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Teaching English in Latin America

mexican-ruinsOpportunities for teaching in Latin America are harder to find than for Asia or the Middle East, but they do exist. Generally speaking, salaries in Latin America increase the further you get from the US/Mexico border, and the further you get from places where large numbers of North Americans like to vacation or settle. Many job postings from popular countries like Costa Rica are even asking for volunteers. As for Mexico, several acquaintances told me that their salaries were well below the cost of living in their respective cities and towns. If you would like to teach in Mexico long-term, it will probably work better with a second source of income.

Despite the relatively higher numbers of postings for English teachers in Peru (as posted on sites like Dave’s ESL Cafe), teacher blogs on the subject frequently note that most employers do not provide visas to work in the country legally. Peru, and a number of other Latin American countries, have established ambitious targets for increasing English proficiency of their students. However, these targets are often tied to the promises of political campaigns, and specific policies and financial resources needed to implement them commonly lag far behind.

Ecuador is a popular place to live for expatriates. Its currency is the US dollar. However, most of the North Americans who live there are retired and not looking for work.

I have been told that only a small number of Latin American employers post on-line, with many of the better opportunities available only through networking in person. In Chile, some companies do recruit on line, but you will have more opportunities after a year of working for one of them. Santiago is the capital, with about 10 million residents. Other cities number in the hundreds of thousands or fewer.

Along with Chile, another country where it’s possible to make a living teaching English is Uruguay. The metropolitan area, including the capitol Montevideo and surrounding areas, has about two million people. Other cities, such as Salto and Paysandu, number around a hundred thousand or less.

One source of useful advice on renting an apartment and buying food in Uruguay is the blog Christina in Uruguay.

If you’re planning to live in any of the Latin American countries listed above, it is a good idea to learn Spanish.