Argentina is a huge, diverse country. In recent years it has had its fair share of political and economic problems and for many years was in a very poor financial state. There was some recovery but with the current global downturn Argentina is not thriving economically right now. However, this shouldn’t put you off going there as there are still jobs and life can be good there!
Relationships between the USA and Argentina have strengthened and along with a growing positive interest in American culture and society make Argentina an uncommonly receptive environment for information and cultural exchange with the US. The Fulbright fellowship program, for example, has more than tripled the annual number of US and Argentine academic grantees since 1994.
Finding TEFL Work in Argentina
Needless to say, native English speakers are highly sought after, resulting in countless job opportunities for ESL teachers. Although some jobs are advertised online the usual method is to be there in person and contact the schools directly. A high turnover of teachers mean there are always jobs around if you are willing to look.
The best time to arrive, if you are looking for jobs in person, is February (the end of the summer in Argentina).
The sheer number of English institutes in Buenos Aires (and other major cities) makes finding work relatively easy. Start you search in the phonebook or the internet; Craigslist is also useful here (see below); don’t just look at the ads here but also post your own availability.
Also work can be found via local newspapers – schools and institutes place their job ads in the classified section of the Buenos Aires Herald and the Clarin. Advertising for private TEFL lessons in local newspapers also pay off. Word of mouth plays an important role so schmoozing and networking should also be on top of your list when it comes to advertising your services.
As far as qualifications go you don’t always need a degree to teach in Argentina in a private school. International schools however will usually as for a degree unless they are in desperate need of a teacher. Most schools will ask for a TEFL Certificate however; this is usually the first and most important qualification the private schools ask for.
Note that state schools are almost impossible to get into.
Pay & Conditions in Argentina
The kind of work you might end up being offered may vary from teaching several classes right from the start to a one off teaching assignment, and any possible variations in between.
It’s not uncommon for ESL teachers to work in several different places throughout the week or even day. The day can start at 8 and include teaching slots in the afternoon and evening with teachers rushing about on buses from class to class. In any, case don’t refuse anything in the hope of finding a long-term, full-time contract that will allow you to enjoy yourself and save money.
Whilst it is relatively easy to find work and earn enough money to support yourself while you experience the country, wages are not the main attraction here. A monthly salary of around 3,500 ARS or $750 USD (€593, £477) can be expected. This is enough to enjoy a reasonably good lifestyle. Tax rates are low with (very approximately) the first 25% of your salary untaxed, the next 25% at 9% and then 14% on the rest.
Working for one (or several) of the small private schools will sometimes mean no holiday pay or accommodation; you will be working as a freelancer in most cases. It is sometimes better in smaller towns where employers do tend to offer better deals.
The academic year begins in March/April and ends at the end of the year so arriving here at the beginning of the year is best to give yourself time to find work and also get your papers in order (though you can get papers organized from overseas, incredible bureaucracy mean it’s easier when you’re in the country).
As for accommodation this is available in a wide range of solutions: premium lodging, affordable apartments ideal for medium term rentals, B&B hostels, and even family homes. Good areas in Buenos Aires are: San Telmo, Downtown, Palermo, Recoleta and San Martin Square.