The Cultural Ambassadors Program (also known as the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program) is a respected recruitment scheme that is operated by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Every year the program is responsible for placing around 2,500 North Americans into elementary or secondary schools where they take up positions as assistant language teachers. As it can often be difficult for non-European teachers to secure an official work permit in Spain, this program offers a convenient route for Americans and Canadians who want to teach English in one of the most popular TEFL destinations in Europe.
How does the Cultural Ambassadors Program work?
To join the program you need to be an American or Canadian citizen aged between 21 and 60 (please note that the age limit for placements in the Madrid region is 35). If accepted you will be placed in an elementary or secondary school where you will work as an assistant language teacher from early October to May 31 (please note that the finish date in the Madrid region is June 30). The program includes a stipend of 700 euro per month, health insurance and a long-stay work visa. Participants will need to arrange their own airfares and pay for their accommodation.
Although you are able to state where you would prefer to be placed during the application process, there are no guarantees that your request will be granted. The vast majority of positions are located in mainland cities and towns, with a few also available in the Canary and Balearic Islands. You will be informed of your placement prior to departure, typically in April. As this is a very popular program that is usually oversubscribed, places are not guaranteed. Your application will be 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
- TEFL qualification (not compulsory but highly beneficial)
What is the application process for the Cultural Ambassadors Program?
The best place to start is to visit the official website of the Cultural Ambassadors Program where you will find all the current requirements and other important information. During the application process you will be asked to provide 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
Is a TEFL certificate required to apply for the Cultural Ambassadors Program?
While a TEFL certificate is not officially required to apply for the Cultural Ambassadors Program, it is recommended as the competition for places on the program is typically strong. By completing an internationally certified teaching qualification your chances of being accepted on the program will be significantly improved. The course will also provide a valuable understanding of the teaching skills you will need to ensure your overseas TEFL experience is both enjoyable and fulfilling.