Teaching English in Chile
Jobs Are Available for Untrained Teachers
The demand for English teachers in Chile is a direct result of Chili’s attempt at integration into the global economy through trade agreements with the U.S., the Asia-Pacific region, and the European Union. Private
language institutes have grown tenfold and a national academic program, “English Opens Doors,” has been implemented to help children become fluent in English by the time of high school. The more ambitious long-term goal is to make
all 15 million of Chile’s people fluent in English within a generation.
North American native speakers need not have teaching experience or be certified as an ESL teacher. They are valued and hired often because of their accent and to teach conversation classes.
How to Get a Job
If you are starting your job search from your home country begin with the Internet; many of the large and medium-sized institutes have a Web presence so you can arrange a work situation before arriving. Some institutes
even arrange a work visa and housing.
Most North Americans begin teaching English on a tourist visa, thereby working illegally. Tourists do not pay taxes (which is a standard 20 percent), even though some institutes will take 20 percent out of your paycheck
for “administrative reasons.”
If you know that you will only be working for three months or less, work on a tourist visa because chances are you won’t get caught by the immigration service. If you are planning to work for more than three
months, find an employer who will give you a contract in exchange for a temporary visa. Then you won’t have to renew the tourist visa every three months. Instead, you renew the temporary visa annually. Make sure you understand the process
well. Many institutes do not take the time to explain it and frequently make contractual mistakes, which delay the issuance of your visa. Going on a tourist visa to Chile and looking for jobs once you get there requires enough basic Spanish
to understand the yellow pages and contact institutes either by phone, Internet, or in person. I recommend this option since getting a feel for the work environment is as important as securing a contract beforehand. When you finally decide
to go with a particular institute you will usually be trained even if you don’t have ESL experience. Not all institutes follow the same methodology. Once hired, you will be offered a part-time or full-time shift in the institute. Watch
out for institutes that give you a contract in exchange for the right to control your time schedule so that you always have to be available. Teaching English is by no means the best-paying job, and you should be able to work for more than one
employer if you choose to do so.