being an auxiliar / NALCAP series

NALCAP series: Alternatives to the NALCAP program

Photo of a male teacher standing in front of a whiteboard while students sitting together at desks watch him teach. Everyone looks comfortable. The lighting is soft and the walls are a light green. Backpacks hang from the backs of their chairs.

The NALCAP program is not the only way you can teach in Spain through a student visa as a language assistant. There are other programs that can offer you much more support; support with opening your bank account, getting you an apartment, and even getting you your visa. This post explores the pay, cost, placements, and other details of these alternatives to the NALCAP program so you can find the perfect one you’re looking for.

Disclaimer: the information given in this post can change at any time at the organizations’ discretion. I encourage you to double check the information in this post with the organization you select to make sure it is still the organization that you want! This is not meant to be comprehensive on each program; it is solely meant for you to get a glimpse of programs that may work for you and allow you to pursue independent research.

Sit back, relax, and grab a snack– this post is a long one!

Recap of NALCAP

The North American Language and Culture Assistants Program— commonly called NALCAP– is a program directly run and administered by the Spanish Ministry of Education. Your role in the classroom is a language assistant for 14 – 16 hours a week for 800-1000€ a month.

Placements are given all over Spain in public schools only. The program provides you your placement, your health insurance, and your pay. However, they do not provide you housing or a bank account. Support is limited. There is no program fee to apply or participate.

See this post to read more about the NALCAP program.

Related reading: NALCAP series: Complete timeline for the NALCAP program

UP International Education

UP International Education, like NALCAP, has no program fee but is more involved than NALCAP. For starters, there’s an interview process. This interview process is used to get to know you and match your personality, teaching experience, and teaching style to a school looking for someone like you. This means that you have less say over where you are placed since the school gets to pick you. However, some say this is a definite plus since you and your destination school are more of a match! Placements are given all over Spain.

The monthly salary for this program is 845€ for you to work 20 hours a week. According to their Teaching Assistants page, UP International Education offers an “exclusive training course free of charge for TAs from the University of Cambridge or the Instituto Cervantes.” They also provide some assistance in finding an apartment or pairing you with a host family.

Applications are rolling year round, with October being the average starting month. They prefer that you have a BA degree, but it isn’t required. However, if you don’t have a BA degree, they ask that you have teaching experience. You must be at least 18 years old to participate in the program.


Meddeas is not free to apply; they require a 1000€ deposit at the start of the program that will be refunded to you upon completion of the program. The salary is between 330-930€ a month depending on your qualifications and the housing you choose. This is for 20-24 hours a week for 5 days a week, making it one of the heavier language assistant programs.

To be a Meddeas participant, you need to be a native English, French, or German speaker who is a recent university graduate within the last four years and with a clean background check. There are two housing options: independent housing or with a host family. Placements are given all over Spain in a variety of schools. For non-EU citizens, the application deadline is May. However, EU citizens can apply at any time.

The contract is from October to June. During this period, a Spanish university gives you free additional teaching training! Meddeas offers guidance during your visa journey.

Conversa Spain

Another option is CoversaSpain. However, while the pay is decent and the hours are nice, the program features a steep, non-refundable program fee of at least $1650 for Madrid placements, $1395 for Murcia placements, $1195 for Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León placements! The fee can be more depending on the support level and training packages that you choose.

The monthly salary is 1000€ for Madrid for 16 hours a week, 875€ for Murcia for 15 hours a week, and 800€ for 14 hours a week in Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León. The placements are in the public school system, and in Castilla-La Mancha’s case, mostly vocational schools.

To be considered for the program, you need to be a native English speaker, be 20-65 years old, have a BA degree by the start date, and have a clean background check. ConversaSpain offers assistance in finding housing. Applications are rolling and so is the start date, but the usual start date is in October.

Despite the steep fee, reviews for ConversaSpain are pretty good.


BEDA is another one of the very popular alternatives to the NALCAP program! However, it is difficult for me to verify the information that I have been given since it seems the BEDA program changes quite often, their website isn’t kept up-to-date, and links on the website related to auxilares often don’t work. I have heard from others that in the most recent year, BEDA was not accepting applicants that weren’t already in Spain.

There is a 175€ program fee. The placements are almost always in Madrid’s private and semi-private Catholic schools, but some exceptions exist all over Spain. The salary is 873-1165€ a month for 18-24 hours a week of work over a 5-day work week. Like most auxiliar programs, BEDA provides no housing help.

Applications are open from November to January for a contract that is from September to June. Participants are required to be native English speakers that are a minimum of 20 years old and have a BA degree by the start of the program. Madrid language assistants in this program are required to take classes on teaching topics at Universidad Comillas once a week.

Related reading: Reasons you should and shouldn’t be an auxiliar de conversación


UCETAM, which stands for Unión de Cooperativas de Enseñanza de Trabajo Asociado de Madrid, is another program with a refundable deposit. This deposit is 150€ and will be returned to you at the end of the contract. Your pay as an auxiliar in this program would be 900€ for 18 hours of work a week, or 1300€ for 26 hours of work a week. Placements are given all over Spain, and this program provides assistance in finding housing. However, UCETAM chooses your placement– you have little say over where you go.

Applications are open from January to February, however, many participants dislike how you don’t get your results back on a decision made on your participation until April. That’s a long time to wait without news! UCETAM is partnered with many education organizations, making their outreach pretty great. The program starts in September instead of the usual auxiliar start period of October. This program requires you to be a native English speaker with a BA degree by the start date and a clean background check.

Actual aux review: Jamie, the creator of ESL Teacher 365, spent 2 of her 5 years in Madrid teaching with this program. She says she was paid 1500€ for 26 hours of work and that the program has since lowered its pay to 1300€ for those hours. She says that unlike the program’s claim, she was more of an actual teacher in this program than an assistant. But since she is a trained teacher, she was comfortable with the whole deal and overall really liked her school. You can read her whole experience here.


The Fulbright program is a university-connected program that boasts that you are a teaching assistant, not a language assistant. In this program, there is no program-specific fee, but your university could charge you something. The salary varies by the grant– some include airfare, insurance, and other living costs. The placements are all over Spain. Fulbright is connected to many universities– most universities have a Fulbright program advisor for their students and recent alumni.

To participate, you have to be from the USA, have a BA degree, and have an intermediate Spanish level. The intermediate Spanish level requirements makes it unique from other programs. The work schedule is less than 20 hours a week so participants have time for independent Fulbright projects. After all, this is a study program, not just a work program! Their ‘welcome packet’ given to you contains resource links for finding and securing housing.

The application period runs from April to early October and is for the next September. That’s quite a long time to wait, but at least you have plenty of time to prepare so you can start saving money and researching more about the program! The program is from September to June.

RVF International

Another one of the very popular alternatives to the NALCAP program is RVF International! There is a steep program fee for $1299, but for beginners who are a bit too rattled to take on the entire visa and application on their own, RVF International is a great option.

There’s a salary of 700-1000€ depending on your placement, and you will work 16-18 hours a week. There are placements all over Spain’s bilingual schools. This opportunity is open to those from the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. You must have at least an associate’s degree and be between 18-59 years old. Despite the more extensive assistance provided by RVF, you are still responsible for finding your own housing. No prior teaching experience is required.

Applications are open from October to April for the next September. Friends and couples can apply for the same location, but it isn’t guaranteed. However, they do try since the fee is so high.

I had the privilege of discussing the program with its founder, Harrison Fowler. He’s a friendly and great guy and I was really motivated to choose RVF for my first year. However, things happen, and I was ultimately unable to afford the program fee at the time. If you’ve got the money to spare and want some peace of mind in the whole program process, RVF is a great option.

Thanks for reading!

I hope that you have found a few options for your future as a language assistant. Remember, this is not meant to be comprehensive on each program; it is solely meant for you to get a glimpse of programs that may work for you and allow you to pursue independent research. Information on these programs may change at any time.

If you know someone that could benefit from this post or any of my other posts, please share it. I would love to reach a broader audience!

See you next time!


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