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How to Apply to the Meddeas Language Assistant Program

So you want to live the dream? You want to teach English in a school in Spain and you want to do so legally.

Well good news for you, there are a few great programs here in Spain that actually allow you to do so by teaching as an “English Language Assistant”. These programs allow native-English speakers to legally live and work in schools across Spain on a student visa. One of the more coveted programs and a program that ITA Barcelona encourages its alumni to apply for is the Meddeas program. The application for this process can be lengthy, but very much worth it once you receive your school placement offer.

Participants in the Meddeas program essentially work in a Spanish private school for a full or half an academic year. You can be teaching a wide range of ages, anywhere from 1-18 years old. The students’ levels of English vary based on their ages. Throughout your participation in the program, you receive a monthly stipend and free teacher training through an online course provided by the accredited Universitat Internacional de Catalunya. There are three different levels of the program that participants can choose from based on their education, experience, and background.

No matter which program you apply for, you will be teaching a minimum of 20 hours a week for 5 days a week (you can teach up to 24 hours a week and your stipend will reflect the hours you teach and the program you are in). 

Here is a breakdown of the different programs offered:

  • Advanced Program: for candidates who hold a degree in Education or a degree in English Language or any degree + a TEFL certificate (perfect for most ITA alumni!)
    • Teach up to 15 students
    • Monthly stipend of €932 OR accommodation with host family + €482.
  • Graduate Program: for candidates who hold any degree
    • Teach up to 8 students
    • Monthly stipend of €882 OR accommodation wit host family + €432.
  • Speakers Program: for candidates who hold any degree/ university students/ gap years
    • Teach up to 3 students
    • Monthly stipend of €860 OR  accommodation with host family + €332.

To apply to the Meddeas program, click here. You will be asked to enter your name and email. Once entered, you will immediately receive an email that includes a brochure of frequently asked questions about the program as well as the application form. You will be asked to complete the application form and send your CV. If you are eligible, Meddeas will contact you inviting you to a first interview via Skype. If you are successful, you will have a second interview via Skype with one of the Meddeas delegates. This second interview is typically conducted in person with a Meddeas representative who lives in a city near you (the US, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany – or via Skype for candidates outside these regions), however, as of May 2020, these interviews are taking place via Skype due to COVID-19. 

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the application process:

> Request detailed information and the application form here.

> Complete the application form and submit your CV/resume via email. In the application form you will identify which program you are applying for and list your preferences of student ages and locations in Spain.

> If eligible, you will complete your first Skype interview. This interview can be anywhere between 30 – 50 minutes long. 

This first interview will include the following:

  • A short “quiz” on the Meddeas FAQ that will be sent to you beforehand.
  • Questions about you and your teaching experience, experience with kids, level of Spanish (no level is required), etc.
  • Your program preferences (which program you would like to participate in, your school and location preferences, etc.)
  • A short lesson planning activity.

If you are successful with the first interview, you will be invited to a second Skype interview. This interview can also be anywhere between 30 – 50 minutes long. A different person from your first interview will conduct this interview. The interviewer will not have access to your first interview, so some questions may be repetitive.

This second interview is more in-depth and will include the following:

  • Another short “quiz” on the Meddeas FAQ.
  • More questions about you and your teaching experience.
  • More detailed questions about your program preferences, what ages you would like to teach, and exactly where you would prefer to teach. One of the goals of this interview is to match you with the perfect school based on your preferences.
  • Activity component to test your level of English, fluency, and ability to think on your feet.

Finally, your Placement Offer!

Upon successful completion of the above, Meddeas will offer you a school placement that matches your profile. You can either accept or reject the placement, however, if you choose to reject, it is not guaranteed that you will receive another offer. If you accept, you will be asked to submit a program deposit of 850€ that you will receive back upon the successful completion of the program. You will then begin the process of applying for your student visa. Meddeas will provide you with detailed instructions on how to go about this and are there to answer any questions you may have and provide you with the documents you will need such as your official enrollment in your UIC course, your contract with your school, etc. You will be responsible for scheduling an appointment to apply for the visa at your closest Spanish consulate and collecting other documents needed such as a background check, medical certificate, proof of private health insurance, etc.

So when should you apply? Meddeas is always accepting applications so there is necessarily no concrete deadline you will need to apply by. If you would like to begin teaching in September/October, you should aim to apply during February/March of the previous school year. This will give you enough time to complete the interview process, which can take about a month, and then complete the lengthy process of applying for your student visa. It is also possible to begin your placement during January and teach for half of the academic year.

Interested in learning more about Meddeas?

Feel free to reach out to ITA Barcelona alumna Casey (and author of this lovely blog post) over at @case_ofbrooks! Personally, I had a great experience with this program and would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in not only teaching in Spain but gaining valuable teaching experience in a classroom setting. Meddeas was extremely helpful throughout the visa application process and was always there to answer any questions I had throughout the year. However, this program is not for anyone looking just to get a visa to Spain and to be able to freely travel around Europe, Meddeas is very clear about this and you will need to be committed to the program as you are expected to be in the classroom 5 days a week. With that being said, you will still be able to travel on weekends and will have 2 weeks of vacation for Christmas and Easter, so it is a win-win!

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How To Obtain A Long-term Student Visa To Study In Spain

About two years ago, my partner and I decided we wanted to live in Spain for one year.  We both love Spain and have always wanted to spend at least a year here to learn the language and be immersed in the culture.  The trick was finding out how to do it legally, and thankfully we managed to figure it out.

My partner was able to apply for a non-lucrative visa because she has income from the United States.  I, on the other hand, do not have income from the United States, so I decided to apply for a long term student visa. I knew I wanted to do a TEFL program so that I could teach English while living in Spain.  After doing some research and reading lots of reviews, I decided ITA was where I wanted to do my TEFL course.

I spoke with Stephen Halden who informed me that I could enroll in Spanish courses at BCN Lip after I completed my TEFL course.  I opted to study for 9 months after the TEFL program which allowed me to apply for a 10-month student visa.

What are the steps?

The first step was applying to the TEFL program, and then to the Spanish language program. Once I was accepted into both, I asked them to send my acceptance letter via snail mail because you need the original stamped letter when applying for the visa (they sent it by DHS and it arrived within a week).  Fortunately BCN Lip sent all of my enrollment paperwork (including the TEFL course start date) in Spanish so I didn’t need to have it translated. Next, I went online to make an appointment with the Spanish consulate in San Francisco. I made the appointment in mid July, and the first available appointment was October 16th. This is something to keep in mind when planning your trip as it usually takes about 3 months to get an appointment with the consulate (depending on where you live).  Below is a list of the steps I had to take and the documents needed to obtain my student visa:

  1. Get a live scan to get fingerprinted and photos for the visa (same as U.S. Passport photos)  
  2. Fill out the National student visa application form (on the consulate website)
  3. Original up to date passport
  4. Two copies of your passport
  5. Two U.S. passport size photos
  6. Two copies of the acceptance letter from ITA and BCN Lip
  7. A copy of an intended flight itinerary (they suggest you don’t book your flight until your visa is approved, but they need to know when you intend to leave for Spain).  
  8. An official bank statement (you need to go into your bank and ask for this, you cannot print an online statement).  The statement must show that you have at least $750 for each month you will be studying in Spain, or you can get a notarized and translated letter from your parents or someone who intends to provide for you financially while you are in Spain.  
  9. Criminal records clearance verified by fingerprints and the Apostille of the Hague (both need to be officially translated).  In the United States, the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are authorized to affix an Apostille (an International certification comparable to a notarization in domestic law) to documents issued or certified by an officer recognized by the state.  You must contact the Apostille of the Hague in your state to complete this process.
  10. Medical certificate from your doctor (you must print the one on the consulate’s website, go to your doctor for a physical exam and have them sign and stamp it with their official stamp).  My doctor signed both the English and Spanish portions because she speaks Spanish, but if your doctor won’t sign the Spanish portion of the certificate, you may have to have it officially translated.  You should check with your consulate about this.
  11. Proof of health and repatriation insurance.  I used DKV Seguros for my insurance, but there are others out there that may be less expensive.  You must purchase insurance and have proof of it before going to your visa appointment. I would recommend beginning this process right away as it took a while to actually get in touch with an insurance agent.  One of the catch 22’s with the insurance is that you have to have an address in Spain in order to purchase the insurance. We had the help of a friend in Spain who we were staying with upon arrival, but I believe you may be able to use the address of the school you enroll in.  You can check with them before you apply to the program.
  12. At the time of writing this, $161 cash or money order for the visa application fee (I would suggest bringing cash).
  13. Driver’s license and photocopy of it.

The Spanish Government has a Sworn Translators-Interpreters web page where you can find a link to a Spanish language list of approved translators and interpreters.  You must use a translator who is officially recognized and certified by the Spanish government. We had a few people tell us they were certified by the Spanish government, but luckily we found out they were not before using them.  If you check the “Lista actualizadade traductores/as-interpretes” document on the consulate’s website, you will find the approved Spanish/English translators located in the United States.

All the documents that you present at the consulate must be dated within three months of your appointment date.  That means you have to procure things like background checks and financial documentation, and then get them notarized and translated and Apostilled and returned to you within that three-month window.

After your appointment date, if you submit all the correct documents and paperwork and are approved, you should receive your visa in about one month.  You must physically go to the consulate to pick up your visa, you cannot have someone else pick it up on your behalf (at least this was the case in San Francisco, but it might be different in other consulates).  If you don’t live in a city that has a consulate, you will have to travel to the closest city that does have one. Each region’s consulate has slightly different requirements so be sure to check the requirements for your specific region.  

The process sounds a bit daunting, but if give you give yourself enough time to gather all of your documents and you go to your visa appointment well prepared, it is not that bad.  Also, the whole process is well worth it once you arrive in Spain and get to experience all the beauty and wonders of this country!