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Teaching English in Ecuador

Ecuador is a small, beautiful country with an incredible diversity of terrain from the Andes mountain peaks through part of the Amazon rainforest down to the Pacific coast. Ecuador's wildlife and natural beauty make it a perfect choice for teaching in South America. ESL teachers can find jobs in private schools, language institutes, universities, and public schools.

During your vacation and off-duty time, you'll have the opportunity to view the variety of wildlife inhabiting the Amazon region, explore the Mindo Avenue of Volcanoes, admire the colonial architecture in Cuenca, or plan an exciting excursion to the amazing Galapagos Islands, about a 2-hour flight from Quito.

Credentials/ Qualifications/ Documentation / Hiring process

TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification is a must, while an undergraduate degree is not always required. Teaching experience is quite often more important to your prospective employer. However, having a degree, especially in Education, and certification to teach in the U.S. does open the door to the better paying jobs at international schools in Ecuador. Not only will the salary be comparable to the U.S., you will have the advantage of an American academic schedule (holidays, breaks, etc.), as well as the teaching schedule in Ecuador.

You can enter the country on a 90-day tourist visa, but you will need a work visa. Usually your employer will take care of processing the paperwork.

For example, here's a current job listing in Cuenca, Ecuador (source - Dave's ESL Cafe):

CEDEI, The Center for Interamerican Studies Foundation established in 1992, was designed by a group of university professors from the U.S., Peru, and Ecuador. Qualified ESL teachers are needed for a minimum 9-month contract beginning April 2016. Interested applicants should submit a current resume, a copy of their TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate, and two letters of recommendation.

Work Schedules & Salaries

Salaries are on the low end of the scale, from $3-$7 if paid by the hour. On the other hand, the average weekly work schedule is 16-25 hours in the classroom, and frequently Monday-Saturday. Usually, ESL teaching contracts are for one year, sometimes less. Average salary range by contract from $400-$1200/month at schools requiring TEFL or other certification, considerable teaching experience, and a degree. Keep in mind the ongoing demand for private tutoring which pays $10 - $15/hour to supplement your income.

Advantages

Costs for goods and services are at least one-third less than they are in other countries, and in Quito for example, the prices are 50% lower than in NYC. Market food prices are noticeably lower, and dairy products are significantly less expensive than you'll find in Asia and many other countries. Dining out is well within the average household budget. Even living in the cities, you can usually live quite comfortably on $400/month or less.

A one-bedroom apartment in the city rents for less than $400/month and outside the city at $100/month. Utilities too are cheap, as low in some cases as $10/month.

It depends on the school, but some will offer free Spanish lessons and dance instruction, provide accommodations or housing assistance, airfare reimbursement, and low-cost health insurance.

Transportation is inexpensive and readily available (some schools cover your costs to and from school). A regular monthly pass on public transportation averages $13. Gasoline too is cheap, less than $2/gallon, if you have your own vehicle.

The weather in Ecuador is characterized by two seasons, warm and rainy from January-April, and somewhat cooler and drier the rest of the year. Of course, this typical weather pattern will vary depending on the region of the country; e.g., colder in the Andes and hot and humid in the Amazon rainforest. The Galapagos Islands off the coast are generally warm and pleasant year round.

The opportunity to save money while teaching ESL in Ecuador is worth considering.

Possible disadvantages (or things to remember)

In general, crime is not a serious problem in Ecuador; however, petty crimes do exist. Use common sense and exercise caution on the streets and in public places. Women should not walk alone at night (advisable in most Latin American countries).

Getting accustomed to the Latin American machismo may take some time, especially for women with fair skin and light-colored hair. Latin males can be bold in their admiration. Dress conservatively in the classroom, on the street, and at social gatherings.

Although schools may provide some type of health care, it is usually advisable to have your own private health care. Also, you may be responsible for your own airfare.

Some people may be bothered by the high altitude of Quito in the Andes.

Job Outlook

The best jobs can be found in the cities of Quito (the Historic Center of Ecuador), Cuenca (on the coast), and the largest city of Guayaquil on the Guayas River, but there are some opportunities in the smaller towns. If you are in Ecuador, check out the notice boards in coffee shops, internet cafes, and in La Mariscal, Quito's main tourist district. You can also search online for English teaching jobs in the daily newspapers of Ecuador - El Comercio and El Hoy in Quito, El Universo in Guayaquil, and El Mercurio in Cuenca. A reliable, up-to-date source for teaching jobs is Dave's ESL Cafe. Other good sources of information for teaching ESL in Ecuador include transitionsabroad, teachaway, go overseas, and some basic information on oxfordseminars. Online blogs and forums can be helpful with comments, opinions, and general advice from ESL teachers who are currently teaching in Ecuador or have done so in the past.

Conclusion

Teaching ESL in Ecuador has many advantages, not the least of which are the receptive, friendly people who make living and working there a real pleasure. You will benefit from a different teaching experience, as well as from the interesting cultural exchange you'll enjoy with your students, your associates, and the social contacts you make while in Ecuador. You will have considerable freedom in teaching your classes, much more so than you would in many other countries such as Asia. Be patient and flexible in motivating your students to learn English and take advantage of the teaching resources most schools supply.

Latin Americans live and work at a slower pace than in large cities in America and other countries. You will soon discover a laid-back, stress-free way of life where people are in no hurry because "Manana es un otra dia" and having fun is an important part of life in Ecuador.

Sharon L Slayton

March 2016

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