Auxiliares program in Spain – How to Experience Spain for a Year

March 13, 2024

“Why did you leave New York?!”

This is the question I most often get here in Spain when I tell people where I’m from.

The short answer is that New York, for me, is a place of sheer survival. But in Spain you can find, and are encouraged to find, a healthy work-life balance. I am so much happier here. The pace of life, the food, the cleanliness, etc – all of it suits me much better.

The long answer is a story for another day. For now, let’s talk about you.

Do you find yourself wondering what it would be like to live in Spain? Do you want to know how to get over here, even if it’s temporarily, to experience life abroad for yourself?

These were the questions I had in my early 20’s. I looked up from my job in a prestigious school, where I could have easily launched my life-long career as a teacher, and realized that I was way too young to marry myself to climbing the professional ladder.

So, I decided to head back to Spain, where I had studied abroad during undergrad. Fast forward 12 years, and here I am once again, now trying to support others who want to spend a year living abroad.

auxiliares de conversación program in spain
Nina and a friend in Madrid.

Back to you. You want to come over to Spain, have your own adventures. Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, or up to age 60, if you are a native English speaker with a B.A. and a passport from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, or Australia, you can come here as an Auxiliar de Conversación, or what I call an Aux in Spain for short.

What is an “auxiliar de conversación”?

As an Aux in Spain, you’d be supporting English language instruction in either a primary or secondary school.

Hours and salaries vary, depending on which program you come with, but you work anywhere between 12 to 24 hours a week, with a stipend between 800 and 1200 euros per month, enough to get by.

Most placements are from October 1st- May 31st each year, though in Madrid you teach through June 30th.

The most popular program for US and Canadian citizens is the North American Language and Culture Assistant Program (NALCAP) run by the Spanish Ministry of Education. It is entirely free! You choose your top 3 regions where you would like to be placed and they do the rest.

Other popular programs include BEDA, British Council, CIEE, and UCETAM, though some of these do require payment, mainly in exchange for support services like help with getting you a visa, residency, etc.

The best thing about being an Auxiliar in Spain is that you can try it out for one year (technically 7-8 months) and aren’t committed to staying longer than that.

So, if you are wondering what it would be like to live a Spanish lifestyle, or are looking for your next great adventure, I encourage you to look into being an auxiliar de conversación.

Application periods generally run from early February through mid-March, with NALCAP sometimes staying open until April. Even if you’re not entirely sure if this is your next move, if you’re not asked to pay a deposit, I’d say apply anyway, and decide once you get a placement.

Getting started with the Auxiliares program in Spain

Not sure where to start? I got you. Check out my video on 6 different programs you can apply with.

Have more questions? Curious about what it’s like to be an Aux in Spain? Head over to my YouTube channel where I talk about all of those things!

From snapshots of Madrid, to interviews with fellow Auxes, even if you aren’t sure about coming over to Spain but want to explore it virtually from another part of the world, let’s journey together.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Nina.

P.S. About the author: Nina Lee is an Auxiliar de Conversación in Spain. Check out her new website at auxinspain.com – or you can find her on social media, on Instagram @_auxinspain_ or on TikTok @auxinspain and also on Facebook @auxinspain.

P.P.S. Note from Mr Chorizo: I’m so damn old I got to Spain before the auxiliares program was even a thing. But it’s definitely brought a lot of Americans (and others) to Spain. The main danger of such things, of course, is that you won’t want to leave. But you can deal with that later… ¡Suerte!

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About the Author Nina Thurau

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