Teaching English in South America

by Amelia
(United Kingdom)

Question: As part of my studies at university I must spend my third year abroad. I am wondering which country would be easiest to find work in in South America? I am studying French and Spanish at university and as such am fluent in these languages as well as English. I also have English teaching experience but do not have any TEFL certification. I am looking for a Spanish speaking country to I can practice my Spanish skills.

Answer: A TEFL certificate would help your job search and give you more ideas on teaching. However, there are opportunities in South America for native speakers without TEFL qualifications. Peru might be the best choice. While TEFL certification would be appreciated, many teachers find work without any. Being a native speaker and a good teacher are probably the two main qualifications. See the interview I did with a long time teacher in Peru in the article Teaching English in Peru

You may be able to find work in Chile (or Mexico if you were willing to consider going further north). Chile is probably the easiest South American country to find work that pays you enough to live on, and then still save a little, but it's also the place where you are most likely to asked for a TEFL certificate.

Ecuador used to be easy to stay in for a long time, but they've made their visa system more complicated. You could probably work illegally there for 6 months, but then your visa would not be renewable (please check the Ecuadorian Embassy nearest to you, as these things have a habit of changing rapidly). So after 6 months you would have to move on. If you had a TEFL certificate, then you could apply for a different type of visa when you first arrived, allowing you to stay for a year.

You may want to also consider Central America. There are opportunities for teaching English in Costa Rica and Guatemala; and both are quite well set up for studying Spanish - if you have the wish or need to do so. Check out the articles below for more information on costs, visas etc.


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