Are chips and salsa your favorite food ever? Have you been saying, “¿Donde está el baño?” since you were in grade school? Do you take your tacos with two tortillas instead of one? If any of these are true, Mexico will feel like home! And if you’re interested in teaching, then you’ve found a perfect fit and relatively easy country to find ESL jobs abroad. Teaching English in Mexico is a popular career choice amongst both first time and experienced teachers alike. So, regardless if you are planning to pursue a career in teaching or if you are trying to improve your Spanish while making an impact, Mexico says “Bienvenido” to you!
With a population over 120 million, Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Amongst the hustle and bustle of cars, people, and taco trucks, you can enjoy some of the best street food, forage through markets that have been around since the Aztecs, and take in the alluring culture: a mix of European, American, Latino, and native flavors.
Central Mexico is home to one of the biggest capital cities in the world, Mexico City. Over 8 million people live in Mexico City, with an additional 12 million in the greater metropolitan area. This region is one of the easiest places to obtain an ESL job in Mexico, as both students and businesspeople are interested in learning the English language. Still learning Spanish yourself? You’ll also have an easier time getting by in this melting pot of a city. Plus, you can become the cool teacher when you combine history and language during field trips to famous sights around the city, such as Frida Kahlo’s house.
If you don’t want a big city experience, move south and you will be greeted by the beauty of Puebla’s porcelain and mosaics. Further, you’ll find Oaxaca’s supreme cuisine and entrenched indigenous customs. Both cities are also on the easier side to engage with locals in broken Spanglish and are filled with concrete, language focused opportunities to teach English in México. When trying to explain how to pronounce “colonel” gets you weary, take a hike up La Malinche (inactive) Volcano and let the view leave you speechless instead.
The coastal cities are not just popular with tourists, they are also ripe with both ESL jobs and teaching certification programs. On the eastern tip, near the common vacation destination of Cancun, lies the beach town Playa del Carmen. This region of the country will allow you to earn a TEFL certificate in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere, while tutoring local children or engaging in a language exchange. Being so close to the southern border, you could use your experience teaching English in Mexico and continue on in Central America, or even just hop over to new countries for weekend visits!
Overall, citizens of all ages value an English-language education, so wherever you decide to teach English in Mexico, you are sure to have a motivated group to work with.
Teaching English in Mexico
In Mexico, many schools, universities, and colleges are in strong competition with each other to offer a level of English language instruction that comes second to none. It is no surprise, then, that Mexico is a popular and promising location to teach English abroad.
While most short or long term ESL jobs in Mexico require TEFL certification, individual and small group tutoring is welcomed by volunteers without prior experience or training. Those who decide to tutor English in Mexico will focus on teaching spoken English, work less hours, and have more freedom in their approach to teaching English. These types of ESL jobs in México are more commonly unpaid and include a program fee to participate, but they are good for short term trips and individuals trying to figure out if teaching English in México (or anywhere in the world for that matter) is right for them.
If you have already gained experience in a classroom or are ready to put your TEFL training to use, paid ESL jobs in Mexico are calling your name. Certified international teachers can work in schools or universities, with children or young adults, for four months or a year, and have options to teach different subjects! Teachers who choose this route will typically work 25 to 30 hours a week, which will still leave them plenty of time to lesson plan, find the best spot for huevos rancheros, and get acquainted to your fellow staff and new amigos.
As mentioned before, many ESL teaching opportunities in México also have the dual opportunity of obtaining a TEFL certificate first, and then get support in finding a teaching job in México (or abroad) upon completion. In this case, you would be paying money up front in hopes that you will be able to find a paid position after the four to six week course. With the high demand, chances are in your favor! Bueno!
Salaries & Costs
The currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso, although more touristy spots accept U.S. dollars and sometimes even Euros. These touristy spots, though, will also be more expensive. Knowing where and when to spend your money will help you stretch it out farther. Although rates can fluctuate, the basic conversion rate is ~$1 to MEX $20 or ~£1 to MEX$20. So while your teaching pay may sound inadequate at first, the exchange rate and general cost of living will allow you to live very comfortably while teaching English in Mexico. Plus, some ESL jobs in México will include housing, visa assistance, medical insurance, language lessons, and sometimes even excursions! For teaching programs or schools that don’t offer these services directly, they’ll often will assist you in finding housing for yourself and your salary will be able to cover it.
Your most GRANDE expense, then, will typically be your flight, or program fees if you are obtaining your TEFL certification. FundMyTravel is a great place to start raising that dinero!
Accommodation & Visas
Trying to get your visa, or figure out if you even need one, and searching for a place to live can be some of the most stressful parts of pre-departure planning. Luckily for you, Mexico doesn’t have loopholes teachers need to jump through to do either one!
While you do not need a visa to enter México and for unpaid volunteer work, you will need a visa to teach English in México for pay. Once you’ve secured an ESL job in Mexico, you can start the visa application process online. The entire process, including sending in documentation and retrieving your visa, may take up to 30 days. Many teach abroad programs will offer visa assistance, so be sure to check with your point of contact first. And don’t worry if your decision to teach English in Mexico came suddenly and you don’t have 30 days to wait. Mexico is kind enough to let you enter the country while your visa is processing, you just have to cross the border (to Texas or Guatemala) to pick it up. You can find a Mexican embassy in your home country in GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
If your salary is on the high end, you’ll probably be responsible for your own housing. The school or Teach abroad program you work with should provide you guidance on where to look and how to secure a place to live though. Lower salaries usually include housing as part of your benefits, but either way, you can expect a good environment in apartments, shared houses, or sometimes even hotels!
Benefits & Challenges
Spanish is an increasingly present language in western societies. What better way to brush up your own Spanish speaking skills than to teach English abroad in a Spanish speaking country! Speak English by day to your students, and attend some classes by night to perfect your pronunciations and grammar. Your level of Spanish skills will increase without much effort, as most (if not all) teaching jobs in Mexico will have you immersed in the center of Mexican language and culture.
If you are used to a fast-paced lifestyle, then teaching English in Mexico could be a challenge. Expect everything from travel-time to taking money out of the bank to take longer than you might expect (be sure to check business hours!).
While English is valued, there is a wide range of appreciation and value of quality education. You will likely have to work through families or students that just don’t care, but using your magic-fun-teaching powers, you will be sure to sway them.
The wealth distribution in Mexico is quite unequal. By teaching English in Mexico, or being the first teacher in a young person’s life that pushes him/her to do their best, you are helping raise people and families to a higher playing field and, hopefully, a higher quality of life.
If Mayan ruins, Dia de Los Muertos festivals, and vibrant cities isn’t enough to convince you that Mexico is a must-do trip, the opportunity to teach English should seal the deal. ESL jobs in Mexico can be a gateway for your future international (or home-based) career, and a gateway for your students’ futures to succeed.