To many of us Brazil conjures up sandy white shorelines that stretch for miles and miles and to others it conjures up images of poverty and slums. While both are in full existence, this is not what Brazil is just about. Brazil’s home to the biggest and most lush rainforest in the world, the Amazon; and with that comes a diverse range of species, flora, and fauna. There are almost 200 million inhabitants throughout Brazil, making it the world’s fifth biggest country in terms of population. Also famous for their beautiful women and their agility and skill on the football field, Brazil would seem like it has it all, but what about the English teaching market? Is there a need for EFL teachers in Brazil?
Almost everyone loves Brazil. It’s one of the most exotic destinations in the world; it’s full of colour and life. Brazilians generally are charming people and they’ll instantly welcome you into their country. Hungry for anything Western or American, there’s certainly a want and a demand for English language instruction.
Although the West’s economy has been faltering, Brazil’s has been steadily increasing. No longer branded that ‘poor’ South American nation, it sits on the outside edge of the top 5 economies of the world; you may even be surprised to hear that Brazil has already overtaken Canada, the UK and Italy in wealth. With Brazil’s financial boom, there’s a natural increase in demand for ESL teachers. Brazil is miles ahead in terms of business, which is why they’re desperate for TEFL university professors and business English instructors.
There is a number of English language teaching jobs in Brazil, it’s true, however, the current visa laws of Brazil still make it rather challenging for TEFL teachers to legally live and work in Brazil. Because of the strict restrictions there are a number of TEFL teachers in Brazil that opt to work illegally while just on a simple tourist visa.
Even though there’s a demand in Brazil for English teachers, there aren’t many TEFL jobs advertised. Very few Brazilian schools and institutes publically look for ESL teachers as the best method of getting a teaching job in Brazil is to go there in person. Due to their inexperience in hiring foreigners, Brazilian school employers still don’t know the real etiquette in hiring an ESL teacher let alone attracting them. Unlike many other places and schools around the world, it’s almost impossible for an interested TEFL teacher to get a job simply through a telephone interview. Additionally, it’ll also be difficult for you to find a school that’s willing to cover the visa fees, moving costs and airfare, which is why you should move to Brazil with a bit of savings in your pocket. Because Brazil’s new to hiring TEFL teachers from abroad, they’re not really aware of the ins and outs, so while it may seem like they’re trying to rip you off, they’re not; they’re just inexperienced.
There are a few schools that might consider hiring a teacher of English in Brazil without a university degree, however, the majority of schools and institutions require it as the minimum. These days an MA is much more desirable and a TEFL qualification is an absolute must.
Once you do manage to pick up an ESL position in Brazil, you’ll be most likely to be on a starting salary of around $800USD per month. Depending on where you and who you work for will depend on the salary as some more reputable companies have been known to offer TEFL teachers in Brazil a starting salary of around $1,500, but this is only in its major hubs. This money is more than likely to cover everything you need including your social life, but if you’re looking to make and save money, Brazil is not really the right place. As a full-time EFL teacher in Brazil, you could expect to work 20-25 hours per week, which is great as it either leaves you plenty more time to explore this unique and very beautiful country or teach some private courses to supplement your income.
For local Brazilians on local wages things in Brazil may be expensive and they’re right compared to other countries in South America. Prices in the major cities are high and if you’re in a touristy area expect to pay tourist prices.
- A cheap meal for one: £4
- An average-priced meal for two: £20
- A pint of beer: £1.20
- A regular coffee: £1.10
- 0.33l Bottle of water: £0.40
- A one-way ticket on local transport: £0.70
- Taxi starting tariff: £1.20
- One-bed studio apartment in city: £350
- One-bed apartment in suburbs: £240
Of course all major cities have language centres and government teaching jobs available; however, there are also a number of smaller towns (by Brazilian standards) that are also often looking for English teachers. Because Brazil is relatively new to hiring native English speakers to teach English in Brazil, it’s always a good idea to do as much background research as possible not only on the job itself, but also on the area to see if it’s a place you’d really like to live in.
Basically, wherever you go in Brazil, you’re always going to find keen students wanting to learn English, so instead of looking at where there are the most jobs, look for places that will match your needs. Do you want to live where there are many expats? Do you want to live by the beach? Would you prefer to live in a huge city or a quieter suburb? Rio would be the number one choice if you’re young, looking to party and love the city life. If it’s money you want to make and live in an international city at the same time, you ought to check out São Paulo. If you prefer living by the beach, but want to keep the cost of living down to a minimum, look into Salvador. If you haven’t had much experience working as an ESL teacher before, a good place to start is Belo Horizonte – there are a number of jobs available there and a decent amount of expats as well. Belo Horzonte people have the reputation of being some of the friendliest and more outgoing people in Brazil and generally you’ll be made to feel at home.
Overall, ESL teachers in Brazil have it pretty easy. Brazilian students really want to learn English and have a strong desire to do so. You’ll notice that South Americans, especially the children are full of energy and enthusiasm, which makes for an entertaining and communicative class – you certainly won’t have problems getting your Brazilian students to participate and speak in your lessons.
As mentioned above many ESL or English language teachers in Brazil choose to work there with just a tourist visa, however, it must be noted that your ‘tourist’ status does not give you the right to work in Brazil; in fact it’s illegal. Again others sometimes choose to work while on a student visa in Brazil – this gives you 1 year as opposed to 3 months like on a tourist visa, however, again this does not allow you to legally work in Brazil.
The only possible way for you to legally live and teach in Brazil is if you obtain the right work visa or if you’re married to a Brazilian you can also get your permanent residency visa. Work visas for teachers in Brazil are no easy task and you’ve got a better chance of securing a visa if you’ve got a placement at an international school for a number of years. There’s a lot of red tape involved and it’s a costly thing and a lot of employers aren’t willing to take the risk on a person with a short contract.
There are many reasons why you might want to live in Brazil – it is like paradise after all! It’s a land of opportunities and when it comes to teaching ESL in Brazil there’s a huge untapped market waiting for you.