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Thread: Teaching in Central or South America

  1. #1
    Just a LOVE machine. Array Earlyant's Avatar
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    Teaching in Central or South America

    Any one have any info on a good country to teach in?

    Availability of work
    Salaries
    Visa issues
    The schools
    Student interest
    Places to stay
    Safety
    Cost of living
    Transport

    Cheers

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    Regular User Array Fabian's Avatar
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    You don't want any infos about central europe?

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    Wait For the Expert

    I bet Peaceblondie could give you info on this when he shows up.

    "Steven"

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    Just a LOVE machine. Array Earlyant's Avatar
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    I posted this on the last board just before it went 'belly up', Steven. Got a lot of informative replies from PB and Snaf.

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    I think bubba's in columbia right now. I hope he shows up on here.
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    Just a LOVE machine. Array Earlyant's Avatar
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    ^ Me, too.

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    Just a LOVE machine. Array Earlyant's Avatar
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    Sorry, double post. Oops

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    A lousy and daring fellow Array Bubba's Avatar
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    Bubba's Guide To Colombia

    Hey Earlyant,
    I work in Colombia, and can give you the skinny for here. Not sure about the rest of SOuth America though.

    Availability of Work
    Not English language crazy in the same way that Japan, Korea, Taiwan or Thailand are, but still lots of work about and fairly easy to get. Colombia gets very few gringos passing through, and even less who want to stay on. There are plenty of Siam Computer-esque shit langauge schools around which will hire you at the drop of a hat. One of the better ones is Colombo-Americano (you don't have to be American to work there) which does English course and also promotes cultural events. There is also a British Council in Bogota which is always on the lookout for new staff and probably pays quite well. I have heard on the grapevine, however, that the BC is considering closing all its South America branches. Colombia has somthing like an 18% unemployment rate, and as such there is a law in place that states that anywhere must employ 80% Colombians. So you get a lot of poorly trained Colombian teachers. The emphasis here is obviously on American English. Having said that, however, Colombians aren't really all that impressed with Americans. Unless you are rich you are just another scruffy Gringo. The Brits, however, are still viewed as the stiff upper-lip, bowler hat, pinstrip suit and financial times kind of guy, which, however silly and far from the truth it may be, is handy at times. If you want to earn better money away from the langauge schools there are two options. The univiersities and the bi-lingual colegios. Depending on the place these will generally be a bit more sorted out when it comes to curriculum and methodology, but 'sorted out' is a relative term here.

    I should also mention private work. Not much private work about when I first got here, but the economy has started picking up and you can get a lot through contacts, dropping your CV in at companies, etc. Many companies have branches in the states and often send their employees on training programs up there. I charge 8000 ($3) pesos per person per hour, for 50 hour courses, payable up front (or monthly) with between 10-15 students per group. I finished a course in June, before I went on holiday that was bringing in about $500+ p/m on top of my salary.

    Salaries
    Between 2 million ($800) to 3.5 million ($1300) pesos p/m for TEFL jobs. The cost of living is slightly higher than in Thailand, although apartment rent is lower. Housing is zoned, so that all the poor people live together and pay less for their utilities. I pay $187 p/m for a large two bedroom / kitchen / living room / 2 bathrooms / maids room place in the next to highest zone. If you move down to a couple of zones you could get very nice, very cheap places, although obviously, the lower the zone the higher the security risk. If you have a B.Ed or a PGCE you could get away with between 4 and 5 million a month, plus perks. Food is slightly more expensive than Thailand, and Colombian cuisine seems to consist of their imaginative ways of stuff hotdogs with diffeent types of sauce or a slab of meat on a chopping board with a couple of boiled potatoes. Cheap steak though if that's your thing.

    Visa Issues
    Getting the visa makes Thai visas look simple and logical. You will need a police check, your certs, passport, school paperwork. If you are married you'll need your marriage certificate. Then you need to get it notarised by a lawyer in your country of origin. Then you need to go to you ministry of foreign affairs (the FCO in the UK) and get something called an apostile. Then you have to have it all translated into Spanish. Then you take it to the consulate and you get your visa. Once in country you then have two months to register yourself with the internal security services, and you get a nice little ID card.

    [u:5ff735

    963d]Student Interest[/u:5ff735963d]
    Big plus over Thailand. I teach scondary school and find that there are no little pschopaths a la the UK, but also they are lively enough not to be boring like you get with some of the ultra passive students in Thailand. Same seems to go for adults. Think of some debate lessons you may have done over there. Like getting blood from a stone trying to get the office junior to disagree with his boss, everyone looking around at each other trying to work out social status and who they can and can't disagree with. Not so here. Debates - 'You think X, you think Y, here's some vocabulary' and sit abck and watch the fireworks. Great fun. Lots of demand for grammargrammargrammar, vocabulary, conversation. That said there is so little English down here that what they all actually need, at least initially is lots and lots of listening practice. If you're teaching kids there is the inevitable arrogant, spoiled brat syndrome.

    Places To Stay
    Do you mean places to live ? Its not like Thailand insofar as Thailand is Bangkok if you wnt $$$ and everywhere else is for hippies and dreamers and people with independent income. Bogota is the capital, but Cali, Medillin, Cartagena and Barranquilla (where I am) are important and culturally distinct in their own right. Cali is probably best - nice climate - not too not, not too cold, very sexy women, lots of nightlife. Medillin is similar to Cali, but with a crime rate that is through the roof. Bogota is chilly and drizzly, but you can have a good laugh there, Cartagena is beautiful old colonial city on the Caribbean, Barranquilla is a rough and ready Caribbean port town.

    Safety
    Probably what's on the forefront of most people's minds. It's not as bad as the media makes out, and with a bit of street sense and a few minor alterations to your daily routine you will be OK. Most urban crime is in very obvious areas, which you will learn to stay away from. In the UK I wouldn't walk around Chapeltown in Leeds with my best gold jewelry on a Friday night. Likewise I wouldn't do that in Barrio Por Fin over here. There is a guerilla war that has been going on in the countryside for the last 50 years. There are two main groups of left-wing rebels, one main group of right-wing paramilitaries who both fight each other, coke barons who fight anyone who won't do business with them, and the government who fight everybody. Again this violence is regional. In areas where the guerillas are in control things are quite settled, and you wouldn't have much of a problem, likewise in areas of firm government control. The second largest guerilla group, the ELN, gets a large chunk of its funds from kidnapping. As a TEFL teacher the chances of this happening are pretty unlikely. They know who they are kidnapping and someone on a 3.5 million peso salary is generally below their sights. If you go wandering around in the jungle near the ELN areas though, you are asking for trouble really, as happened in September last year, when 15 foreign tourists were kidnapped. In areas where the traditional power structures are going through change the various factions move in and this is when the troubles start. So yes, safety is a concern, but its fairly easy to minimise the chances of anything bad happening by useing a little common sense. Poor people are treated like shit by the rich and kept in their ghettos, so its unsuprising that crime is a problem. My own personal experience - My school was attacked one night by a gang of armed robbers - the security guards fought them off, one (fatal) shooting in a bar, heard gunshots near my house twice, stayed in a hotel in a dodgy part of Bogota were for, for the guests, there was a 70% mugging rate - to the point were we set up a pool to guess the time of the next mugging.

    Cost of Living
    See salaries.
    Pack of 20 Luck Strike - $1
    pack of Colombian Fags - $.50 (but they make Krong Tip seem plea

    sant)
    Beer from shop (national) - $.30 - $.50 but sold in tiny little cans. Give me a manly sized Chang any day.
    Imported beer - $2
    Rum - 750ml - $7
    Cheap dinner - $1 - $2
    Meal for two in top of the pile restaurant - $20 - $30
    Rent (top zone) - $300 p/m
    Rent (lowest zone you'd want to live) - less than $100
    A real DVD (latest movie) - $30 (!)
    Copied VCD - $2 (not as common as in Thailand though)
    2km taxi ride - $1.50

    Transport
    2nd Hand Motorscooter - $1000
    2nd Hand groovy American car - $3000+
    Taxi - see above
    Bus - $.20
    State of driving depends on the city. In Bogota its not too bad. The government employs mimes to stand at traffic lights and take the piss out of hot-tempered drivers, and the roads are generally jam free. here the driving makes Thailand seem like a model of responsibility and good manners. Overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic and red lights whilst drunk and talking on you mobile is standard practice. Fortunately the roads are't in good enough state to let anyone reach a speed where they might do any real harm to each other.

    Colombians
    Friendly, easy to get on with, definite intellectual streak to many of them, not as 'alien' as the Thais, strong American influence, especially amongst the richer ones.

    Expats
    Good bunch of expats in Bogota, Cali and Cartagena - much smaller scale than you would find in Thailand, though. Where I am they all seem to be too sincere and straight-laced for my tastes.

    I like it here - good job, near the sea, sexy women, etc. If I wasn't married to a Thai I'd probably spend more time here. As it is I'm heading back to SEA next year. I'd certainly recommend it, though.

    Oh and there's loads of opportunities for misbehaviour.

    As for other countries in SA i really have no firm information, but Peru seems best and maybe Argentina and Brazil. Central American doesn't pay enough to be worthwile from what I can see (if Gringo Greg makes an appearance ask him - he worked in Honduras and somewhere else for a few years); likewise Mexico - TEFL market glutted with American backpackers.
    Nuts In A Blender

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  10. #10
    Just a LOVE machine. Array Earlyant's Avatar
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    Great info on Colombia, Bubba.

    What about Work Permits?

    Can you apply for jobs from the UK or should you apply there?

    Cheers.

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