Teach English in Chile! Beach or Mountains? Hot Summer or Snowy Winters? Chile has it all!
When considering making the move to teach English in South America, Chile makes for an exciting opportunity. As one of the continent’s most economically stable and financially prosperous countries, Chile is a leader in freedom, contentedness, and quality of life. Accordingly, the demand for learning English only continues to grow, securing the country as home to one of the top job markets for ESL teachers in all of Latin America. Couple this with the vibrant culture and geographically diverse landscape and it will almost seem too good to be true, for new and veteran teachers alike. Choosing to work here provides teacher with a beautifully unique and integrated cultural experience- a major priority for most ESL teachers looking to move abroad.
Guide to Teaching English in Chile
Although Chile does not have strict requirements for teachers in comparison to many other countries in the world, like Saudi Arabia, for example, it does set the bar slightly higher than a lot of other countries in Latin America. A Bachelor’s degree is not crucial, but, as is the case with pretty much everywhere in the world, it is preferred by most employers and will certainly strengthen your application. Generally speaking, a TESOL or TEFL certification is necessary for the majority of jobs. An official teaching qualification will open innumerable doors for prospective teachers, as well. You never know: you could hit it off with a director and get hired regardless. However, it’s probably best to go into the situation with strong attributes and an understanding of the desired qualifications- they can make all the difference.
Teachers are completely responsible for almost every aspect of their migration to work in Chile, which mainly includes airfare and housing. The best way to work out the living situation is to get in contact with the teacher that you are likely replacing. Utilize the expat community and the process will seem a lot less daunting and lonely. Many teachers room-up with co-workers, as well, so don’t be afraid to explore this as an option. Most people will also wonder about the process of obtaining a work visa. Chile is one of the few South American countries where obtaining a permit to legally work is the norm, although this, too, is entirely circumstantial. If you’d like assistance with legal mumbo jumbo, solicit the help of an experienced teach abroad agency or even ask your potential employer if they can offer any guidance or assistance. If you are offered an official contract, it isn’t unrealistic to expect permit help. However, a large proportion of jobs are done behind the scenes and under the table; these jobs, it should go without saying, will probably laugh if you bring up obtaining legal permission to teach.
The vastness of the landmass and its plethora of regions allows potential teachers to have the luxury of a wide range of choice when it comes to the job search. This, in addition to the widespread feeling that Chilean students are wonderfully enthusiastic, provides a necessary and comforting feeling for teachers who move, and quite often, stay here. With so many options around the country, the initial steps may feel a bit overwhelming. However, there are some concrete facts and well-known hotspot tips that can make the process of choosing and transitioning a smooth one. While the country has been working to expand the reaches of English to students throughout the country, the bulk of jobs are still mainly available in large urban areas, whether at high schools, colleges, or, most commonly, private language institutes. You might find these listed in local papers, but the best way is to ask around in the right places. Show your determination and you are likely to be rewarded.
The first, and most probably most popular, location to consider in order to guarantee ESL teaching success is Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city. A third of the country’s population resides here, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of work can be found there. Other noteworthy cities to scout out jobs in are Concepcion, Valparaiso, and Vina Del Mar. Unfortunately for serenity-seekers, rural jobs are quite rare and the few (paid) opportunities that exist certainly require a bit of luck to find; volunteer positions are in a completely separate category of advice.
In many countries within the realm of ESL teaching, simply turning up and searching for jobs in person is a big, bold NO. However, this is often the preferred and recommended route to take in Chile. Although there are a number of teachers who find jobs on various ESL job forums and secure positions through phone or Skype interviews, many more individuals take to the road and search for themselves. Emails alone will more than likely not be answered, and internet searchers need to be on high alert for scams. The peak months for hiring teachers are February and March (when people return from Christmas holidays) and July and August. It is possible in major cities to find work year-round, though, so do not be discouraged if these months don’t work well with your time frame. Remember, some form of certificate or higher education is highly favored, if not required, so make sure to take this into consideration before jetting off with high hopes.
Most schools and employers will offer a 20-25 hour work week to teachers, along with a salary that allows them to live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle; this works out between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on the institute that you get hired with. Although this might not sound overly exciting for your bank account, there is no denying that a schedule like that affords ample time to explore the country and its many regions. Often referred to as the “California of South Ameria”, the Chilean landscape is home to the regal Andes Mountains, a seemingly-infinite coastline, and world-class wine regions. Its cities house ancient history and art, with intricate architecture that has withstood the test of time. Escaping the rat race is pretty simple, as well, considering that the entire country is equivalent in beauty to the best National Parks that the world has to offer. The Torres del Paine National Park, with its majestic granite towers, icebergs, and glaciers, should top anyone’s “To-See” list, along with a trip to Rapa Nui, more commonly known as Easter Island. Whether you’re an avid hiker or climber who dreams of getting lost in the peaks, a marine enthusiast who only wants to catch some relaxing waves, or a foodie who follows the most delicious types of trails, there will never be a dull moment during your time in Chile.