A while back, I wrote a blog post on the various ways U.S. citizens can live and teach English legally in Spain. One of the programs I mentioned was Meddeas, an organization that works to place individuals in schools to work as Language Assistants. I was later contacted by Maria, who works in the Communication department at Meddeas, and I was asked if I would be interested in posting something on my blog about the application and selection process for Meddeas. What follows is a post that gives a detailed explanation of how the application and selection process works when applying to Meddeas, and includes tips on navigating the application and interview process. It originally appeared on the Meddeas blog and has been copied below upon request with permission. It was written by two current Meddeas participants, Rebecca Morton, a second year Language Assistant, and Natalie Dold, another current Meddeas participant.
If you have any interest in teaching English in Spain and are interested in the Meddeas program, I highly recommend giving this post a read. You can also view the official Meddeas website here, and the original post on the Meddeas blog, here.
Applying for anything is a frightening and daunting process. There are forms to fill out, interviews to do, and a million other things that you might need to complete to be successful. Many of these application processes can be difficult and complicated to do. Indeed, I have stopped filling in applications because it just got too confusing; I couldn’t do it anymore. However, applying to be a Meddeas’ Language Assistant was demanding, but clear, and they guided me through the selection process. I wish there were people who could have talked me through the process and gave me some advice regarding what to say and what to do. So here I am to talk you about what to expect when you are applying to teach with Meddeas here in Spain.
The Selection Process with Meddeas: Requirements, Tips, and Steps
What are the Requirements If You Want to Apply?
So, what do you need to apply for a placement with Meddeas? Do you need to speak fluent Spanish? Do you need to have an education degree? Do you need to have teaching experience? The answer to all of these questions is… NO! Although there is a specific scheme (Advanced) for people with a teaching background, Meddeas programs are open to anyone with any degree and you do not need to be a Spanish speaker, or have teaching experience.
The most important skills that you need to have are a can-do attitude and the willingness to learn and adapt to your new tasks and your new country. Oh, and you must be a native-level English, French or German speaker. You don’t even need to have a TEFL or CELTA* certificate, as Meddeas provides you with the fantastic opportunity to study and teach at the same time.
*If you apply for the Advanced scheme you will need a TEFL/CELTA certificate prior to your start date, or a degree/master in Education or English Language.
I have met people from all different walks of life here in Spain and none of us have the same backstory. Some come from a teaching background and others come from a science one. Some studied English and others studied Translation or Linguistics. The fact that we are all different with different skills and talents is what makes this program so great. At my school, there are four of us and every single one has a different set of talents and skills, meaning that we all have something different to offer.
Some Hints and Tips to Overcome the Selection Process with Meddeas
- When applying for Meddeas, do not be afraid to show off your individuality and uniqueness. Being you is what will make you succeed in this process and this placement. Be proud of your achievements and your experiences: They are what make you, you. Anything can enhance your application and make you stand out.
- Flexibility is key when applying. If you just want to teach to a certain age group, in a certain city, with a certain number of hours, and with every Friday off, it is not the best way to succeed. Being open to new places, experiences, and opportunities will make the chances of you getting a placement much more realistic. I didn’t know that I necessarily wanted to be teaching in Infantil (0-5 year-olds) in a town outside of Barcelona. However, that’s what I got and I loved every single moment. You should also be flexible about what your role involves in the school. I am involved in around 14 hours of art activities every week, despite not being artistically inclined, but I am learning as I go.
What are the Steps If You Apply?
The application process is not so difficult. Just follow the steps and consider the following things while applying:
Step One: Filling Out the Application Form
This step is an important one, as this is the time where you will tell Meddeas about yourself, your experiences, and your preferences for the program. Along with sending your professional resume or CV, you will need to fill out an application.
Things to think about when filling the application form:
PROGRAM TYPE AND ACCOMMODATION
There are three programs to choose from Speaker, Graduate, and Advanced.
You should think about which program you want and can apply to, and if you would prefer to live with a host family or find your own living arrangements.
All applicants will be teaching between 20 to 24 hours a week, no matter the program.
Would you feel more comfortable living in a big city, in a smaller city, or in a town? This is your chance to express how you want to experience Spain. There are both benefits and drawbacks to each so choose wisely. Meddeas says in the FAQs: “we try our best to find a well-suited placement – taking into consideration the location only when possible. Remember that our allocation process is, above all, profile-based and not location-based (that’s why specific location requests are never accepted)”.
AGE LEVEL OF THE STUDENTS
Would you prefer to teach preschool, primary, middle school, or high school students? You will have the opportunity to choose your preferences. If you have experiences with one or more groups and you liked working with those age groups, list them here.
In the application process, they will explain to you that there are 3 kinds of schools in Spain according to their values/religious views. You will be asked whether you feel comfortable in those environments to ensure you are correctly assigned to your placements.
This is the part of the application, which is the most important. This allows the Meddeas team to know exactly what your experiences are working with children and will help them to place you into the correct school and program. Talk about ANY kind of experience you have working with children and/or teaching, anywhere from working as your neighbor’s babysitter for 10 years to volunteering as a soccer coach, to studying primary education and completing your student teaching. Be as detailed as possible, specifically talking about the age groups you worked with and for how long!
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RELEVANT TO THE SELECTION PROCESS
This is the part where you can share about anything else you’d like with Meddeas. You can mention your experiences living abroad previously, specifically if you have studied abroad or lived in Spain before. And you can talk about any other job experiences or skills that would be beneficial for this work experience.
Step Two: The Interviews
Congratulations! The Meddeas team has seen your application and profile and wants you as a potential candidate for the program. There are two interviews in the selection process with Meddeas: a Skype interview and an in-person interview (with a delegate in your area).
You should dress business casual for the interviews. The Skype interviews could be early in the morning because it will most likely be done in Spanish working hours and time zone, so be prepared for this. To prepare for the interview, simply review the FAQ’s and Meddeas’ website to make sure you fully understand the program, its requirements, and features. Be prepared to talk about your experiences with children and/or teaching, and some of the skills you’ve gained along the way.
In the second interview, which is in-person, you will meet face-to-face with a Meddeas member, and be given the opportunity to resolve any doubts you may have; as well as make sure you fully understand the responsibilities of the programs. Also, one thing you may be asked to do is an activity. But don’t sweat it: you don’t need to prepare anything for it.
Step Three: I’ve Been Accepted! What Comes Next?
You passed the selection process with Meddeas, making it through both interviews. Congratulations, and welcome (almost) to Spain!
If your selection process finishes before April, first you’ll receive a pre-agreement acceptance letter from Meddeas, which you will need to return within a few days in order to secure your spot in the program. Depending on the time of acceptance and available schools, you’ll receive your school placement about 2 weeks or so after your initial acceptance (bear in mind this process can get longer). At this point, you’ll make your official decision and place a deposit for the program (which will be returned to you upon successful completion of the program). Once you make the deposit, you will officially be a part of the Meddeas family. What now?
If you aren’t an EU citizen, start getting your paperwork together for your visa. You will be applying for the Student Visa. Each consulate is different, depending on where you currently reside, so make sure to consult your own consulate’s website. Most require a background check, a medical clearance form, a current passport, and passport photos. Some also require you to make an appointment
Some Last Tips Before You Start the School Year
Once you receive your school’s contact information, write the tutor or coordinator an email, introducing yourself. This is a great way to start the school year off and show initiative.
Start saving money! You will not receive your first paycheck until mid-October or early November depending on your start date. Because of this, you will need to have money for the start-up costs of living in another country: flight to Spain; first and second month’s rent plus deposit; grocery costs; transportation costs; extra money for fun and traveling; etc.
After all of this has been done, you’ll soon be on your way to Spain, excited and ready for the best experience of your life. Once you get to Spain, let the rest happen. Meddeas will be there every step of the way and so will your other school colleagues and friends. Get ready for all of the amazing experiences and memories you are going to have after this yearlong journey, and all of the great people you will meet along the way.