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Teach English in The Canary Islands, Spain

Destination Overview: The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands, an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, are among Spain's farthest territories, yet they hold an enchanting blend of cultures, landscapes, and histories. With seven main islands, each offering its own unique attractions, the Canaries promise a diverse experience. From the volcanic landscapes of Lanzarote and Tenerife to the white sandy beaches of Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, the islands are a haven for nature lovers and sun-seekers alike. Beyond their geographical allure, the Canaries have a rich cultural tapestry, influenced by Spanish, African, and indigenous Guanche cultures. As English continues to grow in importance for business and tourism, the demand for English teachers on these islands has surged, offering a unique opportunity for those looking to live in a subtropical paradise while making a difference.

Reasons to Teach English in The Canary Islands

  1. Diverse Cultural Experience: Teaching in the Canary Islands offers an experience that merges Spanish traditions with indigenous influences. Festivals, foods, and local customs differ from island to island, ensuring that every day is a learning opportunity.

  2. Growing Demand for English: As the islands continue to be a major tourist hotspot, the need for locals to communicate in English grows. This demand has led to an increasing number of schools and academies looking for qualified English teachers.

  3. Incredible Natural Beauty: Whether it's hiking the volcanic terrains, diving into the azure waters, or simply relaxing on a sun-kissed beach, the islands offer a plethora of natural attractions for teachers to enjoy during their downtime.

  4. Warm and Pleasant Climate: Often referred to as the 'Islands of Eternal Spring', the Canary Islands boast a mild climate year-round, making it an ideal location for those who prefer sunny days and cool evenings.

  5. Opportunity to Learn Spanish: While the primary goal is to teach English, living in the Canary Islands provides teachers with an immersive environment to learn or hone their Spanish language skills.

  6. Sense of Community: The Canaries have a close-knit community vibe, especially in smaller towns and villages. Teachers often find themselves forming deep connections with locals, further enriching their overseas experience.

  7. Cost of Living: Compared to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands generally offer a more affordable cost of living, allowing teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

  8. Gateway to Explore: Being situated close to Africa and Europe, the Canary Islands serve as a great base for those wanting to explore both continents, making weekend trips and extended holidays an exciting prospect.

Understanding The Canary Islands's Education Landscape

The education system in the Canary Islands largely mirrors that of mainland Spain, with its own nuances and regional characteristics. It comprises primary education (educación primaria), followed by compulsory secondary education (educación secundaria obligatoria, ESO), and then the non-compulsory post-compulsory stage which includes the Bachillerato and vocational studies.

English is taught from primary levels, emphasizing its importance as a second language, especially in an area heavily reliant on tourism. Private language academies, schools, and even universities in the Canary Islands are in constant need of native English speakers to provide quality education to students of all ages.

In recent years, there has also been a noticeable push towards bilingual education in public schools. This initiative aims to immerse students in both Spanish and English, preparing them for a globalized world. As a result, there's a significant demand for native English-speaking teachers to join these programs, creating favorable job opportunities in the archipelago.

Eligibility and Requirements to Teach English in The Canary Islands

The requirements to teach English in The Canary Islands will be similar to the standard requirements for teaching English in Spain, however, here are the specific requirements for The Canary Islands:

  1. Bachelor's Degree: Most schools and institutions require teachers to have a bachelor's degree in any field. The degree need not be in education or English.

  2. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification: A TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification is crucial for most teaching jobs in the Canary Islands. This certification showcases your expertise in teaching English as a foreign language.

  3. Native English Speaker: While not always a strict requirement, being a native speaker from countries such as the USA, UK, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, or Ireland can significantly boost your chances of securing a job.

  4. Clean Criminal Record: Schools might require a background check to ensure the safety of their students.

  5. Previous Teaching Experience: Some institutions might prefer candidates with prior teaching experience, though there are plenty of opportunities for newcomers as well.

  6. Spanish Language Skills: Not a strict requirement, but knowing the basics of Spanish can be beneficial, especially in day-to-day interactions and understanding the local education system.

Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in The Canary Islands

Teaching English in the Canary Islands can be both a rewarding and financially stable profession. Here's a glimpse of what you can expect:

  1. Salary: On average, teachers can expect to earn between €1,200 to €1,800 per month, depending on qualifications, experience, and the type of institution. Private language academies and international schools generally offer higher salaries than public schools.

  2. Contract Duration: Most teaching contracts in the Canary Islands are for an academic year, from September/October to June. Some language academies might offer shorter-term contracts or summer programs.

  3. Working Hours: Teachers usually work around 20-25 hours per week. However, this does not include preparation time, which might add a few more hours to your workweek.

  4. Benefits: Benefits vary depending on the employer. Some schools offer free or subsidized accommodation, health insurance, and even bonuses at the end of the contract. In public schools or institutions under the government's auxiliares de conversación program, teachers might receive additional benefits like paid holidays.

  5. Opportunity for Private Tutoring: Many teachers supplement their income by offering private English lessons. Rates for these lessons can range from €15 to €30 per hour, depending on the teacher's experience and qualifications.

  6. Cost of Living: While the cost of living in the Canary Islands is generally lower than in mainland Spain, it's essential to budget appropriately. Accommodation, transportation, and food are the primary expenses. Living outside the main tourist areas can significantly reduce living costs.

Remember, while the financial aspect is essential, teaching in the Canary Islands also offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience life in one of the most diverse and beautiful regions of Spain. The professional and personal growth that comes with this experience is invaluable.

Living in The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands, an archipelago located off the northwest coast of Africa, is one of Spain's most diverse and captivating regions. Comprising seven main islands, each with its own unique charm, it is a magnet for both tourists and expatriates. Living here provides an experience that combines the relaxed island lifestyle with rich cultural and natural wonders. Here's what you can expect when living in The Canary Islands:

1. Diverse Climate and Landscapes:

Though often referred to as having an "eternal spring," the Canary Islands' climate varies across its different islands. From the lush, green forests of La Palma to the arid landscapes of Lanzarote, the islands offer a range of microclimates. Tenerife, the largest island, even boasts the majestic Mount Teide, Spain's highest peak.

2. Rich Cultural Heritage:

The Canary Islands have a unique blend of Spanish and African influences. You'll encounter traditional festivals, such as the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one of the largest carnivals in the world, and local customs that have been preserved for centuries.

3. Languages:

While Spanish is the official language, you'll also hear various local dialects and languages, including Silbo Gomero, a whistled language used on La Gomera. English is widely spoken in tourist areas, but learning Spanish will be beneficial for daily interactions and integration.

4. Cuisine:

The Canary Islands offer a unique culinary experience. From the famous "papas arrugadas" (wrinkled potatoes) served with "mojo" sauce to fresh seafood and locally produced wines, there's something to delight every palate.

5. Cost of Living:

Generally, the cost of living in The Canary Islands is lower than in mainland Spain, especially regarding rents and local products. However, some imported goods might be more expensive due to transportation costs.

6. Transportation:

While the islands boast well-connected road networks and bus services, owning a car can be advantageous, especially if you reside outside the main cities. Inter-island travel is facilitated by regular ferry services and domestic flights.

7. Leisure and Activities:

The Canary Islands are a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. From hiking in the Anaga mountains, diving in the clear waters of El Hierro, to surfing in Fuerteventura, there's no shortage of activities. The islands are also home to beautiful beaches, like the dunes of Maspalomas in Gran Canaria.

8. Communities:

Given their popularity as tourist destinations, the Canary Islands are home to diverse communities, with many expatriates, especially from European countries. This diversity has led to a lively international scene, with numerous clubs, associations, and events catering to various nationalities.

Teacher Stories

Jessica from the USA:

"After completing my TEFL certification, I was torn between South America and Europe. The Canary Islands, with their blend of Spanish culture and an island vibe, caught my eye. Las Palmas, in Gran Canaria, became my home for two years. The local Canarians were so receptive to learning English, and I even picked up some Spanish along the way! The beaches became my weekend retreats, and I couldn't have asked for a better teaching experience."

Liam from the UK:

"I've always been drawn to places that offer both mountainous landscapes and the sea. Tenerife, with Mount Teide and its stunning beaches, was an obvious choice. Teaching English here has been fantastic. The students are eager, and the local dishes, especially the seafood, are to die for. It's a bit like teaching in paradise!"

Sipho from South Africa:

"Coming from the bustling city of Johannesburg, I wanted a change of pace without losing the vibrancy of city life. Santa Cruz in Tenerife offered just that. The festivals, especially the carnival, are a highlight. Teaching English to Canarians has been rewarding, and they're always keen to share their local traditions and festivities with me."

Ava from Australia:

"I never thought I'd find a place that rivals the beaches back home until I landed in Fuerteventura. The waves, the surf, it felt like home. But teaching here is a different ballgame. My students, young and old, are enthusiastic, and there's a real sense of community. Between classes, I surf, and on weekends, I explore the other islands."

Eamon from Ireland:

"I took up a teaching position in Lanzarote on a whim, thinking I'd stay for just six months. Three years later, I'm still here, enchanted by the island's volcanic landscapes and the warmth of its people. My students often invite me for a traditional Canarian meal, and in return, I regale them with tales from Ireland."

Moving Towards Teaching English In The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands, a paradise where golden sands meet azure waters, where cultural richness resonates in every corner, and where teaching English isn't just a job – it's an experience of a lifetime. The archipelago offers more than just stunning landscapes. It's the openness of its people, the blend of traditions, and the opportunity to teach and learn simultaneously that makes it unique.

For those considering this pathway, The Canary Islands are more than just a destination. They represent a journey, a story waiting to be written. As you immerse in the Canarian way of life, as you navigate through the diverse teaching landscapes, remember – every student, every class, every island has a tale to tell. And as you embark on this teaching adventure, you'll find that amidst lessons and lectures, The Canary Islands will teach you a thing or two about life, about culture, and about finding home in unexpected places.