Teaching English In Buenos Aires
LP - December 1, 2011 - By: Johann BukowskiBuenos Aires--stylish, eclectic, exciting and very, very foreign. Many people looking for a change of pace or hoping to start a new career take on the challenge of moving to Argentina's capital city to teach English. Though jobs are easy to come by if you are a native English speaker, there are a few things to take with you to ensure your success in South America.
What To Bring: The Teaching Abroad Checklist
Certification. If you want to teach English in a foreign country, one of the first things you should do is get certified. While many schools in Buenos Aires don't require certification or a degree, having one of these two things will give you a competitive edge and help you find work faster. The most common way to achieve this is to get a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, often referred to as TEFL. While there are programs that will enable you to get certified after you arrive in Buenos Aires, it will be less expensive to take courses in your home country so that you can be prepared when your plane lands in Argentina.
A valid visa. The job market for English teachers in Buenos Aires is relatively laid-back, so it is not necessary to apply for a visa before getting there. When you go through immigration, you will be given a tourist visa that allows you to stay for a maximum of 90 days, and many teachers use this as a deadline to find a job and an employer that can sponsor them for the duration of their stay in Argentina. Be prepared to pay the reciprocity fee, though, which is quite high for American citizens in comparison to citizens from other countries. Because your passport will be stamped each time you leave and re-enter the country, another alternative is to "renew" your tourist visa every few months by taking short trips to nearby countries. Although it isn't the most convenient situation, this option gives you the chance to visit nearby Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay or Chile.
A good sense of direction--and a city map. One of the most exciting aspects of living in a sprawling port city like Buenos Aires is that there are so many places to go and things to do. However, as an English teacher, this bustling metropolis can take on an entirely different feel because you will often have to travel to your students instead of having them come to you. Think of this as a good way to get to know the city you came to explore.
Patience. While it may be relatively easy to find a job as an English teacher in Buenos Aires, some of the red tape that you will have to go through to make your living will be frustrating. One of the biggest adjustments for foreign English teachers in Buenos Aires is learning how to negotiate a bureaucratic process for just about everything they are required to, from cashing your paycheck to getting copies of test materials for your students. It is important to remember that time is not considered a commodity in most Latin American countries, so it is better to just "go with the flow."
An open mind. Ultimately, being an English teacher is more than just showing up with a lesson plan and books. Especially in Buenos Aires where the culture is so open and friendly to foreigners, interacting with your students can be just as fulfilling for you as it is beneficial for them. Even when you are in the throes of culture shock or having a hard time adjusting to the lower wages of the typical teacher's salary, a little perspective can take a long way.
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