Teaching in Spain, part 2 – Martin Lang
As you may remember from the first part, you can apply for the exam every two years, provided there are openings, of course. But do not get excited just yet. It is virtually impossible to pass the test the first or even the second time around. Let me tell you why. Qualification test contains two major parts. The first part, or the 60% of your final mark, consists of several parts. First part deals with your general knowledge of the culture theory, literature, and didactics of the language you are planning to teach. There are 69 different topics you are required to study, because when the dreaded examination day comes, you will be asked to choose a random topic to talk about.
There is also a C1 language proficiency test and as far as can tell, it resembles CAE tests very closely. The last but certainly not the least part includes a candidate handing in their own idea of a syllabus for one school year. They are asked to discuss and defend their respective choice of a syllabus in front of a committee for 30 minutes and another 45 minutes is dedicated to elaboration on and defending of one specific unit of the syllabus, picked out by the committee. Only this first part alone takes about half a day to complete and the ordeal is still not done just yet. .
After the examination day, you are asked to go back home a wait for about a week for the results. Provided you have passed – and keep in mind that you absolutely must pass with flying colours in order to even have a chance of getting a fixed position – second part of the qualification exam starts. This part consists purely of collecting the points you gained for every teaching practice or education you received. You might for example receive points for you master’s degree, for an internship or any teaching practice you might have done before, assistant job, language school tutor, any training courses, online courses, attending lectures on teaching, etc.
Now, the reason why this is virtually impossible to pass on your first try is that you will simply not be able to collect enough points to pass, especially when you are a recently graduated student. On average it takes you 3-5 tries to pass the exam which means 6-10 years of gaining experience and not getting a status of a qualified teacher! And get this – even if you do finally pass, if your score is not among the top 20 candidates, you still might not get the position, simply because there is only a certain number of openings. The higher you score, the higher are your chances, the higher you want to score, the more points you must collect, the more points you must collect, the more teaching related jobs you must get. It is a rather frustrating way of getting a position at the public school, especially if you have a family to feed.
However, your struggles will be eventually rewarded (provided you will finally get your well-deserved qualification). Fixed salaries are among the highest in the country starting roughly from 1,700 euros, excluding yearly bonuses and perks and the number goes only higher the more you continue working in the field. No wonder this profession is respected considering how much of a pain in the ass it is to get qualified.
To what extent and how well this system works would be a question for the teachers themselves. Sometimes, the system is frustrating and not everything works the way it should, however, all things considered, the difficulty of getting the necessary qualification helps to create a sense of prestige and very limited number of teachers is likely the reason why the government is able to pay them so well. Wherever the truth may lie, I for one find this system fascinating a much more effective than whatever is going on in our respective countries.