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Where do I want to go?
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Unodostres



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 7
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

Hello! I could really use some help in deciding which Latina American country I want to teach in, there are just too many enticing choices for me to choose by myself!

I am 26 with some college and no certification. I am in contact with a local adult learning center that also does ESL and I will start volunteering with them soon. I would like to get certified in the country that I would be teaching in. After paying for the certification and flight, I would have about $2000 saved up and I won't be ready to start until January 2012.

Here is what I'm looking for in my TEFL experience: I'm only looking to teach for one year, my primary objective is to improve my Spanish, I'd like to work about 15-20 hours per week, I'd like to take about 10 hours of Spanish per week and I'd like to volunteer about 4-5 hours per week.

So far, I'm torn between Southern Mexico (I've heard good things about Cuernavaca as well as Chiapas), Costa Rica (I've been looking at Intesol CR) and Ecuador (EIL Ecuador).

Mexico would be the least in terms of culture shock and probably the best match food wise but it doesn't feel as "exotic" as the other two choices. Costa Rica would be perfect for me but 90% of the teaching jobs are in the central valley and I'd like to have more options in terms of location. Ecuador seems like a decent choice as well, the Spanish is clear, the weather is nice and there are several cities to teach in (I want a medium city like Cuenca or Loja).

So, where should I go? Is there anything that I haven't considered? How is the job outlook in those areas? Any input would be appreciated!
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lydia.bainbridge



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:30 am    Post subject: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

Have you looked at the information on the boards for each country you are interested in? I think your question is pretty broad for people to want to tackle. Make sure you've done your homework and then come back with specific questions.
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Unodostres



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 7
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'm trying to narrow it down, but it's proving to be difficult!

I'm going to wait until I hear back from EIL Ecuador before I make up my mind. Today has been an Ecuador day and I've been reading up on Cuenca, but who knows where I'll want to go tomorrow! Laughing

But I guess, I could always do 6 months in one place and 6 months in another Idea
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1101
Location: 17░48'N 97░46'W

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

Unodostres wrote:

So far, I'm torn between Southern Mexico (I've heard good things about Cuernavaca as well as Chiapas), Costa Rica (I've been looking at Intesol CR) and Ecuador (EIL Ecuador).

Mexico would be the least in terms of culture shock and probably the best match food wise but it doesn't feel as "exotic" as the other two choices.



This made me chuckle! Southern Mexico is not like Monterrey or Tijuana or what ever else you think Mexico is like. It might as well be a different country and would certainly be a bigger culture shock than San JosÚ, Costa Rica or many large cities in South America. Laughing

No disqualify Costa Rica just because the jobs are mostly in San JosÚ. It's a small country, so you could travel around to different parts on your day off. When I visited Costa Rica, I stayed in San JosÚ, but still saw a lot of the country.

I worked in Ecuador many years ago, Cuenca is lovely.
Since your main goal is to improve your Spanish. I think working to earn your living is kind of unrealistic. Why not look into "volunteer" type experiences that will cover your room and board rather than paying you a salary. Ecuador has (had) a special visa for this sort of thing. Some of these organizations will have you teaching in poor schools as your volunteer experience, but others may offer other type of work. Some also have a program fee, but it won't be less than you will pay for a TEFL course, flight and start up costs. Plus working less than 20 hours a week you might actually be using up all your savings on expenses.
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Unodostres



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 7
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments! I started looking at volunteer type programs but many of them were pretty expensive with accommodation and Spanish classes, I would only be able to make it about 5 or 6 months. Whereas, I figure with teaching part time, it would help me stretch my funds for a whole year.

So far I've looked at the following volunteer organizations:
http://www.ecuadorvolunteers.org
http://volunteerhq.org/
http://www.interculturacostarica.com/activities/volunteer-program-costa-rica

EIL Ecuador has a cultural exchange program, but I'm still waiting to hear back from them.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 864

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The job market in Cuenca is very competitive, less so in Loja, but then there is less work there in general as well. In either place you will be lucky to earn $6/hr. 15-20 hours a week on those wages is not realistic, especially not if you have to pay for Spanish lessons as well. You might want to look at some of the bigger schools like English First or Inlingua, they don't pay much but you get free or very cheap Spanish classes as well, and those savings can really add up.
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lydia.bainbridge



Joined: 19 Jun 2011
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:37 pm    Post subject: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

During my master's program, I spent 10 weeks teaching English to Spanish teachers in exchange for 20 hours a week of Spanish classes in Guatemala. Homestay was $150 a month, three meals a day six days a week.

Best experience of my teaching career! You don't have to pay to volunteer.
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Unodostres



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 7
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you HLJ and lydia. You've given me several more things to consider. That's why I joined, to have a sounding board to bounce around ideas. You guys have "been there, done that" and can give much needed advice.

Edit: If I was in a larger city and was taking free Spanish classes, the 20 hours of teaching would be ok right?
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8928
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:34 am    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

Unodostres wrote:
Hello! I could really use some help in deciding which Latina American country I want to teach in, there are just too many enticing choices for me to choose by myself!

Here is what I'm looking for in my TEFL experience: I'm only looking to teach for one year, my primary objective is to improve my Spanish, I'd like to work about 15-20 hours per week, I'd like to take about 10 hours of Spanish per week and I'd like to volunteer about 4-5 hours per week.

So far, I'm torn between Southern Mexico (I've heard good things about Cuernavaca as well as Chiapas), Costa Rica (I've been looking at Intesol CR) and Ecuador (EIL Ecuador).

It's hard to teach English with the primary objective being learning Spanish. I can tell you that in one of the places I worked, we were forbidden to use Spanish at work since one of the reasons we were there was to improve the local teachers' English.

As far as those three places where you're looking at teaching, have you asked about visas? They tend to be a sticky issue in LA.

I do know that EIL does get teachers visas, so you might want to look into that.

Another thing might be the hours. For most of my jobs in LA, I had to be at work for 40 hours.


Last edited by naturegirl321 on Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8928
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unodostres wrote:
Edit: If I was in a larger city and was taking free Spanish classes, the 20 hours of teaching would be ok right?


It would depend on many things
1. If the school only needs you for 20 hours
2. What the pay is
3. If you could legally work
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

naturegirl321 wrote:
Unodostres wrote:


So far, I'm torn between Southern Mexico (I've heard good things about Cuernavaca as well as Chiapas), Costa Rica (I've been looking at Intesol CR) and Ecuador (EIL Ecuador).


As far as those three places where you're looking at teaching, have you asked about visas? They tend to be a sticky issue in LA.



I wouldn't say that getting a work visa is a "sticky issue" in Mexico. If you have the right pieces of paper, getting one is fairly simple. Just to clarify some Mexican geography: Chiapas is in southern Mexico, but Cuernavaca is in the center, about an hour and a half from Mexico City. Neither of them would considered a prime location for finding work.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8928
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:19 am    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

Isla Guapa wrote:
I wouldn't say that getting a work visa is a "sticky issue" in Mexico. If you have the right pieces of paper, getting one is fairly simple. Just to clarify some Mexican geography: Chiapas is in southern Mexico, but Cuernavaca is in the center, about an hour and a half from Mexico City. Neither of them would considered a prime location for finding work.


I think Mexico is the one exception in latin America. Maybe Ecuador as well, other places seem to have a more laid back attitude about work visas .)
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:31 am    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

naturegirl321 wrote:
Isla Guapa wrote:
I wouldn't say that getting a work visa is a "sticky issue" in Mexico. If you have the right pieces of paper, getting one is fairly simple. Just to clarify some Mexican geography: Chiapas is in southern Mexico, but Cuernavaca is in the center, about an hour and a half from Mexico City. Neither of them would considered a prime location for finding work.


I think Mexico is the one exception in latin America. Maybe Ecuador as well, other places seem to have a more laid back attitude about work visas .)


I'm confused, naturegirl. How can getting a work visa be both a "sticky issue" and unproblematic, i.e., the government has a "laid-back attitude" about the whole thing?
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8928
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:37 am    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

Isla Guapa wrote:
I'm confused, naturegirl. How can getting a work visa be both a "sticky issue" and unproblematic, i.e., the government has a "laid-back attitude" about the whole thing?

Sticky because employers don't want to get you a work visa,but by law they're required. Some Employers will tell you that border hopping is ok, becuase "everyone does it". They're laid back about it, for the most part. Good employers won't hire you without a work visa. But as we all know there are employers that will hire you without the correct paperwork.

Never said anything about the government or immigration. Some places care, some are more strict. Varies by country and immigration officer. Some people pay a fine or a bribe, others aren't let back into the country. HOpe that helps
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Irish Lad



Joined: 06 Sep 2011
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:36 am    Post subject: Re: Where do I want to go? Reply with quote

naturegirl321 wrote:
Isla Guapa wrote:
I'm confused, naturegirl. How can getting a work visa be both a "sticky issue" and unproblematic, i.e., the government has a "laid-back attitude" about the whole thing?

Sticky because employers don't want to get you a work visa,but by law they're required. Some Employers will tell you that border hopping is ok, becuase "everyone does it". They're laid back about it, for the most part. Good employers won't hire you without a work visa. But as we all know there are employers that will hire you without the correct paperwork.

Never said anything about the government or immigration. Some places care, some are more strict. Varies by country and immigration officer. Some people pay a fine or a bribe, others aren't let back into the country. HOpe that helps


Well--not really. Vague, muddled generalizations are not usually very helpful to anyone. If you have accurate information about specific countries, then by all means, share it with us.

.
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