Latin America has long captivated travellers and explorers, for its dense untrampled rainforest, snow covered mountain tops, paradise beaches, and the complete explosion of colour and sound that fills all the gaps in-between. The continent is massive, and with so much on offer it would be hard for anyone with a sense of fun or adventure to turn down the opportunity to experience this rich and magnificent land.
Latin America is an assault on the senses, with so many vibrant and lively countries, cities and cultures to experience, and teaching English in South America is one of the best ways of getting to grips with this wild continent. Teaching in South America gives you the opportunity to experience the continent in all its glory, away from the tour guides and package holidays; teaching and living in Latin America is a unique chance to live amongst the beautiful people and share in the many customs and celebrations, living la buena vida!
Teaching in Latin America
As with Asia, there are teaching jobs available all over Latin America for native English speakers without experience, even for those without certification, but those who do have that all important TEFL certificate will have much greater choice of employment. It’s also very possible to arrange employment with a school even before you enter the country, and in many cases this will include accommodation as part of your package, though it’s less common for your airfare to be included (some school and agencies will reimburse your airfare on completion of your teaching contract).
Wages are generally low for English teachers in Latin America, though cost of living is equally as low, and although you are unlikely to gain any significant saving during you time in the continent, you can live a comfortable lifestyle and will return home extremely rich in life experience, pub time stories and cherished memories.
Those teachers with TEFL certificates may be able to obtain positions with independent universities, which can promise slightly better money and conditions; conditions will vary enormously from country to country and school to school and one should bear in mind that schools throughout the continent tend to be closed in December and January for the holidays.
The place to be!
Many teachers head straight for the TEFL hot spots such as Brazil and Peru but there are several other locations worthy of a mention. Here are 4 of our favourite destinations you might want to consider when planning your teaching adventure in Latin America:
Being South America’s largest country, in fact the fifth largest nation in the world, there is always a need for native-speaking English teachers. As Brazil enjoys a period of economic boom, with increases in tourism and trade, there is currently a high demand for quality English language teachers.
Teachers heading to Brazil will find plenty of options, from state school to universities, but often the best opportunities are found in corporate teaching and private language school, which offer somewhat better earnings and give you the chance to teach those highly motivated to learn English.
Brazil is best known for its carnival, and some say life here is one ongoing party, with miles of sun-kissed beaches, exotic rainforest and an enchanting mix of friendly people, colourful food, diverse culture, and pulsating atmosphere. This is a destination that would suit those who enjoy socializing and don’t mind the odd wild party!
Argentina is known to be one of the most literate countries of the continent and the Argentineans highly regard both education and educators. The country has had its economic woes in the recent past, but like their Brazilian neighbours, it is a country on the up and demand for TEFL teachers in Argentina is increasing.
The majority of the population live in Buenos Aires and thus the vast majority of the countries English teaching jobs can be found here. Similarly to Brazil, the better jobs will be found in private schools teaching professionals and business execs.
Covering a huge part of the southern half of the continent, Argentina has has some stunning natural scenery to explore, from the desert lands of the north, to the deep forests and glorious glaciers in the far south, with major tourist draws including Patagonia and the famous Iguazú Falls. It is also has perhaps the continent’s most classy capital city in Buenos Aires, known as the “Paris of South America,” for its stylish architecture, a sophisticated nightlife, fine dining and fashionable shopping. This is a country that would most certainly suit those who are cultured and appreciate the great outdoors.
Another country with a fast growing economy and increasing demand for English language tutors is Peru. Despite the economic growth, Peru still offers a very low cost of living and affords TEFL teachers the chance to live very comfortably on the average teaching salary.
English language teachers will find most job opportunities in Cusco, at the gateway of the famous Inca trail (with tourism being its major industry), or in the capital, Lima, where a mass of business learners await tutorship.
Peru is best known and loved for its wealth of ancient culture and archaeological discoveries. The home of the mysterious Incan civilization, Peru is awash with fascinating ancient arts, crafts and customs, and some of the world’s most secluded and exotic sites, including the famous ruins at Machu Picchu. It also has one of the most indigenous populations on the planet, with up to 50% of the locals being descendants of Inca tribes, and with an estimate 100 tribes still living in the depths of the rainforest. The Peru experience is one best suited for a budding Indian Jones.
Costa Rica currently has one of the largest TEFL markets in the continent, and with a longstanding political and economical stability, it is one of the better countries for English language teachers looking for work. Salaries are also reasonable and cost of living is cheap, it is perhaps less wild than other countries in Latin America, but a great choice for new teachers, or those looking for a slower pace of life.
The English language is held in high regard and decent jobs can be found in high schools and universities as well as the many private language schools. The best place for job hunting is San Jose, and despite being the capital city, it is far less touristy than other capitals and is able to offer low cost living.
Costa Rica is fairly small in size but it still manages to offer a great diversity of natural surroundings, including rainforests, volcanoes, and stunning beaches with plenty of coral reef. Despite the low cost of living it is also a very modern country, which is a tribute to its political stability, and it is a country best known for its laid-back natives, and chilled pace of life.
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