Teaching English in South America

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to visit Argentina and Chile, and while I was there I couldn't help but think "wow...it would be amazing to teach English in South America." Countries in South America have so much to offer visitors: rich histories, beautiful and diverse landscapes, unique cultures, delicious cuisine, friendly people, vibrant languages and so much more. Although I have not taught in South America, I wanted to highlight a few popular spots for teaching English and also provide some advice on what you should expect if you choose to teach there. To do this, I'll rely on my experience traveling there, my friend Diego's(from Peru) guidance, and some research that I have done on teaching in this area of the world. If you have taught in this area of the world, please please please leave your own advice in the comment section below or on my google+ page


Chile
Probably one of the most popular spots to teach English in South America is Chile. As a result of having one of the most stable economies in S.A, and economic ties to many English speaking countries, the demand to learn English has grown over the past decade and a half. Chile is blessed with breathtaking scenery (The Andes, the coastline, Patagonia, etc) fabulous food and wine and an easy-going lifestyle. The process for obtaining work visa's to teach in Chile is quite easy, as the sponsoring schools will generally take care of this for you. Most schools will require that you have a bachelor's degree from a reputable university and a TEFL, TESL or CELTA certificate/diploma will definitely help in your job search. There are opportunities in Chile to teach English Language Learners of all ages. The average instructional work week for teachers is about 20 - 30 hours a week and you can expect to be paid around $1000 - $1200 per week. If you want to go abroad to save money or pay off debts, honestly Chile is probably not the country for you. As mentioned earlier, a stable economy in Chile has resulted in one of the highest costs of living in S.A. If your looking for an amazing experience abroad, then Chile might the place for you. As far as safety goes, Chile might be one of the safest South American countries to teach in. My wife and I felt quite safe in Chile when we visited and have heard similar thoughts from friends who have visited this beautiful country.  That being said like all countries, some areas are safer than others and you should always be careful when in a foreign country.

Peru
Fantastic beaches, lush rain forests and epic hikes through mountains, what else could ask for; and Peru has all of them. Peru offers adventure, excellent cuisine, tons of historic Inca artifacts to visit and so much more. The ESL job market is also steadily increasing, especially in the capital city of Lima and the tourist hot spot Cusco. While a bachelor degree is not always needed in Peru to teach and TESL or TEFL certificate usually is. People that work in Peru often visit on tourist visas (which are good for about 180 days and can be renewed 3 times) and are frequently paid under the table for the work they do. The average work week is about 20 to 30 hours of teaching, and you could teach learners of all ages. Most teachers will work at private language academies where students and workers will come in the evenings, although there is work at international schools and some universities. The average salary is about $600 - $900 a month, which is plenty to live comfortably in Peru, where the cost of living is pretty cheap and the average salary of a Peruvian worker is about $250 a month. To find a job you may want to check out Dave's ESL Cafe as this site frequently has job postings for Peru. I've heard mixed things about safety in Peru. My friend who lives in the countryside has told me that rural areas are usually very safe, however life in the city (Lima) can be a bit more dangerous. Best to use traveler common sense while you are there; Stay on the main roads, go out a night with people, avoid wearing expensive clothing and/or jewelry, avoid drugs at all costs, etc.

Brazil
Brazil, the largest country in S.A, has so much to offer people that actual get a chance to work there. We've all scene the beautiful beaches in Rio de Janeiro, the sights and sounds of Carnaval, and the tremendous wildlife of the Amazon on TV...and honestly this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Brazil has for English teachers. The problem with teaching in Brazil though, is it can be extremely difficult to get a work visa. The process is costly, very bureaucratic, and your employer has to take on a lot of work to get you sponsored to teach there. Some people will teach illegally with a tourist visa, but you take your chances in getting deported or worse if you get caught. It's strange that the process is so difficult is get a visa to teach in Brazil because the demand to learn English is so high  right now. If you are lucky enough to get a visa, you really don't need any qualifications to teach there except being able to speak English (although a TEFL / TESL would be extremely helpful). Most people who teach there will start off working for a school, but will find that there are so many opportunities for private tutoring, which pays better than your regular job. The average starting salary in Brazil will be about $1000 per month, which should be enough to live off of in most cities in Brazil, but like I said tutoring is where the real money is. Most people find work in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo or Salvador. About safety, from what I hear Brazil gets a really bad rep about crime outside of Brazil. Sure there are extremely dangerous areas that you should never ever go, but if you follow basic travel common sense you should be OK. It's best to do your research about being safe in Brazil (or any country) before you go. I believe www.lonelyplanet.com offers safety tips on most places people go to teach English.

Argentina
I've been saving my favorite country for last. I spent a few weeks in Argentina a couple years ago and quickly fell in love with the country. Sure the pay my not be as good as some of the other countries in S.A and no where near what you get in Asia or the Middle East, but the experience you can have there is priceless. Basically the economy of Argentina has tanked and the future doesn't look any brighter, but Argentina is all about adventure. Buenos Aires is a city unlike any other, yet very similar in a way that's hard to describe. There are parts of the city that may remind you of Paris or New York, while some areas are uniquely Argentinian. The culture and history of the country is very rich and the people are among some of the most passionate you'll ever find. The food, especially the beef and wine are try to die for...and very cheap. Outside of Buenos Aires you can see outstanding natural wonders. Travel north and you'll find Iguazu Falls, west and you'll find the plains, rain forests, deserts and the Andes, while south is the breathtaking Patagonia. As for teaching, there are many jobs there, but the pay and hours aren't ideal. You'll be making enough to live comfortably, but don't expect to save a lot. Most teachers will make a living working in English language schools and private tutoring with an average work week of about 25 - 30 hours a week. You can teach on a tourist visa, which is quite easy to get and can be renewed by going to a neighboring country then returning to Argentina. A bachelor's degree is not always needed to teach in Argentina, but most places will want you to have a TESL / TEFL certificate. https://www.gooverseas.com/teach-abroad/argentina  is a good place to start to find a job in Argentina. Safety in Argentina is very much like the other places I've mentioned in this blog entry. You have to be careful and use common sense when you are there. One thing to be aware of ladies, is you should keep you bags securely held at all times. When I was there I saw a guy on a motorcycle fly by a woman and snatch her bag, and I saw another guy run by a restaurant and grab a woman's purse that was left unattended hanging on the back of her chair. Outside Buenos Aires my wife and I felt very safe and found the people to be very friendly. If you decide to teach there you may want to look outside of Buenos Aires for work in a place like Mendoza.

Hope this helps and I hope you seriously consider South America as a possible destination to teach English. As mentioned earlier, please let me know if you have any advice, for would-be teachers in S.A, at the bottom in the comments section.


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