How to Get a Job Teaching English in Latin America

How to Get a Job Teaching English in Latin America

We’ve looked at how to get a job teaching English in various countries in Asia and Europe with the help of people who’ve done it, and now it’s time to turn our attention to Latin America.

Teaching jobs in Latin America are probably among the most difficult to come across unless you know where and how to search for them. Here’s a look at how to do just that in four countries across North, Central and South America.

Please note: all advice is from the point of view of the specific blogger and their own nationality. Legal requirements for work visas etc. may vary depending on which passport(s) you hold.

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Brazil

If you’re looking into teaching English in Brazil, the most important thing to remember is that you’re doing it for the cultural experience, not the money. The quality of English is extremely poor in Brazil and many people still don’t see the importance of a native speaker teaching, so the salaries are usually just enough to enjoy going out on the weekend and live month to month.

You don’t need to be a native speaker, and definitely don’t need a TEFL certificate, but if you have a college degree and experience in an English speaking country, you’ll have more power to negotiate your salary.

My advice to finding a job in Brazil is to first choose the city you wish to live in. Do your research, Brazil is extremely diverse and one city from another can feel like different countries. Once you choose your city, Google all the English schools you can find in that city and send them an email saying you’re interested in teaching there.

The English schools that are a franchise won’t hire you without a work visa, so look for small private schools for teaching opportunities. You’ll probably need to work at two schools to get enough hours, and don’t expect to work more than 25-30 hours a week. Never accept a fixed monthly salary, only accept a salary that pays you hourly.

If you plan on staying for 6 months, I recommend getting a tourist visa. If you plan to stay 1 year or longer, I recommend getting a student visa which you can renew every semester.

Remember, come with an open mind and try to learn Portuguese while you’re here. Brazil is an up and coming country, the more you understand about the culture and language, the more you’ll enjoy it!

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Hannah is your average recent college grad who decided getting a job in the real world wasn’t for her. So, instead, she headed to Brazil to begin the adventure of a lifetime! She’s now planning to head off on a work and holiday visa to Australia in January 2015. Read more about that adventure on her blog, and follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Panama

Teaching English in Panama can be challenging, rewarding, and at times, a little frustrating. If you’re looking to teach in this tropical playground, you’ll need to bring lots of patience.

Upon arrival, most passport holders receive a 180 day tourist visa, so there’s no need to get one before you leave. Many teachers work ‘under the table’, but you are required by law to have a work permit. This can take anywhere from a few months, to several months to obtain.

Most English teaching work here is found through ‘word of mouth’ or by going door to door – few jobs are advertised online (however this is slowly changing). You can expect to find a part time job fairly easily in one of the many language schools, and private (freelance) classes are plentiful, and usually at the student’s home or business. Schools and universities will hire you full time, but generally only once you’re in country.

To land a job, the minimum you’ll need is to be a native English speaker.  Having a degree or TEFL/TESOL/CELTA is an added bonus. Due to the cost of living and salary, expect to live comfortably and ‘break even’, as opposed to saving big bucks.

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Penny de Vine is a thirty-something Australian with a serious travel addiction.  She’s travelled through almost 20 countries, and is currently living in Panama. She has experience teaching English in Japan, Guatemala, and Panama. On her blog she features stories, tips and pictures from her adventures across the world. Follow along on TwitterPinterest and Facebook.

Mexico

The English teaching job you get in Mexico will depend upon your experience and qualifications. Due to an abundance of good English teachers – both foreign and Mexican – simply being a native speaker isn’t enough for most teaching jobs.

If you have no teaching experience, your best chance is a small, independent, “conversation” style school, where lessons are one-on-one and grammar instruction is minimal. The downside is that these places pay very little and they cannot provide you with permission to work in Mexico legally.

For better jobs at English schools or universities, a bachelor’s (or master’s) degree is necessary. A TEFL/TESOL/etc. certificate helps, but previous teaching experience is much more important.

Consider doing your teacher training course in Mexico. Afterwards you can probably get a job at the English school where you took the course. The Anglo, for example, offers a training course and can be found all over Mexico.

Don’t bother sending emails to schools. Unless they are actively looking for foreign teachers, with an advertisement online, for example, it’s doubtful that you’ll get a response. Write your resume in Spanish, put on a suit, and hit the streets.

If you have teaching experience and want to teach at a university or grade school, look for jobs several months before the next semester starts.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish. Although it’s a big help for living and traveling in Mexico, most school directors speak English, and you won’t need Spanish to teach. Never using the students’ native language is a basic teaching technique anyway.

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Ted Campbell is university teacher, translator, and freelance writer in Mexico. He wrote aguide to Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, available online and at Amazon.com. For more stories of adventure, culture, music, food, and mountain biking, check out his blog No Hay Bronca.

Argentina

Teaching in Argentina means getting a job in Buenos Aires. There are other places like Rosario or Cordoba, but a third of the country’s population live in the capital and work is concentrated there.

Argentine state schools have relatively good English teaching and a high proportion of English language speakers generally. As a result EFL teaching tends to be with adults, in company and with a relatively small proportion of beginners. This also means that competition is high due to the large number of natives teaching English.

With this in mind, it is relatively easy to find enough work to make ends meet in ‘Capital’. However, don’t expect to get rich either. For example, your wages might allow you to travel within South America but you would have to work very hard to pay for a flight to North America or Europe.

Quality of life is excellent on the other hand and you will find that you have plenty of free time to enjoy the city and the welcoming residents.

Finding work is a simple matter of googling a list of schools and sending out your CV. It won’t take long to find a place that suits. You may wish to wait until you arrive so that you can go in person to interviews, although Skype interviews are also common.

It is also common in Argentina to work without a visa and many smaller schools will accommodate and even expect this. If you intend to stay for a year or more you should start the visa process before you arrive or it may take most of a year before you get the visa and you’re work illegally anyway.

Schools tend to value experience over official qualifications with the exception of larger schools like IH where both a degree and a CELTA are required. You will also quickly find private students are a good way to supplement your income. I would note, however, that travelling across BA takes time so check journey times before you accept a one hour class on the other side of the city!

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Martin (hiding at the back in the red hoodie) spent 1 year teaching in Argentina and has also taught in Spain. He is currently in Canterbury, UK teaching at a language school and studying while getting ready for his next teaching trip to Asia.

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Have you worked in Latin America? What do you think is the best country to teach, and what is your best advice for someone to get a job teaching English in Latin America?

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