As many of you know, I started this blog to document my process of moving to Spain to teach English. I applied to two programs, the Ministry’s Auxiliares de Conversacion, and the privately run BEDA (Bilingual English Development Assessment) program. I only got as far as the interview with BEDA, but I wasn’t accepted so I now I am an auxiliar. To be honest, I probably would have chosen the ministry even if I was accepted to both, anyway. I only applied to BEDA to assure placement in Madrid. But I digress.
I still get lots of questions from readers about the application process/teaching with BEDA. Every time I have to say, “oh, I’m sorry, I literally have no other information”, and it kind of makes me feel like an ass. Wellllll, I finally thought of a way to make it better. I reached out to Imani Christine, a language assistant with BEDA, to ask her all the burning questions about teaching with the program. Check it out below…
Lauren: What’s your name? How can people follow your adventures on the web or social media?
L: Have you ever lived or taught abroad before?
I: This is my first year teaching abroad but last year I lived in Australia. I went on a working holiday visa and worked random jobs.
L: So, why Spain? Why this year?
I: While I was [in Australia] I decided I wanted to teach English. I compared programs around the world but was ultimately drawn to Spain for the opportunity to learn a new language and travel a Europe. I had never been to Europe before and so I relied solely on the internet for making my decision.
L: Why did you decide to go with BEDA? Did you apply to any of the other popular English assistant programs (Auxiliares, UCETAM, MEDDEAS)?
I: While I was there I decided I wanted to teach English. I compared programs around the world but was ultimately drawn to Spain for the opportunity to learn a new language and travel a Europe. I had never been to Europe before and so I relied solely on the internet for making my decision.
L: Give me a brief idea of the processes/timeline between submitting your application and being accepted into the program.
The application process, as everyone will tell you, is a waiting game. Now, I am going off my memory so this isn’t concrete but I think I applied to BEDA in late December. I was interviewed in January and accepted into the program beginning of February. I remember the “interview” being pleasant, and extremely short (maybe 5 minutes). Naturally, my interview ended and I began to panic. A five minute interview couldn’t be a good sign. Thankfully the internet once again came to my rescue and assured me short interviews were the norm. The basically ask you about your experience, age preference and if you have any questions. Once excepted I waited a few more months I think for the details about my placement and school. While all this is happening I am still living in Australia which is frustrating because there is not much I can do in terms of preparing to get my visa. I fly back to the US in May and I have my visa by mid July.
L: What was orientation like? Did you find that BEDA truly supported your transition?
I: Orientation was in Spanish. Need I say more? Most of it was a complete waste of time for those that don’t have strong Spanish skills. However, it was great for meeting people. It is a social environment that almost reminds me of a college orientation. Everyone is excited, optimistic and ready for a new experience. The biggest benefit of the orientation is that they get a lot of information from you and fill out a lot of your Spanish paper work on your behalf. The arrange for private health insurance, your TIE, a bank account and other things. It was a huge relief to not have to worry about those things. Appartment hunting when you arrive is enough of a stress. I think that BEDA really does an amazing job at supporting it’s language assistants. The people that work for BEDA are extremely nice and you can email them about anything you need help with. They even have someone meet you at the office when it’s your time to apply for your TIE so that there are no issues.
L: Where is your school placement? Is it far from where you live?
I: My school is in Getafe, Madrid. Getafe, is about 2O minutes on the Train from Sol. I knew before I arrived where my school was. I weighed the pros and cons of living close to school or close to the city and choose the city. My commute is about 45 minutes but it really is not bad. I have never wished I was closer to my school. I love living in Madrid and being close to the excitement.
L: What grades do you work with? What is your weekly schedule like?
I: I work with 4th, 5th, and 6th of primary. I requested 24 hours but was only given 18. This is probably my biggest reason for not being totally in love with Spain and the BEDA program. In exchange for receiving lots of support we are paid significantly less than teachers in other programs. If I had 24 hours I think I would be content. But the pay they give you with 18 hours is barely a livable wage. After my initial disappointment of getting 18 hours I thought well at least I will have more free time for private classes and I’ll probably get a 4 day work week. Wrong and wrong. I work 5 days a week until 4:45 pm every day. Some days I start later than others but still it feels like a full time job. Many Spanish schools have a 30 minute break in the morning followed by a 2 hour lunch break so that means I am at school way more hours than I actually teach. I also teach Social science and natural science in addition to regular English classes.
L: Do you find that your pay is truly enough to live on? Are taxes taken out?
I: The money is not enough. With BEDA your pay is based on the hours you are assigned. I am at school just as much as any other language assistant but because I am technically only assigned 18 hours a week I make 830€ a month after taxes.
L: Have you ever had issues with receiving late payments?
I: I have never had issues with late payment. Actually, during winter break they give you January’s pay early which is amazing!
L: What about the mandatory class for all assistants, do you find it helpful, or a waste of time?
L: What is your favorite thing about working with BEDA?
I: My favorite thing about working for BEDA is feeling like I don’t have to do everything myself. It is nice to know if I have any issues with my school or in general I can reach out to them and they will help.
L: What is your least favorite thing about working with BEDA?
I: My least favorite thing about BEDA is the pay.
L: Are you able to easily get in touch with coordinators with questions or concerns?
I: Yes, as a I have mentioned before the coordinators are very easy to contact. They respond quickly.
L: Do you have the option to renew for another year? If yes, will you be doing so?
I: Yes, with BEDA you can renew. Although, I have enjoyed my experience with BEDA working for such little money is just not okay with me. I am looking into more lucrative options in Asia for next year, if they don’t work out then I will renew with BEDA