ESL speaking activities

ESL lesson plans

Business English

ESL quiz center

Practice English


Teaching ESL in Chile

Chile in the far southwestern part of South America is a prime location for ESL teachers. If you are ready for a change of scene in your teaching career, you should check out the many job opportunities there. Chile is an excellent choice for teaching ESL since the government places a lot of emphasis on education to meet the challenges of global competition and maintain its prosperity as a sound, stable economy.


The basic requirements to teach ESL in Chile, like most countries, are citizenship in a country where English is the native language and proven proficiency in the English language. Second, you must have a university degree in a relevant subject, be flexible in adapting to a different culture, and have a genuine interest in teaching children and adults. Any ESL teaching experience you may have acquired in other South American countries is definitely a plus. Although TEFL certification is not always required by every school, it is certainly beneficial to have.

You must meet one of these requirements to teach at a semi-private school: a Bachelor's or higher in Education, Bachelor's with Teacher Certification and one year teaching experience, Bachelor's with TEFL/TESL certification and two years teaching experience. Usually, after submitting your resume, you will be asked to interview face to face at the school in Chile. However, phone interviews can sometimes be arranged, especially if you go through a recruitment agency.

Most American ESL teachers enter foreign countries on a tourist visa, which has to be renewed every three months. It is best to have a legal contract with a visa that is renewed only once a year. In addition, the whole process of obtaining employment will be easier and quicker if you know some basic Spanish. You will find that the language in Chile has lots of slang and modifications, which is different from the Spanish you may know.

Work Schedules & Salaries

Teaching contracts are usually 4, 6, or 12 months, which allow teachers to learn about the school, the city or town, and living conditions before deciding to stay longer. Students attend two semesters, one beginning in March and the second around 1 August.

Salaries will vary depending on where you teach, and at times you won't know the location or at what grade level until you arrive in Chile. It could be elementary, 5th grade or higher at the same school, university, or even teaching on alternating days at other schools. You should make sure, if possible, that your assignment is clearly specified in the contract.

In general, you will be teaching large classes of 35-45 students on an average of 20-25 hours a week at most public and semi-public schools. Students are usually friendly, respectful, and eager to learn English. The school(s) provides most of the basic supplies; however, photos, magazines, videos, and other teaching aids you bring from home will be helpful. You may work as a team with a Chilean teacher in the lower grades.

An average monthly salary at a semi-private school is $1,250 a month for teaching 40 hours a week, or about $900 a month for 20-30 hours a week. Higher earnings are paid by international organizations where English is taught to industry professionals. Keep in mind you can earn a great deal more by teaching private students.


The school may assist you in finding housing, but for the most part you're on your own. The least expensive choice is to stay with a Chilean family for real exposure to their way of life, or you can rent an apartment or house for about $150-$300 a month.

The cost of living may be a bit higher than in other parts of South America, as might be expected in a country with a strong economy. Food prices are about the same or higher than in the U.S., but lower than those in Asia. On the other hand, the salaries will be enough to compensate for this. You should be able to live comfortably and have some left from your salary for leisure activities and entertainment.

You will enjoy the diverse culture of music, art, and dance, and have the opportunity to travel and see the natural beauty of Chile from the mountains to the beach (only 110 miles apart.) There will be time also to visit other cities, the Atacama Desert, and the lakes of Torres del Paine.

Disadvantages (or Things to Remember)

ESL teachers will have to pay for airfare to Chile, housing, and medical care, which may not be covered by the school. You may have problems at first in communicating unless you have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish and are learning some of the local terminology.

Job Outlook

There is a huge demand for ESL teachers in Chile with its growing economy and global competitiveness, especially in business communications. Some companies are offering free tuition for their employees to learn English, making more ESL teaching jobs available. Teaching jobs can be found at both private and public schools, as well as at numerous adult learning centers.

The majority of ESL teachers work in Santiago, the capital, where they have all the modern amenities of any major city. However, you can expect a higher cost of living and life at a faster pace. You might want to consider teaching in some smaller, less expensive cities or towns such as Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, or Calama (7900' elevation may be a problem for some). Several good websites with information on ESL teaching requirements and job opportunities include Transitions Abroad, TeacherKick, and TeachingChile.


Teaching ESL in Chile offers an exciting and rewarding challenge for teachers with some experience who may have considered jobs in South America before, but never actively pursued them. You will learn the traditions and enjoy the friendliness of the people you socialize with at work and in your off-duty time. If you don't speak Spanish, or only have a limited knowledge of the language, you can take advantage of learning the language while you are here. ESL teachers should put Chile on their priority list of job possibilities to explore.

Sharon L Slayton

June 2013

Advertise here