ESL Teaching Guide - Argentina

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Dan McNeil - October 2004

There is a small, but growing number of high-quality TEFL Certification programs in South America. BE CAREFUL and avoid the weekend courses, as these will never be taken seriously at good institutes. Most of the time you can get a job in South America without a TEFL Certificate, but that too is changing, and if you want to work elsewhere in the future or work for the better institutes, I think a strong TEFL Certification is critical -- I know it helped me! There is a TEFL Certification Program in Cusco, Peru -- It's a professional 4-week/120-hour course, and is run by a group called "Maximo Nivel" ( Overall, a very professional outfit with a good TEFL program. I didn't want to work in Cusco, so they helped me find a job in Buenos Aires, but 2 of my fellow students were given jobs teaching English at Maximo Nivel after the course. I definitely reccomend this program for anyone who wants to do a professional-level TEFL Certification in South America.

Caz Dawkins - May 2004

I am currently teaching in Buenos Aires. I have been teaching here for 3 months. The cost of living here right now is really low because of the economical crash. But, the wages are also really low, about US$5 an hour for private classes and as low as US$3 if you work for an institute. It is possible to get more, but it helps if you are bilingual and so can perform other duties as well.

I also taught for 6 months in Cochabamba in Bolivia, where the wages were much the same, as was the cost of living. The main positive aspect of the job I would say is the students. All South American students I have taught have been a pleasure to teach - they are keen to learn and not afraid to speak and make mistakes, which makes for very lively classes. They are also hugely interested in people from other countries and cultures. I have also found my bosses to be very supportive and always available for discussion of new ideas or problems. A lot of places do not even require any teaching qualification, as long as you are a native speaker.

The main negative aspect is the wages, but it is possible to live on what you earn. From people I have met, I hear the wages in Chile are much higher, but then the cost of living in general is close to double of those in Argentina and Bolivia. accommodation is easy to find as long as you are willing to rent out a room in a family apartment - for your own apartment a commitment of at least 6 months is usually required. Rooms in a family house here in BA are between US$100 - US$170 a month depending on size and location etc.

In conclusion, I would just like to add that all my experiences down here have been very positive, and that is why I returned for a second time. I am now working for Wall Street Institute, which is a worldwide organisation, and I have nothing but praise for them. I also do private teaching on the side, and I enjoy both immensely.

Suggested Reading

Lonely Planet Argentina Uruguay and Paraguay
Fodor's Argentina, 2nd Edition : The Guide for All Budgets
Frommer's Argentina and Chile
In Patagonia
Argentina (Culture Shock!)
Insight Guide Argentina
Buenos Aires: A Cultural and Literary Companion

Ingrid Gries - May 2004

My name is and I live in Rada Tilly, Chubut, Argentina. I teach English in high school (fifteen/sixteen-year-old adolescents) and in a private institute (children - teenagers and adults). Most of the free material I got by e-mail is used in the institute not at school. The real thing about teaching at school is that we have to handle large groups of people (about 35 students per class), so it makes it a bit difficult to play games or that sort of activity that requires students to stand up thus making the class more interesting. Since it's a religious school located in the outskirts of the city not many students can afford buying books, so I prepare all the activities myself.

I love what I do and I always try to do different things. To me, including the five basic skills (listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing) in each class is the "key" especially when you have to deal with mixed-ability classes.

I think this is all I have to say about my experience as a second language teacher.

Miss M - May 2004

I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm currently teaching at a secondary school and I also teach private lessons to children and adolescents.

I like teaching adolescents because they are a great challenge. It's difficult to get them motivated about anything these days, at least here in Argentina with so many problems related to economics and employment (many children are suffering from bad economic situation at home). But it's fun teaching teenagers, and it's motivating for the teacher when they enjoy your classes or when you get them involved in the teaching process and in choosing topics or materials to work with.

The negative aspects are that we have a few periods per week at school, so lack of time is an important factor here. Also, we have many different levels in the class, so it's very difficult to work with mixed-ability classes. As you can imagine, wages are not good here!

Rosario García-Mata - May 2004

I'm from Argentina and I'm teaching in Argentina too. I love the school I'm teaching in. I teach 6° grade at a bilingual school. This means the children have English all morning (3 hours a day), we use the Whole Language approach and it works beautifully. It is a small school (regarding the number of students) so it's sort of a big family and it is the school I went to so it's actually like teaching at home. The atmosphere is great!

Besides the school is in a sort of close neighbourhood that used to be a forest so we're in contact with nature, the children are surrounded by nature. So it really IS a great place to work, I could keep rambling about it for ever!!!!

Cati Pagani - May 2004

I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am both a secondary school teacher (students aged 13-17) and the headmistress of a School of English where there are courses for children, teens and adults. I love teaching, I've been doing this for more than 30 years.

I think that being in touch with young people makes you feel younger and always aware of new methods, new materials, new possibilities, besides I agree with 'to teach is to learn twice' because I learn something from my students every day. On the other hand, I feel tired of getting up early every day (must be at school at 7:30), students are sometimes demotivated, our salaries are awfully low and there are loads of papers to correct and classes to be prepared. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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