Considering Teaching English in Buenos Aires? There are a few things you should know first.
1. Get Your Tefl Certification
A TEFL certification is the first step to becoming an English teacher. There is some debate as to whether or not this certification is a necessity. In Argentina, a job can be secured without it, but the certification provides opportunities for better jobs, and prepares potential teachers for success.
One such company offering TEFL training courses is LanguageCorps. Based in Colorado, LanguageCorps offers TEFL certification courses in multiple locations, both domestic and abroad. They offer pre-departure support and job placement assistance. They serve as an intermediary support, providing peace of mind that you aren’t totally alone in a foreign country.
During the course LanguageCorps can arrange living accommodations. Typical arrangements in Buenos Aires include apartments shared with young locals, traditional host families, and hostels shared with other young people.
The TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) course is a month long and very intensive. Time is divided between studying English meta-language and grammar, learning teaching techniques and practice teaching classes of real Argentine students. Class lasts for 6 hours a day, not including homework time and lesson planning. The work environment is serious, but the other participants are fun people who want to enjoy the experience. You are instructed by a TEFL trainer along with a teaching assistant who critiques your practice teaching sessions.
After the course students are provided with local business contacts to apply for teaching positions. Upon contacting them, interviews will be offered, and if that goes well, a job. LanguageCorps does not provide a job for participants, but they help make the process easier and less intimidating by CV editing and practice interviews. The course prepares participants to teach English, and work as an English teacher in Buenos Aires. Should one wish to teach English in a different city than where the course took place, LanguageCorps still offers their support.
Language schools and institutes look for candidates with the TEFL certification, and they also value teaching experience. Taking a TEFL class provides both.
2. Where to Teach
There are many different ways to teach English here in Argentina, in companies, in institutes or offering private lessons.
English classes are popular for employees at different companies here in Buenos Aires. Language Institutes work to supply companies with English tutors. Teachers apply with the institutes, and the institutes arrange a class schedule. Courses are typically private hour and a half lessons with directors and managers. Students are advanced and want to practice fluency, accuracy of expression and listening to a native accent. Media groups, oil and steel companies and banks are just a few examples of the types of companies that employee this type of service. Class times will be in the morning before the workday begins, during the lunch hour and after work around 6 or 7pm. The teacher travels to each school, and if lucky, will teach a block of classes at one company. Business English classes pay anywhere between 23 and 40 pesos per hour.
The city is full of private language institutes that provide extracurricular English classes for anyone who wants to learn. Commonly found in more suburban parts of the city, some operate in their own studios, while others send teachers to the homes of different students. Teachers are more likely to have group classes, usually two to five students per class. What is taught varies depending on students’ needs. Some examples include TOEFL Test preparations, interview preparations, crash course English for travelers and afterschool tutoring. For a wide variety of teaching opportunities, this type of institute is a good bet. The pay is anywhere between 25 and 35 pesos per hour.
For the more entrepreneurial, offering private lessons is a good option. Teachers can charge up to ten pesos more per hour and choose your own schedule. Foreigners will find themselves constantly meeting people who are interested in learning English, so it is not hard to find students. Please note that a cancellation and payment policy should be established with students upon contract. Consider ahead of time where classes will take place. Options include the home of teacher or student, or perhaps a cafe.
3. How To Find a Job and Researching Job Offers
When applying for jobs look in local newspapers or on websites like zonajobs.com and craigslist. Employers expect to see a proper CV, which should include a local address, teaching experience and a current headshot. Dress nicely for job interviews. Formal dress like suits and ties are not necessary for most interviews. People who work at language institutes are all fluent in English; so do not worry about the language barrier during interviews. Be confident. There is a high demand for native English teachers and with a wide variety of opportunities, one is sure to find a good fit.
Upon receiving job offers, it is not necessarily recommended to accept the first one. Be sure to research the company. Ask to talk to other native teachers that work at the company to get a good feel for the place. Be sure to ask:
– When teachers are paid, and in cash or with check.
– If taxes are deducted from the pay.
– If students are required to have books.
– How many extra reports are required.
– Whether the teacher is responsible for lesson plans and syllabi.
– Policy for cancellations and make up classes.
4. Logistics and Money
Its hard work to make ends meet as an English teacher in Buenos Aires. Expect to teach between 18 and 25 hours a week, and for every hour of teaching, expect 30 minutes of travel time and 30 minutes of preparation. Securing inexpensive housing is crucial. Living in Palermo, where a high tourist population has raised the rent prices is not recommended. Live cheaply in Buenos Aires is possible…but it is much more fun not to. I strongly recommend bringing as much savings as possible, as it might be necessary to live off of until a full time teaching schedule is secured, which can (but probably wont) take up to three months. While Argentina’s peso is much weaker than the dollar, the city is still expensive when earning pesos. That being said, it is possible to earn a living wage teaching English.
5. Be Prepared For The Good And The Bad
Teaching English has a high burn out rate. It is not for everybody. However for those who are interested in this type of work, it offers satisfying benefits. Seeing students’ progress, knowing that what you are teaching them is doing something to enrich their lives or careers can provide a great personal satisfaction. At the end of the day you feel like you really worked hard. You are not locked in an office all day, or tied to a desk or computer or phone. You interact with interesting people, discuss current events, art, politics, sports, etc. Your perspective of life will expand. You will gain amazing conversational skills and become completely comfortable communicating in multicultural/lingual situations. It may not offer good money, and it is not the type of job for someone who values money above anything else. If you have an adventurous spirit, an open mind and a heart for people, you might like it.
Another great benefit of teaching English is that it allows you to travel across the globe. You will make enough money to stay abroad, and you have a valid reason to do so. While it doesn’t have much potential for career longevity, many use teaching English as a starting point to pursue their real passions. The English teachers you meet will be interesting people with other projects – aspiring writers, international entrepreneurs, ambitious academics, rolling stones and global jetsetters. Of course, in general they’re a pretty down to earth group too.