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Teaching in Latin America

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by marcusqbennett, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. marcusqbennett

    marcusqbennett New commenter


    I am currently a primary school teacher entering my third year of teaching. At the moment, I am teaching at a school in London, but I plan on doing an international move for the next academic year.

    I have always had my heart set on teaching in a Spanish speaking country, as I have been learning Spanish throughout the years and want to improve my fluency. At first, I considered Spain (as it is the closest) but the lower salary and reviews on here make me somewhat apprehensive. I was also considering Latin America/Caribbean, but wondered if anyone has any advice, insight or experience with this. Many of the jobs I see are in Colombia, Peru and Chile which I am not opposed to at all!
    I am currently on M4 pay scale working in outer London. What are my prospects are finding work abroad?
  2. Morena123

    Morena123 New commenter

    The top schools in Chile employ native English speakers for Primary as they tend to be immersive-English to around Year 7 and then switch back to Spanish for High School. The pay will be better than Spain and it's a great country to live in (current issues aside) but you certainly shouldn't go there aiming to save lots.

    The only school I know of that is truly English-language is Nido. Jobs there are hard to come by! The other schools are basically bilingual. Many will do the IB but this is secondary to the Chilean pre-uni tests so they don't really 'feel' like IB schools. I'm not sure on Primary curriculum, some will do PYP I'm sure.

    Oh and the Spanish there is the most 'different' Spanish you can get, it takes some getting used to!

    Feel free to PM me if you want more info.

    I haven't worked in Peru or Colombia but have heard good things about both. The schools there may well be more 'international' than Chile.

    Good luck!!!
  3. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    I worked in Colombia (Bogota) for 12 years as a teacher, administrator and Head of School. I left 9 years ago, but still maintain contacts with my former colleagues. Colombia is a beautiful country: geographically diverse with friendly people. Bogota Spanish is quite clear and the accent is easier to understand than others (e.g. Venezuela). It is much less dangerous than it used to be, although you still have to maintain situational awareness. Traffic and pollution in Bogota can be quite trying, but it is relatively easy to leave the city on weekends. Other cities such as Medellin and Cali are much easier to live in, although they do have more difficult accents to master. Most of the international schools follow the IB rather than the IPC or British National Curriculum, so you would have to be willing to learn and be flexible. Still you would likely receive IB training at the school’s expense which would benefit you in the long run should you decide to remain international. There are four international schools in Bogota one American, one for the Angles, one for the Engles, and one for presumptuous Britons. The latter school would have the most expatriate children while the others would be only 5-6% expatriate. There are also some quite good national bilingual schools that hire expatriate teachers (they would be 99% Colombian). There are also far too many awful schools who pretend to be bilingual and international: there is one for the Scots (with nary a Scot to be found), one for Kiwis (the same), and one for the Paddy’s. Be careful! Check out the *** reviews. I am not current with expatriate salaries but there was a devaluation a few years ago. Still, I would think it would be possible to live well (Colombian food is great, hence my username) and they do take their partying very seriously! You really must be willing to learn to dance. To save money, I think that you would confine your travel to within the country (very beautiful). If you decide to visit the States or return to the UK for holidays, you would not be able to save (I believe). If you are flexible, tolerant, and wiling to stand a bit (ha!) of chaos you would enjoy working there. Indeed, one of the things I miss the most, now that I live in Scandinavia, is that frisson of chaos that pervades life there.
  4. Zimrilim

    Zimrilim New commenter

    Don't touch Ecuador with a bargepole. Especially the school that resembles Green fields.
  5. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Don't worry about the language. The fact that there are different varieties of Spanish (as there are of English) is not a huge issue. Chilean Spanish (rapid and often omitting parts of syllables) is not greatly different from the Andaluz spoken by my neighbours here in Spain. There are some variations but when I say 'plata' instead of 'dinero' everybody knows what I mean. Similarly, if you are used to pronouncing Z and C in the standard Spanish manner nobody in Latin America will bat an eyelid. There used to be a tiresome (British) huevona in my choir who insisted that omitting the Castilian lisp was the Spanish equivalent of singing in Cockney, but this is nonsense, as educated Colombian Spanish, for instance, is not only a delight to listen to but also more graceful and arguably more ancient than modern madrileño.

    A word of warning: There can be huge cultural differences between hispanophone countries. Having found our Salvadoran students delightful we were quite shocked by the arrogant assumption of entitlement we encountered in Santiago de Chile.
  6. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    "I haven't worked in Peru or Colombia but have heard good things about both. The schools there may well be more 'international' than Chile."

    Very few schools in Latin America are 'international' in the way most people on these threads mean. Most are schools for middle and upper middle class locals. In general there will be one or two schools (usually the big American School) that have a range of different nationalities but in general this is not the case. As I have said on here in the past, this does not make them bad schools, in my experience the students are well behaved and hard working but it does give them a different feel to a school with a range of nationalities.

    The other things to be aware of is that the package on offer will not be of the same order as those in Asia and the Middle East. Parental influence tends to be stronger and more vocal than in some countries (do you remember the Catholic Mothers Committee at the ABC Cap?) and finally that some subjects will probably be taught in Spanish and some will be taught by local staff who are fluent - ish in English, and speaking of the language I would concur with the Captain.

    PS: Could you give us more details, Zimrilim?

    PPS I am happy to go into more detail in a Conversation marcusqbennet
  7. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    I loved all of ABC, hasta las mamas católicas, warts and all. Some colleagues complained that the kids were too laid back but I had an IB Higher English group which was superior to most I'd taught in the UK. El Salvador was my absolute favourite of all the countries we worked in during our time overseas.
  8. tica

    tica New commenter

    Peru has some long-established, well-run schools where the student body tends to be made up of locals who can afford the fees, dual nationality kids and expats.
    We considered ourselves well paid when we were there but of course that can change pretty quickly in Latin America!
    Lima is a fascinating city and the food is amazing! The country has loads to offer and you have a fabulous continent to explore.
    Peruvians pride themselves on speaking the purest Castellano so it’s a great place to learn.
    We had 3 fabulous years there and recommend it if you have a sense of adventure.
    YNWA1892 likes this.
  9. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Absolutely tica, and with a name like that you must also know ticolandia!
  10. gudrunbjorg

    gudrunbjorg New commenter

    I'm currently teaching in Brazil (not Spanish-speaking, obviously), but still. Absolutely loving it so far, and being on this great continent is one of the wisest career moves I have made, even though as other posters have pointed out, you are not likely to be working in a "melting pot" school with a large pool of international students. However, you will work with somewhat boisterous, but lovely children, and the packages are by and large decent at least. I have no idea how to start a conversation on this thing, but you are more than welcome to message me if you want more information.
  11. gendojones

    gendojones New commenter

    I've worked in Mexico and Costa Rica. Should you want any more information, feel free to PM me!!
  12. tica

    tica New commenter

    Wonderful Costa Rica - another great Latin American destination!

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