Going abroad to get your certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a terrific way to experience another culture firsthand, get real-life teaching experience, and up-skill your résumé with international experience. One of the best places in the world to earn your TEFL certification is the small Central American country of Guatemala. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala is an undiscovered treasure; a place where students, travelers, and teachers can experience some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes while enjoying near-perfect weather.
Need some more convincing? Here are ten great reasons you should get your TEFL certification in Guatemala:
1. Highly Respected Course Providers
There are several well-known TEFL course providers that offer certification programs in Guatemala. Earning a TEFL certificate from an accredited center will give you a leg up, no matter where you ultimately want to use your new teaching credentials. This means you can obtain your TEFL certificate in Guatemala, and your teaching qualifications are still valid in places like Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada, or anywhere else you might want to teach abroad!
2. Very Affordable TEFL Programs
Guatemala has an extremely low cost of living. Food, lodging, and other expenses are very affordable compared to other countries you might be considering for your TEFL certification abroad. In fact, TEFL course providers in Guatemala offer some of the least expensive, highest-quality TEFL courses available anywhere in the world.
Getting your TEFL certificate in Guatemala will also help you save on travel costs. Guatemala City, the country’s central hub for international air traffic, is very accessible with direct flights or one-stop flights from most major U.S. and European cities, which means air fares are inexpensive and easy to find.
3. Cheap Spanish Classes
Did you know Guatemala is the least expensive place in the world to study Spanish? You might not immediately think of learning Spanish as an important part of earning your TEFL certificate in Guatemala. However, the experience of learning another language is invaluable if you’re planning to teach English to non-English speakers. Even just a little experience with foreign languages makes you a more effective teacher and helps you better relate and empathize with your English learners.
4. Strong Career Options
If you fall in love and decide you want to stay and teach in Guatemala, you’ll find strong career prospects in Antigua, Guatemala City, and Xela. These cities are the tourism, commercial, and cultural centers of the country. They have large enough populations and a strong enough economic base, that they have an ongoing need for TEFL-certified teachers. Local students, and many language schools, prefer certified teachers who are native English speakers, and that’s where you come in!
5. The Local People
Particularly in Antigua, the cultural hub of Guatemala, the local people are extremely friendly and welcoming. Their livelihoods and the city’s cultural vibe depend on international travelers, which makes you a most welcomed guest. Most TEFL course providers offer participants the opportunity to live with Guatemalan families during their TEFL courses in Guatemala, providing a fully immersive experience, and great language practice!
6. Adventure Travel
For the traveler seeking adventure, Guatemala offers a broad range of travel opportunities. For adventure travel, Guatemala ranks alongside Peru and Chile for fabulous natural and cultural destinations. Most TEFL course providers in Guatemala can add travel and adventure options to your program, which can save you both time and money.
Visit the Pacific coast beaches for black volcanic sand, world class surfing, and even scuba diving, or check out the sailfishing opportunities in Puerto San Jose. You can also simply hang out and enjoy the simplicity of tiny beach towns, the feel of the sun, and the sound of the waves. Or, if you’re feeling more active, take a hike up an active volcano and roast marshmallows over flowing lava. Yes, that’s a real thing!
7. Ideal Weather
Antigua, the cultural hub of Guatemala, is known as the City of Eternal Spring for its moderate temperatures and beautiful, year-round weather. You’ll find temperatures neither too hot nor too cold throughout the whole country, which has a national average of 72 degrees fahrenheit or 22 degrees celsius. Temperatures in Guatemala vary primarily with altitude rather than season, with the beaches being hot and sunny and the mountains being cool and fresh. Guatemala has two primary seasons, the rainy season and dry season. However, even the rainy season is so wonderful, they just call it “green season.”
Guatemala sometimes gets a bad rap, but this refers almost exclusively to the capital of Guatemala City. In reality, you only fly into Guatemala City and then immediately travel out to tranquilo places, like Antigua and Xela, where the best education and travel programs are based. The city of Antigua is especially safe and boasts a strong security presence on its streets to ensure everyone’s well-being. Foreign visitors will find these smaller communities friendly and welcoming to visitors, and safer than similarly sized cities in other parts of the world.
9. Cultural Shopping
Visitors looking for handcrafted textiles, ceramics, metalwork, and other native handicrafts will find shopping opportunities aplenty in traditional open air markets located in Antigua, Xela, and other cities. The more adventurous can travel to the smaller pueblos in the surrounding countryside, where you can interact directly with the artisans who create the actual products; this is “real-deal” shopping, so remember that haggling is expected! It can be half the fun of your shopping experience, and will definitely sharpen your Spanish skills.
10. Historical Significance
Guatemala was the center of the ancient Mayan civilization. Today, there are a more than 1,500 Mayan ruins in the country, ranging from those still buried in the jungle to entire cities that have been, or are currently in the process of being, excavated. The giant city of Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the wonders of the modern world. Exploring Tikal, which is only partially excavated,makes for an interesting and awe-inspiring day. You can even climb a temple to get a bird’s-eye view of the ancient complex and breathe in the history.
All things considered, if you head to Guatemala for your TEFL certification, you’re sure to find a life-changing, career-building, mind-expanding experience. And chances are it won’t break your budget.
Don't wast any time, go live it!
This article was contributed by Maximo Nivel, an educational travel organization founded in 2003. Maximo Nivel provides a range of programs throughout Latin America, including TEFL courses, internships, language classes, study abroad opportunities, adventure travel and volunteer programs, and even job placements.