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Spanish speaking skills (or lack thereof)

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Joined: 02 Feb 2015
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:29 pm    Post subject: Spanish speaking skills (or lack thereof) Reply with quote

Hello! I've been lurking here for a little while and though everything I've read has been extremely helpful, I have a couple of questions if someone would be kind enough to answer?

I completed my CELTA last July, but due to my complete inability to make decisions I haven't done anything with it yet. Now a friend of mine who used to live in Lima (not teaching) is flying out there for a two week holiday at the end of the month and it seems like a good opportunity to make the jump while I have someone who knows the lay of the land.

I realise it's the only way in SA, but the whole 'not having a job' thing is a bit scary. My main concern is that I don't speak Spanish. I did a module in it at University, but to be honest I can't remember anything now! Obviously I realise this will make finding a job and accommodation more difficult, but impossible?

Also, how is the visa situation in Peru at the moment? I'm prepare to work on a tourist visa, but I know other countries have cracked down on this and I wondered if they have got more strict?

Finally, what would people recommend having for start up costs?

Thanks in advance for your help, I hope when I'm an experienced teacher and not a scared newbie I can offer my own Smile
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Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 2006
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't answer all of your questions, but here's what I know.

Minimum Start Up Costs

1. Enough funds to live in a hostel up to one month while doing a job search.
2. Assuming you get a job within that time frame, sufficient cash to rent an apartment (deposit, first and last month's rent, or whatever the norm is for your destination city).
3. Enough funds in reserve to buy a one way ticket home if things don't work out.

Costs vary from country to country and even place to place within a country, so you'll have to do your research to get an idea of what the actual numbers are for each of the above categories. A good place to start is or the Facebook group Expatriates in Peru.

Learning Spanish

While I don't think going down and finding a job in Peru (or elsewhere in Latin America) is entirely impossible without a working knowledge of conversational Spanish, I wouldn't try it myself. I've conducted job searches on multiple occasions (both in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) and would have been much more limited (not to mention frustrated) had it not been for my Spanish language skills.

Frankly, you might consider putting in a month or two at a Spanish language school in Guatemala or Costa Rica enroute to Peru. Alternatively, you might see about doing some volunteer work someplace in Latin America for a couple of months, which would allow you to learn the culture and develop your language skills before striking out on your own.
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Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 105
Location: Tucson, Arizona

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 1:59 am    Post subject: Job hunting.. Reply with quote

If you are going to Lima for unrelated reasons anyway, then yes do job hunt. But I think you'll be unpleasantly surprised.

The good news: In Cusco there is a huge language school run by native English speakers; you don't need Spanish to apply. I am sure in a city as big as Lima you can find language schools that will talk to you..even if the owners are Peruvian, good English school owners should be bilingual and want to hire native speakers.

Salaries ran 10 soles/hour in 2007; maybe they have improved, but what I have read is that the economy is actually worse now.. so I wouldn't count on it. 10 soles/hour was for Arequipa (which is dirt cheap, so it was a decent salary) but also for Cusco..which is not dirt cheap.

Even more problematic, institutes lie about many hours they can hire you for, you actual salary, the times you'd work (including if you'd work on weekends) and when they can/will pay you. Getting a job offer does NOT mean you'll actually have a decent job.

Finding a place to live in such a huge city--without Spanish--might be an issue. Remember: in language schools working until 9 pm and later is the norm, so you need to be able to get home safely late at night.

But have nothing to lose by locating schools before you leave and hitting them up when you are there anyway. And here's another idea..if you love Lima, just stay and take Spanish classes.

Visa: It's highly unlikely you can get any type of visa; you'll border hop. But--unless you live there for 4 years and take 3 trips a year out-- no one should question your status. It is illegal, consider if that's okay with out before committing to a job.
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Joined: 02 Feb 2015
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both so much for your frank and honest advice - it's been extremely helpful. Looks like it might not be the best idea for me at this stage.
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Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 1750
Location: Ch

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Language issues are more of a problem for those of us who don't like asking strangers for things; not speaking the local language perfectly is a good excuse for not asking (or not going to that country in the first place.) Today there are so many more convenient ways to learn a language than before. You can take a class, use Pimsleur or similar audio recordings, and there are some good computer assisted lessons like Rosetta Stone. And phone apps are too numerous to name. If you have to the end of the month, you could get to a level where at least you're on the same planet as the locals. A travel phrase book could fill in until you've picked up enough Spanish to get by with.

If you're job/career at home is satisfying/paying major bills, or if you haven't saved up enough money for settling in or for contingencies, that's one thing. But if you're waiting until everything is perfect and you won't have language difficulties or whatever, then you might as well think of something else to do with your life. If you have the time and the money, I second the idea of going to Latin America (or Spain if you're British) to take some Spanish lessons in a non-English setting. Go to Peru if it's what you really think you might want. You'll learn a language and also gain confidence in dealing with locals.
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