Teaching in Peru

I’ve been teaching English since July 2011 in Lima, Peru. The experience has been truly interesting. I’ve worked for a variety of employers and have also taught a diverse range of students.  In addition, getting to and from classes has been a journey all of its own. Overall it has been an experience that I have learned from.

My Schedule

When I first took the step of moving abroad I assumed that I would be teaching for one or two companies and in a classroom of maybe 10 -20 kids from 8:30am – 4pm in the afternoon. This is not the case at all to say the least. Over the course of time that I have been here, I have taught mostly adults with 1 to 3 students in a classroom. In the beginning I worked for 3 different companies and also taught private students as well. Now I just work for one company – it makes things less complicated and teach private students whenever I can (as I can make about double the money since there isn’t any company to take a cut).  My typical week consists of:

Class 1: 7am- 8:30am (M,W,F)

Class 2: 9am – 10:30am (private class M&W)

Class 3: 1:15pm – 2:30pm (M,W,Th)

Class 4: 6pm – 8:15  (M,W)

Class 5: 6:30pm – 8:30 (T, Th)

All of these classes are in the San Isidro district which can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to get to on a combi depending on the time (check out my blog post “The Combi Chronicles). https://gettingtoknowtheworld.com/2011/07/18/the-buscombi-chronicles-el-bus-de-diablo/ The evening classes are my least favorite to go to just because the day is over and who wants to leave home at 5pm to go to work. Yes, getting on the bus is tiring, dirty (don’t wear white), and annoying; however, even though its super cheap to take a taxi it’s just not cost-effective based on what I’m getting paid.  Plus, taking a taxi in Lima can be more dangerous – risk being pick-pocketed on the bus vs. being kidnapped or a smash and grab victim in a taxi (it’s very rare, but it’s not unheard of).

Lesson learned: Patience and all the 80s music one can stand https://gettingtoknowtheworld.com/2012/01/30/combi-music-vs-2-0-madonnas-material-girl-from-the-album-like-a-virgin/

Advice: Another thing in regards to schedules are cancellations. If a student cancels 24 hours in advance you typically won’t get paid, so be aware of holidays, as you may not have classes for a week. Also some institutes pay will pay you if the student cancels less than 24 hours in advance, others will not.

 

English Institutes

The interview process has been a lot quicker than any interview process that I’ve ever had in my life. Native English teachers are definitely high in demand here in Peru.  In one case the interview process was the following:

Wednesday:  I sent my resume to various English learning institutes

Friday: I received a call for an interview either that day or the next

Saturday: I began teaching

Most of the other cases were pretty much the same. The only company that was different was the one that I still teach with now where the process went like this:

Wednesday:  I sent my resume to various English learning institutes

Thursday: I was sent a link to fill out a questionnaire about my teaching experience, why I wanted to be a teacher, and why I was here in Peru.

Saturday: I received a call for an interview.

Sunday: I had an interview on Skype

Monday: I observed a class

Wednesday: I taught a class with another teacher

Friday: I had my own class

The worst case that I’ve come across was one day I went to an interview and it ended up to be at the person home which happened to just be flooded.  Their dog jumped on my legs and left its adorable paw prints on my light blue pants (hence no light pants in Peru dogs and busses).  They offered me less than what the other institutes were offering, so I attempted to negotiate. They declined me and scheduled met for two days of observation at Nextel (so I know they could pay more). The next day they did not get in touch with me for the meet up location, I happened to get the number for the other teacher and she said that they said she would be teaching by herself. I never heard from them again. I’m pretty glad I didn’t, should have gone with the red flags from the beginning – I’ve spoken to other teachers who have worked for them and they ended up having multiple bad experiences.

Overall I’ve been paid on time with one exception where I was paid over a month late. But I must say that I doubted I would get paid at all after the month delay, so I’m glad I did get paid at all. The company even gave me a bonus because of the difficulty of them getting the money to me.

Most of the institutes provide material for you to teach with. Thus far the best book that I’ve used is the American English File series, which includes speaking, writing, grammar, and listening in all of its units.  In addition I’ve created great material from transcripts on www.npr.org, and blogs on English exams.

Students

The majority of my students are adults I’ve taught some students privately and some through institutes.  I’ve come across several types of students:

  1. The student that pretty much speaks English but wants to improve their fluency.
  2. The student that is taking classes because their family wants them to take classes (early 20s still at home). But they don’t want to do any homework because this is what their parents want them to do. And of course they cancel classes all the time.
  3. The student that wants to learn English because they think they should, based on their social class or position at work, but they are too busy to do any homework – so they have super slow progress.
  4. The student that is traveling to the United States soon, and wants to speak fluent English in one month.
  5. The student that is taking an English exam to get into a foreign school and wants to soak up everything that you teach them, they study all of the time, and ask for extra work.
  6. The student that is taking an English exam to get into a foreign school and wants to soak up everything that you teach them, but cancels classes, is late to class, and doesn’t do homework. Of course they still want results.
  7. The student who is 5 -8 years old who you capture their attention for about 20 minutes segments and you are the constant entertainer for them.
  8. The student that is learning English for their job and is a little bit above basic level, they go to class, do their work and are eager to learn.
  9. The student that pretty much knows English that doesn’t want to look at their book ever but just wants to talk so that they don’t loose their English.

So which is my favorite type of student. All of them for the most part can be pretty interesting to teach even the ones who are taking classes because someone else wants them to. Everyone has a story. It’s exiting to teach someone to prepare for an exam because you have a specific goal.  You can also learn a lot from experienced professionals especially those that are at higher levels or the owners of companies.  I truly enjoyed preparing one of my students for doing a 30-minute speech in front of hundreds of people. I’ve even become pretty good friends with some of my students and imagine that I may stay in touch with a few after we leave Peru.

All in all, this teaching experience has been pretty cool. It’s really amazing being able to help someone grow, and help someone to improve their life. It may be hard to leave the house at 6:20am or at 5:40pm but once I get to class it’s worth it.

Advice: Have fun! If you are a native English speaker you poses about 70% of what you need to teach, the other 30% is personality.

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14 thoughts on “Teaching in Peru

  1. Good info. I have been teaching English in Arequipa. I only have one student, and if feels like I’m getting my feet wet with the idea. Do you think it is necessary, or helpful, to get the TEFL certification?

    1. I think the TEFL certification is really based on location. Some companies in Lima require it, but a lot of companies don’t. In Asia it’s an absolute requirement. Have you looked at http://www.livinginperu.com or http://www.expatperu.com for job postings? You might want to get some business cards made and start passing them out like flyers. Hang out in areas with more affluent people, they tend to want to speak English to show off what class they are in.

  2. Nice post Erica, now I know what your workday is like. I must say very different and very interesting! Continue the good work and your writting 🙂

  3. Hi, Erica! I’m interested in teaching English in Peru and I’m also looking into getting my TEFL certification from the TEFL institute. Do you know if that is a good school? Do you have any tips for how to get a job there?

      1. Thanks! I will do that! How did you find a place to live there (and what should I expect my living arrangments to have)? Also, did you get a tourist visa or a work visa?

      2. You’re welcome Casey! I found my apartment using the same websites. Living in Peru is the most helpful. You get a tourist visa upon entry. As a teacher you should probably get a studio apartment or a shared apartment. Find a job first so you know where your work will be before getting an apartment- traffic can be horrendous in Lima. Every neighborhood is different, most expats stick to Miraflores, Barranco, parts of Surco, and if you can afford it San Isidro.

        Also there are quite a few jobs that do not require a TEFL Certificate, but there are some that do.

        Before giving the immigrations officer your passport when you arrive make sure that they understand that you would like a 180 visa or they will give you a 90 day visa. You will have to leave the country once that expires, or you pay $1 for each day overstayed.

      3. So you never had any problems working as a teacher in Peru with only a tourist visa? Do most studio/shared apartments have heating, air conditioning, and hot water? (I’ve been told that many don’t) I’m planning on taking the TEFL course in Cusco and so I’ll probably job search during that month while I go to class. I’ve read your blogs and you were able to do a lot of trips around Peru. Were you able to afford all of that off your teacher’s pay? How much time did you get off work for those trips? Thanks so much for all of your help!

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