So, you thought about quitting your 9-5 job to travel South America. You haven’t heard much about Chile, except for maybe the earthquake, but Google tells you it’s one of the most developed countries in South America. That’s good enough for you so you do a little more research and start looking for English institutes. You've never taught before, but how hard could it be. You speak English and all those times helping your sister with her homework is probably enough experience.
So, you made up your mind. You bought that ticket. Wow, you couldn't believe how far and expensive it was. You tell yourself that’s good because it will be such a foreign experience for you.
Before you proceed any further, here are some warnings I wish I knew before making the big move.
Warning #1: You won’t be making much
Advice: Come prepared with some cushion money. When I first came for an orientation at an Institute, I was stunned by how low they paid. So, I sought out for other private institutes and the pay ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 pesos for an hour (Side note: the exchange rate was much better in 2014). It took me about 2 months to pick up enough private students and I charge about 18,000-22,000 pesos for 1.5 hours. On top of that, Chile is not CHEAP! What you make in a month will just be enough to cover your living expenses.
Warning #2: The worst months to start teaching are November to March
Advice: Come during the school year from March until October. The only downside is the winter cold. If you're like me, I avoid winter at all cost because the houses in Chile aren't insulated so it's actually colder than it is. It will be difficult to find classes in November to March but, of course, it’s not impossible. I used the summer vacation to travel in December and January. Most people will take vacations and the city gets quieter.
Warning #3: It will take time to pick up private students
Advice: Give yourself 2 months to start picking up private students. Let your students know you are looking to add more classes and they will be your best bet to get private students. Word of mouth is key! Check out different Facebook groups like English Classes Santiago for students seeking classes.
Warning #4: You will be working a lot of hours, but most of the time will be spent on commuting
Advice: You might have a 90 minutes class but probably spend 1 to 2 hours on the metro and micro back and forth. Being the beast I am, I picked up a lot of classes because I did not want to touch my savings. Here is a typical schedule:
There is not much you can do. Some common sense advices are to choose classes close to your home or teach at an on-site institute that can offer a large chunk of time. You can also use your commute time as learning time. That’s when I listen to my Spanish podcasts.
Warning #5: Students will cancel
Advice: An advantage working with institutes is that you might still get paid even if students cancel at the last minute. With your private students, you’re on your own. So, it’s super important to establish the cancellation policy in advance and stick to it. Luckily, most of my students are responsible but don’t take your chances. Chileans are notorious for being on CP time or cancelling last minute.
With these 5 warnings and tips in mind, you can now come to Chile and kick some teaching butt.
Comment below with your warnings and advice for folks thinking about teaching in Santiago, Chile.
For more tips, read 6 Proven Ways to Getting More Private Students in Chile.