Where can I teach English in South America?
March 12, 2011 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for teaching opportunities in South America and maybe Spain. I'm about to graduate with a BA, learned Spanish as my second language, and am looking for a position teaching English that wouldn't require me to pay much of anything to do it.

I have essentially no funds at the moment, and thus need a position that at least covers all expenses. It would be nice if it was actually a paid job, but volunteering is fine, too, provided I don't have to come up with any money to do it. Are there well regarded organizations out there that arrange such positions for American graduates? I have heard them mentioned, but can't come up with much on Google. How do I go about looking for jobs overseas?
posted by wansac to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why not do Peace Corps? It meets all of your criteria. Competition is pretty steep but if you speak Spanish that will definitely help a lot.
posted by forza at 8:08 PM on March 12, 2011

Check out Dave's ESL Cafe. There are tons of jobs posted regularly there, and most of them (if it's a 1 year contract) will pay housing, flights, and a decent salary. If you don't have any teaching experience, it'll be a bit tougher to find a job, but tout any other skills you have, experience working with children, cross-cultural experience, etc. If you want to know if a specific job offer is legit or not, or if the school offering it is reputable, search around on the forums to see what other people have to say about it. MeMail me if you need any help! (I'm on my 3rd teaching job overseas, this current one I found through Dave's ESL!)
posted by hasna at 8:22 PM on March 12, 2011

I also found my most recent teaching job on Dave's ESL Cafe. In my experience the forums were kind of hit-and-miss, but there's some really good info there if you dig around a bit. I second hasna's comments about researching your school - really important to do this throughly before signing anything.

Peace Corps is another good option, but keep in mind that it is competitive and the selection process can take quite a while (I think it can be up to a year). However, having language skills will probably give you an edge in the selection process.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have any specific questions. I've since left teaching to pursue other opportunities, but found the whole experience very rewarding and would do it again in a heartbeat.
posted by photo guy at 9:30 PM on March 12, 2011

I have a different suggestion that I hope isn't a derail. Instead of teaching English, have you thought about looking for a job as a K-12 teacher in an overseas international/American school? Not all require teaching certificates (especially the smaller ones in slightly less desirable locations), and depending on your major, you might be able to find a job teaching a subject rather than English. And these folks will pay for your airfare overseas and set you up with housing, so you don't have to worry about getting there yourself (if they're asking you to pay them and they are a K-12 school, run in the other direction!). These schools tend to like young, single people who don't need much money because they might not pay you a lot!

You might be late for this fall, but maybe not. Anyway, here's the website for the US State Department's Office of Overseas Schools (wherever the US federal government sends workers with families, they make sure there's a local American or international school of a certain quality for the kids in those families). This is a great way to find schools in Spanish-speaking countries--and then you can go to individual websites for the schools and see if they are still hiring for next fall.

In the longer run, if you want to do this but maybe not for fall, you could look at attending a US-based career fair for international schools who are recruiting for teachers. Here's an organization that helps international schools find American teachers and vice versa. Sometimes they have school fairs and other times they do recruiting for their website.

Here's another organization that places teachers overseas.

And here's a third.

Having a teaching certificate would help a lot in getting these jobs, but isn't always required. Good luck! Have fun!
posted by bluedaisy at 11:53 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Bluedaisy: great suggestion. I am checking out the link now.
posted by wansac at 6:27 PM on March 13, 2011

I met a lot of gringos in Chile who made a living out of teaching english. None had any specialized degree for that - they were english majors, bio majors and whatnot. A few were working as teachers in british schools, where they're always hiring native speakers. My overall impression is that it was easy for them to get jobs. Sorry I can't point you to any specific organization though. In most of latin america knowing someone that knows someone is a good way to get a job, so use your contacts if you have any.
posted by instantlunch at 8:21 PM on March 13, 2011

In the odd chance you'd consider Asia, I'm teaching English in South Korea. MeMail me if you have any questions about this part of the world, but all expenses are paid (or reimbursed), free housing, relatively cheap standard of living, plenty of chances to save money. My blog (linked in my profile) may also be of help.
posted by chrisinseoul at 9:32 AM on March 14, 2011

I taught English in Lima for a year. I painstakingly searched out a job before I went, and when I got there I found out that the demand was so great that I could have not worried about that, just showed up and contacted a number of schools and definitely been hired just based on the fact that I was a native speaker. I would guess that most cities in the region are the same way. The only concern is a visa. I only had a tourist visa, which means I had to leave the country and come back every 90 days in order to renew my visa, but my bosses had absolutely no problem with that, it was pretty much SOP for them, and it gave me an excuse to do some traveling throughout the year I was there that I might not otherwise have had a chance to do. Financially, I pretty much broke even living there, so that was not a problem, although I did end up spending a lot of money visiting all the places I wanted to go see, both inside and outside Peru.

In Lima, the big three names of popular chain institutes that teach English that I remember right now off the top of my head are Británico (affiliated with British English), ICPNA (affiliated with North American English), and Euroidiomas (where I worked), all of which have several branches around Lima, and have websites you could find, and try to contact them. There are plenty of others too, see a list here. Scrolling through that list now, several names sound familiar to me, and I would say are probably legitimate, reputable, and still extant (as of 2008 anyway) entities, including Católica (a university), Alianza Francesa (although they might just teach French, not English?), and Universidad Alas Peruanas.
posted by jef at 4:58 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

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