It isn’t often that we talk about TEFL destinations in terms of an entire continent, but South America (or Latin America) is one such place. The continent is vast, diverse and steeped in culture, and many TEFLers are drawn to its unique diversity. From the beaches of Copacabana to the Salt Plains of Bolivia and the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, South America is a traveller’s dream, so it’s no wonder you would want to teach there!
What is the demand like?
The demand for English teachers in South America is HUGE! Whilst the western world has been struggling to overcome the economic crisis, lots of countries in South America have been thriving, with Chile having the fastest growing economy on the continent for the last 10 years. The result of this is a huge increase in demand for business English teachers, so businesses can be better equipped to compete in global markets. On the opposite end of the scale, there has also been a big increase in demand for teachers in the hospitality industry (particularly in Brazil, due to the World Cup and the upcoming Olympics in 2016) as tourism booms.
The problem? How on earth do you find a job!
We have so many TEFL teachers asking how they find a job in South America. There are no two ways about it, if you want a good job in South America, you probably need to pack your bag and go. There is a lot of red tape and expense surrounding work visas in South America and as such, most teachers tend to go there on a tourist visa and find work in-country. Culturally, school directors and principals will also often want to get to know you a little bit before offering you a job – which is next to impossible from a few thousand miles away!
In order to find work when you are there, you pretty much need to imagine it’s the 1980’s and the internet no longer exists! That means talking to locals, expats, checking local newspapers (such as the Buenos Aires Herald) and knocking on doors!
Understandably, this can be an incredibly daunting experience, so if you don’t think it’s for you, there is always the possibility of sending speculative emails before you go. Search online for language schools in your chosen city and send them an email. They may still not offer you a job without meeting you, but at least you have a foot in the door!
Decide where you want to go
Poverty is still rife in many parts of South America, so decide what kind of teaching experience you want before deciding where you want to go. Pay can range from $30 per hour in big cities like Rio, to as low as $4 in poorer cities like La Paz. Our destination guides will help you decide!
Be in the right place at the right time
You don’t want to arrive in your country of choice and find that all teaching positions for the academic year have been filled and there are no jobs left. The academic year begins in February or early March and lasts until December, so the best time to look for work is in December and January.
Learn from those who’ve already done it
The i-to-i TEFL blog has lots of real life stories from those who’ve made it as EFL teachers in South America. Zimbabwe born Michael shares his experiences on finding work in Argentina here. Serial TEFLer Baz shares his experiences in Brazil here, before trying his hand in an Ecuadorian classroom here.
So there you have it, with a plane ticket and some steely determination you could soon find yourself living as a full-time gringo!