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Maximo Nivel-Cusco teaching report
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Raymundo



Joined: 24 Oct 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:44 pm    Post subject: Maximo Nivel-Cusco teaching report Reply with quote

I spent most of 2006 working at Maximo Nivel in Cusco. MN is the only language school in Cusco to offer all native speakers; the other schools have mostly Peruvian teachers. This means your fellow teachers are from around the world, interesting travelers. MN has about 800 students.

I believe contracts are being offered for as few as 3 months, though they prefer 6 months. They’ll obtain a work visa if you commit to staying over a year. This would be grueling because MN never takes a vacation and runs year-round. Most people don’t come to Peru to work that hard, that long, without a break (though you can request unpaid time off). In addition to regular teachers, there is at least one “floater” who acts as substitute teacher when others are sick or out of town.

You’ll earn $400-500 to start. Standard workday is six one-hour classes split between morning and afternoon/evening. You can request a seventh class, or private student, to boost your income if you wish. Some teachers depend on this to make ends meet. You can also work part-time if you make this clear before you start. “Superstar” teachers—as determined by student feedback—get raises for superior performance.

The pay is adequate to live in Cusco, covering housing and food. If you share you could pay as little as $50-75/month for housing, and a 3-course meal runs $1.00 if you eat like the natives and avoid tourist places. Vegetarian restaurants abound; the best is “El Encuentro” with two locations. Transportation is by “combi” (van) (20˘) or taxi (60˘ within the city).

MN Nivel has a new, beautiful facility on Avenida Sol, the principal business/govt. street. Free tea, coffee, and Internet are available to staff and students. The teachers’ lounge has a work table, sofa, TV, and lockable cubbies for your materials.

Teacher resources are thin at MN. You will be provided with all books and materials for your classes, but it wouldn’t hurt to have your own phrasal verb dictionary, maybe an idioms dictionary. There’s no realia at all, so anything you want to bring in the way of props and games and such, you should bring. Cards, dice, etc. are readily available in Cusco. Kids’ classes are being phased out so think of teaching teens (maybe) and adults. There are curricula which cover every class week by week, so you’ll have clear guidance as to what you should be teaching.

There is a MN “style” teachers are expected to adhere to; dynamic, fun, funny classes where the students are at ease and enjoying themselves. Serious, shy, or reserved teachers might have trouble adapting to this. “English only” is the rule, rigorously enforced if word gets back that you’re speaking Spanish in the classroom.

The director has serious issues with competition, and your contract includes a prohibition on your teaching anywhere else while at MN (even private clients to supplement income). More onerous is a prohibition on teaching anywhere in Peru for six months following the end of your time at MN. (A Peruvian employee told me this violates the Peruvian constitution’s “right to work” clause.) I insisted on a modification that limits the ban to cities where MN has a branch (Cusco and Arequipa). Also, the contract states you’ll be hit with a $500 penalty if you leave before contract end, and the director seems confident he can enforce this worldwide.

Teachers’ principal gripe is the workday, with early morning classes, a midday break, then afternoon/evening classes. This is pretty much standard worldwide as we work around our students’ work/school schedules.

Without a work visa, you have to leave the country every 90 days. Copacabana, Bolivia, a cute, fun town on the shore of Lake Titicaca, is closest (11 hours). (As of 2007, Americans need a visa to enter Bolivia.) Some teachers go to Arica, Chile, an 18-hour bus ride, after bad experiences in Bolivia or to see palm trees and the ocean again.

MN has a branch in Arequipa, and it may be possible to split your time between Cusco and Arequipa. Arequipa is a much larger, warmer, modern city; with amenities like a mall, movie theaters, and good restaurants (none of which exists in Cusco).

Gringos get sick early and often in Cusco. How bad is it? MN Nivel rewards teachers who go three months without calling in sick with two paid days off. Maybe one or two teachers are eligible for every three-month period. Before coming, you should probably get immunizations for hepatitis A and B and typhoid. Tetanus and polio aren’t a bad idea. You won’t need a yellow fever immunization for Cusco as it’s too high for mosquitoes. Be aware that some countries require a yellow fever immunization if you fly from Peru to their country (Mexico is one). Yellow fever vaccinations are free in Cusco and essential if you plan to travel to the jungle.

With at least 15 teachers coming and going all the time, Maximo recruits year-round.

Teacher retention is about 0% at Maximo Nivel, an indicator of teacher burnout and dissatisfaction. Given the horror stories on Dave’s of teachers not getting paid, etc., Maximo looks pretty good by comparison. It’s American-run and that makes all the difference. Mostly, people just don’t travel to South America to work so hard and many young people have not yet developed a strong work ethic which the job demands.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9001
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Maximo Nivel-Cusco teaching report Reply with quote

Raymundo wrote:
With at least 15 teachers coming and going all the time, Maximo recruits year-round.

Teacher retention is about 0% at Maximo Nivel, an indicator of teacher burnout and dissatisfaction. Given the horror stories on Dave’s of teachers not getting paid, etc., Maximo looks pretty good by comparison. It’s American-run and that makes all the difference. Mostly, people just don’t travel to South America to work so hard and many young people have not yet developed a strong work ethic which the job demands.


So do you think that teachers leave because they don't want to teach or because of the work environment?
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Raymundo



Joined: 24 Oct 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teachers leave because after 3-6 months of hard work and a crimped social life, they want some free travel time. Relations with management are not always good. And Cusco has its drawbacks. Finally, people decide to go to Asia and make some actual money teaching.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9001
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From a former teacher

Quote:
I'm happily teaching at the ICPNA here in Cusco, as well as working part-time at a tourist agency.

ICPNA is much better than Maximo Nivel, where I taught for a month. And it's not just because they got rid of me with no notice. The books are much better, there's more method to learn and teach and they're more flexible (no contract), so one can teach a few classes and do other things, such as work at a tourist agency and learn much more!

The following could be something to post on the chat boards - I would not recommend teaching at Maximo Nivel for many reasons, including the fact that one has to teach split shifts, starting at 7am, then starting again at 3, sometimes lasting until 9. I wasn't interested in this, so I made an agreement with Ken himself that it would okay if I taught part-time in the afternoon, so that I could study Spanish in the morning.

Nonetheless, despite our agreement (verbal), I was dismissed at the end of my first month, with no warning beforehand. His underlings said (he didn't do it himself) something about a lack of some type of TOEFL technique, even though they only observed my advanced classes where there is no curriculum. It is well-known that he prefers teachers from his own TEOFL program and although he has agreed to hire some part-time, he wants people working a full load starting at 7, splitting the afternoon and working until 8 or 9. For example, he chose a teacher as an
academic coordinator who had only his first month of teaching experience, but took his TOEFL certificate at Maximo, over other teachers with over one year of teaching experience.

Doesn't sound good to me and he doesn't appear to be a man of this word. And, of course, there's a lot of teacher turnover, which is not good for the students. And for the students the 1 1/2 hour class at ICPNA and Excel (another institute) is much better than the one hour at Maximo. That extra half hour a day makes a big difference for them.

At the end of the day, I'm so glad he let me go, because I'm so much better off now, working for a better institute where I'm learning a lot more about being a proper teacher as well as getting the diverse experience of working for a tourist agency, where I'm using my Spanish. ICPNA gives one that flexibility, Maximo does not. He insists on a contract and some of
the clauses are ridiculous, such as one can't teach for another institute in Peru for six months AFTER the contract is over ... crazy. Nor can one teach private lessons ...

Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I thought that you as a central communication channel for english teachers here should know this. Well, I hope things are well for you and family there in Lima and hopefully one day we can share a coffee or something. Again, despite the rant, I'm quite content here in Cusco. You are welcome to pass along my contact information to anyone interested in living and working here.


If you want his contact info, PM me.
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Jams



Joined: 18 Sep 2007
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:10 pm    Post subject: Teaching Report - Maximo Nivel - Cusco, Peru Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I’m just finishing up my 6 months at Maximo Nivel in Cusco.

Raymundo (above) paints only a half-accurate picture in my opinion, so I just thought I’d communicate my experience here…

Just to rebut a few things that Raymundo said above, the idea that “teacher retention” at Maximo is zero is a little mis-leading… ‘cause ultimately teacher retention at any institute is zero ‘cause we all work on limited term contracts. Maximo seems to have some long-termers like Tom, Mark, Larry, Aisling, Jeff, and I think 1 or 2 others, and if it’s any indication, Maximo has zero turnover in their Peruvian staff from what I’ve seen. My experience here at Maximo is that all teachers finish their contracts (as I am doing this month). They even offered to get me my resident visa if I stayed for year, but I’m looking to do some jungle work. Anyway, I’d say ‘retention’ here is pretty strong.

Also, Raymundo says that teaching resources are thin. I’ll bet Maximo was the first place Raymundo ever taught, because in my opinion, having taught in 4 different institutes, teaching resources at Maximo are NOT ‘thin.’ Maximo has an entire office dedicated to taking care of teachers – quizzes, exams, study-guides, handouts, everything is there for you PLUS full books and a week-by-week curriculum. My philosophy is “nothing is perfect,” but Maximo goes above and beyond in my opinion with respect to teacher resources [especially in comparison to other institutes].

Raymundo is right though, it requires a work ethic and commitment level here, that some people just may not want to make. Expectations are high. ‘Course I loved it here. Probably, that’s why I’m singing praises about the place. Very Happy

As for getting sick, I stayed away from tap water and street food, and I missed a total of 1 day. There’s no doubt that some of my fellow teachers are abusing their bodies a little too much at night  and they’re the ones getting sick. I’ve kept my hard nights to Fridays and Saturdays

As for the other guy, IMHO if you get let go after a month [from any job] you were doing something wrong. Maximo is always looking for good teachers. And I came out of Global TESOL College, so I’ve not seen anything with Maximo preferring people from their “TOEFL program” (heheh, What’s that?) You mean TEFL or TESOL program, don’t you? TOEFL is an exam, TEFL and TESOL are certifications.

In the end, no place is perfect, but I’ll tell you what, not once have I been treated unfairly. Management meets with teachers 2x every month, there’s in-service training provided every month, and not once have I been asked to wait even a day for my pay check (which is RARE in this industry). Compared to the 4 other places I’ve worked, Maximo has been GREAT! Here are just a few things we get as teachers here: a) 3 months with no sick time = 2 days off with pay, b) they help cover visa run costs to Bolivia, c) all materials, books, markers, etc. are provided – there’s even a full week-by-week curriculum, d) great help finding housing, e) monthly open-bar party, f) 7-day a week computer/internet access, g) teacher’s lounge with cable [there’s even a rumor we’re gonna get DirectTV, h) Also, I asked for 2 weeks off while friends visited me here, and no problem! It was great!... well there’s lots more, but I wanted to express what a great place it is to work because to me it sounds like the two people above might have a small axe to grind.

Working at Maximo Nivel, IMHO means this: Hard work and commitment, great facilities, good materials, and honest management. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to work in Peru.

Well that’s all. I hope my ‘share’ is helpful for anyone coming to Peru.
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Ramundo



Joined: 24 May 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enough time has passed that I’ll give a little more information about my experiences at Maximo Nivel, and respond to the above comments. (I'm the OP, though my user ID elapsed so I'm using a new one.)

For most of the year I worked there, I was Academic Director. On my last day of work in December, we learned that several teachers had given their final exams a few days earlier than the schedule dictated. Ken, the director, said we should fine them $50 apiece for this. I protested that it was Christmas Eve, it was their last day working at Maximo, nothing in the contract says anything about such fines, etc. In other words, you can’t just withhold people’s pay because you’re mad at them, not without contractual agreement In the evening the accountant came and said that Ken told her not to withhold the money from the teachers—but to withhold it from me and the office manager, for protesting the action! Ken knew it was my last day, and this was his response to a year of hard work—a stab in the back on my way out the door. Later he sent a bizarre email trying to rationalize his actions.

Given this, I think my description of working at Maximo is a model of restraint. I was trying to be fair despite my own experience.

No, Jams, Maximo isn’t the first place I taught, and many of the resources you enjoyed were my creation. I was comparing Maximo to other places I’ve taught, with resources including stacks of games, dozens of books with photocopiable activities, file cabinets stuffed with handouts, etc. Maximo has (or had) none of these things, but they do take care of their teachers better than many places.

Most of the people who stay long-term do so because they have romantic relationships in Cusco. That’s true of almost everyone Jams mentioned (except one I don’t know). Also, Tom and Mark are management, which is different from folks using TEFL teaching as a ticket to see the world. And of course the Peruvian staff stick around—these are their permanent jobs, they don’t have the luxury of traveling the world teaching TEFL.

I recognize the former Maximo teacher whose comments NatureGirl posted. Great guy, but not up to Maximo standards. We got disturbing reports from TEFL students observing his classes, so I sat in on a class. I saw a total lack of TEFL teaching technique, and bewildered students not getting what they were paying for. So we let him go. I’m glad ICPNA worked out better for him.

There’s no basis for his comment that Maximo prefers teachers from its own TEFL program. As Academic Director I was intimately involved in hiring and firing, and I never even knew where people did their TEFL program, unless I saw them as students before they were hired. The quality of teaching was the only criterion.

Getting sick in Cusco is a serious matter, not only because of the variety of illnesses that strike people down, but because medical care is sketchy. Teachers got so sick they had to go home for treatment. One young woman collapsed in my office; the lab that ran her blood tests said she was near death. As I said, it’s the rare teacher who collects the bonus for three months without calling in sick.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9001
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to hear that things worked out for you in the end. Are you still in Peru?
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Elok



Joined: 12 Jan 2011
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, it's been quite a while since the last post in this thread, but does anyone have anything to say about MN's TEFL teacher certification? I was looking at ITTO, but their customer service is being really sluggish answering some questions I have so I'm looking into other possibilities.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9001
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No course is perfect and you'd be hard pressed to find a course that EVERYONE loves.

It's that way with most things. Some peopel love it and some people will hate it. The problem is that the people who hate it are usually more vocal.
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Elok



Joined: 12 Jan 2011
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've gone through MN's certification program. I'd just like to say that the info above seems to be archaic in a couple of ways.

The Spanish in the classroom thing, for example; I observed a number of teachers using Spanish at opportune moments (e.g., when teaching beginners), it was well-known that they did it, and you know what? They were still there.

Their most popular teacher deviates from the method on a regular basis. Actually, of the five teachers I had to observe, only one came really close to following The Method. The rest just did whatever worked, and since student feedback was okay (or very good), they stayed.

Two teachers were sacked while I was there. One threw a tantrum at a meeting and stormed out. The other was obviously abusing drugs, going through a downward spiral and having a tearful breakdown in front of her class.

I don't know how much that first poster was expecting to find in the way of materials, but they have a decent-sized office to provide you with stuff; it's not just you and a textbook.

Tom is in charge there now (I never met a "Ken"). I wouldn't say the place is perfect, but it's not a total horror show. I know nothing of any non-compete clause, but given the basic illegality of hiring an employee without a work visa, what exactly would they do about it?
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qrdling



Joined: 20 Jan 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Russia, Krasnodar

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took my TEFL course at Maximo Nivel in June 2011 and taught there for a full year in 2010 - 2011.

Although the course was kind of intensive, it was fun and adequate. Sabrina, the TEFL trainer, is competent and helpful. I wouldn't recommend paying for the course through agencies like EBC (the way I did it) or ITTO. I think you can contact the school and pay them directly which will turn out cheaper. It's pretty impossible to fail it unless you're retarded or have some serious health issues but you'll have to do some hard work to get that certificate.

Reading other posters' opinions I have to say that regardless of our experiences Maximo Nivel is objectively a relatively well-run place. It's quite organized, you get paid on time, teachers are provided with curricula and some supplementary materials. The management is clear about what they expect from you and what you can expect from them.

Teachers do get fired every once in a while but the headmaster is usually reluctant to do so as he'll have to look for a new teacher in the middle of the month if he fires someone. Looks like if someone gets fired, they probably hated their job anyway so they simply get a chance to look for a school that suits them better.

The working hours are somewhat inconvenient, as it is a split shift with classes in the morning (starting 7 or 8 am) and in the evening but it's only a six-hour working day so there's plenty of time in the afternoon and teachers aren't made to stay at work after hours. You can also ask for the seventh class if you want some extra money.

I often found the school's teaching materials not suitable for my purposes but I was able to find anything I needed on the internet and you can go online anytime from the teachers' lounge and print out your worksheets without any problem.

The managemet were always very helpful and accomodating, especially with schedule issues. The Peruvian staff were super friendly and respectful.

I don't know about the $500 fine if you terminate your contract. It sounds pretty impossible to me. The only way you can get punished for doing it is losing your last paycheck and not getting your references.

Overall, I enjoyed most aspects of teaching at Maximo. The basic principle there is if you don't screw them over on purpose, they'll treat you nicely. If anyone has further questions, I'd be happy to give my opinion.

PS You can search Maximo Nivel on Linkedin.com, and I think it's possible to contact their teachers directly.
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starasova



Joined: 16 Aug 2010
Posts: 5
Location: New York,NY

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:20 pm    Post subject: Maximo Nivel Reply with quote

I spent 5 month working at Maximo Nivel, so I thought I would add my impressions. Cusco itself is an amazing city, its beautiful and has amazing places nearby where you can escape for breathtaking hikes. Besides historical and natural interests the city itself has a good night life and a big gringo community. If you are looking to be inspired, i assure you, you will be in Cusco. Down side is if your immune system is not the strongest, it might be a tough city. Its pretty high up so altitude can effect you beyond the the 3 day acclimation process. It really depend on you and your medical history. Be sure to rest well.

Maximo Nivel is a great place to work. They do hire from abroad, (ie: you can get in touch before turning up) unlike most schools in Peru. There is a great security and stability in working with them. The hours are guaranteed monthly. The staff is pretty accommodating. Tom, the director, is a great guy, very understanding and a good manger. He and Ken run a pretty organized operation.However if your looking to party and call in sick weekly, it may cost you your job. But if you take your job seriously, its a pretty wonderful place. There are plenty of materials to aid your lesson plans, as well as new facilities. The schedule is a split shift (3 hours in the morning, 6 hours off, 3 hours at night). They normally do a 6 months to 1 year contract. However in the case of being seriously ill, they will be pretty understanding regarding cutting your contract short.

The students are all very friendly. You'll have a lot of offers for city tours, trips and hikes from them. Cusco is a safe city, but be careful at night, and watch our for rent scams and other traveling gringo misfortunes. All in all especially if its your first teaching abroad experience, I highly recommend Maximo.
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dhsampso



Joined: 17 Jun 2009
Posts: 44
Location: Virginia

PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a teacher for MN in the past, I would agree with the above two statements. Management tells you what they expect out of you and as long as you don't screw them over, you won't get screwed over. They can't enforce the $500 fine since you're working illegally, but then don't expect to get a written reference. Fair enough. I worked in CR and resources we're abundant and following the teaching method to a rule wasn't necessary, but you don't want to completely neglect MN's teaching method. It is their school. I've heard the same from friends of mine who worked in Peru. Though I will say there are instances of inconsistent application of policy at all of MN's locations, those are a minimum.
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Justin_esl



Joined: 25 Aug 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:39 pm    Post subject: Great first teaching experience, would 110% do it again! Reply with quote

SHORT STORY: I successfully and happily completed a 4 week intensive TEFL training certificate ( plus 1-week each add-on Teaching Business English and International English Exam certifications) and a 6-month teaching ESL contract at Maximo Nivel. Very rewarding experience in ESL. Big, private, multi-service language institute in Cusco, Peru. Branches in Costa Rica and Guatemala as well. Specializes in offering conversational English, taught by natives only, to adult Peruvians working in the large and vibrant tourism industry in Cusco, (plus one 'after-school' tween (11-14 year olds) hour of classes). I very much enjoyed the experience both in TEFL and ESL teaching, and look forward to soon working another six month contract at Maximo Nivel.

LONG STORY: Hello, my name is Justin, I am 23 from Virginia and just finished an incredible 10 months in South America: two months backpacking with friends in Peru and Chile, then eight months training for and teaching ESL with Maximo Nivel Executive Language Center in Cusco, Peru.

During my backpacking trip, my friends and I first stayed with a friend in Lima who was teaching ESL for the Technological University of Peru (UTP in Spanish). He was only 19 and only had his high school diploma, no TEFL certificate, just native English--ESL demand is very high in Peru!--and was living a very nice life in a beautiful neighborhood (Lince). Anywho, he gave me (myself with only 'some college' and no TEFL...yet) the inspiration to think hard about extending my travel in South America by doing ESL. So I whipped up a CV and planned to drop it off at schools I came across.

Our next destination was Cusco/Machupicchu. On our trek to Machupicchu, I asked my guide (Chavo on the Inka Jungle trek) if there were any language schools in Cusco and his first emphatic response was, "Maximo Nivel! The best!," and he also gave me the name of the public university in Cusco and another language center. When I got back from the trek, I went to drop off my CV at the other language institute ("No TEFL? No, thank you."), and then at Maximo Nivel.

I spoke to a Peruvian named Miller at the registration office and then he summoned an American woman named Julia (later would be a co-worker and my direct supervisor, respectively) who I dropped my CV off with. She was very nice, looked over my CV, asked, "Do you have TEFL? No, well you can take our training course and then probably get a job."

Tom, the General Director of Maximo Cusco, sent me a follow-up email saying the same thing, cc'd with the International Department director named Cathy. After a lengthy email exchange with the super-nice and helpful Cathy, I was paid and registered for the November 2010 4-week intensive TEFL course at Maximo Nivel-Cusco.

After being picked up at the Cusco airport by a PATAS (Maximo's in-house travel agency) agent and I was given a tour of the city by the awesome Andrea from the Intl Office, I went to Maximo to start TEFL. My instructors were the lead TEFL trainer Sabrina and the TEFL trainer Phil. TEFL at Maximo is intensive, but I also had time and energy to 'backployee' (work at one of the 'backpackers' hostels as a bartender/waiter and be paid in room and board-I worked at the Point Hostel) to support myself during that period. However, the vast majority of people who TEFL at Maximo stay at one of their 'Family Houses'. I can't comment directly on those, but from what my friends told me they're basically really nice houses/dorms that house Maximo's volunteers.

I learned a hell of a lot from TEFL. The main trainer is really knowledgeable and fun in the subject, and Phil was really cool and down-to-Earth. You get four weeks of classroom training in a big classroom, during which you observe real Maximo ESL classes, then during your fourth week you teach one of Maximo's classes yourself in lieu of a full-time teacher. The theory and practical aspects of the course really go hand in hand, and I really appreciated both.

More importantly, the director does make good on his promise to hire in-house. With a ESL teaching staff of 18, about 2-5 spots open up every month, and people are usually hired from Maximo's TEFL programs. When I started TEFL I was asked if I'd want to stay to work there, I said yes, and then three successful weeks into TEFL I interviewed with Tom and afterwards was offered a six month ESL teacher experiment

During my time teaching I took two extra TEFL certifications offered at Maximo: Teaching Business English and International Exam Preparation. It helped solidify my goal to do more ESL around the world. Maximo has really affordable, comprehensive, useful TEFL training, take advantage of it!

ABOUT WORKING AT MAXIMO AND LIVING IN CUSCO. Maximo is the best-known and most well-regarded institute in Cusco. This is because they import a US university 'student-center' model to Peru. (Imagine you're at your student union at your college back home) This is pretty foreign concept to the Peruvians but they absolutely love it. Cusco is the center of tourism in Peru, the majority of the people you teach will be associated with the tourism industry. These people deal with gringos all day then come to Maximo to hang out with their friends, drink the free tea and coffee, Facebook on the free internet, and try to talk to the volunteers to practice their English. For them, being a Maximo student is as much a social experience as an opportunity to learn conversational English. I know this because I sometimes worked as the tutor for Maximo's tutoring service in the cafe/atrium, interacting with most of the school's 1200+ English learners.

This is important to know to be successful at Maximo. Maximo is fun, Maximo is social. If you want a cultural experience (why else do ESL?), that's all the Peruvians want to give you. If you give them a fun, accessible English classroom, they will treat you like a little celebrity. Now this is important because Cusco can seem to the passerby to almost have a "Disney World-Inka Village" facade. But you will get past this as your students will invite you, just for example, to dinners with their granma, weekend trips with their brother in the jungle, treks to sites the regular gringos don't know about, and a place to chill outside of the historic center of the city. That is the most rewarding experience, so much more than a regular job.

THE JOB. You will work 30 hours a week, teaching six hour-long classes a day. Generally, you will have the same class for three months, giving you an opportunity to know your Peruvians really well. You will be working in a team of 18 other English teachers, who as fellow travel-junkies were the funnest coworkers. You will probably live in a house or apt with your coworkers, and hang out with them a whole damn lot in and out of work. The Teacher family is a priceless resource living in a foreign city.

At Maximo I had a teacher room/lounge with my own locker, internet access, a fridge, and a TV to watch. Downstairs I had a ESL office with a library of ESL books (really helpful to me as the tutor to students who wanted resources besides the regular books, but they're available for all teachers), construction paper, etc. for when you're feeling crafty, CD's for listening activities. You have a Peruvian staff to deal with problems for you. Monthly they have a TEFL graduation reception you and a guest are invited to and when I was there, there were also two special holiday receptions (Christmas and May Day). In general a very resource filled and comprehensive workplace.

I could keep going on about how much I enjoyed my time in Cusco and at Maximo. I was given the opportunity to get to make really good friends from around the US and UK, and the native population. Maybe that's to be expected with every ESL job, but I especially enjoyed my time working at Maximo and living in Cusco. It's a pretty big enterprise (TEFL, ESL institute, a travel agency, and a volunteer placement service that brings you into contact with all sorts of cool folk) which translates to a pretty big experience.

"Justin, what sucked about it?" Well there were downsides, that's why it's called a job. But they were the same as I've had or will have in any other job in my life. Everything else I have written is honest, my coworkers and friends will tell you that I loved Cusco, and loved "being" Peruvian. It's really saying something when your job enhances your general life experience, and is not just a way to finance it.

Maximo and Cusco was a hell of a lot of fun, a great experience, and to be serious a great first step in what I hope to make a career out of ESL. I will not hesitate at all to sign another six-month contract with Maximo Nivel. Send me a message if you have any questions.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9001
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:22 am    Post subject: Re: Great first teaching experience, would 110% do it again! Reply with quote

Justin_esl wrote:
During my backpacking trip, my friends and I first stayed with a friend in Lima who was teaching ESL for the Technological University of Peru (UTP in Spanish). He was only 19 and only had his high school diploma, no TEFL certificate, just native English--ESL demand is very high in Peru!--and was living a very nice life in a beautiful neighborhood (Lince). .


It's EFL, not ESL, when you're in a foreign country. As for the high demand for English classes in Peru, maybe, but other places like ASia are higher. The issue I have with Peru is the whole no visa thingy. And then giving jobs to teachers who are 19 and have no university education. Both of those work against teachers who want a real salary and a legal visa. Lince is an ok neighbourhood, but it certainly isn't Miraflores, San Isidro, or La Molina. You're not going to find heaps of expats in Lince.

As for MN, I've heard good things about them. I hope to continue to hear good things and hope that they continue to set high standards. ie, not accept unqualified teachers.

Glad you had a good time, but keep in mind that while some 19 years old are suited for TEFLing, many aren't, and it's becuase of this that salaries in Peru are low and you can't get the visas, flights, or housing that you could get in China.

Also glad you got a cert, it's a big help in the class and gets your foot in the door.

MN has to be good, with all the franchising they're doing, the must have a good business model. Their name always crops up when someone talks about Cusco.

THough I will say this about MP in general, if you're from Cusco you get a good deal. If you're Peruvian or have residency it's decently priced. As a foreigner, you're going to pay through the nose. We spent $700 for 5 days and 4 nights, that included everything from the taxi to our house to hotels, MP admissions, flights, and taxi back home. Whereas $700 would probably be what a foreigner would spend in a day. The triple pricing system really stinks.

Are you still in Peru?
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