By Cathleen Carris
Teach English in Latin America
Teaching English is a practical and rewarding way to make a living in Latin America. With the exception of Uruguay and Paraguay, there is a great demand for English teachers in grade schools, private schools, universities, and businesses throughout Latin America. Many employers offer teaching positions to any native English speaker with a Bachelor´s Degree. However, TEFL/TESOL certification is sometimes required, and those with such certification and/or a degree in education often have access to more placement options and better pay. If you don´t have a background in education, earning a certificate will inspire much more confidence in your abilities and ensure that you are well prepared for your teaching duties.
It is possible to find work on your own, either by writing directly to overseas institutions or simply arriving and applying in person, but going through an organization that provides job placement services ensures that you not only find a position, but a reputable employer as well. Several US organizations offer such services, and in addition arrange housing, work permits and other logistical matters. If you do decide to look on you own, check out the following web resources, and try to gather as much information from previous employees of the listed institutions: Dave´s ESL café forums (www.eslcafe/forums) and esljobfeed.com. These websites also provide a platform for job postings, schools, recruiters, and much more. Given the sometimes tedious and stressful process of acquiring work permits, many travelers who seek employment on their own end up working under the table, or working on tourist visas, applying for extensions to keep them up-to-date.
The academic year runs from late February/early March to December, so it´s best to start the job hunt in January or February, a few weeks before the end of the summer holidays.
TEFL/TESOL courses can be taken online, in your home country, or in the country where you intend to teach. The cost for these programs can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a month or two- month long course.
Oxford Seminars (www.oxfordseminars.com) is one of the leading TEFL certification schools in the US and Canada, with over 130 locations throughout these two countries.
The International TEFL Corporation (www.vialingua.org) offers a 4-week classroom course in Argentina and Costa Rica, as well as online courses in teaching business English.
Vialingua (www.vialingua.org) offers courses in Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile.
BridgeTEFL (www.bridgetefl.com) provides online courses and classroom instruction in Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
The highest demand for teachers can be found in Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Brazil. Generally the only prerequisite for a job in Brazil is a Bachelor´s degree. The main employers are Brazilian companies, who often provide training upon arrival, and some even offer language classes in Portuguese. In Chile, the capital city of Santiago is also home to many businesses looking to hire English teachers.
Some of the biggest employers of ESL teachers throughout Latin America are cultural centers and American Bi-National Centers. Information about these centers can be found at exchanges.state.gov/englishteaching/index.html.