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Question about students in Ecuador

 
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Dahlia5



Joined: 02 Jul 2014
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:53 am    Post subject: Question about students in Ecuador Reply with quote

Hello,

My husband and I are English teachers. We currently live in Thailand, and teach at Thai elementary schools. We are considering heading to Cuenca, Ecuador for 2014/2015 school year. Does anyone have any input on how the students typically behave in the Ecuador classroom?

Thailand has been tough for us, as we find the private schools to be very unorganized. Overall, the attitude in Thailand toward learning English seems to be a bit of a joke, and the teachers are supposed to entertain more than teach. It's just not a good fit for my husband and I. Before we make the move, we are hoping to find out if things in Ecuador are similar, or if, hopefully, there is a more serious outlook on English education in the elementary schools.

Any input would be much appreciated.

Thanks!!
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 905

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you can expect it to be disorganised, like everything else in Ecuador. The attitude to learning will mostly depend on the individual school. Do you know yet where you will be teaching?
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lagringalindissima



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

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:45 am    Post subject: information.. Reply with quote

I say don't go.

When I went I already knew Spanish, so that helped hugely.. the two non Spanish speaking teachers I worked with struggled a great deal. In general I think knowing the local language is really under rated in the ESL world--so I am biased-- but in Ecuador you'd have a hard time without a solid level of Spanish (for both you and your partner).

My school claimed to be the best in my city and the province where my city was was supposed to be the best province in the country, but the academic level--across the board, not just in English--was shameful. I had my high schoolers evaluate me in Spanish and even as a non native speaker I could tell you their writing was very poor. I am facebook friends with former students, and some complained that due to poor scores on college entrance exams they had to take remedial classes. But that is common throughout Latin America; Peru recently scored dead last on international benchmark tests.


I taught at a K-12 school, and what I disliked wasn't the low academic level.. it was that the only people who valued education were a handful of my best students. Classes were cancelled constantly and not made up--for events like the principal's birthday-- and vacations were so frequent last year the government decided to cut Christmas break to get kids more classtime--but it then decided not to. Even when you were "in class" there were constant interruptions. During intramurals week (2 whole weeks!) you'd have "class" first period but your class would be 8th-10th graders and 8th grade would be playing 10th grade; I'd take out my 2 ninth graders to watch, be shoved back in class (and told I had to teach), and then be called out again ten minutes later..all day for ten days! Some days your younger kids would be gone and other days your older kids would be gone; I rarely went into the teacher's lounge so maybe schedules were posted there, but no one told us when x class was busy/would be gone or told us where to find the schedule. Older high schoolers took SEVENTEEN classes, none other than us met more than 2 days a week, and since they never made up classes kids largely taught themselves in classes (like ethics) that they had to take but no one valued. On the plus side (I guess Surprised ) we got more hours than any other subject, meaning kids were directly told we were the most important teacher..and I was literally a celebrity since I am a native English speaker; I was embarrassed. But as you can see, if you want to be in a well organized environment this school is NOT it! The plus of the chaotic environment is you could do whatever you wanted and no one cared. I didn't follow the book (but just because it was a bad book, not because I object to following books); everyone knew and no one cared.

The kids could be horrificly behaved; they drove away one teacher within a week. My school had faculty babysitters who stayed with me in all secondary classes; even with them there it was hard...if they weren't there it was a madhouse. But they also ADORE teachers who are friendly with them and are very open with their affection.. for me being so loved (mostly) made up for their misbehavior. But I was more loved than any other teacher; you'd probably be less loved and I think I would have been too in a different year..peer pressure just worked in my favor with the kids I happened to get Smile ).

So this probably sounds like it's not a good match for what you want..but there's more. I can't recommend Ecuador because of the visa..and in fact I post "don't go" posts regularly, because I wish I'd been warned. The visa process is not only horrendous, it's so chaotic it's not remotely guaranteed that you can get a visa. Don't believe ANY school in Ecuador that assures you the process is easy! No one knows what you need and you might be asked to give your passport to a third party to have it sent to another city for visa processing..you can't get a visa from at least the USA. You also can't have a work visa; if you applied the government would deny the application. There are different types of visas and it's not clear what type you'd actually want; different schools tell you different things. You'll need to prove you have money--which is because you are NOT supposed to be paid on most visa types, especially the easier ones to get--and expect to pay all fees, including travel expenses if you need to go to another city. For a couple on the salaries they pay it would get pricey very quickly.

To be clear, I am not a bitter teacher who feels she was f--ked over!! I liked the country and I miss it a lot. I cried that I couldn't go see my special former student (from 3 years ago) graduate; I made serious relationships there and I am even still friendly with the vice principal of my former school. But if you want organization, academically focused schools and a visa it's not a good match for you.
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lagringalindissima



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

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:46 am    Post subject: information.. Reply with quote

I say don't go.

When I went I already knew Spanish, so that helped hugely.. the two non Spanish speaking teachers I worked with struggled a great deal. In general I think knowing the local language is really under rated in the ESL world--so I am biased-- but in Ecuador you'd have a hard time without a solid level of Spanish (for both you and your partner).

My school claimed to be the best in my city and the province where my city was was supposed to be the best province in the country, but the academic level--across the board, not just in English--was shameful. I had my high schoolers evaluate me in Spanish and even as a non native speaker I could tell you their writing was very poor. I am facebook friends with former students, and some complained that due to poor scores on college entrance exams they had to take remedial classes. But that is common throughout Latin America; Peru recently scored dead last on international benchmark tests.


I taught at a K-12 school, and what I disliked wasn't the low academic level.. it was that the only people who valued education were a handful of my best students. Classes were cancelled constantly and not made up--for events like the principal's birthday-- and vacations were so frequent last year the government decided to cut Christmas break to get kids more classtime--but it then decided not to. Even when you were "in class" there were constant interruptions. During intramurals week (2 whole weeks!) you'd have "class" first period but your class would be 8th-10th graders and 8th grade would be playing 10th grade; I'd take out my 2 ninth graders to watch, be shoved back in class (and told I had to teach), and then be called out again ten minutes later..all day for ten days! Some days your younger kids would be gone and other days your older kids would be gone; I rarely went into the teacher's lounge so maybe schedules were posted there, but no one told us when x class was busy/would be gone or told us where to find the schedule. Older high schoolers took SEVENTEEN classes, none other than us met more than 2 days a week, and since they never made up classes kids largely taught themselves in classes (like ethics) that they had to take but no one valued. On the plus side (I guess Surprised ) we got more hours than any other subject, meaning kids were directly told we were the most important teacher..and I was literally a celebrity since I am a native English speaker; I was embarrassed. But as you can see, if you want to be in a well organized environment this school is NOT it! The plus of the chaotic environment is you could do whatever you wanted and no one cared. I didn't follow the book (but just because it was a bad book, not because I object to following books); everyone knew and no one cared.

The kids could be horrificly behaved; they drove away one teacher within a week. My school had faculty babysitters who stayed with me in all secondary classes; even with them there it was hard...if they weren't there it was a madhouse. But they also ADORE teachers who are friendly with them and are very open with their affection.. for me being so loved (mostly) made up for their misbehavior. But I was more loved than any other teacher; you'd probably be less loved and I think I would have been too in a different year..peer pressure just worked in my favor with the kids I happened to get Smile ).

So this probably sounds like it's not a good match for what you want..but there's more. I can't recommend Ecuador because of the visa..and in fact I post "don't go" posts regularly, because I wish I'd been warned. The visa process is not only horrendous, it's so chaotic it's not remotely guaranteed that you can get a visa. Don't believe ANY school in Ecuador that assures you the process is easy! No one knows what you need and you might be asked to give your passport to a third party to have it sent to another city for visa processing..you can't get a visa from at least the USA. You also can't have a work visa; if you applied the government would deny the application. There are different types of visas and it's not clear what type you'd actually want; different schools tell you different things. You'll need to prove you have money--which is because you are NOT supposed to be paid on most visa types, especially the easier ones to get--and expect to pay all fees, including travel expenses if you need to go to another city. For a couple on the salaries they pay it would get pricey very quickly.

To be clear, I am not a bitter teacher who feels she was f--ked over!! I liked the country and I miss it a lot. I cried that I couldn't go see my special former student (from 3 years ago) graduate; I made serious relationships there and I am even still friendly with the vice principal of my former school. But if you want organization, academically focused schools and a visa it's not a good match for you.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 905

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ecuador isn't for everybody, like most of LatAm you will need to be independent and flexible. If things like short notice schedule changes, especially ones caused by government ordinances, are going to stress you out then you probably won't be happy here. And yes, academic standards are relatively low across the board, it's a developing country, you need to have realistic expectations as to what that will mean. However, despite the lower standards I have generally found that education is valued and there is an enthusiasm for learning. It's down to the individual's outlook as to whether they find these things intolerably chaotic or just a cultural quirk.

Having said that, the experience people have will vary considerably depending on where they are based and the place they will work. If you are in Loja, then yes some Spanish is pretty much essential, it would be a difficult place to live otherwise. However, the OP was looking at Cuenca, which is probably the easiest city in Ecuador to get by in without a word of Spanish.

However, most of the visa information above is simply wrong. There are several routes for visas. If you don't have a job arranged you can apply for a 12-IX before you come. This allows you to work for 6 months, so you can hit the ground running, as it were. Once you find a job you can change visa in-country.

If you do have a job arranged, in most cases you will be on a 12-VIII cultural exchange visa. Again, this can be applied for in your home or resident country before you come. It's perfectly legal to work as an English teacher on a cultural exchange visa, however, it's a non-resident visa tied to a specific school and the 'wage' is a classed as a 'stipend'. This massively reduces the administrative burden on teachers. They pay no tax, so do not have to submit monthly tax returns, and the school is responsible for arranging health insurance, etc. It's all entirely above board and nothing to be concerned about.

However, if you want something more permanent there are other options. The non-resident work visa 12 V-I is largely obsolete now, hard to get and administratively difficult to use if you do get one. Instead, the professional visa 9-V is generally recommended instead. This is a resident visa, and it's personal. That is, you apply for it in your own right and it's your visa, it's not tied to an employer. To be eligible all you need to a bachelor's degree. The process is slow and somewhat bureaucratic, but not particularly complicated. All the information is available online, along with the forms you need to download and complete. There is no requirement to show funds, but in most cases you will be expected to pay for your own visa costs.

You can either do it yourself, which requires you to make several trips to immigration in one of the major cities (including Cuenca), or pay a visa facilitator to do it for you, which requires you to hand your passport over to a third party. If you refuse to do either of those things, there isn't really much a small-town school can do about it, they don't make the immigration rules.

There are many reasons why people might decide that Ecuador isn't for them, but the visa process isn't one of them.
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