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July 15, 2013

Conditions & salary

Unless you have an existing network of contacts in Brazil or a significant amount of savings and enjoy living on the edge, you will need to start your teaching career in Brazil by working for a school. Classroom time will usually be in the early morning, lunchtime or in the evening after work hours.

Some schools in Brazil will agree to hire teachers coming from overseas, though transport to the country will usually be at the teacher's expense. And if you receive such an offer, it is highly advisable to ask for a written (notarized if possible) contract in advance.

Just like the cost of living, salaries and hourly rates will vary widely between rural areas, mid-size cities, and the major urban centers like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Working at an urban language school, a teacher would expect to earn about R$20-40 per hour or R$1800-3500 for 20 to 25 class hours per month. Once settled, many teachers start picking up opportunities to teach students privately. The hourly rate is usually in the range of R$40-60. In order to earn a higher hourly rate - R$200 per hour is not unheard of for teaching groups of urban professionals - you probably need to have the background to teach specialized or business English.

Teaching qualifications

In general, schools in Brazil do not have strict requirements for qualifications such as obtained through a TEFL or CELTA certificate course (though the experience and knowledge gained from such a course is always beneficial in the classroom). Many companies or schools will have a compulsory in-house training program regardless of a teacher's qualifications. It is recommended to have a 4-year degree and a working knowledge of Portuguese will greatly increase your employability.

Getting a visa

Sponsorship by an employer is required to get a legitimate work visa. But the vast majority of schools in Brazil are unwilling to sponsor new teachers as it is a very lengthy, bureaucratic and expensive process and doing it yourself is expensive, time consuming and requires a command of the local language. So the reality is that the majority of foreign teachers in the country are there on 3-month tourist visas (renewable once), even though this is strictly speaking illegal. If a teacher manages to become an invaluable asset to a school, it obviously makes sponsorship by their employer more likely. Alternatives include marrying a Brazilian, having a baby in Brazil, or putting up a significant amount of money for an investor visa.

Teaching in Brazil - Pros and Cons

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Here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of teaching English in Brazil

Pros

  • generally enthusiastic and motivated students
  • teaching qualifications not always required
  • lots of potential for enterprising and entrepreneurial types

Cons

  • difficulty obtaining sponsorship/work visa
  • large variation in pay rates
  • relatively little English spoken outside major urban centers
  • potential for continued social unrest

July 16, 2013

About Brazil

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Brazil - the name has long conjured up colorful images of soccer and carnival, beaches and rainforests, the many faces of a vibrant and multicultural nation. Brazil is of course one of the countries that make up the BRICs acronym and as such has a rapidly developing economy and a massive population of almost 200 million. More recently the country has been the scene of socio-political unrest and protests against corruption and the vast expense of staging the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics against a backdrop of widespread poverty and illiteracy.

One indication of the country's educational woes are reflected in its low position in global rankings of English language proficiency. A 2012 EF survey of global standards ranked Brazil at #46, in the lowest category of "very low proficiency." It lags behind the rest of Latin America as well as the global average, with the expected large variation between the urban centers and outlying rural areas. The problem is largely attributed to "the poor quality of public schools across Latin America combined with unequal access to education" and generally low levels of literacy in the native language.

The problem continues into adulthood - a 2011 survey found that only 11 percent of Brazilian job candidates could communicate well in English, and only 3.4 percent of all candidates could speak fluent English. A 2009 study found that 24 percent of Brazilian professionals speak fluent English, and that only 8 percent of Brazilian executives speak fluent English. A large majority of corporate Brazilians report that they have lost out financially due to the language barrier in international business.

This of course means lots of potential for EFL teachers, particularly in the lead up to the major sporting events. Getting a visa that allows you to work legally in Brazil is difficult (see below), so a sense of adventure, quick wits, and a thick skin will certainly increase the chances of success. As in most countries, having some friends or connections on the ground makes a huge difference when getting over the initial hurdles, looking for a job, and generally getting established.

About July 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Guide to Living and Teaching English in Brazil in July 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2013 is the previous archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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