Teaching in South America
Most of the work available will be in international schools, these include schools that are based on the British curriculum, the American Curriculum and those that favour the International Baccalaureate.
There are two key things to remember about South America; although most of the continent speaks a form of Spanish, they speak Portuguese in Brazil, and secondly, much of the continent is south of the equator, so has a school year that runs from January to December. This makes returning to the UK more of a challenge.
Are you qualified to teach in South America?
Most of the international schools will expect you to be a qualified teacher with two years teaching experience.
If you’re a Spanish and/or Portuguese speaker this will give you an edge when jobseeking. Although don’t be downhearted if you don’t have the linguistic skills as free Spanish language tuition may be included as part of your contract. One TES Forum user who taught in Lima, Peru admitted:”I lived in Lima for years and went without a word of Spanish but was keen to learn and it really is a must”.
Knowledge of the International Baccalaureate as well as the British curriculum will also broaden your options and if you have experience of Latin American culture, this is also going to go down well too.
Pay and conditions in South America
Although many schools in South America are long established, it’s worth checking their credentials, and whether they are affiliated to any international school organisation.
Salaries range from around $25,000 (USD) to $45,000 for a teacher and up to $60,000 for posts with management responsibility. The cost of living in Latin America is cheap compared to the UK so you will find your money goes a lot further. Contracts are usually for two years.
Some schools offer a bonus once you have completed your contract and some will also contribute to a personal pension scheme.
You can expect your accommodation to be paid for or provided by the school. You may also get a settling in allowance to help with initial costs.
Return flight tickets for you and your family should also be part of the deal at the beginning and the end of the contract.
One of the contributors to the TES Teaching Overseas forum advises you ask the following questions of any school and notes that: “If you get satisfactory answers to these questions, and you are willing to make compromises (as you would when moving to any new country), then bite their hands off if you get offered anything.”
- Does the school contribute to a pension scheme?
- Does the school offer help finding accommodation?
- Is medical insurance part of the deal?
- Are Spanish lessons available and if so are they provided free or do you have to pay for them?
- Does the school have a full-time expat liaison person? If not, who helps sort things out in terms of obtaining your carnet (national ID card) if you decide to stay for more than three years.
- What is the curriculum – is it UK style or IB?
- What’s the dropout rate – ie the number of expat teachers who leave before their contract has ended? And why do these teachers typically leave.
Teaching jobs in South America on TES
Don’t forget to set yourself up with a job alert on TES so that you get details of the latest jobs in South America emailed directly to you when they’re advertised on TES Jobs
Useful links for teaching in South America
Find out more about the curricula taught in the various Latin American international schools
Find out more about the IB curriculum
Read this conversation on whether or not you have to be a Spanish speaker to get a job in South America?
And check out this chat about what the quality of life is like in Latin America