Nestled in the Andes Mountains, the Peruvian city of Cusco has seen the rise of the Incas, the conquistadors of Spain, and the battles for Peruvian independence. Cusco is now a tourist hub, serving as the launching ground for those looking to explore Machu Picchu. The combination of preserved Incan and Spanish sites made it both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the spiritual and cultural capital of Peru. With tourism being the bedrock of the economy of Cusco, the demand for bilingualism is as high as the altitude (over two miles above sea level!). Help the Imperial City continue to be the gateway to the Andes and teach abroad in Cusco.
Popular Ways to Teach Abroad in Cusco
While Lima is the political capital of Peru, Cusco holds the spirit of Peru on its streets, skylines, and history. Since the city is the major stopping point for tourists in Peru, there is a high demand for English language skills. However, don’t expect to jump on a plane and be hired in the Plaza de Armas. Below are some tips as to finding the best teaching situation to fit your needs:
Public schools vs. universities vs. tutoring centers. While education is something many Peruvians have prided themselves in, the educational system in Peru suffers some problems due to poverty and lack of resources. Have those in consideration while researching. Your best bet in finding yourself at the head of a classroom will be in private schools, where pay also tends to be a bit more generous. Language academies offer a chance to teach in varied academic settings. You can find yourself teaching anything from young children to adults. Curriculums are individualized to student demands; be ready to apply your lesson planning skills, think on the fly, and have some Spanish skills to be fully effective in the classroom.
Short-term vs. long-term and job structure. Generally speaking, the longer you stay, the more fulfilling of an experience you will have. It’s tough work to create a classroom dynamic that is productive for both you and your students, so despite your fears of long term commitments abroad, consider signing at least a year-long contract. On the flipside, if you choose a three-six month short term position, be ready to hit the ground running and make the most of your experience teaching English in Cusco, Peru.
Teaching English vs. teaching other subjects. The easiest and most in-demand teaching job to find in Cusco are TEFL positions. Most positions are looking to be filled by individuals who are adept at explaining the complex grammar rules of the English language, but you can also find some positions for teaching math, science, and other subjects.
Life in Cusco for ESL Teachers
Along with being the tourist hub of Peru, Cusco has a reputation of inspiring the tourist who initially saw it as a launching pad turn it into home. While the classroom should be a main priority for you, make sure to immerse yourself in the city. Soon you will find this city work its charm on you and make you the next expat to be enamoured by this city high in the Andes.
With tourism as the economic force in the city, traveling to major destinations around the city is easy and affordable. What better way to spend a day off than to wander the ruins of Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, the thousands of salt mines in the Salineras, or trek down into the Amazon? All of these destinations are short bus rides away, so day-tripping is easy.
All of the nearby destinations might give the impression of Cusco being a pit-stop, but the city also has world-class cuisine and a nightlife that puts other cities to shame. The New Andean cuisine movement is in full swing, taking advantage of the heritage of Inca cuisine and applying new fusion cooking techniques. Such examples include antojos de queso en salsa de maracuya (cheese and spinach rolls in a passion fruit sauce), guinea pig in oyster sauce, and tumbo frozen (banana-passion fruit frappe). Provecho!
When you aren’t challenging your stomach to the next strange dish, the nightlife in Cusco could challenge your hours of sleep. The influx of tourists in the city means every night is a party night. Whether it’s going to a bar to hang out with friends or dancing until sunrise, nights in Cusco aren’t for the homebodies. Do take caution with the pisco sour though… it tends to sneak up on you, and school hours start early!
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Communication can be a blessing and a curse in Cusco. The influx of tourists means there is a high amount of English speakers in the city. That can make the first days of culture shock be a little more mild than being in an Inca village. However, the official language of Peru is Spanish, so making local connections will be difficult. Make sure to take the time before arrival to practice Spanish, or set up a language exchange so you can see real Peruvian life.
Also, be aware of what you eat and drink. Even with an iron stomach, eating undercooked meat, raw fruits and vegetables, or drinking tap water could have you out of commission for a few days. Make sure that what you eat is well washed with potable water and that it is fresh. Sanitation is not up to global standards, so you don’t want to end up having your teaching career derailed by an undercooked alpaca burger.
Cusco is a city of cultural power. It can transform tourists into expats with a meal, a friendly neighbor, or the joy of teaching students about the world. Make Cusco become a part of you by teaching in the Imperial City.
Read even more inspiring info about teaching abroad in Peru here.