Honduras is a place for those who want to make a difference. With nearly two-thirds of the population living in poverty, teachers can impact the lives of their students and in local communities, while living the laid back lifestyle of the friendly and welcoming Honduran people. Sandy coasts teeming with aquatic wildlife, Mayan archaeological sites, and relatively untouched forests make up Honduras’s pristine landscape. Since Honduras offers all the sights and activities of other more popular Central American destinations for a reduced price, teaching English in Honduras affords teachers the chance to take full advantage of their downtime too.
The majority of teaching jobs in Honduras are located in or around the major cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. However, the recently high crime and violence rates have made these destinations less popular and are not currently recommended. Fortunately, teaching jobs in Honduras are also available in several small towns and other desirable areas including La Ceiba, the Copan Ruins, the Bay Islands, and more.
Tegucigalpa is one of the two sister cities that make up the capital of Honduras. It is a valley located in the center of the country hemmed in by mountains. Numerous museums and the lively city life contribute to the rich culture of the city, however teaching abroad in Tegucigalpa is becoming increasingly risky as a result of gang and drug violence.
La Ceiba is located on the northern coast of Honduras, and lives up to its Honduran reputation as “the capital of ecotourism”. Not to mention La Tela, one of the premier beaches in all of Honduras, is located just one and a half hours west of La Ceiba. Although it is Honduras’s fourth most populated city, La Ceiba is less developed than Tegucigalpa and teaching jobs or opportunities for volunteering in La Ceiba are often centered on working with poorer communities.
The Copan Ruins are home to many Mayan inhabitants. Ruins, monuments, and plazas contribute to the historic architecture that can be found in quaint Copan. Small class sizes and placements teaching a variety of subjects are just a few of the benefits of teaching at Copan’s locally-founded, not-for-profit bilingual private school.
The three Bay Islands are the epitome of paradise and make up part of the second largest barrier reef system in the world. The economy on the islands is sustained by tourism and fishing, so much so that English is actually the dominant language spoken, with Spanish being the second. Roatan, the largest and most developed of the islands, is where the majority of Bay Island teaching opportunities can be found. Teaching English in Roatan is the ideal option for those who want to spend their weekends off scuba diving and visiting the other two Bay Islands, Utila and Guanaja.
Private bilingual schools make up the majority of available teaching jobs in Honduras. Not all private schools require their teachers to be devout Christians, but you should at least be comfortable reflecting Christian values. Those who teach in Honduras at private schools are also expected to be role models for their students, which may mean not drinking alcohol in public or being asked to sub in on Bible classes as needed. Uniforms consisting of a polo and pants or a skirt are usually provided by private schools, but “casual Fridays” are common. School days typically run from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with occasional days off for holidays.
The school year begins in August or September and goes until mid-December, then starts back up again in January through June. Opportunities for teaching in Honduras vary in length based on the type of placement – volunteer teaching positions are generally shorter in duration (though could last as long as two years), while most paid teaching jobs last for a semester or school year. Tutoring is another common way individuals can teach English in Honduras. Most jobs teaching English in Honduras cannot be found online, but rather are made through networking once in-country.
When To Apply and How To Get Hired. Native English speakers are highly valued applicants for teaching jobs in Honduras, especially individuals with a college degree. Although some level of Spanish and/or teaching experience is helpful, neither are generally required. Most English teaching jobs in Honduras do not require TEFL certification and those that do often provide the necessary training to become TEFL certified while in-country. General elementary teaching positions or jobs teaching specialized subjects (such as teaching high school math and science) are readily available throughout Honduras too. Job openings for the upcoming school year may be posted as early as December, but most are posted during the fall of the current year. May to August are the peak hiring months.
School Environment. Teaching styles in Honduras tend to be authoritative and strict; repetition and copying are common techniques. When greeting your colleagues for the first time, it’s a good idea to allow others to make the first move. Most Hondurans greet each other with a hug and kiss on the cheek, but some administration may prefer a more professional hand shake.
Teachers should generally expect to break even financially when teaching abroad in Honduras. Though some positions are more prestigious and higher-paying than others, $250 to $350 is the average monthly salary or stipend for teaching in Honduras, which almost always includes housing and sometimes other amenities (i.e. airfare reimbursement). If housing is not included, most placements will at least offer assistance in finding a place to stay, in addition to a higher paycheck. Though less common, there are also volunteer opportunities for teaching in Honduras which are unpaid.
The Lempira is the national currency in Honduras, and the cost of living is relatively inexpensive compared to the U.S., Canada, Europe, and other western countries. A little can go a long way if you take advantage of local markets and public transportation. While the bus system is the cheapest, taxis are recommended in larger cities, especially after dark. Taxis usually have a fixed one-ride fare 50 cents to $1 per person, but may be slightly higher for long distances across town. When eating out, teachers can expect to pay $6 to $8 for a meal, including a 10 percent tip which is customary for most services.
Although teachers may not gain much financially, the value of teaching English in Honduras should not be underestimated! Whether you are teaching simply to pay for your weekend traveling expenses or to further your career, you will get out of the experience what you put in to it. Take advantage of the Honduran hospitality to really engage in your student’s community, immerse yourself in your experience, and enjoy all that Honduras has to offer.
Your visa needs with depend on the type of position you are fulfilling. Short term volunteer positions will generally not require more than the 90-day tourist visa, which you automatically receive when entering the country. If you will be working in a paid teaching job in Honduras, you will need a work visa, which requires a passport valid for at least six months past your planned travel date, proof of a job offer, and a return flight ticket.
A housing compound for teachers is standard accommodation, especially in larger cities where most international teachers teach English in bilingual schools. Housing compounds are free and a great way to meet your fellow English-speaking teacher friends. If you prefer to live within the community in regular city housing instead, you can often ask or fill out an application to transfer your housing funds toward housing outside of the compound. Some housing accommodations even offer the services of a maid.
- Building Relationships. Hondurans value hospitality. Be friendly and engage in small talk, don’t be afraid to take your colleagues up on invitations outside of school, you might just make a life-long friend!
- Patience Is A Virtue. Do not get frustrated if meetings don’t start on time, run late, or do not follow a strict agenda. Time is a rather laid back concept in Honduras – arrive on time anyway.
- Hiring Help. The unemployment rate in Honduras is nearly 28 percent. By hiring the services of a maid, you not only provide a job for a Honduran citizen, but it is also a great chance for you to practice your Spanish and try some home-cooked authentic Honduran food!