It was the best of classrooms, it was the worst of classrooms. With its snow-capped sierra and arid desert, Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, virgin rainforests and sprawling urban jungles, unimaginable wealth and abject poverty, Colombia is a country of contrasts. Similarly, your time teaching English in Colombia will be punctuated by highs and lows.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed, so this article aims to arm you with the information that will help you accentuate the highs and make the best of the lows.
By Carlos Adampol Galindo (Flickr: San José, Costa Rica) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Back in naivety of my youth I dreamed of working in a paradise of golden beaches and Celeste, cloudless skies where I’d teach English to kids on the beach wearing flip flops and bermudas, then fall asleep against a coconut tree for a siesta at midday. In reality ESL teaching is not quiet like that and working anywhere in the world is still work, however Costa Rica is a magical place to do it and the free time that one has to explore and enjoy the beauty of its treasures, makes up for the time spent in a sweaty classroom with no air conditioning. Fundamentally, it’s Costa Rica’s outstanding natural beauty that has made it one of the world’s prime eco-tourism destinations, with visitors flocking here to hike trails through ancient rain forest, climb active volcanoes or explore the high-altitude cloud forest, home to a multitude of wild and endangered animals. This country needs to be on everyone’s ‘to do’ list.
So, if you’d like to teach English in Ecuador you must first ask yourself some fairly searching questions…namely are you a beach bum, a mountain lion or a machete wielding jungle explorer? The good news is that Ecuador, despite its small size, is perfectly formed and offers all three distinct terrains for you to call home. What’s more, if you’re a bit of a floozy on all sides as myself, you can easily reach all of these completely distinct landscapes within a few hours’ drive from the monstrous capital city of Quito, neat ey?
From the Amazon to the Galapagos, Ecuador is a country full of natural wonderment and cultural delights. It’s a country that one can fall in love within a week, yet spend a lifetime to understand. One of those rare places whose future looks as fascinating as it’s past. It is of no surprise then that it is somewhere that I would personally recommend as an ideal place to teach English.
Images by David Brown
Chile means adventure. Safe enough for you to be spontaneous, exotic enough to excite – Chile is the perfect place to earn some cash, live reasonably well and, once acclimatized, travel further into the wilder parts of South America.
Persuaded by a friend, who was travelling with me, I borrowed $1000 and booked a flight, one way. Neither of us had planned for the trip, but we had studied on the same TEFL course and acquired some basic Spanish after living in Barcelona for a couple of months. We wanted to experience somewhere that wasn’t so international though, where being an English teacher was a novelty not the norm.
So, you’ve gained your TEFL qualification and started processing which area of the world you want to start making a difference in, am I right?
If money is not your main desire, but fascinating culture, mind-blowing food, incredible people and insanely confusing political situations are…then Bienvenida Mexico!
From the hot and dusty cartel controlled areas around Nogales and Chihuahua to the surf loving South West of Oaxaca this is a vast and wide land that promises you more than just teaching others English, but learning about yourself.
If you have been looking online and cannot find a job through a reputable website or will not be considered due to being out of the country then the route I have taken (which has proven successful and fun on the way) is just to turn up!
At the airport you are immediately granted a 180 day visa and then you can decide where you want to travel and where you want to try and gain employment.
Argmda at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
Rio, Buenos Aires, Quito… ahhhh starting a new life teaching English abroad in South America sure does sound tempting! If, like thousands of other TEFLers, you are longing to make the big move to South America then you’ll need to make sure you get clued up about how to make it happen!
Done the ‘TEFL jobs in South America’ Google search? Not brought up loads of jobs? Don’t panic – this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a demand for TEFL teachers. Instead, a lot of job opportunities tend to be advertised on the ground – many TEFL teachers seeking employment visit the employers in person!
Here’s a short guide to landing your dream TEFL job in three of the most popular South American destinations!
By ryanluikens (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Buenos Aires may seem far away from the main English speaking cosmopolitan centres but it certainly has an English speaking oriented mentality. Raging from English-Spanish bilingual schools to high standard Teacher Training Colleges, the opportunities in Buenos Aires are sure to cater for any teacher of English looking for a challenge.
In order to succeed in this highly competitive and culturally bustling city, English is a tool required in most fields, especially tourism, commerce and business, as many of the office buildings around the city centre are owned by multinational companies. Most of these companies hire freelance teachers of English for group classes, or private individual lessons, generally at lunchtime. The fee could range between 80 and 100 pesos an hour. These lessons might have to focus on skills such as fluency and public speaking for business meetings and presentations. I have taught in companies for almost 10 years, and it can get really laid-back, as the student is constantly on the phone, or being summoned by his manager; or if he is the manager, he may have to call off your lesson unexpectedly, and you may find yourself with some free time on your hands. It is of vital importance to agree on a cancellation policy beforehand with your students, as they may not want to pay for a lesson they have not taken, but if for example they have cancelled 2 hours before the lesson, you may charge for it anyway, as you have invested time in preparing it and that time is part of the fee.
by Jess Feehan
Jess Feehan works for Real Peru Holidays
By Martin St-Amant (S23678) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As we all know, TEFL can be a great way to see the world, and Peru is one country that’s on most people’s bucket list. Whether it’s trekking to lost Inca cities, exploring the Amazon rainforest, or just enjoying tropical beaches, it’s one of those countries that’s got it all. But if you’re planning to use your TEFL skills to spend some time in Peru, where should you base yourself? We take a quick look at 3 of Peru’s TEFL hot-spots…
by Dan Clarke
Dan works for The Real Brazil
By Júlio Boaro (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
With Brazil’s increasing economic clout and rapidly-growing middle class, the demand for qualified English teachers in Brazil shows no signs of abating. Whether it’s business people in Sao Paulo, or diplomats in Brasilia, more and more Brazilians are looking to either learn English from scratch, or to improve the English skills they learned at school. In fact, you can find vacant TEFL positions in most Brazilian cities, but there are five places in particular that you’ll find dominating the message boards and job adverts.
By Grace Chinn
Grace is an EFL Teacher with 2 years’ experience teaching in Peru, Australia and Scotland.
She is currently travelling and looking for teaching work in Latin America.
By Patomena (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America, but don’t let that fool you, it packs a mighty punch. With the Amazonian jungle, volcanic peaks, colonial cities and pacific surf beaches all within manageable distance of one another it is an enticing option for adventurous EFL teachers.
Ecuadorians are friendly and open and make for great English students. And with more and more tourists hitting Ecuador every year, the demand for English teachers is up. Wages can be fairly low (as low as $5 an hour) but when a set menu lunch costs just $2 that doesn’t seem so bad. Food delicacies to be sampled in Ecuador include fresh ceviche (fish cooked in lime and chili) when on the coast, and the daily staple of yuca (cassava) whilst in the jungle. Empanadas de queso (deep-fried cheese pastries) and chifles (fried plantain) as well as an incredible array of fresh fruit and vegetables can be found nation wide.