Have you ever thought about travelling to Latin America? A popular place for backpackers, Latin America is comprised of diverse countries and islands, spanning from Mexico all the way down to the southernmost tip of South America. Latin American culture is known for its delicious food, kind people, and romantic languages, not to mention the energetic music and beautiful cultural dances.
If you have visited Latin America, then you can probably attest that just one trip isn’t enough. With so much to see and do, you’ll want as much time as possible to explore the diverse region. So, why not move there for a year or two to teach English?
How to Explore Latin America Through Education
Choosing to embark on the world of TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is a great way to immerse yourself into other cultures and really get to experience daily life as the locals do.
Not only can you teach English anywhere in Latin America, but you can also support your travels with your teaching salary. Why not spend a warm Christmas on the beaches of Panama? You could spend your vacation taking tango lessons in Argentina. Or maybe you want to spend a long weekend exploring Mayan ruins in Guatemala. By teaching English in Latin America, you’ll be able to accomplish all of your travel bucket list goals.
In addition to the long-lasting memories and friendships you’ll make, teaching in Latin America will help you gain invaluable career experience. Even if you don’t plan on teaching long term, international experience will give your resume a competitive edge, not to mention the language skills you’ll pick up. So what are you waiting for? Read on to learn how to become a TEFL teacher and see the world as you’ve dreamed of doing.
Why Teach English in Latin America
Latin America is a hotspot for English teachers for a multitude of reasons. First, there are plenty of jobs readily available for TEFL teachers. Emerging Latin American economies frequently conduct business with American, British, and even Chinese companies; therefore, the ability to speak English is advantageous for local job seekers. There are plenty of opportunities to teach adults at language institutions. Furthermore, a large share of the GDP in Latin American countries can be attributed to tourism in the region. The ability to communicate with foreigners is a huge motivation for local businesses and tourist agencies to learn English.
Another benefit of teaching English in Latin America is the low cost of living. Compared to the bustling European and Asian cities popular among TEFL teachers, Latin America is extremely affordable. Depending on your lifestyle and preferences, you can even find an apartment in Costa Rica, for example, for as cheap as $200 per month. You don’t need to save much money before settling into your new life abroad.
Finally, you’ll never find yourself bored in Latin America. Popular for ecotourism, the region is known for its exciting, adrenaline inducing adventures. From ziplining through the jungles in Costa Rica to hiking the famous slopes of Machu Picchu in Peru, there’s so much nature to see and history for you to experience. If the outdoors isn’t really your thing, then don’t worry. There are plenty of festivals and huge sporting events for you to take part in during your free time.
How to Start Your TEFL Career
The first step of your journey abroad is ensuring that you have the proper qualifications to teach in Latin American countries. However, the visa and job requirements are not uniform and vary from country to country. You might be able to find an English teaching job as a fluent English speaker with no further qualifications.
However, if you want to secure a good job that you’ll absolutely love, you should become certified to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL). This certification will enable you to teach in any country. And it will give you the skills you need to manage a classroom full of eager learners. It will also prepare you to teach a variety of ages and English levels.
All you need to do is complete a TEFL course. Luckily, there are plenty of TEFL courses available, so you can find the perfect one that suits both your budget and your learning style. Here are some great resources available online:
To get started, find an accredited way to get certified, such as the UK’s most experienced TEFL course provider, The TEFL Org. You can opt for a virtual certification course at your convenience, or you can even start your travels early and choose to complete the course in another country. Either way, once you have your TEFL certification, you will be qualified to teach English all over Latin America (and the world). With the world at your fingertips, where will you choose to teach?
Finding the Perfect Job
Once you’re TEFL certified, it’s time to find that perfect job. The company that provides your certification course can help you find a great position, so be sure to ask about their job boards.
Perhaps you already have a specific country or city in mind, or maybe you’re open to teaching anywhere in Latin America. The most important thing is to decide what type of students you’d like to teach. Do you enjoy working with young kindergarten and preschool students? Then you should consider working in an international school or an immersive English kindergarten. If you prefer to teach adult language learners, you can apply to work in an afterschool or evening language institution.
If you can’t imagine settling down in one specific place, you might even consider becoming a digital nomad and teaching English online. All you need is a good wifi connection!
In recent years, the market for TEFL teachers online has grown tremendously, so you can be sure that you will find the perfect company for you. If you like the idea of working for a big company with a lot of teacher support, you might consider working for the online platform VIPkid. Check out their application process on their website.
Most online companies require a TEFL certification, as well as a bachelor’s degree and a background check. Once you are good to go, you will likely have to partake in a demo lesson to show off your teaching skills. But don’t worry. Your TEFL certification will provide you with the right expertise.
Ready, Set, Travel
Once you’ve landed your dream position, it’s time to pack your bags and see the world! Before you go, make sure to plan out your budget to set yourself up for success. You can set aside a portion of your monthly salary to use for your weekend travels. You can also save up for a long trip once you’ve completed your contract. Many jobs abroad offer completion bonuses, so you may be able to travel for an extended period of time once you’re done teaching.
If you choose to teach online, calculate how many hours you need to teach each week in order to support your travel lifestyle. You can also find ways to save money, such as sleeping in hostels or teaching from communal work spaces.
Whichever path you choose, it’s clear that teaching English abroad is a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the world around you. So what are you waiting for? Get certified, and start exploring.