A Guide on the BEDA Program: An overview of the ins and outs before you apply for this life changing experience!
International travel is a buzz word among Caribbean Millennials and Europe is an ideal destination. Though many are simply looking to get away for a couple weeks, quite a few of us are up for living and working abroad. Of the variety of ways to work in Europe let’s zero in on English teaching. Lucky for us, we speak the most sought after language in the world and many European countries are always looking for native speakers to work in their schools and universities.
Being that Spanish is usually the first foreign language that Caribbean children are introduced to, Spain is the perfect destination for teaching English abroad without any real teaching experience. Of the two main teaching programs in Spain, BEDA is the only one that Caribbean nationals can apply to. In this Bilingual Education program over four islands are already represented, namely: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Antigua.
Want to find out how you can join in and experience life in Europe for yourself? Keep reading!
The BEDA Program
What is the BEDA Program?
One of simpler ways to move to Spain with a Caribbean passport is through a teaching English program called BEDA! BEDA is one of the two most popular options for English teaching jobs based in Spain.
When compared to the Ministry program, it’s the best option for Caribbean Millennials who don’t have dual citizenship in any of the “accepted” English speaking countries.
BEDA works alongside Escuelas Católicas de Madrid and if accepted, you’re placed in a Catholic charter school (referred to as a concertado) as a language assistant. The programme’s main focus is on creating an environment in schools registered on the program that promotes the development of a bilingual level of English from infants to pre-University.
Where in Spain are you placed?
Most of the concertados registered on the program are based in and around the province of Madrid. However, some Caribbean Millennials have been placed in other areas including Toledo, Segovia, Castellón, Murcia, La Coruña, Zaragoza, Pamplona, and Asturias.
What is the role of a language assistant?
This typically varies from school to school but working as a language assistant on this program generally means providing your students with an all English environment to help them build their oral skills in a fun and dynamic way.
At some schools you’ll find yourself working alongside the teacher as they deliver their lesson and you’ll be asked to review grammar topics through communicative games and otherwise provide support in the classroom.
At other schools you may find yourself doing desdoble which means that the class will be split in half and one group stays with the teacher while you take the other group to a different room (you’ll be lucky to have your own classroom) where you’ll deliver a lesson of your own to the students on your own.
It’s up to the school to decide how they want to use you as a resource that’s available to them. Don’t be shy to make suggestions or offer to do other activities if you feel comfortable doing so. Just know that it’s best to keep an open mind and go with the flow as you step into this new role in the Spanish education system!
What age groups do language assistants work with?
The concertados registered to the program start from infants and can go all the way up to Bachillerato (which are the two years before University). This means you’ll be placed at a level which could involve teaching 3 year olds their ABCs and phonics or dealing with too cool for school teenagers! There’s never a dull day regardless of which ages you’ll be teaching but make sure to carefully consider the pros and cons of each before you make your request during the application process.
What are the hours and pay like?
BEDA typically assigns as few as 18 hours or as many as 24 hours to most assistants. However, there may be a few people who work 16 hours or 26 hours weekly.
Keeping this in mind, the table above shows how much you can expect to take home monthly if in such cases.
Other things to note!
In September and June language assistants take home half month’s pay as you’ll only be in school for the last two weeks (September) and first two weeks (June).
BEDA is one of the most reliable programmes where payment is concerned and the team does an excellent job of keeping up the “within the first 5 days” system so expect to always be paid on time.
Around March/April every year you’ll get to file your taxes and will be eligible for tax refunds that come in super handy in the summer months where you will not be receiving a salary. Christmas and Easter holidays are paid vacation dates so don’t worry about not being paid at those times!
What other benefits are included?
BEDA provides every language assistant assigned to a school with health insurance that covers everything from regular check ups at the doctor and dentist to emergency life-threatening surgeries*. If your Spanish isn’t the best you also have access to English speaking doctors so fear not.
Public Health Care
In addition to private insurance and health care coverage provided by BEDA, language assistants registered on the programme will also have their own Spanish Social Security number which allows access to public health care services. So look forward to being fully covered by both public and private care from September to June.
Moving to a new country comes with a lot of paperwork, ask anybody and they will tell you that Spain isn’t necessarily the easiest country to navigate when it comes to legal affairs.
Thankfully, BEDA provides you with hands on assistance from the time you’re accepted and throughout your period of employment with them. From your visa application to your NIE (Spanish ID Card) application, and renewal process if you choose to stay on in the program.
This takes a lot of stress off this move to Spain as you join the Apartment Hunting Olympics (especially if placed in Madrid). There is no official help from assigned schools or BEDA itself with regards to housing, however you will be provided with a list of websites that are a big help in the search.
BEDA employees are a huge help and are always an email away with a response for any administrative issues or hiccups you may experience while preparing to come to Spain and especially during the school year. Relax, they’ve got you and we’ve got you!
How are language assistants legally residing in Spain anyway? Via Student Visa! As mentioned before, BEDA supplies you with all the documents needed to prove that: you’ll be studying in Spain at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, you’ll be receiving a monthly stipend, will have housing, and all the other information regarding finances and insurance.
What is the coursework like at Universidad Pontificia de Comillas?
It’s best described as workshops and there’s also an online component which must be completed if you decide to stay on longer in the program.
Technically, the language assistant position at these concertados is officially recognised as an internship while you study a course in “Metodología y Evaluación de la enseñanza y aprendizaje del inglés en el aula” (or Methodology and Assessment of the teaching and learning of English in the classroom).
Twice a month you’ll have to attend one of the many BEDA workshops put on by past language assistants in order to give you more insight on classroom management, games, as well as teaching and learning styles for ESL. These are helpful particularly for successful applicants who have no previous experience teaching.
You will also have scheduled Spanish Language or Spanish Culture classes. This depends on your score after sitting a general Spanish placement exam, so don’t worry if your Spanish vocabulary only consists of five words, there is help for you!
All of this sounds like a lot to do while you work but it’s really not half bad and could be extremely useful depending on your situation.
How long can you stay in Spain on the BEDA Program?
That’s up to you but you should know that the course of study at Comillas that grants us a student visa is four years long! So that means you can drink sangria, make money and travel around Europe for four years if you choose.
If you want to switch it up and live in different parts of the country too, you most definitely can. The cool thing is that the longer you stay on with BEDA, the more likely it is that you’ll get your choice of region to teach in. Note that if you love the school you work at in your first year, you can stay on for another year but no longer because language assistants can only stay for a maximum of two years in the same school.
Where do I sign up?
If you’ve made it this far and it sounds like something you’re interested in doing, submit your application over at the official BEDA website! Remember, you’re not obligated to spend all four years on the program but we definitely do recommend it!
The BEDA Program is a great opportunity for you to earn some cash to fund a year of travel adventures throughout Spain and other European destinations on your Caribbean passport! If you’re still not convinced that this is the right choice for you, drop your questions in the comment section and stay tuned for upcoming posts about the application process, preparing to move to Spain, living on a BEDA salary, and so much more!