As the site of Columbus’ infamous landing in 1492, the Dominican Republic (DR) has long been an important historical crossroads. Just east of Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, the DR is the region’s second largest nation. It is home to the tallest mountain and largest lake in the Caribbean, the first European settlement, and world-class luxury resorts. Wide-ranging cultural influences, the nation’s inhabitants include people of native Taino, European, African, Middle-Eastern, and Asian descents. Teaching in the Dominican Republic is possible in numerous fields, so if you want to make a difference, have an adventure, and beef up your Spanish skills, this is the place for you.
Most international teaching jobs in the Dominican Republic will be concentrated in the more populated cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago, with some opportunities in the more rural city of Cabrera.
Santo Domingo With a population of 1 million, “La Capital” is the cultural, political, and financial heart of the Dominican. Located at the mouth of the Rio Ozama, the city serves as the country’s main seaport, accommodating large vessels and a high volume of traffic. As Spain’s first capital in the New World, Santo Domingo contains the oldest surviving castles and cathedrals in the Americas, not to mention its Colonial Zone was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. Other perks of the city include spectacular Dominican cuisine and a vivacious music scene. There are numerous schools in the city, so there is a definite need for teachers to teach English in Santo Domingo, along with other subjects such as art, math, or science.
Santiago. The Dominican Republic’s second largest city is located between two mountain ranges in the north-central Cibao Valley – a fertile area vital to the nation’s farming and agriculture industries. You can visit the various monuments and museums, catch a baseball game at the Estadio Cibao, or hop a bus to Puerto Plata for a day at the beach. There are also numerous universities within the city, making it an opportune place for teaching jobs at universities.
Cabrera. This smaller city on the northern coast is a great alternative for those who prefer a less urban environment. With a population of 39,000, Cabrera is one of the most scenic areas of the Dominican Republic. Its economy is mostly dependent on cattle and meat, as well as coconut and rice production. You won’t find a lot of nightlife here, but plenty of Merengue and Bachata music can be heard in the town square. You can teach kindergarten for a local non-profit and live the peaceful village life.
As the economy continues to grow so does the educational infrastructure, therefore teachers can find teaching jobs in the Dominican Republic in several subjects, including English, Spanish, art, literature, math, science, and telecommunications. You can also choose to complete a TEFL course in the Dominican Republic to expand your teaching experience and skills even further, or work in English camps. While teaching in the Dominican Republic, teachers will have the chance to teach a range of students, from kindergarten all the way up to university, but the requirements for higher level positions are also, of course, more strict.
Most teaching jobs in the Dominican Republic last anywhere from three months to a year and many of them require that applicants have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish. Teachers can expect to teach English in the Dominican Republic for 15 to 20 hours a week, with extra time for lesson preparation. Classroom environments vary depending on location and type of school you decide to teach in. It is common to see more private schools in the wealthier areas, often sponsored by religious institutions, in addition to vocational and non-profit schools. If teaching English in the Dominican Republic in more rural areas, teachers should expect to see quite poor living conditions and quality of resources provided at the school, such as large class size and a lack of materials.
Salaries & Costs
The average salary for teaching jobs in the Dominican Republic should be enough to live on, the important thing is to find a position that provides a salary. Salaries for teaching English in the Dominican Republic vary based on the experience of the teacher and the type of school. Average teaching salaries range between $5 to $10 per hour. Some teaching jobs in the Dominican Republic offer monthly stipends of around $500, and many include accommodation and return airfare after successful completion of the position. However, it is more common to volunteer to teach in the Dominican Republic, which requires teachers to pay a fee in order to be placed and avail certain services, like airport pick up and housing arrangements.
Teaching English in the Dominican Republic can be a pricey option if you have expensive taste or consistently surround yourself with Western comforts. A meal can be as low as $5 or as much as $30 at a fancier restaurant. Monthly transportation will run about $20, and a local cab ride will set you back about $8. A one bedroom apartment in the city center costs a little over $300, but that drops closer to $200 in the less urban areas.
Accommodations & Visas
Many teaching jobs in the Dominican Republic include accommodation, and those that do not generally provide assistance in locating independent housing in a nearby house or apartment. If living arrangements and meals are not covered in a program fee or covered by a teaching contract, plan on budgeting for the extra costs of food, utilities, water, internet, etc. Provider accommodation may be in the form of special teacher or volunteer facilities, such as a dormitory with communal bathrooms or in a shared apartment or house. An alternative option is living with a host family, which means at least some meals would also be provided. On the interior of the island closer to the Haitian border, there are frequent power outages, so be prepared if you will be living in a more rural area.
To find out information on visa requirements to teach abroad in the Dominican Republic, check out GoAbroad’s Dominican Embassy Directory to locate an embassy in your home country and begin learning more about the process.
Benefits & Challenges
- Spanish: Amidst such a melting pot of cultures, teaching in the Dominican Republic will expose English teachers to many world languages, especially Dominican Spanish, which has a unique Caribbean flare to it. If you’re looking to develop Spanish fluency while teaching in the Dominican Republic, living with a host family will certainly help you expand your vocabulary and apply your language skills in real world situations daily.
- Poverty: Outside of the wealthier tourist areas, there is still a lot of poverty throughout the nation, and there are still problems with child labor in the coffee, rice, sugarcane, and tomato industries. It is important for teachers to be prepared to face these kind of troubling social issues. Those who teach in the Dominican Republic will also find that poverty pervades into the classroom setting as well; in some areas teachers must invest their own money into securing educational resources, like books, markers, and other teaching materials.
- Community: Since the country still struggles with poverty in education, there is more demand than ever for quality teachers to teach English in the Dominican Republic. Things are quite different than the U.S. and all teachers will face some cultural challenges, but Dominicans are a tight knit people with a strong sense of community you can’t find everywhere in the world. Part of the reward of teaching abroad is to experience the spirit of that connection among groups of people.
- Safety: The Dominican Republic lies in a hazardous region, so be sure you’re aware of safety precautions for heavy rainstorms, earthquakes, and tsunamis. There is also some risk for disease, such as Malaria and Dengue fever, so be sure to get any updated immunizations before leaving your home country and take preventive measures when necessary. It is also important for teachers to be cognitive of crime. Teachers should always stay with friends in well-lit, public places and ask locals where they should steer clear of at night.