Interested in Teaching English in Buenos Aires?
Considering Teaching English in Buenos Aires?
There are a few things you should know first.
Get TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) Certified
A TEFL certification is the first step to becoming an English teacher. There is some debate as to whether or not you really need this certification. The truth is here in Argentina, you can probably find a job without it, but with the certification you will find a better job, and be far more prepared to teach.
I went through a company called 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 should you desire with a shared apartment or home-stay. I chose to live in a shared apartment, and they set me up in a large apartment shared with a young argentine photographer and another boarder.
The TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) course itself 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 of various levels. Class is about 6 hours a day, with a lot of homework 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 lessons.
After the course they give you some local business contacts to apply for teaching positions. If you contact them, you will most likely be offered an interview, and if that goes well, a job. LanguageCorps doesn’t provide a job for you, but they help make the process easier. It is intimidating to job hunt in a foreign culture, so they help you write a proper CV and have practice interviews. The course really prepares you for teaching English, and working as an English teacher here in Buenos Aires.
I was in a class of 12 students. Most were serious about teaching, and a few were just looking for an excuse to spend a month abroad. After six months, half of the class has already gone home, unable to really make it as a teacher. The other six of us are here working and thriving. Should you wish to teach English in a different city than the one you studied, 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 can give you both.
Where to Teach
There are many different ways to teach English here in Argentina.
English classes are really popular for employees at different companies here in Buenos Aires. Language Institutes work to supply companies with English tutors.
As a native speaker, you will most likely have private hour and a half classes with the directors and upper managers of a company. All of your students will be fairly advanced and want practice with 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 usually 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 you’re lucky, you will get a block of classes at one company. It pays anywhere between 23 and 40 pesos per hour. I mostly work in companies. My students are great, interesting people and the work is stimulating and never boring.
The city is also 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 simply send teachers to the homes of different students. You are more likely to get group classes, usually just two to five students per class. The things you might teach vary depending on the students needs. Some examples include TOEFL Test preparations, interview preparations, crash course English for travelers and afterschool tutoring for younger students. 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, hiring yourself out for private lessons is a good option. You can charge up to ten pesos more per hour and choose your own schedule. As a foreigner, you constantly meet people who are interested in learning English, so it isn’t hard to find students. Please note that you should establish a cancellation and payment policy with your students upon contract. One thing to consider is having a place to give the classes. If you and your student feel comfortable you can go to each other’s respective homes, or perhaps meet in a café.
How To Find a Job
When applying for jobs it’s good to look in local newspapers or on websites like zonajobs.com and craigslist. Send your CV, which should include a local address, all of your teaching experience and a current headshot, to different employers and most will contact you for an interview. Dress nicely for job interviews, but formal dress like suits and ties are not necessary for most interviews. People who work at language institutes are all fluent in English; so don’t worry about the language barrier during your interview. Be confident. There is a high demand for native English teachers.
Research Your Job Offers
When you receive job offers, I recommend not jumping at the first one. Be sure to research your 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 you get paid, and in cash or with check.
- If taxes are deducted from your pay.
- If your students are required to have books.
- How many extra reports you are required to write for the company.
- Whether you are responsible for your own lesson plans and syllabi.
- Policy for cancellations and make up classes.
I have worked for three different language institutes here in Buenos Aires. Two have been very positive experiences, and one was very negative. Some companies are more demanding, some more lenient. With a wide variety of options and opportunities, you’re sure to find a good fit for you as a teacher.
Logistics and Money
Its hard work to make ends meet as an English teacher in Buenos Aires. You can expect to teach between 18 and 25 hours a week, and for every hour of teaching, you can expect about 30 minutes of travel time and 30 minutes of preparation. It’s a lot of work, and you’re only paid for a portion of it. If you can find cheap rent you should be able to have enough left over at the end of the month for a few meals out. I recommend not living in Palermo, where a high tourist population has raised the rent prices. It’s easy to live cheaply in Buenos Aires…but it’s a lot more fun not too. I strongly recommend bringing as much savings as you can, you might need it to live off of until you start getting a full time teaching schedule, which can take up to three months.
Last Notes and Benefits
Teaching English has a pretty high burn out rate. It isn’t for everybody, especially if you want an easy job with a lot of free time. However for those who have a knack or are interested in this type of work, it has a lot of freedom and can be really satisfying. Seeing your students’ progress, knowing that what you’re 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 aren’t locked in an office all day, or tied to a desk or computer or phone. You get to 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, but that’s because 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 respectable 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.
Questions? Feel free to contact me.
Guide section: Work
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