Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Apply for the North American Language & Culture Assistant Program

LAST UPDATED JANUARY 2014

The gig I got working in Spain for the 2012-2013 school year is through the Spanish Ministry of Education’s North American Language & Cultural Assistant program (auxiliares de conversación in Spanish). Basically, as long as you’re a senior in college/a college graduate, a citizen of the U.S. or Canada, and a native speaker of English or French (vive le Québec!), you’re eligible to apply. You can read my review of the program here, but in this post I want to show you how to get from where you are right now to the example email below in which Spain announced my placement in Andalucía.

North American Language and Culture Assistant placement email
The golden ticket to Spain!!!

Before I begin, please read over the official resources provided by the ministry, for they walk you through the craziness that is Profex (the online application program):

* Profex Manual (How to register online) (2014-2015)
* Application guidelines (2014-2015)
* Frequently asked questions (2014-2015)
* Checklist to print off (2014-2015)
* Letter of recommendation guidelines (2014-2015)

Other important official links:

* Program home page 1
* Program home page 2
* Profex login page

Inscrita

This first stage is essentially getting your application number. Everything depends upon it. So if you’re even just thinking about this program right now, go to Profex and start your application (after November 1, 2012 January 9, 2014). You arrive at the inscrita (“entered in”) stage after filling out your basic information, CV, and your school preferences (region, urban/rural, kids/teens).

A note about the regional preferences: You have to select one region from a group of six and then rank those groups from 1 to 3. The groupings are:

* Grupo A: Asturias, Ceuta y Melilla, Extremadura, La Rioja, Navarra, País Vasco
* Grupo B: Aragón, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Galicia, Islas Canarias
* Grupo C: Andalucía, Castilla y León, Islas Baleares, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia

Keep in mind that for the 2014-2015 school year, Cataluña, Ceuta y Melilla, Islas Canarias, and Valencia aren’t participating in the auxiliares program for North Americans. Also, “Madrid” refers to the Madrid region, not the city proper, just something to keep in mind. (Don’t know anything about the regions? Check out veteran auxiliar Liz Carlson’s region breakdown here.)

The important thing to do is finish the application as soon as possible so your application number will be low; you can go back and upload your documents later in the curriculum > documentos anexos section. As long as Spain approves your application (i.e., you arrive at the admitida stage below), the only thing they look at when making placements is your inscrita number. So get to it!

Registrada

Your application becomes registrada (“registered”) once you mail in to your consulate the signed, printed-off copy of the PDF application you get after first applying. You also have to include a signed, ticked-off, and printed checklist to make sure you’ve done everything correctly. Consult the manual for which consulate to mail these things to; I had to mail mine to Miami even though I did all my visa stuff through Houston.

Admitida

You would think this stage, which means “admitted,” would be your golden ticket to Spain. It really means that your application is complete. But you still have to get to this status before Spain even considers placing you. To arrive at admitida, you have to mail in and upload several documents.

Things to mail in to your assigned consulate:
* The signed PDF printout of your application
* The signed checklist
Annex 2 (New York only—I have no idea what this is)

Things to upload online to Profex:
* A scan of the identification pages of your passport
* A scan of your transcript or college diploma
* A statement of purpose, a short letter describing why you want to do the program
* A signed letter of recommendation on letterhead from a professor or supervisor

Adjudicada / Candidato seleccionado

Then, after waiting for foreeeeever, Spain will change your status to adjudicada—“awarded” or “allotted”—and announce which of the autonomous communities they have placed you in. Hooray! But you have to either accept the offer (so you can get a school placement) or reject it (so they can place someone else). If you do nothing for five business days, your placement is automatically rejected—a nightmare scenario, indeed. As a first year, my status was changed to this in early July almost four months after the application period closed. With my inscrita so high (at #1429), I had been waitlisted in late May after the first round of first-year applicants was finished. However, last year people in the 3,000s were getting placed in July, so it’s hard to predict placements.

Aceptada

If you accept, then your application becomes, naturally, aceptada. (If you say “no,” then it becomes renuncia, “renounced” or “given up.”)

Carta de nombramiento

You reach the final step in this convoluted, nerve-wracking process when your carta de nombramiento arrives either in your mailbox or in your email inbox. This “letter of appointment” will say what school you will be teaching at, not only so you can begin stressing about apartment-hunting, but also so you can start the visa process. Mine came two weeks and six days after my application became adjudicada.

Applicants: ask any questions you have below! Veteran language assistants: do you have any tips about this crazy ordeal?
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