Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Jobs in Chile
The Need for Teachers is Urgent
Article and photos by Jacquelin Zammuto
The growing relationship between Chile and the U.S. has ignited an urgent need for Chileans to learn English. The hiring period is in late winter or early spring (most schools start their classes in March) so the best time to apply is between November and January.
Chile is a vastly diverse country. The country’s main travel web page (in Spanish) provides useful information on all of the regions.
Having a TEFL certificate is helpful, but not necessary. Whether or not you have to prepare your own lesson plans depends upon the institute and its daily curriculum. Make sure to find out how and what they expect you to prepare outside of the classroom because this is unpaid time.
Pay and Workload
Most institutes pay by the hour—anywhere from 3,000-5,000 pesos (about 590 pesos to the dollar) per hour, depending on the location of the school and the level or age of the students. Some places guarantee a fixed number of hours a week, but this guarantee is not set in stone. Some companies require you to teach in multiple locations throughout the day; this could mean you have to spend a significant amount of time and money on transportation. Before making a commitment to any company, ask for a list of past employees who you can contact as references. Ask them about how the institute is run and their overall experience.
Nearly all institutes ask for a 1-year commitment. Most, especially ones catering to business people, require you to work on Saturdays and in the evening (until 9 p.m.). If this kind of commitment doesn't suit you, consider private tutoring. This is a great option if you are good at organizing your time and making lesson plans for a variety of needs and abilities. Again, many clients prefer a teacher with some kind of certification, but it isn’t required. You can advertise your services as a private tutor on web pages, the local paper, and on signs in Internet cafes, bakeries, schools, etc. Hourly rates are negotiable depending on your city, and the client’s needs and occupation. You can charge anywhere from 3,000-10,000 Chilean pesos per hour. It may also be possible to teach some private classes on the side. Be sure to check your employer’s policies on this before you start.
Life Outside the Classroom
A local fisherman in Tumbes rests after a day at sea.
Teaching in Chile is only half the experience. Life outside the classroom is the real adventure. Most institutes don’t require that teachers speak Spanish, but it is helpful for daily survival. Surprisingly few Chileans speak English. While this is an excellent reason to teach there, consider studying at least basic survival Spanish before you go.
Many institutes will provide you with a homestay for the training period. Living with a Chilean family is a good way to immerse yourself in the culture. Families, however, can vary. If you are unhappy, don’t be afraid to speak with your supervisor, and he or she can help you relocate. It is relatively easy to find alternative arrangements. For a furnished pad, at the time of this writing plan on paying anywhere from 75,000 to 150,000 pesos per month for rent. Local pensions are advertised everywhere from the newspaper to kitchen windows. Mejores Datos is an excellent classified paper that includes apartments, houses, roommates wanted, furniture, etc.
Because of the 6-days-a-week work schedule, it can be tough to do quick getaways, so it’s a good idea to plan some extra time either before or at the end of your stay. If you are planning to stay a year or more, you can use your visa to enter the country on a 1-way ticket.
Jacquelin Zammuto, a native of Boulder, CO, has lived, studied, and worked in Australia, Spain, and Chile. Before her year in Chile she graduated from the Univ. of Colorado with a degree in broadcast production journalism and a minor in women’s studies.