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Teaching English in Chile: A Great Demand for Teachers

Villarica, Chile with mountain in background.

The demand for English teachers in Chile is a direct result of Chile’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 previously did not require a TEFL degree, but that has become increasingly more important and advisable in Chile and worldwide. North American speakers are valued and hired often because of their accent 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.

Some 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 often 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.

If you are more conservative in approach, you may also wish to check out the following programs, several of which do have associated costs in order to train you to become a certified teacher (if you are already) and do offer to help you to find work thereafter:

Related Topics
Teaching English in Chile
Articles on Living in Chile
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