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Where am I qualified to teach university ESL?
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sctm



Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:48 pm    Post subject: Where am I qualified to teach university ESL? Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I’ve been looking for a university job in Latin America, and I’m wondering where, if anywhere, I’d be able to find one.

My qualifications aren’t stellar. I’ve been working for two years in a state university in the Oaxaca mountains. I don’t have an MA, and my BA is in a field unrelated to TESOL.

I’m obviously familiar with the Oaxacan university system, but I would like to try my luck in another country, or at least another area in Mexico.

I haven’t found many opportunities outside of Oaxaca, however, and I’m wondering if anyone had any pointers. Or are my qualifications just not enough for the rest of Latin America? I worry that I might not be able to find a job without moving first and applying locally.

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have!
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new-ish rules for university employment in Ecuador require teachers to have postgraduate qualifications. A bachelors degree. CELTA or equivalent & experience will still sometimes suffice, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time when a university needs someone, but it's far from guaranteed.
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sctm



Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply. I might give Ecuador a shot and see what comes of it. Do I stand a chance if I apply from here, or do Ecuadorian universities only hire local applicants?
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Overseas hires are pretty rare, and without an MA I'd be very surprised if you found anything from overseas, but there's nothing to lose by sending your CV out.
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just_a_mirage



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 160
Location: ecuador

PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why limit yourself to university? I have taught extensively in both universities and high school. My experience in Ecuador has been that high school is much more stable, with consistant salary, and more paid time off. Even though I am on contract to the current university I work for, I still have to shuffle to three campuses which are far flung from each other. At high school, I have had a lot of support, consistency, and am always paid on time. At the universities I have worked for, those three things have, at times been lacking. I make a bit more at the university, but probably eat that up in transportation costs.
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lagringalindissima



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 61
Location: Tucson, Arizona

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:12 am    Post subject: try high schools if you want to get the region.. Reply with quote

I have taught English at a community college in the USA and I would love to do that in the Spanish speaking world, but I think I have only seen one university job advertised anywhere. And keep in mind that the "get there first job hunt later" rule for job hunting in Latin America is less likely to work with a university--i.e. you probably can't just go into HR office and say "I am a native speaker of English and I was wondering if the university needs teachers" and get hired that way. Without a masters universities might also be legally unable to hire you since you need a visa and they'd need to prove you are highly qualified for the job to get you one.. although you did you have taught in a college system in Mexico and I base this on nothing but my "gut feeling" that that's how universities would work.

High schools can be okay.. just make sure they can really get you a visa! Yes the kids in private schools can be nightmares and yes there's a lot of (bleep) to deal with in the high school system--my biggest gripe was actually that the kids were never actually in class (there are constant vacations and interruptions)-- but on the other hand it's not a split shift, it's stable pay and at least you have the power of a real report card grade to use as leverage with difficult teens. I wouldn't jump on a plane and fly to Ecuador (or anywhere else) with no job, but it can't hurt to find private school names in your target area and ask if they need English teachers. (Do be aware that you might want to get a cover letter for the jobs written in Spanish if you want to try that.)
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Xie Lin



Joined: 21 Oct 2011
Posts: 513

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

And keep in mind that the "get there first job hunt later" rule for job hunting in Latin America is less likely to work with a university--i.e. you probably can't just go into HR office and say "I am a native speaker of English and I was wondering if the university needs teachers" and get hired that way.




Personal contacts and networking once you are working.


mm
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 328
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your credentials and experience would probably get you work teaching university level classes in the Dominican Republic, but the pay is low and the benefits are nil. I believe the pay at the PUCMM (Pontifica Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra) is around RD$495 an hour for instructors with a BA and about about RD$560 for instructors w/a masters. My guess is that the Universidad Dominico Americano would pay similar rates (see the link below). Unlike better university jobs in Latin America, you'd need to plan to go there and apply in person. Other than elite private schools (K-12), overseas hires aren't part of the ESL landscape there.

If can legally work in the U.S., you could also inquire at the various campuses of ICPR Junior College or the Columbia Centro Universitario in Puerto Rico. You could try inquiring from abroad, but the reality is that you would most likely need to be there in person to get hired.

http://www.icda.edu.do/ICDA/Empleos/Requisitos/tabid/326/language/es-DO/Default.aspx
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lagringalindissima wrote:
And keep in mind that the "get there first job hunt later" rule for job hunting in Latin America is less likely to work with a university--i.e. you probably can't just go into HR office and say "I am a native speaker of English and I was wondering if the university needs teachers" and get hired that way.


Actually, that pretty much is how you do it in Ecuador. You find a university job here by dressing neatly, going to the university with your C.V./resume, finding the faculty you are interested in working for, and asking to speak to the Dean. Most of the time the admin will staff will tell you the Dean is unavailable and take your C.V. to pass on. However, sometimes they will actually ask you to wait to speak to the Dean, or make an appointment for you to come back later.

I was dubious at first as well, but that really is how it works. In the UK (and I would also guess the USA) you can't just go wandering around a campus, let alone walk in to a faculty and ask to speak to the Dean, but it's normal here.

The ideal timing varies depending on a number of factors. First, you need to find out what academic calendar the university is on. Generally, the coastal universities run April-January, and the Sierra runs September- June, but there are many exceptions.

Then, if you only have a bachelors you want to be there close to the start of the year. They are most likely to hire you because you are in the right place at the right time when they happen to need someone. So maximise your chances by being there just before the start of the semester. Bear in mind that your job will never be very secure, and that if someone better qualified comes along they will have no qualms about kicking you out and employing them instead. For that reason, you are only ever likely to get hourly work rather than contracted.

If you have a Masters then you want to be there towards the end of the previous year. Most universities here need more people with masters so if they want you, they will try and plan to incorporate you into the following year's classes.

If you have a PhD you can pretty much turn up anytime and they will create a job for you if necessary. (It's a major criteria for funding).

However, as was mentioned on the other thread, even with the right qualifications, it's very unlikely that they will give you a contract in the first instance (since once they do, it's very hard for them to get rid of you.) So you will usually be expected to take hourly work for the first year or so while they check you out.

Once you have built up a reputation and have made some contacts, you will find there is a huge amount of university work available that never gets advertised anywhere. Contacts and networking are EVERYTHING in Ecuador.

lagringalindissima wrote:
Without a masters universities might also be legally unable to hire you since you need a visa and they'd need to prove you are highly qualified for the job to get you one.. although you did you have taught in a college system in Mexico and I base this on nothing but my "gut feeling" that that's how universities would work.


It's not a visa issue. The main requirement for a 'professional visa' is a bachelors degree. It's probably one of the most relaxed visa requirements in the world.

However, the new government regulations require university teachers to have postgraduate qualifications. There are financial penalties for universities who employ staff without postgrad qualifications, so they will generally try to avoid doing it. Having said that, there aren't enough qualified staff available to fill the posts available, and the bottom line is that if they need someone yesterday, they will usually employ someone who doesn't meet the regulations rather than cancel a course.


esl_prof wrote:
Your credentials and experience would probably get you work teaching university level classes in the Dominican Republic, but the pay is low and the benefits are nil. I believe the pay at the PUCMM (Pontifica Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra) is around RD$495 an hour for instructors with a BA and about about RD$560 for instructors w/a masters.


Interesting Prof, we don't often get a lot of information here about DR. So that would be around $11-$12/hr, right? Would you say that's enough to live on there? What's a typical work load (teaching hours) for a university prof. there?
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8998
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Universidad de piura. They'll get you a special non resident long term work visa. Great place to work. Nice city too.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8998
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xie Lin wrote:
Quote:

And keep in mind that the "get there first job hunt later" rule for job hunting in Latin America is less likely to work with a university--i.e. you probably can't just go into HR office and say "I am a native speaker of English and I was wondering if the university needs teachers" and get hired that way.

Personal contacts and networking once you are working.
mm


I was hired that way. You'd be surprised how much being there is valued. I was offered a job on the spot and hadn't completed my MA either. That being said I already had my own visa. In Peru most unis won't get people visas since there are plenty who are married to locals. Outside of Lima it's a different story.
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 328
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
lagringalindissima wrote:
And keep in mind that the "get there first job hunt later" rule for job hunting in Latin America is less likely to work with a university--i.e. you probably can't just go into HR office and say "I am a native speaker of English and I was wondering if the university needs teachers" and get hired that way.


Actually, that pretty much is how you do it in Ecuador. You find a university job here by dressing neatly, going to the university with your C.V./resume, finding the faculty you are interested in working for, and asking to speak to the Dean.


There's certainly exceptions to every rule, but this is pretty much how it worked for me in Puerto Rico. Though, in my case, I ended up speaking to the college president who hired me on the spot. Some of that, of course, was dumb luck. She just had two instructors leave a few days before I showed up. But still, there's a lot to be said for being there. I'm pretty sure I would have never been considered if I had just been inquiring from abroad.

HLJHLJ wrote:
esl_prof wrote:
Your credentials and experience would probably get you work teaching university level classes in the Dominican Republic, but the pay is low and the benefits are nil. I believe the pay at the PUCMM (Pontifica Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra) is around RD$495 an hour for instructors with a BA and about about RD$560 for instructors w/a masters.


Interesting Prof, we don't often get a lot of information here about DR. So that would be around $11-$12/hr, right? Would you say that's enough to live on there? What's a typical work load (teaching hours) for a university prof. there?


What little info is available on the D.R. is posted over on the Caribbean forum which, oddly, is not a subsection of the Latin America forums--even though the vast majority of ESL jobs in the Caribbean are in the Latin American countries of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. They really should move that forum over here.

Yes, at RD$43 per USD, that's about right. At 15 hours per week (not including downtime for holidays, school breaks, etc.), that still only totals around $700/month. While I lived comfortably off of a $300 monthly stipend while volunteer teaching in the D.R. back in the mid-nineties, inflation has taken it's toll over the past two decades. My guess is that $700 per month would likely mean dipping into your savings each month to make ends meet. Personally, I'd be more comfortable earning something in the $1,000/month range. But, then again, I could be wrong.

Basically, the rule of thumb for cost of living in the D.R. is to build a budget based on the cost of your U.S. expenses, with some adjustments. Food, for example, generally runs a bit more than in the U.S., especially imported foods. Housing, on the other hand, runs cheaper unless you're looking for places with Florida-style amenities like A/C. If you plan to use local transportation, then you can factor out automobile related expenses that most of us have in the U.S.

On the plus side, getting a residency permit is--as I understand it--a fairly straightforward and doable process. You'll need to do that yourself. Info about cost of living and residency permits is available on the forums at DR1.com.

I've never taught at a Dominican University, so I don't really know what's normal for teaching hours. Here in the States, 15 hours per week is the norm for full-time instructors in my for-credit college preparatory ESL program as was also the case when I taught college-level English in Puerto Rico. Is that normal in Latin America? Or is it typically more? I would assume that hours in the DR are more in line with other places in Latin America rather than the U.S./Puerto Rico. Given that college-level English classes are probably a bit lower-level in the D.R. than in the U.S./Puerto Rico, teaching a few more hours per week probably would likely be very doable.
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 328
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
The ideal timing varies depending on a number of factors. First, you need to find out what academic calendar the university is on. Generally, the coastal universities run April-January, and the Sierra runs September- June, but there are many exceptions.


That's the catch. You need to show up early enough to be considered while there's still openings available for the upcoming term but not so early that you end up living off savings for longer than absolutely necessary.

For the D.R., universities run on a trimestre system: Jan-April, May-Aug, Sept-Dec. You'd need to arrive in advance of an upcoming trimestre. Puerto Rican schools, on the other hand, basically follow the U.S. school year.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

esl_prof wrote:

What little info is available on the D.R. is posted over on the Caribbean forum which, oddly, is not a subsection of the Latin America forums--even though the vast majority of ESL jobs in the Caribbean are in the Latin American countries of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. They really should move that forum over here.


Hmm... an interesting quirk of internet Geography, I guess.


esl_prof wrote:

Yes, at RD$43 per USD, that's about right. At 15 hours per week (not including downtime for holidays, school breaks, etc.), that still only totals around $700/month. While I lived comfortably off of a $300 monthly stipend while volunteer teaching in the D.R. back in the mid-nineties, inflation has taken it's toll over the past two decades. My guess is that $700 per month would likely mean dipping into your savings each month to make ends meet. Personally, I'd be more comfortable earning something in the $1,000/month range. But, then again, I could be wrong.


I'm afraid USA based costs don't mean a lot to me, but that sounds fairly similar to Ecuador. In the cities you can live OK on $800. By that I mean rent an OK apartment in a nice area, or a really good shared place, go out a few times a month, travel locally during vacations, etc. At $1,000/m you can start saving a little, (and then blow it travelling further afield during vacations Wink ). Above that you can start building proper savings, or just live a bit more extravagantly.


esl_prof wrote:

I've never taught at a Dominican University, so I don't really know what's normal for teaching hours. Here in the States, 15 hours per week is the norm for full-time instructors in my for-credit college preparatory ESL program as was also the case when I taught college-level English in Puerto Rico.


15 hours is about right. It may even be a little less for contracted instructors, but they will have other responsibilities to balance it. However, there are a couple of universities that have in-house language institutes (something which seems to be becoming more common globally). Then they will typically have instructors working 20-25 hours a week, but then they don't usually have to get involved in all the other uni stuff (research, supervision, administration, etc). They are also likely to be on the lower wage scale for support staff rather than the academic one.
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
15 hours is about right. It may even be a little less for contracted instructors, but they will have other responsibilities to balance it. However, there are a couple of universities that have in-house language institutes (something which seems to be becoming more common globally). Then they will typically have instructors working 20-25 hours a week, but then they don't usually have to get involved in all the other uni stuff (research, supervision, administration, etc). They are also likely to be on the lower wage scale for support staff rather than the academic one.


Thanks for the clarification! This is helpful. In the D.R., there are at least four universities with pretty extensive in-house language institutes that I'm aware of (three in Santo Domingo and one in Punta Cana) and, I believe, the situation is pretty much as you describe above. While pay is a bit lower than for full-fledged uni courses, the extra hours mean that you still probably come out about the same. Of course, you're also probably looking at split-shifts in many cases as well.

The real money in the D.R.--to the extent that there ever is any in Latin American English language teaching--is not at the universities but in jobs at the handful of international schools that do overseas hires. Also, I think if you had spent some time there, were well networked and very entrepreneurial, you could potentially do fairly well by developing a clientele of private students.
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