If you want to save some money, then don’t come to Honduras: the salaries are low (even for teachers) and the cost of living is disproportionately high. However, if you want to make a difference and gain valuable teaching experience, teaching English in Honduras is the perfect choice.
On a low monthly income, accommodation is very expensive, with a one bed flat costing around £200/$322 a month (including bills). Luckily, the larger international and private language schools offer accommodation free of charge to teachers, but if you aren’t provided with free housing, you’ll need to share with someone, otherwise you’ll have no money left!
Food staples are very cheap: rice makes up nearly every Honduran meal, and you can pick up a kg of it in one of the local food markets for £1.15/$1.80. Eating out is comparatively more expensive, and it’s definitely considered a luxury in Honduras, with a meal in a restaurant costing around £3.10/$5 – not something you can do particularly often on a teaching salary!
You won’t be spending much on nightlife at all in Honduras, as it’s a very family-orientated country, with weekends spent at home with loved ones. Your new TEFL colleagues may well invite you over for dinner, or you could even go to church on a Sunday – both true Honduran experiences!
Honduran food is typical of other Central American cuisine, with rice and beans a major part of every meal, as they’re filling and cheap. Try a traditional Honduran breakfast before work, which is a large tortilla topped with refried beans and sour cream – either make it yourself or pick one up from a street vendor for a mere 30p/$0.48!
Being by the coast, naturally Honduran food consists of a lot of fish: try Ceviche, either raw fish or shrimp mixed with tomatoes and onions, served with tortillas and marinated in lemon or lime – if you’re invited over for dinner at a new Honduran friend’s house, you can pretty much be sure that this is what you’ll be served!
If you’re into your strong alcoholic beverages, try the Honduran Guaro – a sugar cane liqueur, which can be drunk as a shot or in a cocktail. If you’d prefer something more refreshing, order a glass of Horchata, which is a soft spiced drink made from milky rice, sold for just 60p/$1 in many café’s.
Honduras’ weather is described as tropical, with year-round temperatures of between 28-35 degrees Celsius, although it’s cooler inland. Unfortunately, Honduras is regularly struck by hurricanes between June and November: whilst it can be scary the first time, it’s likely you’ll receive training at your school about what to do in a hurricane and there will be precautions in place.
The situation with accommodation largely depends on the employer: Christian schools tend to offer housing with other English teachers near school; but smaller companies often don’t have the financial means to provide you with accommodation free of charge. However, in these circumstances, most employers will help you to find accommodation, often giving you a room in a host family’s house. The standard of accommodation will be vastly different to what you’re used to at home, with housing extremely basic, but unless you have hundreds of thousands of pounds or dollars to spend on a luxurious beach house, unfortunately, it’s a reality you’ll need to embrace.
There’s a huge demand for English teachers in Honduras, but as it’s such a poor country, many of these positions are voluntary. Nevertheless, there is the option for paid contracts in international and private language schools: it’s advisable to avoid Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula as they’re both very dangerous; and head for the safer cities of La Ceiba, Copan Ruinas and Gracias for teaching.
If you love the idea of spending your free time by the beach, then La Ceiba is the perfect place for you, with a sprawling sandy beach on the edge of the warm Caribbean Sea. You can take up scuba diving here, or even try canoeing and white water rafting in the Cangrejal River. Popular with tourists, the benefit of La Ceiba is that it’s richer than most other Honduran cities, so the larger schools will have more money to spend on teaching resources, and classrooms won’t be so basic.
If you’re looking for an authentic Honduran experience, then charming Copan Ruinas – with its winding cobblestone alleys and red-tile roofs – on the Guatemalan border is ideal. With a tight-knit community, it’s very safe here, and you won’t get lost easily either! Although on the small side, you’ll still have things to do and see, and at the top of your list should be the Mayan Ruins, housing sculptures, a temple and tons of art. Whilst the entry fee is fairly steep at £9/$15, it’s a must-see at least once!
Finally, history lovers will LOVE the city of Gracias, with its winding cobblestone streets and three colonial churches: San Sebastian, Las Mercedes and San Marcos. Once you’ve finished exploring them, pay a visit to the Parque Nacional Celaque, with 11 rivers flowing through it, in addition to one of the largest cloud forests in Central America.
As you can imagine, public transport in Honduras is VERY cheap, with a one-way ticket costing just 25p/$0.40! It’s not ideal though: whilst buses run through the larger cities, they’re often cramped. Furthermore, they don’t run to a schedule, so you could be waiting a while for one! Basically, it’s easier to live within walking distance of where you’re teaching so you can get there quickly and safely.
Taxis aren’t particularly safe in Honduras, with scams rife if you’re a foreigner: it’s well-known that drivers will turn the meter off and drive round the back streets. Even without a scam, taxi costs are fairly high considering salaries, with a 10 minute journey costing around £7.70/$12.50. However, Honduras is very dangerous at night, so you should ALWAYS get a taxi back, even if you’re with a group of people – call one up rather than hailing one in the street to ensure maximum security.
You’ll be working an average of 35 hours a week (with extra if you teach private lessons too), and if you work in an international school, you’ll have the weekends off too, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to explore! If you’re keen to see what else Honduras has to offer, you can catch a bus from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula (the second largest city), taking 3.5 hours and costing £14/$23. Surprisingly, these buses are modern and clean, but it’s much quicker getting a plane, with the same route taking a mere 40 minutes for £86 return.
Unless you bring a stash of money with you when you first move out to teach in Honduras, you won’t be able to afford travelling to nearby countries on your humble teaching salary! A flight to San Jose in nearby Costa Rica will cost you £290/$470 return; and whilst Honduras’ central location makes it the ideal base for exploring South America, a return flight to Bogota, Colombia will cost you a huge £630/$1,015 – this doesn’t even take you directly, as you’ll have to stopover in Costa Rica!
International schools in Honduras are Christian, and whilst many of them won’t require you to hold the same views, you will need to respect their values and be a good role model to students: in some cases, schools can ask for certain conditions such as no drinking in public.
The teaching style in Honduras is very strict and authoritative, with repetition and copying off the board the norm, but this means that children fail to think things through and don’t fully understand what they’re being taught. By encouraging students to play games and coming up with creative ways for them to learn English, will really help them to understand.
The US government advises that American citizens stay away from Honduras, so if you have your heart set on teaching in Central America, Costa Rica would be a good alternative.