Categorized | Work

Expat Interview: Lisette on Teaching English

Posted on 03 July 2014 by American expat!

This is the first in a series of interviews with fellow American expats, where I ask them the questions that my readers ask me.

In this interview, I talk with Lisette about teaching English as a non-EU resident. I hope ya’ll find it helpful and informative.

How difficult is it to find a company that will hire a foreigner to teach English?

“I’ve never gone to an academia [language school] for work, but this year I will and it is not difficult. It isn’t difficult if you know how to write your CV and if you are presentable – like if they meet you they like what they see. Some places will give you a test, like answer how you would teach XYZ, where you describe how you would teach a certain topic. You can’t fake teaching it because they’ll know.

Some places will just hire you because they are only going to pay you 9 or 10 bucks an hour. But you can find work in an academy, but it’s important to look at the beginning of September, end of August, also the beginning of summer.”

Do you need a NIE?

“It depends on the academy; if they are willing to work with you then it’s no problem if you don’t. You just tell them up front. You say: ‘I don’t have a NIE, I don’t have the papers to work, will that be a problem?’ and then they either say yes or no. I’d say there is a 50-50 chance either way. Some good schools need official paperwork, and then there are others where maybe the pay isn’t great but it isn’t so bad that you would turn them down if they offered you a job, then there are others that are far outside of town, that you’ll have to travel to that will be willing to work with you because, hey, they need teachers out there.

And there are some that are looking for British teachers over American teachers. I’d say that is the biggest competition you will find, is the British teachers. They are looking for them because obviously they have the paperwork, but they also have European English and accent they are looking for. In my experience I’ve never had a problem with documentation for work. I think if they really like you they tend to bend some rules, though they are getting stricter this year I’ve heard. They’ll pay you less without papers however, some schools will use that as leverage to pay you less. The average for an academy is like 15 an hour.”

You’ve gone and set up your own particulares [private lessons] What do you charge for those?

“I charge 25, and won’t take less. There are some younger students that I might take 20 for, because they are just children so really I’m getting paid to play with them. And even some of those repeat customers I’ll go down to 178 an hour because I see them so much. But with my professional students and test prep students I charge 20-25.”

Where are you finding your clients? and But I haven’t had one hit from Donprofesor, at least I don’t think so. Both are free sites though.”

Are you getting students from referrals?

“I get referrals all the time and I get repeat students all the time. They might disappear for a year but then come to me first when they want lessons.”

How important is your CV when looking for a contracting company or an academy? What information do you need to include on it?

“You know, I have no idea! I make up my resume like I would in the US, I put my full name and address, I don’t put my age even though it is expected here. I don’t put anything like my marital status and NIE like others do. I don’t put any of those things even though later they might ask me. Photos are important though, they will ask for one if you don’t include one. There was one time when I didn’t include a picture and they asked for it even though they had already met me. ‘By the way can you add your photo?’ Later on they told me ‘You have such a pretty face you should always include your picture!’ ][laughs]

So in short, I don’t follow the rules, I don’t include everything that might be expected, but I always put my picture. My advice would be to make your picture look as good as possible, photoshop it, I would! [laughs] My photo is professional, but I’ve also used a non-professional photo, just my face and no more, as opposed to my professional photo where I am wearing a jacket and you can see more of me. And when I interview I will wear a jacket, no cleavage, and so on. I don’t ever have a problem, though I could see where there might be a huge hindrance, like if you show up and then you are competing with all these people who present better than you do. You need any edge you can get.”

Thanks Lisette!

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Eileen Vicente Says:


    I’m an epat American. Thank you so much for the wonderful information. I will be coming to Barcelona as of March 9 and I was wondering if you might know of quiet inexpensive áreas where I could get a small studio apartment that would be fully furnished with wifi and an elevator. I don’t think living in noisy places in the city is a good idea for a noise phobic person such as myself. I, by the way, am a youthful senior citizen who was originally from New York. I have lived in Porto, Portugal for the last 10 years. I am now a European citizen. No, I would not recommend Oport for any human being who wants a life. I hate living here. My husband is Portuguese. He has a teaching job, but will probably give it up if things work out for me. The Portuguese do not like foreigners, especially Americans and Brazillians. They hate people of color as well. In fact there was just a march in Lisbon agains the abuse that black people get in Portugal.

  2. American expat! Says:

    Well the Spanish aren’t overly friendly to people of color either, especially South Americans. They have nasty names for them that they throw around freely. Interesting the Portuguese treat people from their former colonies the exact same way. The French aren’t quite as bad anymore, though even just a generation ago they hated those from former colonies as well. Hm.

    Inexpensive and quiet areas would be El Carmel, Horta, anywhere around Parc Guinardo, anywhere around park Guell and el Coll. These are all hilly areas which makes them less desirable, though they all have great views. Vilapicina i la Torre Llobeta is quiet also, and is newer. Lots of retirees and cheap rent there. Hope that helps 🙂

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