Teaching English in Argentina

Nikki's picture

I am currently taking at Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course in Buenos Aires, and am learning some interesting realities about teaching English in Argentina, and whether you can really support yourself doing it.

Is there work?

It depends. There are a lot of native English speakers trying to teach in Argentina right now. So much so that our TEFL job coach recommended not negotiating salary, because institute directors can easily find someone else who will take whatever they are paying. Also, work is somewhat seasonal. My TEFL program ends mid-November, but the job coach told us we wouldn't realistically start working until early February because of summer and the holidays...which was an unexpected surprise from everyone in my group.

How much does it pay?

That's the funny part. English institutes generally pay $18-22 Argentine pesos an hour (or about $5-7 US dollars an hour...ouch). Teaching private courses is more lucrative at $30 pesos (10 dollars) hourly. Most institutes don't have 40 hours a week of work for you, so most people have more than one job. Also, the hourly rate is what you make actually teaching, which doesn't include preparation time (recommended one hour per class) or travel time (since classes generally take place at different businesses).

Can I pay the bills teaching English?

I'm not completely sure. Two English teachers I met who just started working said that you can cover rent, but not much more than that. My TEFL instructor believes that you can make $700-$800 US per month, but that would be best case scenario. It seems like saving some money before heading to Argentina is a less stressful way to go, at least to have a personal safety net in case you don't have enough work. Also, you don't want to come all the way to Argentina and not go out for dinner and take some trips because you have no money.

Thoughts on the TEFL

My reasons for taking the TEFL are more to do with teaching English once I return to the US, so I have personally gotten a lot out of the course. If you don't have experience teaching English, it's a good idea to take a course if you're planning to teach in Argentina because it gives you more credibility. Also, just because you speak English doesn't mean you can teach it. The downside is that most courses seem to be around US$1800 for the course (not including food or housing), which is 2.5 months of working teaching English here. Most people coming to Argentina to teach are coming more for the experience, not to get rich. Companies that offer TEFL courses in Argentina are the real winners in this whole game...because they make good money preparing people for jobs which are poorly paid.

Hi Greggles,

I heard you were in BA a while ago through the BA DUG on g.d.o and I found your blog though d.o. I'm from NZ. I lived in Argentina for 2.5 years up until just over a year ago. It turns out we have even more in common;

I did a Cambridge CELTA (the full monty of 4-week TESL courses) in NZ before I left. I don't think I ever made as much money from my whole time teaching English in Argentina as I spent on the course! It was an asset in seeking work and giving however. Especially the latter.

So I wouldn't recommend a TEFL or similar if your plan is to experience Argentina. If you want an experience I can highly recommend Fernando and his programme for foreigners at CII: http://www.coloniasdeinmersionalidioma.com/ I'd go as far as saying, don't bother with anything else! The 'interior' of Argentina is it's sweet spot. BA is just another big dirty city IMHO -- albeit with it's unique cultural twists. CII provides the ultimate way to see it; traveling and staying in local's homes. Tell Fernando I sent you and mandale un abrazo.

However if you need or want money, don't bother with teaching English; Consider setting up a business in BA -- Argentina's a great place to try out new-ish business ideas that aren't so new elsewhere in the world. Although it's also riskier.

If you want to play it safe, then just get virtual work using your drupal skills. We're in hot demand these days and the pay is good -- especially if you're costs are low like in Argentina. In fact we've been thinking about going back to Argentina just so that we can live the high life and still save 50% of our income! :)

Here's an idea combining both the above; Do drupal training sessions in BA. There seems to be an active drupal community in Brazil too, if you want to spread further. Montevideo is also conveniently close, but I don't know of a drupal community there.

PM me if you wanna chat more; http://drupal.org/user/49989

Have fun!

Sorry, Nikki. I thought this was Greg's blog only. I didn't realize it was shared... :(

What is a drupal?

Thanks for the insight into the English teaching market in Argentina. I teach English in Spain and it sounds like the circumstances are the same. Your last sentence hit the nail on the head: "Companies that offer TEFL courses in Argentina are the real winners in this whole game...because they make good money preparing people for jobs which are poorly paid." So, the question is, when will you open your own TEFL training academy? :) I'm surprised, though, that that many people in your TEFL class didn't know before starting that summertime in Argentina would be a slow time for English classes.

How long do you plan to stay there to teach?

Saludos desde Madrid!

ESL in Spain / Baires

I taught ESL in Spain for over a year, and I didn't have any formal qualifications. I almost exclusively taught private classes, because in Malaga you can charge from 12 to 25 euros/hour. Many people told me it would be hard to find work, but it's not: almost every ESL school was hiring, the only caveat is they pay around 8-10 euros per hour.

You won't make a lot of money to save, but you will make enough to share an apartment with one or more roommates, go out, eat, and generally enjoy life. You just have to put yourself out there: advertise on supermarket bulletin boards, neighborhoods which are close to elementary schools, etc. Obviously, the higher-end neighborhoods are good: Parents are educated and want their kids to learn English, plus, they pay well.

In Argentina, it's true: You will be making peanuts per hour, but cost of living is also much cheaper. I'm going to be in Baires in January, I am taking a TEFL course only because although I have taught English for a couple years now in various institutions in my country (Canada) I never had proper qualifications.

But I'm just going to hang out in Baires for 6 months. If you want to really make some cash, head straight to Korea.

I will try my Malaga strategies for finding private students in Baires, and see if I luck out. If I can cover my rent, I'm a happy girl.

If anyone has any questions about teaching ESL in Spain, drop me a line.

Hi, I read your blog about teaching ESL in Spain. I am so interested. After I receive my BA from Texas, I want to live in Spain for a year, and teach. I plan on getting the TEFL cert. before I travel, if you have any info for me, Id love it!


I read your article and am very interested in teaching in Spain. I don't speak very good spanish, will that be a problem. I am fluent in French though (if that helps my cause). Where do you recommend I start looking for a place of employment. How should I approach getting a job before I leave? I hope to hear from you.


Luke Mihalovic

Hi i have some questions in regards to teaching in spain! i am getting myTESOL but don not have a bachelors degree. I am american from NY. 29 yr old female. Do you think it will be hard for me to get a legal teaching job? i know being from the states it's difficult to obtain one. Thanks! Katy

Hi Lisa,

I know this blog post is old but maybe you still check this email. I am just graduating from college and want to teach english aboad. Spain is my first choice but going there I would only have a tourist visa. I am curious to know if you were in the same situation. I have heard that life is hard teaching english without an EU visa in spain and it is difficult to make a living. How true is this? Any suggestions?

Thank you


Hi Lisa,
Don't know if you check this but I am interested in teaching ESL in Spain and was wondering if you could help.

[...] Nikki and her fellow students found, teaching English abroad just doesn’t cut it for paying the bills. Sure, it can be rewarding in other ways, but the [...]

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