Nicaragua, with its unique blend of Indigenous and Spanish culture, offers more than just a beautiful landscape to call home. While teaching English in Nicaragua, you will find yourself surrounded by people who are happy to welcome you into their lives and make you part of the family. As an international teacher, you will have the opportunity to build bonds with locals that wouldn’t normally exist, and also take part in authentic cultural experiences that will open you up to a world and culture you wouldn’t have discovered as deeply if you were simply a tourist.
It is not just beautiful landscape that have been attracting foreigners to seek out teaching jobs in Nicaragua over other parts of the world. In fact, the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” is actually a great place to gain unforgettable international experience as an English teacher. Most individuals that decide to teach in Nicaragua will find themselves living in some of the nation’s larger cities. However, there are also a great deal of popular English teaching jobs in Nicaragua’s smaller, yet still Western-like, towns.
Leon. For many teachers seeking out teaching jobs in Nicaragua, Leon is a favored location. Although it is a tourist town, it still maintains a level of Nica charm, boasting many Nica-owned businesses, and many locals still live within the central tourist area. When you’re not trying to figure out how to explain prepositions and phrasal verbs to English as a second language learners, Leon has a wide range of things to do. For beach lovers, Leon is only an hour bus ride away from the Pacific Ocean (perfect for those who love to surf). For the more adventurous, there are nearby hikes to the tallest and most active volcanoes in the country, like Telica and Momotombo.
Managua. Although Managua isn’t a huge tourist destination, as the capital of the country, it is home to some of the best schools for teaching English in Nicaragua. Just like any major city, there is a ton for teachers to do when they aren’t teaching or preparing for their next lesson. One thing is for sure, nightlife is huge in Managua. Teachers can find a venue for any kind of music, including Caribbean vibes if that’s your cup of pinol. From concerts from popular artists to seeing folkloric dances performed on a professional stage to just hanging out by Lake Managua at Salvador Allende Malecón for dinner, teachers will have plenty to fill their free time with.
Granada is a beautiful colonial city that lies between Lake Nicaragua and the great Mombacho volcano (don’t worry, it’s dormant). Most people hangout on the Calzada (the main street) or the Parque Central to grab some tasty vigoron, the traditional plate of Granada (fried pigskin and boiled cassava topped with Nicaraguan salad, delicioso!). Many teachers also enjoy hiking up Mombacho Volcano to see the breathtaking view of Granada from above, and it is definitely a must-do!
Teaching Jobs in Nicaragua
As a quickly developing country, Nicaragua is in high demand of English teachers. Additionally, as speaking English becomes more and more of a sure way to get a good paying job, many Nica’s are very enthusiastic and eager to learn English. As such, finding an English teaching job in Nicaragua isn’t too difficult for native English speakers; there are almost always opportunities to teach English in Nicaragua at nearly any school. However, some of the most popular types of teaching jobs in Nicaragua include teaching in private schools (both elementary and secondary), working with online schools as a curriculum coordinator, and volunteering to teach various lessons at community centers.
For most teaching jobs in Nicaragua, some experience is required, whether that is actual teaching experience or having a TEFL certification depends on the specific position. Generally, schools look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a specific content area, and a minimum of two years teaching experience.
Most private schools and online teaching opportunities are located in Managua, but that’s not to say that they don’t exist elsewhere in the country. Unfortunately, there aren’t many paid opportunities to teach English in Nicaragua at public schools, but there are plenty of volunteer teaching opportunities in the realm of ESL.
Public holidays teachers headed to Nicaragua can get excited about include Independence Day on September 14th, when teachers have an entire week off of school (get planning your trip to the coast!). There are also Patron Saint celebrations for each individual city that fall on different days of the year, so you’ll definitely be able to enjoy your day(s) off every once in awhile.
Salary & Costs
Imagine yourself living like a king or queen in an exotic land. Well, you won’t be that rich if you decide to teach English in Nicaragua, but you will surely be able to live a comfortable life. If you land a teaching job in Nicaragua at a private school or institution, you will usually be paid a competitive wage on top of a generous living allowance.
However, in general, Nicaragua is pretty affordable for those coming from developed countries; but, prices do vary city to city. Since Managua is where most imported goods and services (McDonald’s lunch break anyone?) can be found, it tends to be a slightly more pricey place to teach in Nicaragua. Outside of Managua, however, things are more reasonably priced and affordable across the board. For instance, you can find yourself a delicious and filling meal for less than $10 in Granada, whereas in Managua, you may pay almost double for a meal of the same quality and quantity.
The perks of teaching jobs in Nicaragua will differ from school to school, depending on the type of institution you work for. Some perks on top of a basic salary may include airfare reimbursement, a monthly living allowance, and even a car to use for the duration of your contract. Some private schools will offer assistance in finding housing, but in most cases, unless you are volunteering, housing is not provided.
Accommodation & Visas
We all love to hear about the perks of the job; after all, that’s what lures you to choose one school over another right? But, what about the important stuff like legal documentation? Well, most schools want to take care of you with this, too!
Although you do not need a visa to enter as a tourist, visas are required for anyone who wants to obtain a paid teaching job in Nicaragua, and it will have to be renewed every year. Visas can take a while to process, but most schools are willing to assist international teachers in arranging initial applications and renewal of visas. Sometimes your host school will even pay the required fees on your behalf. For more visa information on visa required to teach in Nicaragua, check out GoAbroad’s Nicaraguan Embassy Directory.
Housing all depends on the individual position and the city. Teachers will typically be able to find affordable housing in nearly any Nicaraguan city, with home stays often being available for long-term teaching positions. If you are looking for more short-term options, boarding houses are also common in most cities. Finally, Managua is likely to be the only place teachers will be able to find apartment and condominium buildings with spaces for rent.
Benefits & Challenges
We live in a world where our perceptions of others are usually influenced by mass media. Therefore, you may expect your students to look, act, and behave in one way, and they might expect you to look, act, and behave in another way. However, stereotypes like these can be extremely counterproductive. As an international teacher, you can help combat these wrongly held clichés, and instead contribute to a wider effort that values shared humanity regardless of borders. Sharing your culture and learning about another culture, especially the nuances and subtleties that mass media tends to skim over, is one of the major perks of living abroad as a teacher.
Culturally, there are many events throughout the year in every Nicaraguan city that teachers should not miss out on! One example is the Hippica, where people parade around the city on their horses, dressed in plaid shirts and cowboy hats. Most people don’t know the history of this event, but it’s a great excuse to drink, eat, and be merry (just make sure you avoid your students!).
When teaching English abroad, there will always be differences in expectations for educators. In Nicaragua, the education system is still being further developed and improved upon, so there is no standardized test that teachers are pressed to teach to. Without the pressure of a standardized test, teachers can breathe easier and have the freedom to be more creative in the classroom.
Although teaching English in Nicaragua will be quite rewarding, that doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges; we all need them in order to grow as individuals. While teaching in Nicaragua, the biggest challenge you will likely face is the easy going culture where urgency isn’t really a thing. The challenge lies in learning to take it slow and realizing hay mas tiempo que vida, or there is more time than there is life.
Teaching abroad in Nicaragua is a unique opportunity that will allow you to see much deeper into Latin American culture and understand the Nicaraguans people better. Whether in Nicaragua, or elsewhere in the world (we may be biased but we still think teaching jobs in Nicaragua are the best option!), teaching abroad is an opportunity that cannot be missed.