The largest country in South America, the 2014 economic recession in Brazil had some experts predicting a downturn in the TEFL market. However, recovery from the recession started around 2016 and, until the 2020 coronavirus, the economic situation was continuing to improve. What the post-coronavirus era will mean for the economy is yet to be seen. However, at present it’s fair to say that the TEFL market in Brazil is doing okay, and that with many people wanting to learn English so that they can improve their chances of studying abroad or getting a good job, there are bound to be jobs in the market for years to come. However, jobs are often poorly paid, work visas are notoriously difficult to obtain, and many will be happy to hire you (illegally) on a tourist visa, and there are certainly risks with that.

Saying that, many TEFL teachers are drawn to the fun and friendly nature of the local people, the party atmosphere that comes with living in any garrulous culture, and of course the weather, which is tropical across most of the country. Younger expats in particular love the Brazilian lifestyle and are happy to take on work despite the sketchy visa situation. Brazil is certainly an adventure destination, and not usually somewhere that’s favoured by experienced, well-qualified TEFL teachers looking for a long-term career move. With 6 month contracts (to fit in with the tourist visa length) Brazil is a great destination if you don’t have a whole year to commit to a TEFL job and are looking for more of a gap year experience.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paulinia, Porto Alegre, Brasília, Recife,Belo Horizante, Florianopolis, and Salvador
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 3,000 – 4,800 BRL (£400 – £650 / $550 – $920) per month. Hourly rates range from 50 BLR to 80 BLR per hour.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions
  • Prerequisite university degree: A BA degree is preferred but not always necessary
  • Term times: February to December
  • Currency: Real (R$) (BRL)
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Teaching programmes: Private language schools, freelance
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Previous teaching experience: Beneficial but not mandatory

Peak hiring months in Brazil are March – August, with a 2 to 4-week long winter break in July. Many schools use that as an opportunity for teachers to renew their tourist visas and work for 6-month contracts. A standard full-time contract will involve 20 to 25 teaching hours a week which, depending on your prep time, will leave you with enough free time to enjoy life in the country or to take on private students if you want to make more money. Many jobs can be found for 20 hours a week or fewer, so if you’re looking for a gap year or travel experience with very little to do on the work frontier, it’s possible to find positions to suit as well as seeking out your own private students.

If you take on freelance students, be sure to make your position as stable as possible. Brazilian students are well-known for not turning up to lessons, so if you don’t ask for pay in advance you can find yourself out of pocket, and also try to arrange classes in a location that’s convenient for you, so that you don’t travel out of your way for nothing when a student doesn’t show. Universities are a great place to advertise for private students, and freelance teaching can be far more lucrative than working for an institute.

Requirements for teaching English in Brazil

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Argentina £500 - £950
($600 - $1,200)
No March Preferred No Yes None
Bolivia £400 - £550
($500 - $700)
No February Preferred No Yes None
Brazil £650 - £900
($800 - $1,100)
No February No No Yes None
Chile £550 - £800
($700 - $1,000)
No March No No Yes None
Colombia £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
No January/February No No Yes Under 62
Ecuador £400 - £650
($500 - $800)
Preferred May Preferred No Yes None
Guatemala £400 - £550
($500 - $700)
Preferred January No No Yes None
Mexico £400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
Preferred August No Sometimes Yes None
Peru £325 - £650
($400 - $800)
Yes March Preferred Sometimes Yes Under 70
Uruguay £325 - £800
($400 - $1000)
Preferred March Preferred No Yes None

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Living Costs

The 3rd cheapest country in Latin America, the cost of living in Brazil is cheaper than 85% of countries around the world. While statistics may indicate that the cost of living in Brazil is pretty low, many expats report that, compared to how much they earn, they actually find prices relatively high in Brazil. While you may earn enough to cover the necessities, you’re unlikely to put away any savings unless you take on lucrative one-to-one lessons with private students in your free time. If you’re happy to break even during your time in Brazil, you’ll find that you don’t need to work too hard to get by.

Few jobs provide accommodation, so one way to save money to is find somewhere to share with other expats, which will be much cheaper than renting an apartment by yourself. Rent is often the biggest expenditure for expats so make sure to shop around and find a good deal, and also consider living out of the big cities where rent is highest, but do bear in mind that shaky public transport can make a longer commute a real pain. The cost of living also means that you won’t be eating out all the time as you might if you take up a TEFL positions somewhere like Cambodia or Vietnam. Grocery shopping is much cheaper than eating out, especially if you stick to local goods and stay away from expensive imports. Saying that, even on a basic salary you can afford to go out from time to time and enjoy everything that your locality has to offer.

  • Accommodation: £277 – £458 / $359 – $592
  • Utilities: £68 / $88
  • Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £33 / $42
  • Monthly transport pass: £30 / $39
  • Basic dinner out for two: £14 / $18
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £1.51 / $1.95
  • A beer in a pub: £1.56 / $2.02
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.51 / $0.66
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.03 / $1.33

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

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