With a higher standard of living than some other locations in South America, Chile is an attractive choice for TEFL teachers wanting to work abroad. A higher cost of living is matched by higher wages than you can expect in neighbouring countries, but this is a location where you’re unlikely to make big savings unless you take on extra work in your free time. However, breaking even is good enough for many teachers who are happy to have an adventure rather than look for a long-term career, and with so much to see and do in this bustling, vibrant country, Chile is a great place for a short contract or even for your first time teaching abroad.

A beautiful country with stunning natural landscapes, many expats move to Chile for the views alone. The Andes are certainly a major draw, and if mountain climbing is one of your top hobbies, this is something you’ll get to do plenty of in Chile. A diverse eco system makes it a great location for nature lovers, as well as football fans (they’re mad on football games in Chile!), foodies (especially if you love avocado), and those who like living in a country with fun, friendly, good-humoured locals.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Santiago, Valparaíso, Antofagasta, Concepción, Punta Arenas, La Serena, Ovalle, Arica, Iquique, Talca, Valdivia, Osorno, and Temuco
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 430,000 – 630,000 pesos (£427 – £625/ $550 – $800) per month. Hourly rates at a language school are around 6,000 – 8,000 pesos (£6 – £8 / $7.60 to $20) per hour, up to 15,000 pesos (£15 / $20) per hour if you’re teaching freelance.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification is usually required for teaching in Chile
  • Prerequisite university degree: Most positions ask for a BA degree, sometimes in specific subjects
  • Term times: Semesters are from late February/early March to late June, and from August until mid-December. 6 or 9-month contracts are usual
  • Currency: Peso (CLP)
  • Language: Spanish
  • Teaching programmes: Private Language Schools, Freelance, Public Elementary or High Schools, Universities, Private Schools, Voluntary
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Previous teaching experience: Beneficial but not always necessary

At private language schools, expect your students to be mostly adults wanting Business English lessons, but you’re also likely to teach test prep classes to university students, for exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, GREs or GMATs. Other students might include adults who work in the tourism industry, as well as classes for teenagers and children. Classes teaching English to children had increased in Chile since the government introduced mandatory English classes starting with 5th graders rather than 7th graders, meaning that parents who want their kids to get ahead will send them to private classes. Many private language schools prohibit their staff from teaching one-to-one classes in their spare time, so if you’re hoping to do some freelancing to make a bit more money, check their policies before advertising your lessons.

In Chilean culture it’s common to be late for things – social gatherings more so than organised classes, but regardless, you’ll need to get used to a laid-back attitude when it comes to your students’ punctuality. If you’re working freelance, make sure your students are aware of your cancellation policy so that you’re not out of pocket if they don’t turn up. Students are fun, gregarious, and though large classes can easily become boisterous they’re also lively environments for confident teachers.

Requirements for teaching English in Chile

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

Chile is one of the more expensive countries in Latin America, but compared to the rest of the world it is still considered a cheap place to live, being cheaper than 63% of other countries. Finding a shared apartment will be cheaper than renting on your own, and very few schools offer free accommodation, although many can offer help in finding somewhere to live. Craigslist is a good place to search online for local roommates and flat shares.

The city of Santiago is modern and cosmopolitan, and despite the economy doing quite well you will still come across poverty from time to time, as well as rowdy behaviour that you might find intimidating. However, Chile is a safe country to live in on the whole and even lone female expats are happy to spend time here. Expats cite the winter pollution as one of the major downsides of living in the big cities, but are generally  are pleased with the quality of life in Chile, where you might not be able to save a lot of money but can at least enjoy a nice lifestyle on a modest wage.

  • Accommodation: £467 – £719 / $596 – $919
  • Utilities: £61 / $78
  • Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £30 / $38
  • Monthly transport pass: £40 / $52
  • Basic dinner out for two: £19 / $25
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.90 / $3.71
  • A beer in a pub: £2.22 / $2.83
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.82 / $1.04
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.52 / $1.94

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

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