How to Teach English in Argentina
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Right at the bottom of South America, only a few thousand miles north of Antarctica, lies the land of tango, wine and gaucho culture, oh, and Lionel Messi, of course. Home to some of the most amazing food and wine, Argentina is a country that really has it all, from the incredible sights to the warmth and friendliness of its people.
Its growing corporate sector makes this country one of the largest job markets for ESL teaching in South America and, with all it has to offer, it’s no wonder that it has become such a popular destination among ESL teachers.
So buckle up and get ready to find out all there is to know on teaching English in Argentina.
What are the requirements to teach in Argentina?
Before you can even begin to plan your life in the Land of Silver, you need to make sure you meet the requirements necessary to teach there. Luckily enough, schools in Argentina are not particularly strict when it comes to hiring teachers. Here is what you need to keep in mind:
- Being a native English teacher is not a requirement so although you obviously need to be highly fluent in the language, even non-natives can easily land a job.
- Having a Bachelor’s Degree is also not a strict requirement. However, having one will definitely give you an edge in such a competitive market.
- Most institutions will require a CELTA or TEFL certificate and may not even consider your application if you don’t have one.
How much can I make as a teacher in Argentina?
Let’s get this out of the way. Working as an ESL teacher in Argentina will not make you rich. In a country that has an average monthly salary of around $500, as an ESL teacher, you can consider yourself quite lucky as you can expect to make between $600 and $800 a month.
Another important thing to take into consideration is that inflation in the country is extremely high and, since you will be paid in Argentine pesos (ARS), your wage might fluctuate quite a bit throughout the year.
The amount of money you’ll be making will largely depend on where you work and, obviously, how many hours you’re willing to put in. In any case, you will probably need to accept more than one position to fill your schedule and make a decent wage.
Regardless of whether you work at a school or with private students, you will normally be paid by the hour. If at a language school you can expect to make $5-7 an hour, things look a bit brighter when working with private students, in which case you’d be making $8-10 an hour, potentially a bit more.
The good news is that although the pay is a lot lower than in many other countries, so is the cost of living (you can check this website for more information on it). Whether working in Argentina as an ESL teacher is cost effective or not will mostly depend on your lifestyle. Sharing a room instead of renting a whole apartment will help you cut down costs, as will eating at home as opposed to going out. You can also opt to live in a smaller urban area to save some money on rent, even though, in these areas, finding a job may prove to be a lot harder.
This website will also give you some precious insight into the costs and expenses connected to living in the country.
There are two ways to work in Argentina. The legal way and the not-so-legal way. Believe it or not, a great number of English teachers working in the country are not actually authorized to be employed. Many of them go on a tourist visa, which allows them to stay in the country for 90 days.
However, most schools will only offer you a six-month to a one-year contract, so how do people do it? By finding a loophole. When their visa is about to expire, many teachers will hop on a ferry and get to Uruguay, all in the matter of an hour or so. They will then get an exit stamp, spend a day or two on Uruguayan soil and re-enter Argentina with a fresh stamp and a new 90-day permit.
If breaking the law sounds too risky, no worries. There is another way, but you will have to be lucky enough to find a school to sponsor you, which could prove to be quite challenging. If you do succeed, you’ll be able to apply for a work visa. No breaking the law, no weekend trips to Uruguay, just a good ol’ work permit.
Here is everything you’ll need to apply for a work visa:
- Your employment contract, signed by the employer
- A passport valid for at least 6 months at the time of entering the country
- Two photographs
- Visa application, filled out and signed
- Criminal Background Check
- Sworn affidavit, signed in front of a consul (you can download it on the official website)
- Payment of the migration fee
- Payment of the consular fee ($250 or €250, depending on where you file your application)
- Consular interview
You can find a complete list of the documents necessary for the visa application as well as the forms on the official government website.
Visa form image
How can I find a job?
Just like many other countries at the moment, Argentina has witnessed an increase in the need of English teachers, which translates into lots of opportunities as well as lots of competition. Although job offers spring up throughout the country, the three top cities for ESL teachers tend to be the bigger cities, like Buenos Aires, of course, and then Cordoba and Mendoza. The cities of Rosario and Mar de la Plata can also be good destinations.
There are many ways to go about finding a job in Argentina and your choice will mostly depend on how much you would like to work and how much money you’re looking to make.
Types of teaching jobs in Argentina
The prosperous corporate sector in the country has led to an increasing demand for ESL teachers, especially in bigger cities. Many language schools cater to this need, acting as a link between the teachers and the companies and running courses both on-site as well as in-company. Very much like an independent contractor would, teachers normally work for more than one language school in order to fill their schedule. What’s great about working for a language school is that it guarantees some form of stability that you wouldn’t get otherwise. However, this also translates into wages that are on the lower end of the scale, especially in larger chains such as ABS International and Wall Street English.
The other option is to tutor private students. Because there is no middle man, private tutoring can get you almost twice as much money as working at a language school. However, this comes at a cost. First of all, it will obviously require some time for you to build a clientele. Secondly, you will have no guarantees, a student may cancel at the last minute or decide to stop taking classes altogether, leaving you with a big gap in the middle of you working day from day to night. Having said that, private tutoring can be a great tool when paired up with a more stable form of income.
With millions of students enrolled in the public school system, English teachers are in high demand even in public schools and job postings for these vacancies can often be found in the classified sections of many national newspapers. Before applying, though, you may want to double-check what the requirements are, as many public schools will only consider candidates with a Teacher Trainer College certification.
Private Schools and Universities
If you’ve been offered a job at a private school or university, you should probably thank your lucky stars as these types of institutions tend to be more supportive and offer higher wages than language schools. However, private schools and universities normally only look to hire candidates that possess a degree as well as previous experience in ESL teaching, and a visa will almost certainly be required, especially to teach at institutions of higher education.
Whatever route you choose, your best chance at finding work would be to look on the ground. Language schools are your best bet in this case, they are often looking to hire new teachers and the pay they offer is decent. And, hey, chances are, if they like you, you might even get hired on the spot.
If going door to door is not your jam, you don’t need to despair as you have quite a few options. You can come across job openings in many national newspapers, such as the Buenos Aires Herald and Clarin. Facebook, Craigslist and TusClases can also be good resources to connect with language schools or private students. However, be advised that even if you do apply online, most schools will want to meet you for an in-person interview so it is advisable to already be in the country when you start looking.
If you want to get into private tutoring, the best thing you can do is networking. If you’re good, word-of-mouth will, with a bit of work and patience on your part, get you enough classes to fill your schedule.
Once you have secured one or possibly more interviews (the more, the better), make sure you have in your hand your resume as well as a copy of your credentials (TEFL Certificate and your degree, if you have one) before you head out to meet your future employers.
Also, keep in mind that the school year in Argentina runs from March to December so the best time for teachers to apply is January through March and then again in the months of July and August. However, positions open up all the time, so teachers can be hired all year round.
What’s it like teaching in Argentina?
As an English teacher in Argentina you can expect to have a schedule of 25 to 30 teaching hours a week. Most of the time, it will be a split schedule built around the needs of working professionals who oftentimes will need to schedule their classes before work, after work or at lunchtime.
Most teachers end up juggling multiple jobs, often working for more than one language school and tutoring a few private clients on the side.
Classes are small and some schools will even provide you with some material to support you in your lesson planning.
Perks and benefits are limited for English teachers in Argentina. Most teachers are hired in person, which means airfare is not paid for by the school. Accommodation is also not provided, however, some schools may give you some assistance in helping you find a place to stay. Paid holidays is pretty much the only benefit you can hope for, that is, of course, as long as you are hired by a language school.
Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind when planning to move to Argentina.
Pucker up. Argentines kiss each other on the cheek when greeting, yes, even strangers. So you better prepare and decide how you want to handle this to avoid some possibly uncomfortable situations.
Punctuality is not a priority. Now that you know it, next time a student shows up late for class, you’ll know not to take it personally.
Get ready to sweat… and freeze. It can get quite hot and humid in summer in Argentina so make sure you pack a pair of shorts and short-sleeve shirt. But don’t forget to leave some room in your suitcase for a warm sweater to help you brave the cold and windy winters.
Make the most of what this amazing country has to offer. Try some of the best beef you have ever had, pair it with a glass of wine and head to your tango lessons.
Be prepared for some jaw-dropping sights. With over 30 national parks, you’ll have you pick of places to visit. Waterfalls, snowy mountains, glaciers, beaches… you name it! They will all leave you with your mouth hanging open.
For more things to try and see check out the top 10 Argentina experiences for first-timers.
So, in conclusion, sure, teaching in Argentina is not going to turn you into a millionaire. But working as an ESL teacher here can be a wonderful and enriching adventure. Whether you’re just starting off in your career or are an experienced teacher looking to explore another side of the world, Argentina presents countless opportunities and a unique culture worth discovering. And if and when you decide to leave, rest assured you will do so with a heavy heart and, most likely, a full belly.
Resources & FAQs
Can you teach without a degree?
Yes, a degree is not required, though having one will make finding a job much easier.
Do you have to be a native speaker?
No, although high fluency in English is necessary, you do not need to be a native speaker to be employed in Argentina.
Do you need a TEFL?
Yes, many schools will not consider your application if you do not possess a TEFL.