Suitcase on wheels     stuck in the snow   sniffer dog

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

63. Teaching English in BA Part 2 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

I'm still here in BA, spending every day going from government department to government department, taking numbers, waiting half an hour, all this on the way to starting my own business. No one said this would be easy either.

Without a doubt January is the busiest gringo month here in BA. I've never seen so many Teva sandals and daypacks wandering the streets in the last year I've been here. The weather has calmed down a bit, the hot spell has passed, and I've enjoyed the rainy days of late as at least you're not sweating. I never thought I'd look forward to rain in my life, having grown up in NZ!

As I said in my last post, about once a week I get an email from a stranger asking me about working in Buenos Aires. Here's an example:

I am at a point where I am wanting to be in BA. I saw that you mentioned various schools that I have not heard of. Do you think there are great ooportunities teaching English? Can one survive? Is is worth it? I know that the last question is personal. What is your story?

Let me answer your question with links to my blog posts:
#27. Guide to Teaching English
#24. Working Man BA

For me, it wasn't worth it. An English teacher normally teaches 20 hours a week, that's what I did, but I couldn't live off those wages. I'd need to teach 30 hours to live cheaply, and probably 40 hours to live comfortably. That's a lot of hours. Still, Argentines are used to working long hours. Some of my Argentine co-teachers would clock up 40 hours a week, and they were able to actually save money (but they live cheaply). Per hour, it is a good salary by BA standards. It's fitting in the hours that's the problem. At the time I wanted to study Spanish as well, which is one of the reasons I didn't work too many hours. I wanted to have time to hang out with Argentine people so I could use Spanish and not be speaking English all day.

Berlitz and Wall St are the worst-paying institutes in town, around 8 or 9 pesos an hour. Most reputable institutes pay 15 and a few pay 18. It's 2006 now so maybe they'll start paying more, since infation here was about 12% last year. There's lots of work available, but it's best to jobhunt in March or August as that's when in-company courses start. Most reputable institutes want TEFL but it's not necessary. A Texan friend of mine found about 30 hours a week without a TEFL. But he had some nightmare classes too.

The institutes I worked for:
Brooklyn Bridge is reputable and requires that you have a CUIT and TEFL. The only annoying thing was they'd pay me with a cheque which I had to wait in line half an hour to cash. And often they'd pay me with two cheques, one post-dated ten days in advance, to prevent their other cheques bouncing.

English Training System (ETS) has the same requirements and good reputation.

Those were the two I worked for. I preferred ETS as it was smaller and gave me better photocopies of materials, had slightly less paperwork, and paid cash. Both paid $15 pesoss an hour, None tried to cheat me on pay, although I heard stories of that happening in other institutes.

Talkbusiness is one a friend worked for and he recommends, and they paid slightly more.

If I was to do it again, I'd think about Santiago in Chile, as they pay better wages there. Of course it's more expensive to live there, but they pay a liveable wage, from what I've heard.

Are you working now in any institute teaching English? If you are, how is that going? Did you get TEFL certification? If so, where? I have seen some TEFL preparation schools on BA Expat and on Meet Up. Any particular place you suggest?

Nope I'm not working anymore. Six months was enough for me. As I said on my page, I'm now trying to start a business.

I did a CELTA course in Australia before I came here. It's a month of real hard work. I met some Americans who did the TEFL here in BA at Bridge Linguatec and it cost them a fortune. Some of them were real silly and opted to pay for the homestay option and got ripped off again. Homestays are a nice idea, and popular with many people who come here to learn Spanish or to do a TEFL course. But they're expensive, say US$100 a week. I'm not sure how much of that money goes to the family and how much to the school that set it up. The same goes for the furnished apartments for foreigners, there seems to be dozens of companies offering them. In most cases they're overpriced, but sadly that's the way it is and getting an apartment here the local way at a local price is almost impossible. Which is why I'm still in my cheap hotel. Even if I was teaching 40 hours a week I don't think I could afford to rent a furnished apartment at the gringo price. Well, maybe. Some of my co-teachers were sharing an apartment together, that would work, but I didn't wanna do that at the time because as I said, I wanted to learn Spanish so live with Spanish speakers if anything, not English speakers.

I am interested in teaching English and I read your post and wanted to ask you: How did you get this teaching job? Did they sponsor you for a work visa? How were you able to get the visa? Did you arrange everything once inside BA or from your country?

I arranged everything once I was in BA. I had a working holiday visa, which is different from a working visa and something New Zealanders can apply for. As far as work visas go, I don't know if any institutes would be interested in sponsoring you or not. I doubt they'd even reply to an email, most business is done here in person.

1) How important is it to speak Spanish when you go down there to apply for jobs? 2) does it make any sense to try and line up a job before I head down there (probably in Spirng 2006.) Thanks,

Spanish is not at all necessary, the Argentine managers speak perfect English. And there's no point trying to line up a job before you go, door knocking works well enough. You're more likely to end up working for some dodgy unknown outfit if you find a job on the net. I suppose you could try emailing the institutes I worked for, I can at least vouch for them.

Early March is the best time of year to find work.


  • I really like your Blog.I just started mine under but I have similar ideas about living in Argentina in mind!!!que lo disfrutes

    By Blogger danielodochartaigh, at 8:43 PM  

  • Great blog!
    Here's some info about how to get visas:
    Get visas in Argentina

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:43 AM  

  • It is really hard for a teacher to survive in Argentina. It does not matter what subject they teach, it is always difficult. I knew one that was also trying to teach English and she had to work a lot, and maybe once she taught 45 hours in one week. It is crazy, een though Argentininas are used to it, it is not healthy. Anyways, I was visiting the country when I met her, and apart from this, the city was awesome. I was staying in an apartment in buenos aires near downtown and I really enjoyed it.

    By Blogger Tiffany, at 7:01 AM  

  • Hi,

    Your blog was very informative
    thank you
    Silvia :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:15 PM  

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