Teaching English in Guatemala

The attractions of teaching English in Guatemala are more to do with the experience, learning Spanish, chatting to the locals and drinking coffee, and not much to do with earning money. The salaries are low, but then so is the cost of living. Most of the opportunities to teach English in Guatemala are in Guatemala City, the capital of the country. However, it has problems of poverty and crime, with some dangerous neighborhoods and violent street gangs. Do further research on this before you go. The city is generally considered to be uninteresting culturally. Outside of Guatemala City there's much less crime and more chance of an interesting experience.

See below for an interview with a teacher in Guatemala.

Quetzaltenango, sometimes called Xela, is the second largest city with five universities and many language schools. It's popular with tourists, and many people come here to learn Spanish, as Guatemala is one of the cheapest places in the world to study the language. The city is referred to as Guatemala's educational center. However, even here, it can be difficult finding work.

teaching english in guatemala

Lake Atitlan by a-rivera 

Another possibility for teaching English in Guatemala is the city of Antigua. It's a small city in the mountains with old colonial architecture, and is one of the main tourist attractions in Guatemala, and Central America. As well as having many tourists, a lot of people study Spanish in the city. There are people teaching English in Antigua, but finding a teaching job there can be hard.

Work visas are hard to obtain - more likely to be given from public schools or universities, than from language schools - and many teachers work on tourist visas, hopping across the border to Mexico every 3 months. Pay for teaching English in Guatemala is low. In language schools $2-$5 per hour. For privates, $5-$8 an hour. Some schools pay a little more, and some teachers report earning up to $14 an hour, but the lower rates are more common.

For more information on living and studying in Xela, check out Xela Pages, and for a list of language schools in Guatemala see this useful website LA Job List

teach english in guatemala

An Interview with an English Teacher in Guatemala

Teresa Lopez, now teaching in Mexico, taught English in Guatemala for two years, and has traveled throughout the country. Here she answers some questions about teaching English in Guatemala.

What are the best things about living in Guatemala?

Guatemala is a beautiful country, easily the most beautiful place I have ever lived. It is a totally different culture, which can be interesting for the adventurous. It is truly a third world country, so living there, outside of the few decent sized cities, can really make you appreciate life in the UK, US, Canada or wherever you come from. It´s also inexpensive to live there.

What challenges do teachers face living in Guatemala?

For teachers who have not lived outside their home country, I think it could be difficult adjusting at first. The thing that was most difficult for me was seeing police on every corner with sub-machine guns. There is a huge difference in social classes, you are pretty much either lower class, or upper class, there isn´t much of what would be considered a middle class.

There is a lot of racism towards Indians. I was once at someones house who was talking about her maid, and she said, well, she´s poor but at least she´s not an Indian. That attitude is very common. Also, the country isn´t super stable. And news about things doesn´t always get into the newspapers. There was actually a coup attempt one week, and while I noticed what seemed to me like more than the usual police presence, I didn´t think that much about it till the following week when I was visiting in Mexico, it was all over the newspapers.

What are the students like to teach?

I taught in two schools, a private High School for girls, and the girls were quite disciplined, if spoiled, I didn´t have any problems, most of them already spoke some English and were eager to learn. I later taught at a larger school, and it was more of a mixed bag, but still no real problems.

Is the market mainly for teaching children or adults?

I think there is a market for both, though English is not given as high a priority as it is in other Latin American countries, in my opinion. But if you want to teach kids, it is usually in a school setting, as opposed to a language school, where you will either teach several English classes to different groups, or teach academic subjects in English. For this you usually need a degree in Education. For language school it is more flexible.

teaching english in guatemala

On church steps - by Marie Gamache

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