How to Teach English in Brazil
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Brazil is a country that ‘moves at a different rhythm’ compared to other countries. Brazilians take a more laid-back approach to life than many Americans are used to, which is no doubt why the country scores 34.3 on the Happy Planet Index, ranking 23rd out of 108 countries.
To put that into perspective, the US scores a measly 20.7 and ranks 108th. One of the best things about teaching English in Brazil is that teachers can experience this ‘jeitinho Brasileiro’ – the Brazilian way of living – first-hand.
It’s also a country rich in food, culture, and excitement. From the wild parties of Rio De Janeiro to the stunning beaches of Salvador, there’s no shortage of things to see and do outside of the classroom. You can while away your weekends relaxing on one of Brazil’s many, many beaches, which stretch over 9,000 kilometers.
And the best part about all this is that it’s super easy to start teaching English in brazil. The emerging market in South America’s largest country means that there is a huge demand for English teachers throughout the country, and it’s easier than ever for English teachers to find work even with no experience of qualifications.
What are the requirements to teach in Brazil?
You don’t need much to teach English in Brazil. Schools aren’t picky, and the only real requirement to get hired as a teacher in Brazil is to be a native English speaker. If you come from a native English speaking country like the US, UK, Australia, Canada, or New Zealand, you should have no trouble finding a job.
There are, of course, different requirements if you plan on obtaining a working visa. We’ll talk more about this in the visa section further below.
While a native level of English is the only hard and fast requirement, there are a few other preferred qualifications that employers will like to see. The job market can still be fairly competitive in built-up cities like Rio so to help your application stand out from the crowd, it helps to have a Bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate, and relevant teaching experience. If you’re also a licensed teacher in your home state, you can demand much higher pay rates at international schools
Finding a teaching job in Brazil
Most language schools in Brazil won’t hire teachers from overseas or conduct interviews over the phone/online. As such, the best way to find a teaching job in Brazil is to go there and search for one on the ground.
Once you’re in-country, you can look for schools in your preferred area and email them or walk in and hand them your resume. If they’re interested, they’ll usually invite you for an in-person interview or demo class before making an offer.
How much do teachers in Brazil make?
Salaries for teachers in Brazil vary depending on whether you teach at schools or offer private lessons. Here’s what you can expect to earn from each:
- Regular school teachers – $5-$10 (RS20 – RS40) per hour
- Private tutoring – $10-$15 (RS20 – RS40) per hour
- Specialist/fully-licensed teachers $20-$50 per hour
Schools in the smaller, more remote, and less wealthy areas of Brazil are likely to pay on the lower end of this range, whereas schools in big cities like Sao Paulo will pay on the upper end. If you’re a fully-licensed teacher, or if you specialize in legal/medical English, you may be able to negotiate much higher salaries and multi-year contracts at reputable international schools.
Schools don’t typically offer any incentives on top of this, so you’ll probably be responsible for your own airfare and housing costs. Many teachers choose to live in shared accommodation with their co-workers to keep costs down.
This is a fairly low pay rate compared to many other countries like Vietnam, China, and Taiwan, where the average teacher pay rate is closer to $20 per hour. However, it’s also important to factor in the cost of living. The asverage cost of living in Brazil is around $800-$1,300 per month which, in context, makes an average teacher’s salary much more attractive. You probably won’t save much money, but you will have a whale of a time and cover the costs of what can be a very nice lifestyle.
What is the visa process for Brazil?
To legally teach or work in Brazil, you need a work visa (or, alternatively, permanent residency). In practice, however, most teachers living in Brazil don’t get a work visa. Acquiring one is a costly bureaucratic process that most schools want to avoid. Unless you’re employed on a multi-year contract at a big international school, it’s going to be tough to get your visa sponsored.
Instead, most people teach in Brazil on student visas or tourist visas. While this is fairly common practice, it’s still important to remember that it is, technically, illegal. If you choose to go down this route, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re aware of the laws and the consequences.
You should also note that tourist visas are typically only valid for 3 months and need to be renewed; you may also only be entitled to remain in Brazil on a tourist visa for up to 6 months per year.
What’s it like teaching in Brazil?
Alright, now that we’ve covered how to teach in Brazil and how much you can earn, let’s talk a little about what the job is like.
There are three main types of teaching jobs in Brazil:
- public schools
- private language schools
- private tutoring.
Let’s take a look at each.
Language schools are the most popular type of school for English teachers as they have the lowest entry requirements. Some of the larger language chain schools include CCAA, Cultura Inglesa, and Berlitz Brazil. These chains are well-established and have branches up and down the country. Language schools provide supplementary, after-school classes, so most classes take place on weekends and in the evenings.
Unlike other countries, a very large chunk of Brazil’s ESL market is geared towards business English. As such, there are lots of language schools that cater to adults in businesses and corporations.
If you end up working in a language school, you might be teaching classes alone or with a Brazilian co-teacher using group learning techniques. Your job as the native English speaker will be to model good English, lead the classroom, and converse with your students so that they can have conversation practice with a native speaker.
Public & International Schools
There are many schools and universities in the public school system in Brazil, as well as Catholic-run institutions. These schools often hire English teachers but the job market in the public school system tends to be more competitive as salaries are higher, so it helps to have more experience and better qualifications if you go down this route. The teaching job itself also might also be more demanding.
If you’re teaching at a reputable international school, your school may provide a free Portuguese language acquisition program. They may also provide ongoing professional development opportunities.
Most teachers recommend private tutoring over teaching in schools as you can make much more money. But of course, the flipside of that is that you won’t be provided any lesson plans, training, materials, or any other support that schools usually provide – it’s all on you.
You also have to find your own students by networking and advertising your services. Depending on how you choose to operate, you might be tutoring from someone’s home, from your own home, or from a public place like a coffee shop. You might want to teach 1-on-1 or in small group classes, and depending on what your students are looking for, you might focus on purely conversation practice or more formal lessons.
Due to the time it takes to build up a network to provide a full-time living through private tuition, most people work at schools for a while and accumulate private students on the side.
Most teachers in Brazil work around 20-25 hours per week. This is typical for most schools and there may also be additional time for lesson planning and grading that bumps it up to around 40 hours per week.
If you’re teaching privately, you might be able to make a living on less than that. Some tutors teach as little as 10 hours per week. You’ll also be in complete control of your own schedule if you’re teaching privately.
The academic year runs from February to December and is split into two semesters.
Many schools offer teacher training and free Portuguese language classes to help you with your teaching, but the benefits usually end there. Most schools won’t offer a benefits package with things like health insurance and accommodation subsidies, though some may offer generous holiday periods.
With a 10-25 hour work week, there is ample time to relax or explore the country outside of the classroom. You can check out the world-famous ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio or hop around the 21 islands of Fernando de Noronha and snorkel the reefs.
The climate of Brazil can be tropical or temperate depending on which region you’re living in. To the north, the climate tends to be warmer, whereas in the South temperatures are pleasant year-round.
Resources & FAQs
Can you teach in Brazil without a degree?
Yes, most language schools don’t require teachers to have a degree.
Do you have to be a native speaker to teach in Brazil?
Yes, you’ll need to be a native speaker to teach in Brazil in most circumstances. You may be able to find a school willing to hire a non-native in some circumstances if you’re exceptionally well-qualified and highly fluent in English.
Do you need a TEFL to teach in Brazil?
No, a TEFL certificate is not an essential job requirement for most language schools in Brazil, but it certainly helps.