Teach English in Buenos Aires
Paid and Volunteer Work Opportunities
What job integrates you into a new culture,
helps you make friends, and assists others in bettering
their lives? Teaching English abroad is one of the few careers
offering such bonuses, and many more. And it is a thriving
career base for many expatriates in Argentina.
With a population ranked as the second
largest in South America, a polyglot gene pool that is derived
from a mix of foreign immigrants (70% of Argentines have
a European passport), and a 97% literacy rate, Argentina
is an expansive country filled with opportunities for teaching
English as a foreign language. There are over 30 bilingual
educational centers in Buenos Aires alone; in fact, the
cosmopolitan city is the first urban dwelling in Latin America
to institute multilingual public schools. Learning English
as a second language is especially common among the young.
The options that are available to those
interested in teaching English vary in Argentina. From private
homes hiring a live-in tutor to luxury private schools to
adult tourism-based language classes, there is every scenario
imaginable for those willing to look for the teaching experience
|Shanie teaching Fabian English.
Teaching English in Buenos Aires
The metropolitan, South American city
of passion, the "Paris of South America," is usually
the first place that people think of when considering a
move to Argentina. With a population over 12 million, there
is a diverse pool of Porteños (the name
given to those living in and around Buenos Aires) looking
for help with their English skills, especially from native
Finding TEFL (Teaching English as a
Foreign Language) work in Buenos Aires depends upon your
tenacity and level of training. Allison Burgess, an American
originally from Waco, Texas has been teaching in Buenos
Aires since March 2007. For Burgess, finding work was relatively
simple, “Finding a teaching job was very easy. Teachers
are always needed (in Buenos Aires). And they are always
coming and going.” But she does feel that arriving
in the city with a background in teaching helped her, “I
received my teaching certification through Bridge-Linguatec. It’s
a business based out of Denver, Colorado. Now that
I’m here, I don’t believe it was a necessity
so to speak, but I do believe that it was easier and quicker
to find jobs since Bridge-Linguatec offered many of the
contacts and promoted us. I would say, though, that
I found it to be quite expensive, around US$1,000 and I’m
not sure how much it is now.”
Ronnie, a member of the Buenos
Aires Expat Forum also used a Buenos Aires certification
program to start her teaching career, “I received
my certification from EBC (a TEFL certification school)
here in Buenos Aires. I didn’t look for work before
I got it, but found work slowly and steadily once I was
certified. I have found most of my jobs through EBC.”
Claudia Guershanik, an Argentine that
has lived and taught English and Spanish in New York, London,
and Buenos Aires, also found work quickly, “It was
extremely easy for me because of my experience and qualifications.
Within hours of sending my CV (resume), I was being called
to have an interview. I have a Masters in teaching English
to students of other languages from New York. The more qualifications
you have, the better it is to find a well-paid job. And
if you are a native speaker of English, it will be very
easy to find a job.”
Guershanik recommends a few different
pathways to finding employment, “…check with
major language institutes and universities on the web and
walk around leaving your resume…” Another sure
way to find students is merely getting to know your surroundings.
With the extensive interest that Argentines have in English,
the majority of locals are looking for help with the language.
Or they know someone who is.
When it comes to getting paid, the
level of certification greatly affects your pay scale. For
Guerschanik, her wage has run the gamut from about $US5-$18.
She says, "Let's face it, if you decide to become a
teacher you know you won't be making millions of dollars!”
If you are new to teaching and are
hoping to gain experience while abroad, there is another
choice: volunteering. There are programs that do not require
any previous qualifications to participate in their teaching
programs. Road2Argentina offers volunteer
teaching projects for children in Buenos Aires (see
an article on the experience of teaching
with Road2Argentina). Working with children and young
people in small groups. IVHQ also
offers opportunities teaching in Buenos Aires. These types
of organizations usually help with your accommodations,
often with a host family or shared apartment.
Beyond Buenos Aires
Although Buenos Aires is the largest
pool of TEFL jobs in Argentina, it is by no means the only
way to teach English. Major cities like Mendoza, Salta,
and Bariloche are also areas continually looking for native
English speakers to assist locals with their foreign language
skills. The basic difference is the number of jobs available.
There is one bonus to the smaller urban dwellings, however:
Due to the lack of schools offering TEFL certification outside
of Buenos Aires, the number of people looking for jobs diminishes
Bariloche, a bustling city framed by
the protected, old-growth forests of Parque Nacional Nahuel
Huapi, has a surprising amount of schools offering English.
The population, which is quickly nearing 150,000 year-round
locals, has over a dozen schools that offer TEFL programs
to adolescents and children. Bariloche, being Argentina’s
second most popular travel destination, is also filled with
companies that work with English-speaking tourists. This
provides a large pool of local adults looking to practice
with a native English speaker.
Ingrid Lundgren—an Iowan native
that has taught English in Mexico and Bariloche—not
only found a job quickly but was also impressed with the
experience overall, “Finding work in Bariloche was
very easy. I found the work, in comparison to other
teaching jobs, good. I was given a lot of autonomy
to teach what I wanted, independent of the Teacher's Manual.
I had three classes, one of young teenagers that were at
a basic level, one of older teenagers at an intermediate
level and one of advanced teenagers. All were very nice.
It was only the class of younger teenagers that got bratty.
But that was only for three hours a week. When I look back,
my favorite memory is my students. They were all very interesting
and friendly people.”
As in Buenos Aires, a previous level
of teacher’s training is required for the paid positions.
Lundgren, who has been teaching for only a year, was able
to find a job because of her certification, “It was
a necessity to have a TEFL certificate in Bariloche, although
I did find some jobs in Buenos Aires that did not require
There are also programs in Bariloche
that offer volunteer programs for those wanting to teach
English, yet don’t have the credentials. La Montaña
Spanish School offers programs that incorporate activities,
adventures, and classes with the poor communities surrounding
Bariloche. To help create the best experience possible,
they try to learn as much about the potential volunteer
first, wanting to know your interests, language abilities,
and motivations for wanting to be involved. There are a
few requirements as well; you must be willing to work a
minimum of twenty hours per week and pay a fee of $125 (or
$100 if you are enrolled in their school) to help finance
the children’s activities.
Tricks to Getting the Teaching
Job You Want
Whether you are looking in Buenos Aires
or are venturing out into other areas of Argentina, there
are a few tricks to the trade when looking for work. Use
the following pointers to help you find the job you deserve:
- Research and contact as many education
institutions as you can through the Internet first. Look
for language school directories, online sources for new
schools opening up and online newspapers for advertisements.
Check with Craigslist, as well, for job positions.
- Have a well-scripted, up-to-date
resume to send to possible candidates. It is usually
favorable to send a decent photo with the CV.
- Pick up the phone and call the school
to introduce yourself. This forward approach helps the
school see that you are serious and shows that you respect
- If turned down initially, keep a
record of when the administration was approached and
follow up by email or phone call a few weeks later.
- Try to be in Argentina when applying
for jobs—it often helps immensely in nailing the
- Remember to protect yourself when
applying for employment; ask about the salary, days your
presence is required, whether you are expected to work
in various locations, if transportation included, what
type of visas are required, if any, etc.
Teaching English in Argentina can be
an awarding experience, even if it does not pay a lot. For
Burgess, teaching not only brought great memories but love
as well, “I met my boyfriend teaching. He was one
of my very first students. We are now planning on marrying.” So
you never know; the job that you took to learn another culture
and extend your time abroad may change your life forever.