If your desires are to teach English in North America, luckily one of the biggest job markets for foreigners is teaching jobs abroad in Mexico by becoming an international teacher. English speaking skills are regarded as a valuable tool for getting ahead in life. The affinity for the language can perhaps be explained by Mexico’s proximity to the United States as well as the trade and business ties between the two countries. Mexico is also a major tourist destination. Mexicans with English speaking skills find it easier to get jobs in the competitive tourism sector.
Given the Mexican love affair with the English language, there are plenty of language schools in the country where you could try your luck. There are also opportunities in schools and business houses. Conversational English classes are a big draw. You could also supplement your income by becoming a private English tutor.
Here are a few tips to start your new teaching journey in one of the best countries to teach English and make your Mexcian adventure successful:
Opportunities for English teachers exist in Mexico’s main cities as well as its quieter, semi-rural towns. Be clear in your mind about where you want to work. The hustle and bustle of Mexico City, Puebla, Juarez, Puerto Vallarta, León, Guadalajara and Monterrey is exciting. But there is a quieter side to Mexico that has its gentle charm. The communities are close-knit and life moves at a more sedate pace. However, the pay scales are lower in rural schools. You need to weigh the pros and cons of different locations before deciding on where you will teach English in Mexico.
Your stint in Mexico will be more rewarding if you know the local language. Your connect with people, and of course, your students will be richer. Knowing an additional language is an asset in the long run. The more languages you know, the more successful will be your teach abroad career plan! It would be wise to consider the additional expense of learning Spanish as a long term investment.
As we said earlier, the ability to teach English in Mexico is easy. You may land one, with neither a TEFL nor any equivalent certification. However, it will certainly improve your credibility and prospects if you have the required qualifications. The more reputed institutes prefer qualified candidates. You can also work at getting a TEFL certification, once you have started working in Mexico. It will help you to upgrade to a better institute when your present contract expires.
While it is possible to get a job via a video interview, in most cases, schools prefer to interview you on site. It may become necessary to put aside some funds for this purpose.
English teachers have a wide range of opportunities in Mexico. If you want to be a full-time teacher, you can seek positions in the private schools which have classes from K-12 grade. You may be expected to teach other subjects like history in addition to English.
If you are looking for something a bit more unconventional than being a regular teacher in a school, send your resume to language schools. The classes at the language schools are more interactive and fun as your students will be teens, young and older adults.
The disadvantage of working full time in language schools is that the schedule leaves you with very little flexibility for any personal work. You would be expected to take classes in the evenings or night for working professionals. This can play havoc with both your social life as well as your Explore-Mexico-Plan!
If you are clear in your mind that you want a sort of working holiday or a flexible work schedule – and that your job is mainly a way to fund your exploration of this wonderful country – you can look at part-time opportunities in language schools. If you fall short of funds, you can tap private tutoring openings.
If you are interested only in the higher paying teaching jobs, send your application to the companies that offer classes to corporate clients. The disadvantage is that you need to go to the clients’ offices to teach, which can be quite a bewildering experience. Also, most business English classes are held either before or after office hours. This, again, can play havoc with your personal life. You will be stuck at work when most people are out enjoying the famed Mexican nightlife!
The working atmosphere at international schools in Mexico is, like in other parts of the world, smooth and professional. The facilities and amenities make teaching in Mexico very rewarding. However, opportunities are limited to teachers with work experience and a certified teacher’s license from their home country.
When should you start the application process? The application process in private schools starts as early as July. Opportunities in language schools are available throughout the year, though August is the peak hiring month. If you have, for some reason, missed both these hiring periods, you could try your luck in December. There may be a few vacancies before the beginning of the second semester.
There is a lot of ambiguity regarding the qualifications for English teachers in Mexico. Some institutes will hire you as long as you are fluent in the language. If you are a native English speaker, schools here are even willing to train you if you have not worked as a teacher before. Other institutes may demand a TEFL certificate, while some may insist on a Bachelor’s degree! One can safely say that the Mexican job market for English teachers has a place for everybody.
If you have just graduated and are looking to spend a gap year teaching and exploring, one way to achieve that is to teach English in Mexico is probably your best and easiest bet. Getting a teaching job in Mexico is easy even if you do not have any of the qualifications that are usually required to apply for a teaching post.
Well qualified, experienced teachers can try international schools which largely stick to their criteria of having licensed teachers with work experience. Reputed language schools usually require a Bachelor’s degree in any subject. Some universities will consider your application only if you have a Master’s degree. The more qualified you are, greater the chances of getting a higher-paying job.
The process of obtaining a work visa in Mexico is not complicated. But be prepared to do most of the paperwork on your own. Unlike other countries where the school will either take over or help you in the application process, Mexican employers normally expect you to complete the formalities on your own. If you find the paperwork overwhelming, there are agencies you can hire to do it for you.
Just as there is a range of opportunities for English teaching jobs in Mexico, the work conditions also vary enormously. If you are working in a private school, you would start your school day by 8 am. Most schools also have an extra hour or two for extracurricular activities.
International schools have excellent facilities and since most people working here are expatriates, you will feel at home quickly. The language schools have the advantage of small class sizes. However, given that the students have a varying degree of fluency in English, preparing lessons is a bit more complicated than normal. You would probably have to teach both the basics of the language as well as advanced business English.
Salaries vary widely depending on the institute and your qualifications. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, you are likely to fall in the lower end of the pay scale. Salaries for teachers with a TEFL certificate but without a bachelor’s degree will be around $300-$500. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can earn $1000-$1200.
If these figures seem rather low, do remember that the cost of living in Mexico is also very low. You also have the option of bumping up your earnings by taking private tuitions or conversation classes. You can charge around $20 per hour for a private class.
Teaching in Mexico is not lucrative. If you are careful about expenses, you may have some savings at the end of your stint. However, what is guaranteed is that you will have a great time exploring the country, its culture, food and people.
Do not be put off by the low salaries offered by Mexican schools. It does not take much money to have a comfortable life when you teach English in Mexico. The average salary in Mexico is $500. Rents account for 22 per cent of monthly expense. Other major expenses are groceries (35%), restaurants (14%) and transportation (12%).
Let us examine some of your main outgoings in Mexico and how much it will cost you:
There are different types of housing and different rents for different areas. You can pick and choose the location and kind of accommodation you require to keep your costs down. The rental for a one-bedroom house in the city centre will be $300. Utility charges, including electricity, water, heating and garbage disposal, works out to $35. If that seems high to you, there is the option of sharing. A one-bedroom shared accommodation (utilities included) will cost you only around $160-$170.
The cost of food is low in Mexico. Given the fresh fruits and vegetables, you might be tempted to cook more during your stint here than you would normally do at home. A kilo of apples will cost you $2, while onions will set you back by a dollar. Milk is less than a dollar per litre, and a loaf of bread is priced at around $1.50. A bottle of decent wine to round off dinner with your friends would be around $8. A dozen eggs are available for $1.50.
Average pay for English teachers in Mexico is less than you'd make working at Mcdonalds back home, about 50 pesos per hour (you may do a little better in urban areas like Mexico City and Guadalajara). In Mexico 50 pesos/hour goes a long way.
Socialising and partying are a part of the nightlife in Mexico. If that’s not your scene, you could always opt for a quiet dinner and a movie. The bill for a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant would come to $25-30 and two movie tickets for $7. You can have a quick bite off a street cart or an inexpensive family-owned restaurant for as little as $5.
Public transport is very reasonable and a great way to get to know the city intimately. Monthly passes are available for just $18! If you prefer to drive, the price for a new mid-range car is $15,000, while gasoline costs around $1.
The cost of living is the highest in Tijuana, Cancun and Monterrey. Rents are much higher in Mexico City as compared to other cities.
Freshly minted graduates/ TEFL certified teachers move to Mexico to fulfil their dream of living in this tropical paradise. The first few days will be difficult. Mexico is beautiful but it can also be noisy, chaotic and confusing. It is also a country of sharp contrasts and it takes time to absorb the stark poverty that exists with such affluence. If you are not familiar with Spanish, that would be yet another stumbling block.
But once you have settled in and the culture shock has worn out, all that you heard, read and dreamt about this wonderful land will come true. One reason for Mexico’s popularity is its people. Warm and friendly, they will make you feel at home immediately. Mexican cities often top polls conducted by travel magazines on ‘friendliest city in the world/friendliest global destination/most welcoming country.” Mexico was ranked 23rd in the World Happiness Report 2019, released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Your Mexican friends with their joy for life will soon have you dancing the Jarabe Tapatío!
Yet another facet of Mexico that you will love exploring is the spice and flavour of Mexican food. Once you have gorged on the popular tacos, nachos or enchiladas with the chilli-infused salsa and subtle guacamole, allow your taste buds to go on a culinary discovery.
There is so much more to Mexican food than what has been popularised in Mexican restaurants across the world. The recipes of the diverse dishes can trace their roots back to the Aztec and Mayan era. There is also a pinch of Spanish, a dash of French and a sprinkle of Portuguese and Caribbean influence in Mexican cooking! One of the more delicious aspects of your life in Mexico will be your gastronomic exploration of the country. From the meat dishes of Northern Mexico to the seafood in coastal areas, the taste of your Mexican adventure will linger for a long time.
Explore the country on weekends and school breaks. The tranquillity of rural Mexico, buzz of the big cities, the steaming jungles, spectacular beaches, eerie deserts, snow-tipped volcanoes – this country has it all. There is also much to learn and absorb from the country’s history. Many of Mexico’s famous monuments date back to the pre-Hispanic civilisations. The Mayan temple ruins and the forbidding pyramids will leave you marvelling at the ingenuity of our ancestors.
One of the largest protected marine reserves in the world and the oldest living coral reef in North America, this is where you dive into a lifelong relationship with astounding sea creatures, including sea lions, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and schools of triggerfish.
Located in the south, Oaxaca City captures the spirit of vibrant, colourful Mexico. Historical buildings from the pre-Hispanic, as well as colonial-era, vie for attention with the city’s magical fiestas, exquisite handicrafts and busy markets.
Enjoy the immersion into Mayan history as you take in the magnificence of the El Castillo pyramid, Sacred Cenote, Wall of Skulls, Temple of the Warriors and El Caracol.
Among the earth’s youngest volcanoes, the Paricutin made a spectacular appearance when it blasted its way out from the cornfield of a local farmer Dionisio Pulido in 1943. Climb or ride to its peak and enjoy the fact that you are standing atop an ancient geological marvel that decided to make its appearance in the modern era.
Mexico is an easy destination to move to, in terms of job availability and the ease of obtaining a work visa. Though you can have a comfortable life in the country, there is no getting away from the fact that the salaries are on the lower side compared to other teach abroad locations. But you must remember that while you teach English in Mexico it will not make you rich financially BUT it will definitely enrich your life.