About the Author: Neil McMillan

Current president of SLB and a freelance teacher of English, in addition to a teacher-trainer, writer and translator. He holds a Diploma in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) as well as a Ph.D in literature from the University of Glasgow, and has over 20 years’ classroom experience working with adults, teenagers and children from all over the world.

Thank you to all those who responded to the Barcelona Teachers’ Survey. This is our analysis of the results. You can also download a basic version of the report, in PDF format here. Barcelona Teacher Survey Report.

Summary of key points from the survey:

Profile of respondents

Of 78 respondents, all teach English with some also teaching other languages. Only around 5% teach Spanish, Catalan and French as their main language. Almost 90% speak the main language they teach as a native language. The students they teach vary in age and learning goals, although there is a slight bias in the survey towards teachers working with adults. A majority of respondents undertake additional language-related work.

Legal and contract status

The majority have permission to work in Spain, although a surprising 12% have no legal right to work. Only around 16% of the sample work as autónomos. Regarding contracts for non-autónomos, although most respondents are formally contracted to schools or academies (mostly on temporary contracts), over a fifth are paid cash in hand (including, presumably, some of those with no work permit). Regarding private students, only 6% bill their clients through a third-party organisation (i.e. paying taxes), with 60% working for such clients on a cash-in-hand basis. About 60% of respondents do not declare their earnings for tax purposes, with over 40% of this group claiming to be unaware of the process.


The majority of respondents (59%) have CELTA or equivalent as their highest teaching qualification, with a very small proportion with an unrecognized cert or no qualification at all. Around 14% of respondents have the DELTA or equivalent, while BA degrees or Master’s came in at around 11% each.

Earnings: actual and aspirational

We will break these down according to qualifications. It should be noted that the data  for actual earnings will be slightly inflated due to the question not specifying earnings from schools/academies – some respondents appear to have entered private rates.

Actual rates:

All respondents: min €16,68 / max 23,92 p/h; Qual CELTA or below: min 15,87 / max 22,62; Qual Degree or above: min 18,30 / max 26,41; Qual Dip or above: min 20,16 / max 28,84 It is quite clear that qualifications significantly affect earning power. This is also reflected in the aspirational figures, i.e. what respondents feel they should be paid:

Aspirational rates:

All respondents:

Pay rate real and desired

Qual CELTA or below:

Qual Degree or above:

Qual Dip or above:


An interesting pattern which emerges is that most teachers feel they should be paid more for groups than for 1-to-1, while in practice the reverse seems to be the case. The larger the group size, the greater the recompense desired. It was also noted in comments that a fairer reward for travel time should be reflected in the hourly rate. Over two-thirds of the sample feel that they should be paid for preparation time, whereas less than 10% currently enjoy this extra (at an average of 12% of their hourly rate). Of those who want to be paid prep time, most felt that between 11 and 30% of their rate should be recompensed, although over a fifth of respondents felt that this should be much higher, between 41 and 50%.

Desired services

Of the services respondents feel they need, there was a very positive response. Here is the top ten, from most popular down: 1. Sponsorship to improve qualifications: 82% 2. Advice on financial/legal matters: 81% 3. Opportunity to share profits: 79% 4. Sponsorship for PD: 78% 5. Opportunity to decide on investment: 72% 6. Access to free workshops and other training: 67% 7. Access to quality technology: 64% 8. Access to quality materials: 63% 9. Access to classroom spaces: 60% 10. Access to preparation space: 59%. Regarding the 1st and 4th most popular choices, it is worth noting that although most teachers are currently undertaking some form of professional development, less than 14% of all respondents are offered sponsorship for this by their current employers.

Other comments

Some of the following points were made by individual respondents:

  • Better pay is the best motivation, inc. holiday pay, pay for travel time, etc.
  • There is dissatisfaction with teachers undercutting private rates to less than 20 p/h
  • There is a need for a more viable or professional space to advertise yourself (50% of respondents were in favour of such a website)
  • More sharing/pooling of resources and ideas is desirable


Teachers feel exploited:

The notable difference between actual and aspirational earnings, and the high demand for prep time to be recompensed, reflects widespread dissatisfaction. The most desired service, sponsorship to improve qualifications, can also be seen to support this, as higher qualifications increase earning power.

Qualifications are low:

–and there is an obvious desire for opportunities to improve this, and to enhance PD generally.

Teachers are confused:

–about tax, social security and such matters, and want advice on this.

Opportunities are needed:

–to access material, technology and classroom spaces to help teachers pursue their professional activities.

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  3. marekkiczkowiak 16 June 2014 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    Interesting data. Still shows how little teachers are paid. Most people will easily spend over 50 euros on a massage. My financial advisor in a small town in the Netherlands charges 90 euros an hour (and he’s VERY cheap!). A 30min haircut will easily cost you 25 euros in Holland. Not meaning to degrade any of the trades in any way, but you can’t avoid thinking: very disproportionate, isn’t it?
    Did the ‘nativeness’ (or lack thereof) affect the pay rate in any way? Would be interested in the statistics for my blog: http://www.teflequityadvocates.com

  4. paulwalsh 19 June 2014 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    I would love to do this in survey in Berlin. This might be a really good way of organising – groups of teachers in different cities organising their own surveys. Then they have facts on which to base action.

  5. Neil McMillan 26 June 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Thanks Marek. Obviously all is relative, as I’m sure there might be a few teachers around the world thinking “Hey, that ain’t bad!”. But as you point out, earnings in comparable areas are far higher. And we know how much students are paying to academies …

    Unfortunately we didn’t choose nativeness as a variable – testament to our own native myopia – but the European survey currently being developed should definitely include this. Btw we’re big fans of your project and would love to collaborate.

    • Neil McMillan 27 June 2014 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      Marek, a correction: we *did* ask teachers whether or not they were native speakers of the main language they taught! I’ve managed to filter the answers based on the ten percent who answered “no” to this – not a large sample but interesting nonetheless. At first glance these NNESTs report a significantly lower average rate than the NESTs – but a higher proportion have better qualifications. I’ll email you the results now!

  6. Neil McMillan 26 June 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    Paul, great idea. Please send us a message (DM @SLBCoop) if you’d like our support. In fact, George Chilton is already putting together a European survey – maybe we could collaborate on it and distribute it across Europe.

    Apologies if you’re already in touch with George about this, he’s way ahead of me!