The Ultimate Guide to where to teach in South America

If you’ve finished your TEFL qualification and you feel like the world is your oyster, you’d be right! There is a world of TEFL adventure waiting out there and it’s up to you to decide where you want to begin yours! There are so many choices to choose from you might feel overwhelmed.

Each continent and country has its own qualities and pros and cons of teaching in this area. It’s important to research this to see if it will be the right fit for you and your TEFL skills. You can do this by speaking to current teachers in these areas, reading blogs to inform yourself and joining some relevant TEFL groups on social media. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get the insider info! This is vital for you to make the right decision for you. 

If you’ve decided to set your sights to teach in South America, then you’re aiming for true adventure! This continent has a lot to offer and is rich in culture, culinary delights and history. From Argentina to Uruguay, you’ll find geographical wonders and vast landscapes waiting for you. Many teachers choose this part of the world and, with a quick google search, you can see why!

Teaching in South America

In general, for teaching in South America, being a native speaker or having a very high level of English is the first and foremost requirement. South American employers value native-like competences in the language, even before a lot of qualifications. A lot of employers also prefer to hire in-person so you might have to head out there before you get a fixed position. Make sure you budget for 1-2 months of job hunting before you get paid your first month so you don’t have to worry about money when you first arrive.

For moving to South America, learning the local language should be a priority. This means before you go, you should take some lessons to learn some Spanish or Portuguese. Once you get there, it’s important to continue this with some local classes or even a language exchange. Speaking the local language is always appreciated and, if you want to travel around, will help you get around easier than just relying on English.


Pros of teaching in South America

-It truly is a continent of great beauty and exploration. Teaching here gives you the opportunity to get to know some of these countries and sample the exciting culture it offers. It might be something very different to where you’re from, and you’ll be grateful that you had the chance to get to know life in a country in South America!

-The geographical wonders of South America are unlike any other in the world. Here you’ll find the famous Machu Picchu in Peru, the wondrous Iguazu falls spanning both Brazil and Argentina, several breathtaking national parks and let’s not forget the mighty Amazon rainforest which covers many countries. South America is filled with amazing sights!

-If you’re looking for a laid-back lifestyle and a general enjoyment of life, then this could be the place for you. The intense, “work work work” lifestyle isn’t as common here as it may be in other parts of the world. If you’re looking to truly embrace life, then South America could fit in well with your ideals. You can soak up the culture and enjoy every moment that this continent has to offer.


Cons of teaching in South America

If you’re looking to make a lot of money and walk away after a few years with a bulk of savings, then South America isn’t the place for you. In general, the salaries are comfortable to live on but you won’t make significant savings unless you watch every single cent. You can supplement your income with private lessons or online classes which will give you a bit of extra wiggle room on your budget.

Your TEFL schedule will give you some time to explore the country further. However, it’s important to note that travelling in South America by plane isn’t as cheap as you might be used to in Europe. You will have the time and budget to explore some places so you can still take advantage of exploring this continent. However, it’s unlikely that you will be able to see a different place every weekend, so you should plan the places you really want to see and prioritise these first!

We highlighted the relaxed way of living as a pro to teaching in South America and it certainly can be. However, it’s important to be prepared for things taking a little longer to process (paperwork for example!). The infrastructure might also be different to what you’re used to, and it’s something you’ll have to adapt to if you want to live happily here. Patience would be a good idea and just try to adopt that laid-back lifestyle!

If you’re already tempted by what this continent has to offer, take a look at some of the most popular places to teach TEFL in South America. There’s something for everyone, so let’s see what country you feel takes your fancy!

Teaching in Argentina

Argentina is one of the most popular destinations for TEFL in South America. Its vast geography, good cuisine and passionate culture attract many TEFL teachers. Popular cities include Buenos Aires. Cordoba, Mendoza and Rosario. The cities can offer an exciting, fast-paced multicultural experience and there are many language schools in these areas.

In Argentina, you can expect to make between $600-$1200 a month and there are opportunities for extra income with private lessons. A 120-hour qualification is sufficient and although it is not a strict requirement, a degree is often preferred. As with other countries, face-to-face hiring is preferred, so ensure you are ready to make a good impression! 

Best places to teach in south america

Teaching in Ecuador 

Ecuador is a growing TEFL market and not always the first choice for teachers, but one that shouldn’t be discredited! This country offers a wealth of beauty and warm people waiting for TEFL teachers. The salaries are lower than in neighbouring countries ($500-$1000 a month) but the cost of living is also lower than places such as Brazil or Argentina. 

Cities to consider in Ecuador are Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil. The work can be steady here and you don’t need a degree, just a TEFL qualification. To check out something a little bit different, then consider Ecuador! There are epic landscapes of all kinds in Ecuador. Considering its smaller size, you can find big adventures here! 

Teach in South America

Teaching in Colombia 

Colombia is becoming a popular choice for TEFL teachers now that it is more stable than it previously was in the past. TEFL teachers flock to Bogota, Medellin and Barranquilla for jobs. The average salary is about $500 which is lower than other countries but the cost of living is also lower than other places such as Argentina. Colombia is a good place for new TEFL teachers to get some experience as many employers consider newly-qualified teachers.

Colombia isn’t always the top choice for this area, so the competition for TEFL positions isn’t as difficult as it may be in Argentina, for example. So this country could be a great way to start out and have your pick of the opportunities. Teachers head to Colombia to explore its interesting climate, diverse cultures and beautiful beaches.

Teaching in Colombia

Teaching in Chile

Chile is one of the continent’s most stable and safest countries and the need for TEFL teachers is developing too. To teach in Chile you will need a TEFL certificate. Popular cities include Santiago and Valparaiso. There is a lot to discover from the famous Atacama desert, the cosmopolitan cities and volcanoes to visit! 

The average monthly wage is between $700-$1100 a month, similar to other neighbouring countries. Employers in Chile tend to sponsor their employees for work visas. This is not as common in other South American countries. This can offer you some legal stability if you are considering staying more long-term in the area.

Teaching in South America

Teaching in Brazil

The pure size of Brazil along with its growing economy makes it a good option for TEFL teachers. Huge cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Brasilia have lots of opportunities waiting. Brazil is a fast-paced, adventurous option for TEFL teachers. The downside of teaching in Brazil is the lack of legit work visas. Most TEFL jobs are 6 months in line with the standard tourist visa given. This isn’t exactly legal but it is common practice, so consider your options carefully! Brazil isn’t necessarily a place for a long-term career but a short-term adventure! 

Teach in Brazil


To get a job in South America, it’s better to hone in on the country you aim to teach in. Each one has something different to offer and a unique culture to experience. You’ll unlikely secure a job before you get there and will interview there face-to-face. Peak hiring times are around February to March and then again in August. Ensure you bear this in mind when you take off for a South American adventure! You don’t want to arrive at the wrong time of year and not be able to get a job.

When you get there, you might find that the culture, systems and infrastructure are quite different to what you’re used to. But this doesn’t mean you won’t love life there! Embrace everything with an open mind and dive right in. Don’t forget to take some Spanish or Portuguese (Brazil) lessons which will make things easier. Many teachers spend time teaching in this area of the world and come away with unforgettable memories, lifelong friends and enviable Instagram photos!


In general, you don’t need a degree to teach English abroad or online. Our certification stands alone and you can get employment without pairing it with a degree. However, some TEFL employers do prefer their teachers to have a degree. More importantly, for some countries, it’s a visa requirement. This means you can’t obtain a work permit without a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some of these countries include China, Japan, UAE and Vietnam. 

Our advice is if you have your sights set on a certain country, look into the visa requirements first before putting time and effort into finding a job there. This will save you time and disappointment. If it’s a school preferability, and not a visa requirement, there’s sometimes some leeway. 

You do not need any prior teaching degrees or experience to teach abroad. Once you have your TEFL certificate, you can secure work as a TEFL teacher. A BA in Education would enhance your CV, but it’s not a necessity. Completing a TEFL course that includes teaching practice, like our Hybrid TEFL Courses, will also help your CV.

If you want to experience different cultures and see the world, teaching English abroad is for you. Not only will you get to explore new places, you’ll also meet new people and get the chance to make a difference to the lives of language learners. A TEFL certification lasts a lifetime. So, you can dip in and out of teaching abroad whenever you feel like it.

It is not necessary to speak any other languages. You’ll be able to find a job and work comfortably without knowing the language spoken in your chosen country. Of course, it is always an advantage, even if it’s just the basics. We recommend learning a few phrases before you move abroad like hi, thank you, goodbye and sorry.

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