The Cultural Ambassadors Program (also known as the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program) is a well established scheme that has been run by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for several years. Around 2,500 North Americans are recruited every year and placed into elementary or secondary schools where they work as assistant language teachers alongside a local teacher. Spain is notoriously difficult when it comes to getting an official work visa for non-European teachers, so this program provides a great opportunity for Americans and Canadians to legally work in this very popular destination.
What are the requirements for the Cultural Ambassadors Program?
The program is restricted to American and Canadian citizens who are aged between 21 and 60. There is a separate upper age limit of 35 for placement in the Madrid region. Participants are placed in an elementary or secondary school to work as an assistant language teacher starting in early October. The program runs until May 31 in most areas apart from the Madrid region where the finish date is June 30. In return for working a set number of classes per week you will receive a stipend of 700 euro per month, paid health insurance and a long-stay work visa. You are responsible for your own airfares and accommodation expenses.
In your application it is possible to give preferences on the cities or regions you would prefer to work in, but these are not guaranteed. Most people will be placed in mainland cities and towns, while a small number might find themselves working in the Canary or Balearic Islands. Your destination will be decided in April prior to your departure date. As this program is very popular you are not guaranteed to be accepted. Applicants are evaluated on the following criteria:
- A practical demonstration of Spanish language skills (college transcripts, high school records, and Spanish language certificates can be submitted to provide extra proof)
- Physical and psychological suitability (a medical form is required)
- Academic achievement (BA or BS minimum, university junior, senior, or graduate)
- Previous teaching experience
- Experience working with children
- Experience living abroad
- TESOL qualification (not compulsory but highly beneficial)
How do I apply for the Cultural Ambassadors Program?
As the application details are subject to change, you should visit the official website of the Cultural Ambassadors Program for the current information. To complete the application process you will need to supply the following documents:
- 250 to 300 word 'statement of purpose' in English
- Copy of a reference letter from your employer or university
- Copy of your degree/diploma, or an official academic record
- Copy of valid U.S. or Canadian passport
Do I need a TESOL certificate to apply for the Cultural Ambassadors Program?
A TESOL certificate is not an official requirement for joining the Cultural Ambassadors Program. However, as competition for places on the scheme is always high, it is recommended that you complete one before you submit an application. Having an internationally certified teaching qualification on your application will certainly improve your chances of acceptance and provide you with a solid understanding of all the teaching skills you will need to make your experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.