Wednesday, August 26, 2009

teaching english in b.a.

this is my last week of teaching.

before moving here i wanted to know more about teaching english in buenos aires but i couldn't find specific information and stories. it was the initial motivator for starting the blog. so, i'll try to sum up my experience for the next wave of english teachers coming to buenos aires. over all i had a good experience.

how i found work teaching english
the best advice i could give is to start networking as soon as you land. meet people, other english teachers and ask how they found work. they might even have a job lead or extra students they don't have time to teach.

i found work through an institution by sending my resume to a long list of language schools in b.a.. i just googled 'language schools in b.a.' and sent my resume to them all. it helps to have a b.a. address on your resume and a b.a. phone number too. it's my understanding that schools don't call you if you're not already in b.a.. experience and a certification is always helpful on the resume too.

all my private students i found through recommendation. i was too cautious to teach complete strangers. some of my students, through the institution, recommended me to their friends who then recommended me to others. it took me around 4 months to find my first private student, but again that was without advertising.

what is a fair hourly wage, what are others getting paid. i didn't find too much info on this. so here was my experience...

(rates are from january 2009 - august 2009)
i was paid 26 pesos an hour through the institution. after 6 months of work i asked for a raise and was granted two more peso an hour bringing my hourly rate to 28 pesos.

when i went on other interviews, at other institutions, i was offered 13 pesos at "wall street" and 25 at another that i can't remember the name.

when i first started teaching private students i charged 30 pesos per hour. after i got some more private students i raised it just for the new ones to 40 and the last student i took on 45 pesos per hour.

the work
i mostly had conversation classes; depending on the class and students. through the institute i was only given conference call simulation materials, nothing else. the first day of class i wouldn't plan anything for the student. i would ask what they wanted to improve (speaking / listening) and I would also ask in what area they wanted to improve their english (business english, general conversation), i would also ask about their interests (hobby, family, technology, politics, gossip / entertainment).

each sunday i would send an email to each of my students confirming the class date and time (sometimes over 30 emails). i would usually get emails back canceling the class, asking for another date and time or just confirming. also in the email i would tell them what we were going to do in the next class. sometimes i would email them a link to an article to read, sometimes i would ask them to watch a video on the internet or i would give them a magazine. depending on their motivation level i would ask them to choose an article or i would choose it for them.

in the very beginning i would just choose a topic and a few questions on that topic. i would ask 5 or 6 questions related to one topic like: what is healthcare like in b.a., what are the school systems like, or the university system, etc... the students seemed to like teaching me.

hours ranged every month (see below). it seemed like each month i got 5 new students, lost 3 students and then lost 1 more. the number of students were never consistent. when people would ask me how many students i had i could never answer since each week was different. students would go on vacation or have meetings and the worst was when the swine flu hit. businesses canceled their classes, and all high school or university students went on an early winter break.

if you work for an institute, ask what their cancellation policy is. i was still paid for the class if a student did not cancel more than 24 hours in advance.

ask for a raise! in the 8 months i taught 26 pesos went from $7.80 to $6.80 while my rent, which is quoted in dollars, went from 1155 to 1330 pesos per month. so, with each month i made less dollars but paid more pesos each month for my apartment.

some private students i would meet in a cafe for class. some students paid for what i was drinking while others didn't. so in those cases i usually made 20 pesos per hour since i spent around 10 pesos on coffee or tea.

if i could go back and do things differently? i would take more spanish classes. i would make more time in my schedule to take more spanish classes too. between classes i would have tried a different cafe each time instead of going to a comfortable favorite. also between classes i would have taken more free time to explore the city.

here is a summary of how many hours i worked each month. based on the hourly rate (above) you can estimate how much money i was able to make from january 2009 to august 2009.

14 hours - through the institution

30 hours - through the institution

46 hours - through the institution
05 hours - private students

64 hours - through the institution
12 hours - private students

70 hours - through the institution
23 hours - private students

92 hours - through the institution
36 hours - private students

16 hours - through the institution
15 hours - private students

65 hours - through the institution
22 hours - private students


krebiz said...

Quit braggin' about bein' so rich. It's not becoming.

SO!!! Excited about the job??? Nervous??? Have you bought pens and notebooks and nice scarves and gotten ready?

Michele Harvey said...

How or Where do you meet other English teachers to start networking? Did any institutes respond to your online inquiry before you actually arrived in BA?


yillabean said...

michele, a good place to meet other english teachers is the website. often there are teacher meet-ups.

i didn't write to any institutes before arriving. there are already a plethora of english teachers here for them to choose from. i waited until i arrived, had an buenos aires address and buenos aires phone number to apply.

CaitlinBea said...

Thank you for uploading this! Extremely helpful. I'm a fresh-out-of-college girl that's moving to Buenos Aires soon and thinking about lucrative ways to make an income to cover basic expenses. Hope that even better opportunities have come your way since your days in BA!