The country shaped like a chili is as spicy as the shape suggests. Filled with glaciers, deserts, and endless flora and fauna, Chile has become one South America’s top destinations to teach English abroad. The economy is good, Santiago is a healthy and vibrant city, and teachers can witness everything from Patagonia to penguin populations. Most importantly there are plenty of opportunities to teach in Chile. The Chilean government supports English language training in the form of several government-run teacher sponsorship mandates. Plus, opportunities to teach English in Chile range from jobs in private language schools, to public school placements, to volunteer opportunities.
Chile may be the best place to teach in South America because of its beautiful geography alone, which includes the Chilean Patagonia in the south and Peru and Bolivia to the north, but the high demand for international English instructors is an even better reason to teach abroad in Chile.
Santiago, with nearly seven million residents in the metropolis, represents over 40 percent of Chile’s population. Nestled in Chile’s central valley, the capital of Santiago offers the highest concentration of teaching jobs in Chile, so it can be the easiest place to find a teaching placement. Teachers in Santiago will enjoy the Mediterranean climate and the city has also recently undergone a bit of facelift. The city invested a great deal in a “new” Santiago, complete with museums, lovely parks, and cultural centers.
Valparaiso. This charming city has earned a reputation as the artistic and free spirited hub of Chile; the colorful port town was once the home of Pablo Neruda. It is less than two hours northwest of Santiago, and is even more popular for tourists than the capital.
Other locations worth exploring teaching opportunities in are Concepción, Vina del Mar, Talcahuano, Antofagasta, Puerto Montt, Osorno, and La Serena. As a general rule of thumb the higher the population of the city and surrounding area, the more teaching opportunities will be available. However, placements in Chilean public schools are available throughout the country, from Arica to Patagonia.
Tourism Hotspots. Popular tourist locations, such as Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, Patagonia, and San Pedro de Atacama, are meccas for teaching English in Chile, because locals and other foreigners working in the industry need to know the language to cater to tourists. If you are interested in teaching English for tourism purposes, the high tourist season typically begins in November and ends in March, so the demand is even higher a couple of months prior.
It all boils down to how you like to spend your free time and if you prefer the city or the countryside, the coast or the mountains. Choose to teach in Chile in a location that suits your desires best or simply take the leap into the unknown.
Most teaching positions in Chile are available in Language Schools. Unsurprisingly, Santiago has the most English language schools, but private schools and English institutions exist throughout the country. Students vary from business professionals to tourism workers to students of all ages, including university students.
There are a growing number of prep courses for the TOEFL exam, the GRE, and SAT as Chilean students apply for universities abroad, so subsequent teaching jobs in Chile are sometimes available as well.
Government Sponsored Programs have been launched in various forms in recent years. The most popular program is a "volunteer" placement as a teaching assistant in public schools. International teachers receive a small stipend and have an arranged homestay in exchange for their commitment to serve the school for a set period.
Volunteer Teaching opportunities in Chile are extensive including opportunities as teaching assistants or working with the blind population.
Homestay Exchange is a unique concept where teachers, both experienced and beginners, have the chance to exchange tutoring lessons and English language practice with a family for accommodation within the family's home.
Qualifications. Prospective teachers should have at minimum a bachelor’s degree to teach in Chile, and many schools will require some teaching experience as well. TEFL certificates are always a good idea when teaching English abroad, not just because of the resume boost but because they provide practical techniques and resources for teaching abroad. There are many onsite programs in which you can earn your TEFL certificate in Chile and receive assistance in finding a teaching job in Chile once certified. Having some knowledge of the Spanish language is helpful, but not required to teach in Chile.
School Schedule. The school year in Chile is different than that in the northern hemisphere, it begins in late February or early March and concludes in mid-December. Winter vacation is usually two weeks in July, and there are many national holidays ranging from Roman Catholic holidays to the celebration of Fiestas Patrias, which lasts for a minimum of two days in September.
Hiring Season. Keep in mind that since the academic school year begins in late February or early March, teaching jobs in Chile are scarce during the summer months of January and February. The majority of Chileans take their 15 consecutive working day vacations during the months of January and February. Therefore, there are not as many individuals who are keen (or required) to go to school during this time of year.
Many private schools in Chile do not pay their teachers a salary, rather they pay teachers hourly wages ranging from $10 to $20 per hour. Teacher salaries will depend on the school, students, and location. Teaching positions in Santiago will pay higher wages than some other cities, such as Valparaíso and Concepción. Depending on the school and hours worked, teachers can expect to earn anywhere from $500 to $1,700 per month teaching in Chile.
Word of the wise, Chile is one of the most expensive countries to live, work, travel, and teach in Latin America. There are affordable markets around the country with healthy local produce, but goods, such as clothing, automobiles, and furniture, are more expensive than what Americans are accustomed to spending in the United States. Also, the price of gasoline is roughly four times the price in the United States. Fortunately, Chile has an extremely good public transportation system with buses throughout the country and yes, even in the rural areas. In Santiago, there is a metro as well as an extensive bus system too.
Teachers typically live with host families, in boarding houses, or in apartments. Accommodation choice really depends on where you decide to teach in Chile, as types of housing varies greatly by location. A one bedroom apartment in one of Chile's larger cities usually starts at around $400 per month.
Most teachers obtain a work visa via their employer to teach abroad in Chile. Schools will support teachers through the visa process by providing them with a legitimate contract. This means teacher's work visas will be tied to their employer, so they will be expected to complete their contract in order to maintain legal immigration status. There are no visa fees for U.S. citizens who want to teach in Chile, however for other nationalities visa fees can be as much as $1,000. While some travelers teach abroad in Chile on tourist visas, this practice is technically illegal and not recommended.
Since the Chilean government promotes learning the English language, it is usually not difficult to obtain a contract at schools in Chile and obtain the appropriate working visa to teach English in Chile.
- Growing Industry. More and more native English speakers are taking the adventuresome leap to teach in Chile. As of 2014, this Andean nation had more foreigners than ever recorded in the history of the country. It is important to remember that not all foreigners are teaching English in Chile, though the demand for a handle of the English language is at an all-time record high and the job market is vast.
- Conservative Fundamentals. Roman Catholicism still plays a large role in the lives of Chile's 17 million people. Life in Chile has drastically changed since the right-wing military regime concluded in 1990, when the dictatorship terminated and the country returned to democracy. While still conservative, Chile is changing and more open to diversity than ever before.