps. Let us know how it goes.

Readers may be interested in other articles on teaching English in Spain:

Teaching English in Madrid

Teaching English in Barcelona

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