Money, Jobs and Technology

Teaching English in Buenos Aires

Will Betton

By | May 12, 2010 | 37 comments

I’ve always been fully aware of the advantages that come with being an American citizen. Not until I went south of the border, however, did I realize the privileges of being a native English speaker. Thanks to Manifest Destiny and over a century of cultural, political, and economic hegemony, English has become the global language. There are more English speakers in China than there are American citizens. Due to the high demand for this commodity, us natives have a comforting get-a-job-anywhere-in-the-world pass.

Although I can’t speak for Bangladesh or Finland, you’d have to have an intellect on par with Forrest Gump not to be able to land an English teaching position in Buenos Aires. Making a living as an English teacher is a bit more of a challenge, however.

First things first: the visa. Whether you wear a kilt or play a didgeridoo, it doesn’t matter a cent. It’s an egalitarian English teaching world down here. No prior paperwork. Show up with a passport and you’ve got three months as an official tourist. There are ways of getting a temporary work visa, but there’s a lot of paperwork involved and it’s probably not worth the effort. It can be a hassle to leave the country every 90 days, but it provides a great excuse to travel and it’s really no biggie if you ‘accidentally’ overstay for a few months.

Recently the fine for an expired tourist visa has spiked sharply. The fine used to be a $50 peso fee that could be paid at the airport before departure, but they’ve gotten wise on all the foreigners cheating the system and now it’s something closer to $300 pesos.

Once you’ve arrived in Argentina, getting an apartment can be tricky. Check out my article on apartment rentals in Buenos Aires or Craigslist for less expensive options or shared rooms.

Now its time to get that elusive English teaching job. There certainly is a hierarchy of teaching positions and the lowest end of the food chain are the English institutes. They’ll pretty much hire any natives any time (assuming they’re not convicted felons). Classes are large. Lesson plans are usually provided and the pay is “meh”: $45-65 pesos per hour (all prices are subject to inflation). Most institutes don’t supply full-time work, so plan on visiting a few. (Note- there is, however, an overwhelming dominance of British English taught in the city. There has been debate over the practicality of this phenomenon).

Outsourced companies have a solid grip on the middle rung of the ladder. With a little bit of ambition and persistence it’s possible to ”pass go” and begin immediately with one of these guys. The downside is that they’re not frequently hiring and sometimes require prior experience or a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate for teaching in Argentina. But the pay is better ($55-75 pesos) and the classes are smaller (five students maximum).

The idea is to use institutes to strut your stuff. A dynamic performer is worth more than a dull grammar expert. Establish some rapport. Make some connections. And hopefully someone’s aunt works in HR at Volvo or someone’s sister-in law is looking for private classes with a native.

Which brings us to the top of the English teaching pyramid: private lessons. I don’t recommend wasting time and money on self-advertising. Establish a decent reputation and before long the offers will come pouring in. The going rate for private classes with a native is between $60-100 pesos these days, and if you can get close to 30 hours per week you can live a pretty cozy life down here.

Teaching English in Buenos Aires

English Teaching Tips

-Traveling to and from classes can be a time-consuming bitch. If a company will hire you for an 8-hour day, pounce on it (even if it’s pushing an hour to get there). Also, once private lesson requests become more frequent, only accept the students that are willing to go to your house/local coffee shop.

-Teaching one-on-one is usually more taxing. Offer a $100 peso class that three students can divide mutually. This also appeals more to the younger crowd.

Generally speaking, most students want conversation. Having minimal English grammar knowledge is a disadvantage but certainly nothing to fret about. Upper Intermediate and Advanced levels are always the easiest to teach because they can speak fluently on a variety of topics, allowing you to serve as a mere mediator that corrects errors.

A handful of students at the office buildings don’t enjoy learning English. In this case the idea is to entertain them enough to keep them appeased. Actual learning is secondary.

Check out the website: breakingnewsenglish.com It’s got prepackaged lesson plans on current events with an article and corresponding exercises.

YOU WILL GET BORED. Most people don’t last more than a year, so be prepared to look for alternative jobs if you fall in love with this city (which you will). Just keep an eye out for other Buenos Aires job opportunities, should they arise.

- The great things about teaching English is that you get paid in cash under-the-table. No need to set up a bank account here. Plus, you’ve got flexibility. It’s totally acceptable to give a few weeks warning that you’ll be traveling to Mendoza for 10 days the following month. Flexibility is ever so precious. Cherish it.

Will Betton
LPBA Staff

Updated December 21, 2011

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SO FAR, THIS ARTICLE HAS 37 COMMENTS!

  1. justin

    11/06/2009 - 2:27 pm

    Really enjoyed reading the article and visiting the web site. Great information!

    Reply
     
  2. Carito

    11/06/2009 - 5:01 pm

    I'm still waiting for my private lessons Will!! Let me know! i'm looking forward to it… Besos (great article)

    Reply
     
  3. paul

    11/06/2009 - 7:29 pm

    another class

    just another bus ride,
    an hour, two, it’s all the same.
    arriving at my destination
    the schedule’s to blame.
    walk a block or two,
    footsteps are all alike.
    except when walking with the shadow,
    drunk and alone at night.

    another english class,
    teach the verb to “be”.
    pay me 20 bucks per hour,
    just an hour more for me.

    15 minutes,
    time’s up,
    time to go.
    it’s really money for nothing
    cause my student didn’t show.

    just another bus ride,
    to my house I’m heading back.
    40 bucks in my pocket,
    teaching nothing ain’t so bad.

    paul a. perry

    Reply
     
  4. danny

    12/06/2009 - 1:49 am

    Is a US citizen a native speaker of English? If he/she is, what does a British English speaker speak?

    Reply
     
  5. nani

    12/06/2009 - 2:44 am

    i'll top myself!

    Reply
     
  6. A.B

    12/06/2009 - 7:32 pm

    Will a cup of tea is wainting in SAR !!!

    A.B

    Reply
     
  7. Geoff

    12/06/2009 - 8:06 pm

    The yankees bastarised the English language. Each part of the country put their own irritating spin on it…from the new yorkers to the rednecks. Even their past president couldn't string a sentence together.

    Reply
     
  8. jack

    15/06/2009 - 1:55 am

    who gives a shit!

    Reply
     
  9. jack

    15/06/2009 - 1:59 am

    good article, by the way.

    Reply
     
  10. BailaMiCorazon

    31/07/2009 - 4:15 pm

    Thanks Will! A friend was just asking me about teaching English here. I am gonna send her this link! Should be a great help!

    Reply
     
  11. Steve

    08/11/2009 - 8:36 am

    Like that "Buenos Aires apartments" site. I'll have the one for US$170/day, please. Should be just about right on my English teacher's salary!

    Reply
     
    1. @LandingPadBA

      08/11/2009 - 1:29 pm

      Thanks for pointing this out Steve, the spam has been taken care of.

      Reply
       
  12. Jack Kelly

    08/06/2010 - 1:15 pm

    …a useless article written by somebody who knows nothing about teaching and even less about Argentina…

    Reply
     
    1. LPBA fan

      08/06/2010 - 11:25 pm

      I dont follow you there man. Why?

      Reply
       
  13. FABIAN

    06/10/2010 - 9:33 pm

    I learned american english in Uruguay, and sometimes I talked with british people and canadians,even asians..

    But australian english is the most difficult….I almost dont understand anything they say

    A HUMBLE PROPOSAL : Some of us cant afford private tutoring, or dont want to go to institutes to have FORMAL classes…..

    Maybe some enterprising australian english speaker can organize cheap tours, so as to know more about Argentina or Uruguay, and at the same time practice the language…

    I liked the idea of Madi offering bycicle tours in english….maybe some day I attend one of those tours, to improve my english , when I travel to Buenos Aires

    Reply
     
  14. Sailor Gary

    14/03/2011 - 12:06 pm

    hey so i really enjoyed this article. can anyone post any links for places to apply online for these jobs, or have any insight on the first step to take as far as seeking out these positions? not much to this extent was included in the article. thanks

    Reply
     
  15. webmaster

    18/03/2011 - 12:39 pm

    Hmm, good starting points that should be followed up with heavy networking:
    -Clarin, classified
    -Buenos Aires Herald, classified
    -Craigslist Buenos Aires

    Ask students for English teaching leads, other teachers once you’re in the scene. The turnover of teachers can be high, substitutes are often needed, etc.

    Reply
     
  16. Laura

    12/10/2011 - 12:08 pm

    I taught English and he’s right it gets dull!! I have recently taken on a role as an au pair and I love it. i work in San Isidro and get $35 an hour. I work 5 hours a day so no treking all over the place from class to class…Plus my job is cooking, playing and making things!! I went through Au Pair in Argentina and so far they have been great

    Reply
     
  17. B.L.

    03/01/2012 - 1:35 pm

    Most companies do not pay that much, it’s more like 35-45 starting out and some even try to pay less than that, despite the massive inflation problems. If you’re wondering if you can live on 35 pesos an hour, the answer is probably not on your own, especially if you want a safe neighborhood with a decent apartment.

    Reply
     
  18. webmaster

    03/01/2012 - 2:30 pm

    I got to agree with you. $35 pesos will just not cut it anymore as an English teacher. For anyone researching, it is unlikely you will be working 40 hours a week. You will be stringing together English classes here and there with travel time and gaps between classes.

    Reply
     
  19. BsAsteacher

    04/06/2012 - 3:48 pm

    You can get 50 pesos an hour now in most of the institutes, particularly the ones that my CELTA tutors at IH Buenos Aires recommended me. And for private classes you can charge 80 – 100 pesos, so it’s not so hard to live as a teacher here, just don’t expect to save anything while you do so.

    Reply
     
  20. David Power

    04/07/2012 - 7:26 am

    Hi guys,

    I spent 4 years teaching in Latin America but never in Argentina.Is it nice to live and work in B.A?I am thinking of moving down for the World cup ..Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Reply
     
    1. webmaster

      04/07/2012 - 1:38 pm

      Hi David,

      Teaching English with a full schedule is about the only way to break even in Argentina. Buenos Aires is no longer the inexpensive international destination it once was- but don’t let that deter you. It is still a very fun, culturally rich city! You will be eating beef and drinking Malbec regularly on an English teacher’s salary.

      Reply
       
  21. Louise

    07/08/2012 - 12:37 am

    Hello,
    I was wondering if you could tell me the names of the larger institutes with which it should be easier to find a job with. We are only in BA for a few weeks, but would like to do some teaching in that time, so if we can find work quickly and easily that would suit us!
    Thanks for your help and for the interesting article!
    Louise

    Reply
     
    1. webmaster

      13/08/2012 - 3:11 pm

      Hi Louise, It’s best to pick up a Clarin, Buenos Aires Herald or big name newspaper and check the classified section. Most will want to interview you in person and see some experience teaching on your CV. However, I would suggest finding work through other English teachers as the institutes tend to pay much less. Their advantage is that classes tend to be in one place though.

      Reply
       
  22. Flower

    13/12/2012 - 11:59 am

    Can anybody tell me if you need a Degree? I am currently teaching in Thailand and most schools want a degree. I have a tefl diploma and experience teaching high school and primary school children as well as business English. I am from South Africa and struggle with American English as I forget to spell the words differently so end up erasing my work half the time. We learn British English in South Africa .
    I would also like to know if my husband would be able to get any jobs in the hospitality industry he has 15 years experience but no qualifications?
    And what are the chances of getting a work permit or visa?

    Reply
     
    1. webmaster

      26/12/2012 - 2:20 pm

      A degree is not necessary, but experience helps greatly to get your foot in the door.

      Your husband should have a good shot at getting a job, but it would likely be under the table pay and he would need at least some Spanish.

      Reply
       
  23. Flower

    13/12/2012 - 12:39 pm

    One other thing, are there teaching jobs outside of Buenos Aires? Or is that the only place I can expect to find work?

    Reply
     
    1. webmaster

      26/12/2012 - 2:17 pm

      Hi Flower, Buenos Aires has the heaviest concentration of English courses offered, teaching jobs in general, international companies present and general population. There are of course plenty of teaching jobs through out the country, but pay, hours and needs will greatly vary and will likely be less based on the scale of population.

      Reply
       
  24. zoe

    28/12/2012 - 4:42 pm

    Hi guys!
    I need some advice getting a job too. I have read all the posts on here and it’s helped a bit to gage what it’s like over there. basically, I worked in madrid for a year as an english teacher and was mainly doing private lessons which was great fun and well paid but as everyone has said it is a pain travelling all over the city. This time we’re moving to Ba and so I’ve been emailing like a mad woman to all private, bilingual nurseries and primary schools as I would love to have a base and teach for more 1 hour at a time in one place. I’ve had absolutley no response! Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can get myself seen?! I have a TEFL qualification and a degree in drama as well as the years teaching experience so I look pretty good on paper! Let me know…
    Thank you in advance!

    Zoe x

    Reply
     
  25. Javier

    03/01/2013 - 12:20 pm

    Hi I’m an audio producer working for publishing houses who produce Educational material for learning English.

    We are looking for Native British Speakers with RP pronunciation interested in recording texts for the books.

    Please let me know if you are interested in performing a casting for us.

    Our Studio is located in Lomas de Zamora 30 minutes from Down town Buenos Aires

    This is our web page: http://www.laurella.com.ar

    Thanks a Lot!

    ps: Zoe I’m also a Singing teacher working in private schools, I can give you some advice how to get in touch with schools here. But take into account that schools are closed untill first week of February.
    Best regards
    Javier

    Reply
     
  26. Joseph

    01/03/2013 - 1:35 pm

    “Thanks to Manifest Destiny…. English has become the global language”, Yeah, because Americans are soooooo totally responsible for the popularity of English. Every time I travel I hear people totally talking like this.

    Reply
     
  27. Liz Lemon

    12/06/2009 - 4:30 am

    Is this a snide comment regarding the differences between British and US English?

    Reply
     
  28. chad

    12/06/2009 - 4:05 pm

    outdated, less practical, snooty English….

    Reply
     
  29. Sara H

    12/06/2009 - 8:38 pm

    bastarised?? ironic….

    Reply
     
  30. Will Betton

    12/06/2009 - 8:43 pm

    English is a bastardization of Germanic, Latin, and Anglo-Norman with a touch of Greek.

    Reply
     
  31. maya

    15/06/2009 - 2:39 pm

    bwahahaha!

    Reply