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being an auxiliar / NALCAP series

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

A photo of a classroom. The photo is taken behind a crowd of young students sitting on the floor. The female teacher in front of the seated students is assisting three standing students on either side of her.

Auxiliar de conversación programs in Spain such as NALCAP are a great opportunity but aren’t for everyone. They also have a limited number of spots for participants, so should you be one of them? In this post, I’m going to be real and honest about why you personally should or shouldn’t apply to these programs. Dive in and don’t let any of the ‘should nots’ offend you!


Reasons you should apply to an auxiliar de conversación program

You’re actually interested in or passionate about education

Maybe you aren’t sure that you want to teach as a career, but you want to test the waters. You might also just be passionate about education (especially child education) and want to give your class the native speaker exposure that the kids need. Any actual desire to give students the best experience you can offer is a valid reason to apply to an auxiliar program! An aux that genuinely wants to be there in the class is the best aux they can have.

You want to pursue a career in education

Similar to the last point, you are passionate about education and have decided to work in an educational position as your career. You are either finishing (or have finished) your degree in education or are wanting to aim for a further level of study, like a Master’s degree or CELTA. Maybe you’re just TEFL certified and want to get into education with an aux program!

You’re excited at the possibility of cultural exchange

In an auxiliar program, you are intended to share your culture and language with a class(es) of students. In return, you get to live in the beautiful country of Spain and experience their language(s) and culture. Someone in the auxiliar program needs to be open to learning other language and cultures. And not just open to it– but is prepared for it!

You’re interested in TEFL but don’t want to be in charge of the class

Auxiliar programs offer part-time hours. That means they are perfect to help you get a taste in teaching without committing to the job full-time. Many programs simply have you assist the teacher rather than make complete lesson plans and lead the class all day. In NALCAP, Spain’s most popular auxiliar program, you are committed to teaching for only 14-16 hours a week. These hours depend on the city you’re teaching in. In this program, you are expected to supplement the teacher’s lessons with games and reviews. You are there only as an assistant. The pay varies from 800 – 1000 euros a month.


Related reading: Learn more about NALCAP with the NALCAP blog post series


You want to get international teaching experience

Dipping your toes into the world of international education is easy with an auxiliar program! As mentioned in the last point, the limited hours and responsibilities in these programs are the perfect starter environment for your first international teaching position. This experience is great for testing to see if your teaching career should remain abroad or if you should teach in your home country– or even give up teaching entirely. International teaching is not for everyone, so it’s good to figure that out early. This job is fantastic on a teacher’s CV!

Summary for reasons you should apply

If you’re someone passionate about education and pursuing a teaching career, the auxiliar programs are perfect opportunities to gain experience on your CV in a limited responsibility environment. You must be open to (and prepared for) a language and cultural exchange. You have to be genuinely interested in being in your classroom! Your spot in these programs is valuable. Nobody wants a teacher that doesn’t want to do their job! Apply if you want to be the teaching assistant that makes school enjoyable. 🙂


Reasons you should not apply to an auxiliar de conversación program

You don’t have any real desire to teach

A teacher needs to be passionate about the education of their students. Your time spent teaching will make you miserable if you aren’t wanting to be there! You’d be spending your time and money commuting to a school you don’t want to go to, and your motivation to make good lesson supplements will be non-existent.

The thought of having to learn a new language makes you cringe

Living in a foreign country without planning on learning even the basics of the native language(s) is a horrible plan. You’ll need to know how to rent an apartment, seek medical treatment, navigate your extranjería appointments, and possibly communicate with non-English-speaking school staff. If you’re in Spain, that could be in Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Valencian, Galician, or another language depending on the region you’re teaching in. Putting effort into learning the native language(s) is courteous and can take you a long way socially! Native speakers love to see real effort.

You only care about the program as a stepping stone into traveling abroad

This is probably the most controversial point in this post. If you only care about this program as a way to get a European visa for your travels, then you most likely are not interested in teaching. It is not fair at all to your students if you only care about your visa and paycheck, and not about their education. Your presence and attitude in the classroom will shape their futures with the English language. I will once again mention how valuable your position is in the program. By seeking this program only for a visa, you are taking the position away from someone who would cherish it.

Summary for reasons you should not apply

Kids in your classroom need someone who is excited to be there. An auxiliar that is truly interested in teaching is the best person for these kids. They need someone who can give it their all. It is unfair to give them someone who only cares to be there for a paycheck and a visa!

There are people desperate for these positions, so don’t take one of those limited job spots. NALCAP only gives out about 5000 positions and there are sometimes nearly 8000 applicants every year! By applying without genuine interest, you’re taking a valuable spot in the program away from someone who truly wants and needs it.

You will burnout quickly doing a job that you don’t want. Those 14+ hours a week might be the longest hours of your life if you don’t really want to be there! You also have to consider the time spent organizing games and other materials outside school hours.


Your place in the classroom is valuable and vital! You will be shaping the interest your students have in the English language and in foreign cultures. Being a good or bad auxiliar can change how they pursue the language in the future! This program might be extremely tempting to use as a way to travel abroad, but please consider the impact you’ll have on your students and on other applicants who would love your position. You can be both a passionate teacher and a travel-loving person!

Keep on the lookout for a future post about other auxiliar de conversación programs in Spain other than NALCAP! I hope you enjoyed this post and that it made you think. To be an auxiliar de conversación is a great opportunity– try not to waste it. 🙂

See you next time!

Bek

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