Diary submitted by Eve P.
Teaching English in Latin America is one of my goals for my TEFL career. With a range of diverse cultures and natural beauty it is a popular destination for teaching English abroad. The demand for English language teachers varies across the continent. The more economically developed nations are where you can find the bigger job markets for teaching English. The largest country in South America, Brazil, has recently become an economic powerhouse and so the need to speak English is growing. However, in the less developed countries where tourism is less prevalent, as a native English teacher you can find less competition and be in higher demand.
Hiring in Latin America is more seasonal than in many locations. The peak time for hiring can vary from country to country. As the seasons change from the top of the continent to the bottom, as do the holiday seasons. While Costa Rica has its peak hiring season in January, it would be pointless to job hunt in January in Chile as everyone would be on holiday for summer. It is best to look for jobs before the school term starts, which also varies across Latin America. Therefore, I would have to research into the specific term dates and hiring parts of the year in each country before I decide where and when to go. From what I’ve learnt so far it seems that its best to look for jobs in South America in February/March or July/August, and best to look in Central America in January/February.
Although you can find some job positions online before you go, it is best to find a job in person once you have landed in Latin America. Although this could be daunting to go without any work lined up, it would give you a chance to understand your surroundings and the community you want to work in beforehand. It is necessary to have a TESOL, TEFL or CELTA qualification to teach just about anywhere in Latin America and some countries such as Chile and Brazil like you to have a BA or BSc degree. Therefore, depending on where you go, it may be better to wait until you are fully qualified to try and secure a worthwhile job in Latin America. I wouldn’t want to risk arriving and trying to find a job under-qualified.
Latin America can prove to be one of the most vibrant and exciting places to teach English but as the continent is so diverse, it would be important to research into the specific country you want to go to first. While the demand for English teachers is growing in some places, in the more remote areas a knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese may be useful to be an effective English teacher.
Reference: Gooverseas.com blog – How to find a paid job teaching English in Latin America. Available at: https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/how-to-find-a-paid-job-teaching-english-in-latin-america