Top 5 TEFL Destinations in South America

From the impenetrable rainforests of the Amazon basin to the towering Andes mountains, Brazil’s Gold Coast and Chile’s bone-dry Atacama desert, South America holds adventure after adventure. Let’s not forget about its people either: laid-back, fun-loving, hospitable, and often a joy to teach.

South America offers a wide range of teaching opportunities for qualified EFL teachers, but it can be particularly attractive to newbie teachers, non-native English speakers, and teachers without a degree. It’s easier to find work in this part of the world than it can be in Asia and Europe, where a degree is often required and visas can be time-consuming and have strict requirements.

Don’t be put off by the lack of positions listed online in South American countries. Very few employers in this part of the world hire from abroad, preferring to interview teachers face-to-face. So, if you’re intending on teaching in South America you’ll need to travel out there first and look for work on the ground. While this can be a little daunting for those who aren’t very travel-experienced it’s all part of the adventure!

If you’re feeling intrigued then let’s take a look at 5 of the top TEFL destinations on the continent!

Colombia

In 2016, a major peace agreement was signed in Colombia to put to an end a 50-year armed conflict in the country. While its implementation has been complicated, Colombia is certainly a less dangerous place than it once was and in the last 25 years the murder rate in the country has been reduced by 82%. Its TEFL market is experiencing healthy growth, making it a great destination for more intrepid teachers.

How much can you earn teaching in Colombia?

Typical salaries for EFL teachers in Colombia range from 1.5 million to 2 million pesos (£300 – £400/ $400 – $520) per month, rising with more experience. This might not sound like much, but keep in mind that Colombia is one of the cheapest countries to live in in South America with very low living costs.

What qualifications and experience do you need?

To TEFL in Colombia, you’ll need at least a 120-hour TEFL qualification. Some employers may ask for a degree or have a preference for one, but as it’s not necessary for a work permit this isn’t a strict requirement. Colombia is suitable for new TEFL teachers, with plenty of roles available for first-time teachers – just don’t expect these to be well paid.

The best places to look for TEFL jobs

The most popular locations for TEFL jobs in Colombia are Bogota, Medellin, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, and Cali. As with many countries in South America, you won’t find many positions advertised online – those that are advertised tend to be for quite experienced teachers. Arriving in the country and looking for work on the ground is the best way of securing a job, but see our guide to TEFL jobs in Colombia to learn more.

Buildings in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina

With plenty of teaching opportunities, varied geography, excellent food, and welcoming people, it’s no surprise Argentina is a popular destination for teachers travelling to South America. The country has been in a recession since 2018, which, in terms of the TEFL industry, has reduced the amount of full-time jobs going – many teachers will work several part-time contracts instead. But there are encouraging signs that things will be improving soon and in the meantime there are still plenty of TEFL opportunities to be found in Argentina!

How much can you earn teaching in Argentina?

TEFL teachers in Argentina are likely to earn between 45,000 pesos to 90,000 pesos (£465 – £930 / $600 – $1,200) per month, with the hourly rate being between 45 to 120 pesos (£0.50 – £1.25 / $0.60 – $1.60 ). Freelance teaching can be more lucrative than working for a school, but make sure you’re on the correct visa if going down this route, which is less stable work than being employed.

What qualifications and experience do you need?

To teach English in Argentina a 120-hour TEFL qualification is a must and a degree is often required. A degree isn’t a visa requirement, but it is strongly preferred by employers. If you’re heading out there without one be prepared for a tougher job hunt, particularly if you’re looking for full-time work.

The best places to look for TEFL jobs

If you’re searching for work in Argentina you’ll want to focus on Buenos Aires, Salta, Rosario, Córdoba, Mendoza, and Bariloche. Employers almost always want to interview teachers in person, so you’ll struggle to secure work if you’re based outside of the country. See our guide to TEFL jobs in Argentina for more info.

Chile

Chile is, comparatively, a more expensive TEFL destination where teachers can expect to break even and not have much to put away in savings. But it’s not the money that attracts EFL teachers to this beautiful country where there are plenty of adventures to be had! There are lots of opportunities for newbie teachers and seasoned pros alike to teach Business English, exam prep, as well as working with children now that Chilean kids start learning English from 5th grade.

How much can you earn teaching in Chile?

Salaries in Chile range from around 430,000 – 630,000 pesos (£427 – £625/ $550 – $800) per month. Teachers can supplement their income with private lessons, but be aware that if you’re working for a language school your contract will likely prohibit this.

What qualifications and experience do you need?

As is standard, a 120-hour TEFL qualification is a basic requirement for almost all TEFL jobs. A degree will certainly make you more employable, but it isn’t necessary for a work visa.

The best places to look for TEFL jobs

Most of the opportunities can be found in the capital of Santiago, but you can find jobs across the country in locations such as Valparaíso, Antofagasta, Concepción, Punta Arenas, La Serena, Ovalle, Arica, Iquique, Talca, Valdivia, Osorno, and Temuco. Teachers without degrees can find it easier to secure work outside of the capital where there’s less competition for jobs. See our guide to TEFL jobs in Chile to find out more.

Children in traditional Peruvian dress

Ecuador

It might be the second smallest country in South America, but Ecuador’s TEFL market is healthy with an ever-growing demand for qualified EFL teachers. It’s one of the best countries in the region for entry-level positions, so if you’re fresh off your TEFL course it’s worth looking into. A lot of jobs in Ecuador involve working with university students and teaching business English, but there are more and more opportunities coming up to work with children.

How much can you earn teaching in Ecuador?

New teachers can expect to earn $500 – $800 (£385 – £620) a month teaching English in Ecuador, with experienced teachers able to earn up to $1,200 (£930). Wages aren’t particularly high, but with low living costs teachers can get by comfortably.

What qualifications and experience do you need?

A 120-hour TEFL qualification is required in most instances and it’s highly recommended to ensure you’re TEFL qualified before heading out there. While it can be possible to find work without a TEFL certificate you’ll be making your job search unnecessarily difficult and good employers usually aren’t willing to take on unqualified teachers. A degree isn’t necessary for a work visa and you can find plenty of opportunities that don’t require prior teaching experience.

The best places to look for TEFL jobs?

Quito, Cuenca, Latacunga, Guayaquil, and Quevedo are where you’ll find most paid positions. In more rural parts of the country expect wages to be low, but outside of cities the living costs are significantly lower. See our guide to TEFL jobs in Ecuador to learn more.

Peru

Since 1993, Peru has been experiencing steady economic growth, which has helped drive demand for EFL teachers. With a booming tourism industry, EFL teachers can find work teaching Peruvians looking to brush up their English skills and Business English is becoming increasingly popular. You’ll also find plenty of volunteering opportunities, which will often include food and board in exchange for your services as a teacher.

How much can you earn teaching in Peru?

Typical salaries in Peru for EFL teachers range from 1,890 – 2,640 Sol (£360 – £500 / $500 – $700). If you’re looking to supplement your income with some private tutoring you can expect to earn 18 – 75 Sol ($5 – $20 / £3 – £15) per lesson.

What qualifications and experience do you need?

A 120-hour TEFL qualification is necessary for most jobs, although volunteering positions may not require one. No degree is required for teaching English in Peru.

The best places to look for TEFL jobs

The majority of positions are to be found in Lima, but Cusco, Sullana, Arequipa, and Trujillo can offer opportunities as well. Like many South American countries, securing work from abroad is very difficult unless you’re an experienced teacher applying for prestigious international school positions. To find work in Peru you really need to head out there and look for work when you arrive. Check out our guide to TEFL jobs in Peru to find out more.

To find out more about TEFL in South America download our FREE guide to Teaching English in Latin America!

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