Although Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country, English plays an important role in business and this has created a strong demand for EFL teachers. There are opportunities both for teachers seeking to make a career in EFL and for those who are simply seeking to boost depleted funds while traveling. This is because qualifications and experience are not often required; for most positions it is usually enough to simply be a native English speaker. Of course, having a university degree and/or a TEFL qualification will give you an advantage when applying for more lucrative positions. Some previous knowledge of Spanish, or endeavoring to learn the language while you are there, can also be useful.
Most EFL teachers work for language institutions and are normally paid by the hour, although salaries are paid monthly, and not always on time. You can expect to be receive around ARS15-22 (US$4.30-6.30) per hour. It’s likely, at the outset, that you’ll be given only 10-15 hours of classes per week. This may increase over time if you are considered reliable, and perform well in the classroom. However, it should be borne in mind that many classes are taught offsite, in student’s homes or at their place of work, and this can involve a lot of travel time, possibly doubling your overall work hours. Traveling time and expenses are not usually paid for by your employer. Many teachers supplement their regular income by teaching private classes in international companies, hotels and department stores, or by tutoring students attending private schools. Depending on qualifications, experience and Spanish ability, you can expect to charge approximately ARS30-60 (US$8.50-17) per hour.
Some schools will hire teachers without a work visa. This is not a recommended source of employment, as you will usually have no formal contract and no one to turn to should things go wrong. There are also a number of agencies that hire teachers on a voluntary basis. To enter such programs, you are normally expected to pay a fee, which can amount to hundreds of dollars, but they provide accommodation and food.
Teaching English in Argentina is somewhat seasonal and many institutions will offer only 6 month contracts. Somewhat surprisingly, there is often a shortage of work at the height of summer, between the months of November and January. The peak hiring season is in February, and jobs are often listed in the Buenos Aires Herald.
Fortunately, the cost of living is much lower in Argentina than in Europe, but still relatively expensive compared to other South American countries like Bolivia and Guatemala.
Locally produced beef and wine are both excellent, and the food in general is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Argentine barbecues, known as ‘asado’, are very much part of the culture. They will often start after work and continue long into the evening. The nightlife in Buenos Aires revolves around cafes, restaurants, bars and dance clubs. It is not uncommon for people to stay out late, even on work days.
Being such a vast country, Argentina offers an astonishing geographical diversity, from the the jungles in the north to the glaciers in the south. Visitors should take the opportunity to see the Iguazu Falls, explore the plains of Patagonia, or the wonderful mountain landscapes of Bariloche and Villa Langostura. The weather also varies greatly from region to region. The southern parts of the country are best visited in midsummer, as many parts of Patagonia are closed during the winter months. A trip to Iguazu Falls, or any of the northern cities is most comfortable in the winter months between May and July, when you will find temperatures around 16-21°C. In Buenos Aires the temperature will range between 4-10°C in winter, and 28-36°C in summer.
Argentina is quite a safe country by South American standards although, like most major cities across the world, there are areas that are best avoided by foreigners. Especially around the popular tourist areas, you can expect to find a strong police presence but, nevertheless, normal precautions should be observed.
Argentina’s rail network is fairly limited and somewhat outdated. In general, buses offer a more comfortable and convenient way to travel long distances. In Buenos Aires, there are hundreds of bus lines than cover the entire city, with bus stops generally being two blocks apart. There is also a subway system that is very cheap and reliable but, at this moment in time, coverage is fairly limited. However, the whole system is in the process of expansion so, in the future, it may prove to be the optimal mode of transportation. There are hundreds of taxis in all the major cities. They can be hailed on the street or you can make a call to one of the many ‘radiotaxi’ sevices.
All in all, Argentina offers an abundance of work and lifestyle opportunities for English teachers, with a culture that is both recognizably European and uniquely South American. You will find no other country quite like it on the entire continent.
Detailed living costs for teaching English in Argentina
Information on visa requirements to teach English in Argentina
Official Website of Argentina
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