Teaching English in Santiago, Chile
Tips for Finding a Job
It is not easy to move anywhere in the world and find a job immediately, but it can be done. I found a job teaching English in Santiago, Chile only two weeks after moving here. Although at first it sounds like amazing luck—it’s not. I had a plan, the right resources, and excellent timing.
Chile’s economy is exploding with prosperity. Thanks to the mining industries, growing international relations, hard working people, and a stable government, this country is now one of the greatest success stories on the continent. The capital of Chile, Santiago, has become a great place to get your feet wet as an international teacher, to relax as a semi-retired teacher, or to continue your adventure as a world-traveling teacher. Here are the steps that will enable you to go there, teach and thrive.
Although teaching jobs are at a surplus in Chile, the country’s newfound prosperity has given international language schools the option to be picky with whom they choose to employ. An experienced teacher should have no problem creating a good resume to help find a good-paying job in Santiago. However, teachers can no longer stroll into a school wearing flip flops and a tank top and expect to get hired. Aside from professional dress and demeanor, one cannot teach in Chile without some teaching experience and certification. Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification is the best way to get both (see sidebar). You can also research online programs, and possibly get an online certification. Keep in mind that with online programs there is no hands-on teaching, and it is best to have classroom experience before teaching here.
What Kind of Teaching Do You Want to Do?
Many elementary schools and high schools (called “colleges”) are starting to require their students to know English before graduating. In addition, many private universities are not as strict on academic prerequisites for English teachers to work at their institutions. Some of these schools will hire a foreigner with the correct certification and experience.
Last spring, I worked at an elementary school running an English club with students from 3rd to 8th grade. This experience allowed me to have some creativity in the planning of my classes as well as work with interesting energetic kids and teenagers.
The schedule is set around the academic calendar (March to December), and the hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Although it is not easy to take time off from these schools unless the children are on holiday, you can have the benefit of stable work and permanent hours.
If teaching young people does not sound like an ideal experience, you can try your hand working at an international language school. Most private language schools in Santiago cater to corporate businesses. These schools outsource teachers to go to offices and teach “business English” to executives, sales people and receptionists. The schedule is often random and teachers are sent all over the city, usually getting paid a little for transportation. I have also had the opportunity to work at an international language school in Santiago. Working with adults allowed me more structure in my lesson plans, while moving around the city allowed me to get to know the public transportation system and the great city of Santiago. A main benefit of working at an international language school is the flexibility. Teachers there have the opportunity to take more time off as they can often coordinate schedules around vacations and there are ample amounts of substitute teachers to take your classes if you leave.
Finding and Securing a Job
Chilean culture values face-to-face meetings versus emails. I suggest that you combine the powers of the internet and social skills to secure your exciting new position. Look online to find out what the school’s mission is, and make sure that you fit in with its philosophy. Call the school and ask to speak to the director personally. The directors should be fluent in English so you can easily find out if they are hiring, and what working there would entail. Tell the director when you will be in the country, and try to set up an interview. If you have no concrete plans, then give an approximate month of arrival, and tell him or her that you will call then. After speaking to the director, email your resume (called “curriculum” in Chile).
Upon arrival, make a list of schools you want to visit and dedicate a few days to dropping off resumes. I attribute part of my success in finding a job to the fact that I hand delivered each resume. Remember that locating a school is easy, but you need to find a job that will suit your living abroad needs—namely, a contract, livable wages and health insurance.
The hiring seasons in Santiago are in February and March for regular schools and almost year-round for international language schools. Remember that the seasons here are opposite than those of the United States and Europe. Most schools do not hire in December and January. If you have timed it right, the schools will be hiring when you get there, and it can be possible to get an interview immediately.
While researching job options, you also need to decide where in the city you want to live. Santiago is a giant city and it is constantly growing. It is best to find a place that is close to a metro stop or easily accessible by bus. You can find host families or open rooms easily online (see sidebar), but I suggest not securing anything until you get here. Use these sites to find a good hostel in the middle of town that is affordable to stay in while you look for a job.
Both experienced and inexperienced teachers have the chance to teach internationally starting in Santiago. After teaching for a while in one school, you have the chance to upgrade your position and pay level at another school or possibly even at a university. During your time abroad, continue to network and keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities. As an English teacher in Santiago, you will meet people from all over the world, live in an exciting and growing city, and obtain an invaluable addition to your teaching resume.
For More Info
Schools in Chile
- www.chilnet.cl is the equivalent to the yellow pages in Chile, and it has an incredibly comprehensive list of most of the schools in the city. Link to most schools in the city:
Housing in Chile
- santiago.es.craigslist.org: Craig’s list is an international list of anything you need or want to buy. You can also list your own needs here and be contacted by potential host families, renters, or roommates. Regardless of the seemingly safe listings, don’t go anywhere without comprehensive knowledge of where you are going and what you are signing. Bring a translator if you don’t speak Spanish.
- www.abyznewslinks.com/chile.htm: this is a link to all the media (newspapers and magazines) in Chile. It is often cheaper to find a house listed in the local newspapers.
- www.hostels.com: for less permanent living situations, this is a great place to start.
- Remember that after you get a job you will meet a lot of people just like you; ask around for roommates or places for rent.
Teaching English Certification
Certification can be done online or in-person in cities all over the world. These websites will give you the chance to find courses that best suite you: