Spanish Placement Year at University of Surrey

As a Modern Languages student, I had the opportunity to do a placement year abroad in between second year and final year. I spent a total of 11 months abroad with 8 months in Spain as an English Language Assistant with the British Council and then 3 months in France as a tour guide and Marketing Assistant. In this blog I’ll go into detail about the application process, job role, skills and overall experience in my Spanish placement. Please note that this is specific to my experience in 2022/23 and aspects may have changed or vary depending on location. 

Murcia cathedral


With my Spanish placement, I applied in January 2022 directly through the British Council website where you can choose the country and list your regions in order of preference. You also get to choose if you want to teach in primary, secondary or adult education and what sort of area you’d like to live in such as a village, town or city. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the exact combination of your choices but they do their best to accommodate your preferences. There is then a series of questions about your ideas for lessons, your relevant skills and the motivations behind your preferences. This is a great opportunity to highlight your strengths, passion and enthusiasm for this role as it will be the only aspect on which they base their selection, for example, there are no interviews. There are no foreign language requirements for English Language Assistants in Spain, however I do recommend knowing some Spanish in order to fill out forms, ask questions and book appointments. 

After sending off my application, (deadline is beginning of February) I received my regional allocation of Murcia in June, followed by details of my school and hours in July. I then started the visa process which took about 2-3 months to complete and flew out to Spain at the beginning of October. 

My role 

My school

I loved being a Language Assistant. I worked in a primary school in a town called Cieza which is about an hour away from Murcia city. 

I supported the English classes which included grammar exercises, speaking tasks and conversation workshops. I also participated in several events such as Christmas shows, Erasmus exchanges and floración which is a cultural celebration of the peach trees that grow in the town. I worked 12 hours for 700 euros a month, which left me plenty of time to explore, travel and immerse myself in Spanish culture. I taught students aged 6-12 which was great as I got to experience teaching a variety of different age groups, subjects and topics. All of my teachers were very kind, supportive and it was a pleasure to work with them and learn from their teaching methods. 



Apart from working which I really enjoyed, I also had the opportunity to travel over the weekends and school holidays. During my time in Spain, I visited Barcelona, Granada, Málaga, Córdoba, Mallorca, Valencia and Sevilla as well as discovering the Murcia region. I also found it very easy to make friends as there is a huge language assistant community and you can get involved in meet ups, events and language exchanges by joining the Facebook group chats. Simply search ‘ELA’ or ‘Auxiliares de conversación’ and your region to find them. I met so many incredible people from all over the world and we travelled together, attended cultural events and discovered so much about the beautiful region we were living in. 


After my Spanish placement, I realised how much I had grown in confidence and resilience. This experience did genuinely change my life, allowing me to observe and experience a new culture, language and way of life. Aside from more concrete skills such as presentations, organisation and time management, I learnt how to think quickly, adapt to new situations and be resourceful. The beginning was certainly challenging as everything was new and in a different language but after about a month, I had settled into my new routine including adapting to public transport, Spanish meal times and siestas.

Floración in Cieza

My level of Spanish improved significantly as I was using it every day in several different settings such as the bus station, cafés, shops and watching Spanish TV. I now feel a lot more confident about living and working abroad in the future, thanks to this positive experience and my new international network of friends and colleagues. 

I highly recommend this placement to anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a new culture, gain professional experience, make international friends and grow on many personal levels!