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.


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.

An Update on Life

People ask us all the time “Why Peru” apparently I haven’t written about that either. Honestly, going abroad is something we decided on a whim and we went with. After that we decided we wanted to live abroad for a year or two, and  Matthew wanted to go to South America so that he could become fluent in Spanish.  We started talking with the TEFL Institute about places where we could take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificate and we chose Peru momentarily – but ended up taking a class online. We continued to search the world for a home via the internet and talking to friends but Peru just stuck. I discovered that they don’t speak as fast as they do in other Spanish speaking countries (this will be easier to learn Spanish); that Peru has a wonderful combination of Incan, Spaniard, and African cultures; and that Peru has some of the best food in the world (you know I’m a foodie). Even better we had a wonderful array of coincidental friends and connections to Peru- an old friend of mine from college Eduardo, is from Peru; a new friend of mine and caterer of my last event Dennis, is from Peru; my brother-in-law has a friend that just finished working at the US Embassy in Peru; my cousin’s  fiance’s father Tim, is married to a Peruvian and just moved from Peru; PBS started a mini-series “Blacks in Latin America” which featured Peru; and my grandmother and my mom’s first trip abroad together was to Peru. So basically all arrows pointed to PERU and that is why we are here.

Thus far life in Lima is far better than we would have ever imagined. Here are a few pretty amazing things:

  • To start it off we lucked out on a great swanky apartment that has hot water, a washer and dryer, cable TV, and more … LOL OK its a lot more than that – but being comfortable in your habitation has a lot to do with whether or not you like where you are or not.
  • My neighborhood Barranco, is a walking town – I can walk anywhere I need to go and pretty much get everything I need right here.
  • I’ve been able to go to some pretty great events right here in the city I live in – Barranco Blues Festival, Mistura, and Expat events.
  • Lima has tons of different districts to visit, I would compare Lima to a state and its districts to cities (although Lima is technically a city). There are also many museums to visit and learn about the Peruvian culture.
  • I’ve been able to travel to other near by cities such as Ica, Huacachina, Chincha, and Cerro Azul.
  • I’ve learned how to get around on the combis (bus) and choose the right taxi (old man & nice car). I’m definitely walking more this is an improvement.
  • I’m taking a dance class in Spanish.
  • I’m learning Spanish
  • Teaching adults has been an amazing learning experience – not just learning that I have more patience than I ever imagined. But I am also meeting amazingly brilliant people that I am learning from.
  • Matthew and I have not regretted a single day since we arrived here!
  • And last but of course not least I’ve made great friends. This took a while, at first we thought we need to strategies – “hey do you want to trade English for Spanish” lol no that didn’t work. But all of a sudden it all fell into place –  either through classes friends that were once just students, on facebook, the expat community, other teachers, or someone you meet just by sitting next to them at a bar or walking down the street.   Everyone has been extremely nice and we’ve made “fast friends”. I’ve been to expat events, had drinks with friends, breakfast with the girls, a friends amazingly fun birthday party (why do grown @ss people party till 5am like they’re 21 here lol) (click for photos), we’ve even been a country club here – The Regatas, my friend’s husbands “reunion” (get together- food and drinks) at her in-laws, went on a road trip to a friends summer home in Cerro Azul (click for photos), and even made American style breakfast with our Peruvian family.
Sonia and I

Carlos Edith's son-in-law, Matthew, me, and Edith
Tati, Andrew, Maya (the little one), and me
Mi amiga Carol and me
Ursula "Uhci", me, and Uchi's friends Flavia and Fab
Matthew, Miguel and friends
Mel and I
Matthew, Victor and friends

So what’s next? Matthew and I can’t believe we’ve almost been married for one year. We have been truly blessed to have been able to embark on this amazing journey together. We’d love to visit another South American country for our anniversary.

Please leave a comment on why you voted for a particular destination.

Matthew’s last day at work

Today is my husband’s last day at work. I am so proud of him being able to take this huge leap of faith with me. Please keep us in your prayers during our adventure of life around the world together.

This is pretty monumental. If you know my husband you know that Matthew is a planner, financially astute, somewhat conservative, a thinker and re-thinker- OK I’ll just say that this is completely out of the box for him. But at the same time because of that I know that my husband would not allow me to come up and follow through with some crazy idea without it making complete sense.

Today’s step is one of many that makes this trip more real. Sunday, we purchased our one-way tickets to Peru. We will be leaving Philadelphia Memorial Day weekend on a road trip to visit family, and we will be leaving our great country from Miami on Wednesday, June 8th. We are also almost completed with our TEFL certification- we have one exam, a final project, and our class observations to complete.

We still have quite a few things to do  – such as find international health care, getting new passports (I’m changing my name), packing (ouch), confirming a home-stay, and a few other things I won’t bore you with. (If you know of any descent priced international health care plans please let me know) There is one thing that has been truly helpful with our planning process and that is social media. Through facebook I have found an old co-worker that is now volunteering in Peru, another new friend that lives in and teaches in Peru, and reconnected with a college friend from Peru.  On Twitter, I am following the search item “Peru” – through that I have met a Peruvian America that lived in Peru for a while, and have found a few interesting expat Peruvian websites.

So if you were wondering :

  • YES, we are still going
  • Yes, I am a little scared – who wouldn’t be
  • Yes, I am excited
  • No, we’re not out of our minds (OK just a little lol)
  • No, we will not have jobs or interview until we are in Peru
  • Yes, there are tons of job opportunities to teach English in Peru and we have other sources of income (looking for someone to manage your social media – let me know)

The biggest question -why? We are doing this for us, to live life to its fullest, to learn about and love new things, people and culture, to grow, and because we have each other the best partners to do this with. The bigger question as Matthew says is “Why not, we don’t need to rush into being suburban mom and dads. I don’t think they’re turning down applications any time soon”.