Earn Those Pesos! The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Chile
“When one teaches, two learn,” science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once said.
Those of us who have worked as educators know this to be true.
Teaching is a developmental experience for the master as well as the protégé, especially when the practice is performed in a foreign country.
But of all the countries in the world, why should you work in Chile?
Whether you’re a novice or a “lifer,” Chile is the ideal Latin American Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) destination for four fundamental reasons.
First, the economy is strong.
Second, the political climate is stable.
Third, the pay and conditions are the best in South America.
Fourth, and the most exciting, the country is brimming with stunning scenery to explore.
¿Comprende? (Do you understand?)
Let’s go over everything you need to know before you start your new career as an English teacher in Chile.
Learn Chilean Spanish
You don’t need to speak Spanish to work as a teacher, although it certainly does help when communicating with elementary students.
You will, however, need to speak Spanish to survive in Chile. No exceptions.
You should also aim to immerse yourself as soon as you arrive. Integrating into society will help you wrap your head around all that crazy Chilean slang.
You’ll get the hang of it with time, and you’ll be extremely glad you put in the effort.
Know how much money you need to live
We won’t try to sugar coat this: Chile is expensive.
Some products and services cost as much as inthe United States, while others are substantially less. For a reasonable standard of living, you’ll need something in the range of 750-1,500 USD per month.
Of course, cost of living depends on which city you choose to teach in. Do your research on living expenses in your area and salary at your institution.
Research Chilean visas
Working on a tourist visa is illegal in Chile, regardless of what some language institutes may tell you.
Visa Sujeta a Contrato (Visa Subject to Work Contract)
This is the work visa most gringos (foreigners) aspire to obtain, mostly because it entails the least amount of paperwork. A huge downside is that it only permits the holder to work for one company.
Looking for a new job on a Sujeta a Contrato? You’ll need to look for a new visa as well.
Visa de Residencia Temporaria (Temporary Residency Visa)
The Temporary Residency Visa allows the holder to work for whomever they please.
On the downside, the applicant must officially verify their university degree, which is a notoriously arduous and time consuming process.
Working Holiday Visas
Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and others under a certain age—usually 31—may be able to apply for a 12-month Working Holiday Visa. The process is considerably more straightforward than the above options.
Earn Those Pesos! The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Chile
Where to teach English in Chile
Deciding where to teach in Chile comes down to personal taste and whichever city happens to offer the best job. Consider the following:
- Santiago is a modern metropolis with the most prominent language learning market.
- Valparaiso is a port city and bohemian paradise with a sizable TEFL scene.
- Viña del Mar is an affluent coastal city and popular beach resort.
- Northern desert towns such as Antofagasta, Iquique and Arica may pay well, but the natural setting is rather uninspiring.
- Valdivia is a beautiful lake district town with ample opportunity due to a strong university contingent.
- Patagonia offers unrivaled natural splendor but is expensive and gets cold in the winter.
How to get a TEFL certificate
You don’t strictly need a TEFL certificate to teach in Chile, but it certainly could help you land a better paying gig. In fact, institutions who don’t require qualifications can pay as little as half as those who do.
I to I and the International TEFL Academy both offer globally recognized 140- to 170-hour online TEFL courses.
TEFL students who prefer face-to-face studies should contact Bridge IDELT to enroll in a class in Santiago.
What to expect of teaching conditions
A standard English teaching schedule consists of 20-25 class hours per week, not including preparation time. Many institutes will send their teachers to work in offices and homes throughout the city, which typically entails a small travel bonus.
Chileans aren’t famous for being punctual, so don’t be surprised if your students continuously turn up late. Ensure there’s a cancellation policy in place because last-minute flake outs are commonplace.
Some Chilean companies are a pleasure to work for, while others can be very difficult. Research your prospective employer thoroughly before committing to a job.
Types of teaching jobs in Chile
Language schools and institutions
Language institutes are the most common places for foreigners to land a job in Chile, especially newcomers to the profession. Depending on the prestige of your workplace, expect to earn 10-20 USD per hour.
Private schools and colleges
Fancy private schools and colleges are the crème de la crème of the TEFL world. Consequently, many require a bachelor’s or perhaps even a master’s degree in education, as well as a TEFL certificate and adequate experience. In exchange, teachers could receive a cushy monthly wage of 1,500-3,000 USD.
Contracts typically require a full-time commitment for a minimum of one year.
European Union citizens can apply to become a teacher’s assistant at a college through the British Council. The program runs between July and June and requires a time commitment of around 18 hours per week.
On rare occasions, teacher’s assistants could be assigned to a primary school rather than a university.
Pay is a paltry 650 USD per month, so it’d be wise to take on a few extra private classes to make ends meet.
With support from the United Nations Development Program, the Chilean Government runs a volunteer program to teach languages to children in disadvantaged communities. Nothing more than a bachelor’s degree is required, and even that is negotiable.
For six to 12 months, participants teach school-aged children in exchange for free food and accommodation in a homestay with a local family. Volunteers may choose where they wish to work, although such requests can’t be guaranteed.
Tutoring private classes can be lucrative once you’ve built up a client base, which does take a significant amount of time. Advertise through online job boards to attract new students.
Hourly rates range from 20-40 USD per hour, depending on the tutor’s experience, travel time and the ability of the student to pay.
Some teachers pick up a few classes to supplement their income while others focus solely on private tutoring.
How to find a teaching job in Chile
Landing a TEFL gig in Chile is either exceedingly difficult or exceedingly easy, depending on the paycheck you’re prepared to accept.
Beware of online scammers. Never pay anything to an institution upfront.
The following international job boards frequently have listings in Chile:
Chilean recruitment websites
The following Chilean recruitment websites often list jobs for English teachers:
A number of recruitment agencies place aspiring teachers into new positions in Chile and all over the world. Despite charging hefty fees, many first-time educators feel it’s worth the money for the convenience and peace of mind involved.
Placements are typically in Chilean high schools, universities or language institutes, with varying levels of compensation. World Teach is one reputable agency.
By now you pretty much know all there is to know about teaching English in Chile. All that’s left to do is spruce up your C.V. and start sending out applications for your dream TEFL job.
With a little luck and perseverance, you’ll be explaining the complexities of the past participle to enthralled Chilean students in no time.