How to Get a Job Teaching English in South America 2019 Guide

    Teach English in South America

    Why teach English in South America?

    Thanks to the current status of English as the official language in more than 50 countries in the world, the job market for ESL English teaching has never been this good. One of the regions where English teachers are in high demand in South America. Let’s have a look at some of the major reasons why you should consider it as one of your top choices.

    • A good job market – Yes, as mentioned above, South America has a great job market for English teachers as many of the South American countries are emerging as developing economies. Most of the businesses in the region connect it with companies in other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and even in Japan and China. Therefore, to overcome the language barrier, communication is primarily done in English.
    • Moreover, tourism in the country is also growing with each year, with an influx of tourist, all local businesses, including hospitality and entertainment, want to know the English language to communicate better with tourists. This has created a huge demand for English education. As a result, there are many new language schools opening up in the region that are looking to hire qualified English teachers.
    • Lower cost of living – The cost of living is a huge factor for English teachers who want to travel abroad. If the cost of living is higher than your wages, then you may not be able to save any substantial amount of money. South America is a great option in this regard, the cost of living in the entire region is low as compared to most of the European countries and Japan. This will allow you to settle down in most of the countries such as Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica for less than $1000. You may have to give $75 or $150 per month as rent for a one or two-bedroom apartment in a few countries such as Nicaragua. In Costa Rica, it may be around $200-$300.

    Here is the breakdown of how the cost of living per month may vary in different South American countries:

      • Argentina – $600 to $900
      • Brazil – $1,200 to $1,400
      • Chile – $900 – $1,200
      • Colombia – $500 – $1,000
      • Costa Rica – $700 – $900
      • Ecuador – $500 – $700
      • Mexico – $600 – $900
      • Nicaragua – $300 – $600
      • Panama – $900 – $1,100
      • Peru – $600 – $900
      • Uruguay – $900-$1,100
    • Easier visa requirements – Getting a visa to enter some of the South American countries is quite easy, especially if you are an American citizen. Even the work visa may not have strict criteria for eligibility. In some of the countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica, a tourist visa is also considered a legal way of teaching. The visa can be renewed easily.
    • Culture and traveling – Entire South America have a very dynamic and colorful culture. The people are friendly and they love to celebrate festivals all through the year, which will make your stay a memorable experience. Moreover, traveling throughout South America is also quite affordable. You can take your vacation days to travel from country to country and experience the adventure the region has to offer.

    Things to consider before traveling to South America?

    Even though traveling to South America to teach English sounds quite amazing and romantic even, but before you leave everything behind and buy your tick there are a few things you must consider. The entire region is quite big and you simply cannot expect to go there without doing your homework first.

    Here are a few things you should sort out before you make the big move:

    • Which country do you want to go? Yes, this is a very important question to ask yourself when you decide to teach English in South America. The region has 12 countries and even though there may be a lot of cultural similarities the job market may be quite different. You should compare the wages a country offers to its cost of living. For example, Brazil is among the better options money wise but the cost of living is quite affordable in Nicaragua. You also need to see whether the low cost of living also means low quality of life.

    In addition to a good salary package, you should also consider which country offers the best benefits such as accommodation, travel expenses, and health care etc.  

    • Is the country safe? Before you pick a country you must find out how safe it is to live there. In simple words, South America may not be as safe as many European countries or Japan. Petty street crimes, robberies, and theft are common. Every city and town has areas where it is not advisable for foreigners to go. Before you apply for a job in the country of your choice, you must find out the safe neighborhoods and the crime rate of the city you want to settle in. You should join expat discussion forums to get more details about the safety issue.
    • Consider the hiring seasonTo successfully apply to various English teaching job opportunities, you must consider the hiring season, which is not the same in the entire region. Some countries such as Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile do seasonal hiring whereas others such as Mexico hire all through the year. Moreover, most of the institutions may prefer personal face-to-face interviews to online ones. Therefore, you must plan your visits keeping the hiring season in mind.
    • TransportationTransportation is the key factor when you decide to go abroad to teach English. As an expat, you may not be familiar with different and safe routes for traveling to work. Therefore, you should get familiar with the local transportation system. If it is not efficient enough then you may have to face problems in day-to-day traveling.
    • Do you get healthcare or not? It is very important to make sure that the country or job you take offers health insurance of some sort. Most of the teachers take care of their own health insurance. However, a few countries such as Mexico and Chile may offer health care to teachers with proper job contracts and a work visa.

    The most popular countries to teach English in South America

    It can be quite challenging to decide which South American country is the best for teaching as each of them has its own appeal and a unique selling point. To help you make an informed decision here are some of the countries you can think about.

    • Costa Rica – Costa Rica is considered one of the most progressive and economically stable countries in South America. You can find many teaching opportunities in private schools, language schools, and universities. Moreover, the country has a huge community of expatriates, which will make it easier for you to settle down and have a social life. Hiring is mostly done in January and June.
            • Requirements
                • You may require a TEFL certification. Even though it is not mandatory but you can earn a relatively higher salary if you have it.
                • As the visa process is quite expensive for your employer to process, therefore, they may make you go through a very long and comprehensive interview process to make sure you are suitable for the job.
              • Accommodation – You will have to find your own accommodation but if you get lucky you may get hired by one of the rare international schools that offer accommodation in the salary package.
              • Salary – The average salary is between $500 to $1,000 per month.
    • Peru – Peru has many benefits such as low cost of living and good teaching opportunities both in cities, small towns and even villages. You can volunteer for many teaching jobs at universities, private schools and language centers, and international schools. Peru is great for new teachers because the country does not require any degree for startup jobs and there is no age limit. Hiring is mostly done in October and November. The best paying jobs that also include attractive benefits are the university and international school jobs.
          • Requirements
            • The language schools in Peru mostly require you to have a TEFL or TESOL certification from an internationally recognized program.
            • Teaching experience is not mandatory except for most of the international schools that will require at least two years of experience.
            • To become a teacher legally in Peru, you will need to get the government’s permission to sign the contract. The process is not a straightforward one but your employer can help you get through it.
          • Accommodation – Except for a few international schools, you will have to arrange for your own accommodation. The rents are quite high in the capital city of Lima, however, if you find a place on the outskirts of the city you may find something affordable.   
          • Salary – The average salary is between $500 to $700 per month.
    • Colombia – Colombia is undoubtedly one of the best South American countries for English teachers. The market is not only a great one but the salaries are enough to allow you to leave comfortably even in the areas with a higher cost of living.
          • Requirements
            • Bachelor’s degree is not mandatory but it can give you an edge over other candidates and help you get hired at a higher salary package.
            • It is a good idea to be TEFL certified because many private schools and universities require you to have a teaching certification. However, it is not mandatory.
            • Most of the international schools will also need you to have at least two years of experience.
          • Accommodation and benefits – Most of the educational institutions in Colombia offer benefits such as accommodation, airfare, medical insurance, a bonus on contract completion and paid vacations.
          • Salary – The average salary is between $500 to $1,000 per month.
    • Chile – Chile also has a very good job market for ESL teachers. The cities have many language centers that are always looking to hire qualified native and even non-native English teachers. The best hiring season is from the month of March to the month of July.
          • Requirements
            • If you want to teach in high schools, you will need to have a recognized teaching license.
            • If you want to become an ESL teacher, you will need to have a TEFL certification from an internationally recognized program.
          • Accommodation – In Chile, you may have to find your own place to rent. One of the most common practices is to get shared accommodation, which is quite cost-effective.
          • Salary – The average salary to teach in Chile is around $400 to $1,500 per month.
    • Argentina – Argentina is also one of the best places in South America for English teachers. The job market is extremely good as the demand for learning English is high in the country. You can find jobs in both private and public schools, language centers, international schools, and universities. You can even take up private tutoring to supplement your regular job.
          • Requirements
            • International schools will require you to be a qualified licensed teacher.
            • Though it is not mandatory in many cases, you will need to have a TEFL certification to get better jobs with higher salaries and better benefits.
          • Accommodation – You will have to find your own accommodation, however, a few schools may help you find a nice place to rent. Some international schools may offer accommodation as a part of their salary package.
          • Salary – The average salary of an English teacher in Argentina is between $600 to $1,500 per month.
    • Mexico – The country has close ties with the United States of America and, therefore, the demand to learn the English language is high, which has created a good job market for English teachers. The salaries may not be the highest in South America but the low cost of living allows you to live a comfortable life. You can find jobs at elementary schools, language centers, company lesson and even as a private English teacher.
          • Requirements
            • Most of the schools will need you to have a bachelor’s degree.
            • Teaching experience, in most of the cases, is not mandatory, especially, if you are a native English speaker.
            • A TEFL or CELTA certification is not mandatory but having one can help your chances of getting better jobs.
            • Schools may require a commitment of one year from you.
          • Accommodation and benefits – In most cases, you may have to find your accommodation but there are many educational institutions that either give you accommodation or an allowance for it. Airfare and health care are rarely included in salary packages.
          • Salary – The average salary in Mexico is around $200 to $1,000 per month.
    • Brazil – Brazil has a pretty good job market for English teachers and offers a great cultural experience. You can get jobs at different private schools and language centers, international schools, universities and as a private tutor. One downside of wanting to teach in Brazil is that most of the institutions prefer to have in-person interviews, which means if you are not living there already you may have to plan a visit to Brazil to find a good job.
        • Requirements
          • A bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution is preferred but not required.
          • A TEFL or CELTA certification is preferred but not mandatory.
          • International schools may require prior teaching experience.
          • Native speakers are preferred.
        • Accommodation and benefits – Most of the institutions may not offer accommodation or even an allowance for it and you may also not get any airfare.
        • Salary – The average salary of English teachers teaching in Brazil is around $800 to $1,300.

    Become an ESL English teacher without traveling abroad at all

    Despite its charms many teachers either do not want to or cannot afford to travel abroad. So, the question is, can you still become an internationally experienced teacher? Yes, that is possible! You can Teach English as a Foreign or Second language without having to leave your country, friends, and family behind. Thanks to the internet you can now teach online and the online job market for English teachers is quite booming. You just need to find the right job that offers you great pay and experience that is internationally recognized.

    One of the best ways to teach online is to get hired by VIPKID.

    What exactly is VIPKID?

    VIPKID is the biggest online school for learning the English language. Created by a Chinese entrepreneur, Cindy Mi, VIPKID offers English lessons to over 500,000 adult and young learners from China. The website currently has around 60,000 English teachers and continues to hire even more qualified candidates.

    Why should you choose VIPKID?

    With so many online schools offering jobs to English teachers why should you choose VIPKID? Here are a few reasons why:

    • Great salary – Yes, there are many online language schools but not all of them offer great salaries. VIPKID offers you the best rates, which allows you to earn anywhere from $7 to $22. Moreover, you also get other incentives that can drive your pay higher.
    • Instant payments – There is no withdrawal limit and you can get your money as soon as you are done with your lesson, which means your paycheck does not come at the end of the month. This is great for those who want to support their regular income with a second source of revenue.
    • You decide your own working hours – If you have a day job and want to earn more, then one of the biggest challenges is to find a job that does not exhaust you and take away your social life completely. With VIPKID, you do not have to worry about that. It allows you to decide your own working hours, which makes it extremely easy to find a balance between work and personal life.
    • No stress of finding authentic teaching material – That is right! Any online teacher will tell you how difficult and time-consuming it is to find the right and authentic teaching material and design curriculum for online classes. VIPKID, on the other hand, provides you with its own teaching material that allows you to spend your time on planning interesting, creative and effective lessons.
    • International experience – A teacher who is new to the profession can get valuable international experience by teaching English as a Second Language on VIPKID. This also saves you the trouble you have to go through to travel abroad and the pain of leaving your home, friends, and family behind.

    Requirements for becoming a VIPKID teacher

    To ensure the provision of quality education to its students, VIPKID has a few requirements that you must meet. These are as follows:

    • You must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institute.
    • You should have one year of teaching experience.
    • You must be fluent in the English language.
    • You must have a good internet connection and hardware that can support uninterrupted video chats.


    South America is a great option for English teachers who not only want to get international teaching experience but also want to have a great traveling and cultural experience. The salaries may not be as competitive as those offered in Europe or Japan but the low cost of living in South America can help you lead a comfortable life. However, you should carefully find out about the country you want to teach in. You must see if it offers you enough benefits and whether it is safe for foreigners. Moreover, health insurance may also be a problem because, with the exception of a few countries, most of your employers will ask you to cover your own medical expenses.

    Despite the adventure of teaching abroad, if you do not want to leave your country but still want to Teach English as a Second Language, then you can do it through VIPKID. The online school offers great wages and allows you to decide your own working hours.