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As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine January/February 2005
Related Topics
Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English in the Latin America

Teaching English in Xela, Guatemala

Schools Offer Range of Choices

Quetzaltenango, commonly referred to as "Xela," sits in a valley surrounded by towering volcanoes. It is Guatemala's educational center, with five universities and numerous language schools. Many travelers come here to improve their Spanish, and some choose to stay for an extended period of time. If you are looking to make enough money to cover your room and board, with a little left over for hiking up volcanoes or taking the bus to other Guatemalan locales, teaching English is a viable option.

There is a high demand among Guatemalans to learn English. Some students are just out of high school and need to show proficiency in English as a second language to be accepted into the university. Some are interested in learning the language to improve their job opportunities in Guatemala or a foreign country, and some are learning because they simply like the language and American music. Parents often prefer to send their children to an English-only school, or at least provide private lessons during the school year and during extended vacations.

Of the six schools in Quetzaltenango that offer English lessons, four accept foreign teachers. Best English School, in the most convenient location, beside the central park, asks for a 2-month commitment and offers a high degree of flexibility regarding hours and days available to teach. Teaching experience is not a requirement, but it is helpful.

IGA, the Instito Guatemalteco Americano, employs 13 teachers, both Guatemalan and foreign, and asks for a 2-year commitment. They prefer qualified teachers but will provide training if necessary. The maximum class size is 20, with no private lessons offered. One excellent benefit is that teachers who work more than 20 hours per week are offered free Spanish lessons at a nearby school. IGA is also interested in teachers who have experience with children, as it runs a "vacation" English program for children during school breaks. The pay is about that of the above-mentioned schools, but teachers are generally guaranteed 40 hours per week.

Inter-America School (IAS) offers paid positions yet refers to its teachers as volunteers. The school offers K-12 Christian-based education that meets U.S. university preparatory requirements. Many Americans who want their children prepared for U.S. public schools send their children to ICA, regardless of religious affiliation. Teachers are asked to sign a commitment to the Christian faith and agree to teach according to the Christian values. Volunteers receive a monthly stipend that comfortably covers living expenses. Teaching experience is helpful but not necessary, and volunteers are asked to commit for a year. All subjects are taught in English, and hiring usually occurs in the spring for the coming fall.

For More Info

The following websites can help you if you want further information about the schools and their towns.

Best English School: Joel at joelgua@hotmail.com.

IAS: director@ias-xela.org, principal@ias-xela.org or www.ias-xela.org

IGA: www.iga.edu.

For general Xela information, check out www.xelapages.com and for volunteer opportunities see www.entremundos.org.

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