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Have You Ever… Been a Language Assistant in Spain?

Language Assistant in Spain

Have you ever been faced with a classroom full of smiling, shouting, squirming eight-year-olds at nine in the morning? Have you ever attempted to keep dozens of students under control without speaking a word of their native language? And have you ever been presented with the challenge of teaching those students about your own culture, while doing your best to adapt to theirs? Neither had I, welcome to my new life as a Language Assistant in Spain.

A little over 2 months ago, I took a giant leap of faith. I uprooted myself from my familiar, comfortable life in the United States to become a Meddeas Language Assistant in Spain. I had almost no experience and absolutely zero expectations. So, I showed up to my first day of school with a completely open mind, prepared to take on whatever challenges my new work experience would bring—and there have been plenty!

So what exactly is this new life like? Read on to find out…

Language Assistant smiling in front of her school in Spain
Me at the front entrance of the primary school.


I wake up on a chilly Wednesday morning in Madrid and start getting ready for the busiest day of my week. Before the sun has fully risen, I’m out of my apartment and on my way to the nearest metro station.


After a short trip to the outskirts of the city, I arrive at Colegio Santa María del Bosque. I spend a few minutes in the teachers’ room chatting with fellow instructors and making sure I have everything ready for my first lesson of the day.


Time for class! Today I’ll be assisting Pablo, the English teacher for the sixth year of primary. I say hello to the class and am greeted by an eager chorus of “Hello, Melissa!” despite the early hour. Pablo has asked me to run through some speaking and listening exercises with the students to help them practice their conversation skills, so I spend most of the class asking questions and eliciting responses from each student in turn, occasionally correcting their grammar or throwing in a trick question.

Two Language Assistants writing in a blackboard in a school in Spain
Language Assistants preparing for a class in the secondary school.


This is the most chaotic part of my day, but often also the most fun: a language workshop with the fourth-year students. I’ll usually have a game or activity prepared to help them practice the vocabulary and grammar they’ve been learning from their English teacher. Sometimes they can get out of control, but more often than not, it’s because they’re so eager to participate that they have trouble staying in their seats and keeping quiet! I do my best to let them express their excitement and enjoy the lesson without allowing the class to descend into complete chaos. It’s a tough balance to strike, but I believe this is the most vital part of my role as a language assistant in Spain.


After the language workshop, I head to the comedor, where traditional Spanish meals are served family-style to students and teachers alike. Maybe today we’ll have lenguado a la romana, paella mixta, or sopa de lentejas. If we’re lucky we might even get cocido, a beloved local comfort food consisting of steaming broth, noodles, stewed chickpeas, beef, chorizo, and garlicky cabbage.

Two Language Assistants having lunch during their break in a school in Spain
My fellow Language Assistants enjoying today’s feast.


After lunch, I head over to the secondary school for class with the bachillerato students. These are teenagers who are preparing to take the Cambridge exam, so their English level is very high. We might go over some exercises from their textbooks first, and then play a game or listen to some American music. Often, however, we’ll get sidetracked talking about the differences between Spanish and English, American culture, current events, or any number of other subjects that I’m happy to discuss. In my opinion, this kind of casual conversation is one of the best ways for these advanced students to improve their language skills for real-world contexts.

one beautiful street in Spain
The view on my walk home from work.


After another short commute, I arrive back at my apartment and take a seat on my balcony for merienda. This is one of my favorite times of the day, when the city streets quiet down and I can take a moment to relax and reflect on today’s classes. Every day is hard in its own way, but the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that I get from teaching almost always supersedes the exhaustion I inevitably feel.

Tonight I’ll sleep well knowing that I made it through yet another day of the enormously challenging, constantly surprising, and incredibly meaningful life that I lead as a Language Assistant in Spain!

9 Responses

  1. I have been living in Madrid, Spain for such a very long time. I love to work very much with children. I taught English to children both in Spain, Morocco and in the United States.
    I sincerely love to teach English to children.

  2. It is strange that the language assistant does not follow the usual hours of the Spanish state school system. For instance, in parts of Malaga, all teachers, students and school workers leave the school for a break (siesta) at 14.00/14.30 hrs until approximately one (minimum) or two hours later. In Summer, the break/siesta may be even longer and students and teachers will return to school later in the afternoon when the weather is cooler.
    It would be interesting to know if the Madrid area’s school hours are different?

    1. Hello Georgina! That will depend on the program and lodging option. I.e. for the Graduate program living independently 880€/month, and it would be 430€/month living with a host family. It is very well explained in the FAQs (you can download it by clicking on “Apply now” on https://meddeas.com/language-assistants/)

  3. Hi there ,well teaching is my calling ,I’m about to move with my wife to Madrid.She will join me later in October as busy with her job but i am free to start.Please let me know if you are hiring.Kind Regards

  4. Yes i would like to teach in Spain. I loved children and i love to spend time with them.

  5. There is no better way to explore and experience the culture of another country than by living in it for a year. And, getting paid puts you in a great position to be able to travel, learn and pursue new interests too.

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