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Teaching English and Living in Mexico

Teaching English in Mexico City

The Inside Scoop

by Michelle Joyce
3/2005

Mexico City is an exciting place to live and to get started teaching English. It is one of the easiest places to find teaching opportunities in Mexico. Because there are so many people interested in learning the language — from children to university students and businesspeople — you can make teaching English a full- or part-time job.

Teachers can make a comfortable living teaching. The amount you earn depends on your scheduling and interests. You can either work for a school and have a steady income, or you can other offer private classes and organize your schedule just as you want.

Get a Job Teaching Children Before You Move

Upon arrival in Mexico City, I called a school directly and was offered an interview at a small, private school where I have been teaching English for three years. Over the years I have learned that there are several more—and better—ways to find work teaching English.

If you are interested in teaching English at a school, the best way to secure a high-paying job is to contact the institution before you move to Mexico. The highest paying schools are The American School (www.asf.edu.mx) and Greengates (www.greengates.edu.mx). The American School tends to hire teachers from the U.S., while Greengates tends to hire people from England. Both schools may give you a rent allowance and even pay for a trip or two back home if you get a job before you move to Mexico. After spending some time in Mexico, even at these high-paying schools, you may no longer be eligible for the same pay package. Still, even if wages are lowered over time, the schools pay well.

Both schools hire only highly qualified staff and may be difficult places to begin teaching if you lack experience or if you do not have some form of certification. The American School prefers teachers who already hold master's degrees in teaching English, but they offer an on-site master's program for teachers who would like to complete their degree while working.

The New Fashion in Education, An Important Consideration

The International Baccalaureate (www.ibo.org) is an educational program designed for international schools, from pre-school to high school. The program is used all over the world, but is catching on very quickly in Mexico. For example, both the American School and Greengates are now certified IB schools. If you are interested in working at these schools knowing a little something about the IB can be an advantage.

To learn more, check the IB web site where you may order a book or the IB magazine.

Find Work Teaching Children After Arriving

There are many more schools where you can look for work. They are generally smaller in size and pay a bit less, though they have the advantage of being less demanding concerning teaching qualifications and sometimes offer teachers a shorter workday.

I found my job by calling a small school directly — a strategy that I would recommend.

Here are some schools that sometimes need English teachers (there are many more spread all over the city):

Once in Mexico City, you may also wish to contact the following schools, which offer training as well.

Another great way to find out about smaller schools is through social groups. Many work connections are made in the Las Lomas neighborhood Church of Christ. Many teachers have found work through Alpha Delta Kappa -- an honorary international sorority for women educators ideal for networking (check the phone directory for your local chapter).

Teach Adults

Teaching children is only one way to earn money via your English skills in Mexico. You could also apply to a language school for adults, which generally pay by the in-class hour. Since there are opportunities to teach classes from early in the morning until late in the evening, and teachers only work the hours they wish, these are flexible jobs.

To find out more about work teaching English to adults, contact the biggest chains in Mexico City:

Offer Private Classes

You might also consider offering private classes. I know a few teachers who have worked at schools with young children to meet teachers and students — and after having established a good number of afternoon private classes, they left the teaching work to dedicate all their time to giving private classes to make more money than they did as salaried teachers. At private schools I have seen teachers charge as little as 180 pesos per hour and as much as 250 (of course this is paid in cash and not subject to taxes). Generally private instructors charge a bit more if they go to the children's homes — and less if the class is in the school, just after classes end.

If you are interested in working with adults, advertising anywhere — from universities to posting a flyer at a supermarket — is a good way to get started.

MICHELLE JOYCE has a B.A. in the History and Culture of Mexican Society from U.C. Berkeley and is currently working toward my M.A. in Contemporary Art History at Mexico City's Casa Lamm. She has lived in Mexico City for several years and has written about travel in Mexico in several magazines including Estylo and Vuelo, Mexicana Airline's in-flight magazine. In addition she has worked on updating Fodors Mexico and Berlitz Pocket Guide to Mexico.