Life in Brazil – Baz’s Story

If you fancy living and teaching English in one of the most dynamic and inspiring countries in the world then head to Brazil. Energetic, eager, and sociable students as well as a buzzing nightlife, party goers atmosphere, and the fact that local Brazilians wear tiny swimming costumes (whether you’re male or female) on the beach are great reasons to go to Brazil to TEFL. If you are travelling to Brazil to teach English abroad, then read on to find out more about my experience over there.


Life In the Classroom

It was while teaching Brazilian students that I really fell in love with TEFLing. They were fun, open, and a great laugh. During my time in Salvador, north Brazil, I taught mostly adults in three different academies. Each director had a different outlook on teaching. One was more focused on grammar and following a text book, another on business English, and the other on improving student’s conversational English.

I loved it because every day was different. The strange thing was that my favourite part of the week was Friday evenings. Not because I went out on the lash with my students, but because the director did a special music session where the students could listen to a couple of songs (also translated into Portuguese) and then sing along. It was amazing how many joined in. This was followed by an informal conversation class. I was getting paid to listen to songs and chat to Brazilians. It was great.

Students were keen to learn; most needed English to help them in their career or to find a job in the tourism industry. Two male students in their fifties said they were learning English so they could escape their wives for a couple of hours a week.

A massive plus on teaching adults was that I’d often get invited out at the weekends. I used to hang around with a few lad students and teach them naughty expressions, while they did the same for me in Portuguese. I also met up with a few pretty Brazilian ladies, which added to the excitement.

The only negative aspect was that I only just made enough money to get by. I was working illegally and there were better academies around but I only had three months experience. Salvador is not as well developed as Rio and Sao Paulo and I’ve heard there are more job opportunities there.


Life In the Real World

The main reason I went to TEFL in Brazil was to see the carnival. In Salvador there is a massive African influence and the five-day carnival party was mental. The city came alive with various styles of music. Huge trucks with enormous speakers trailed the streets followed by hyped up Brazilians and tourists from all over the world. It took me about a week to recover from the late nights and boozing but it was worth it. Be warned though, crime is high during this period and most of the dodgy locals are on the lookout for rich tourists invading their party.

In previous blogs I mentioned I was almost mugged in Ecuador. In Brazil I was not as lucky. In Rio de Janeiro a scrawny little lad distracted me while someone else stole my bag, and in Salvador a homeless beggar ripped my watch off my wrist. I lived in fear for a while in Brazil, but once I’d learned the language and got to grips with the area I had a great time. I used to run by the sea three times a week, have fun on the beach with students at the weekends, chill out in the squares watching capoeria, and go partying in the evenings.

I was a bit hard up on cash so I lived in a house with a Brazilian family and six others. Murphy, a tough Nigerian man, was the only one who spoke English. He became a good friend and filled me in on all the gossip in the house. Apparently the landlady was sleeping with the odd job man and also looking after her fifteen year-old niece’s son. Over time I began to learn Portuguese and got on with everyone. It was hard living with so many people, but life was never dull.

The best time to head to Brazil to find a job is before carnival because the school term starts just after. I arrived before carnival and walked round most of the schools with my CV. I got all three jobs on arrival by leaving my CV or phoning the director of studies. I was lucky enough to get one job before the carnival, but only after walking round the whole of Salvador over the space of a week. The other two jobs came after carnival once they knew how many students there would be.

Overall I enjoyed my time in Brazil. If I had been working legally for a decent academy then I would have stayed longer. Are you thinking of heading to Brazil or already living out there? Let us know something about your experience. If you have any questions then leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer.

Baz is currently TEFLing out in sunny Seville in Spain, the lucky dude, but has previously taught English in Ecuador, Brazil, Australia and Thailand! You can either check out his personal blog here or you can also chat to Baz directly here!

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  1. elani

    Hi there, I’m planning on going to Rio de Janiero in March this year. I do not have a job yet. Since most people and blogs say that it is near impossible getting a job before you go. They say the best thing to do is to just go and then give your CV to as many schools as possible and they will contact you. I don’t have any TEFL teaching experience though. Would you still recommend that I go?

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Elani, have you taken a TEFL course before and if so, who with? Just asking as it’ll mean we’ll be able to advise you better! Elle

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