Teach English in Bolivia
Teach English in Bolivia
Tefl Jobs In Bolivia
The Bolivian economy has been growing steadily over the last few years. This has meant a reduction in poverty and workers seeing the minimum wage doubled over a 10-year period. It has also seen an increase in demand for English teachers in Bolivia. Unfortunately, even with the improvements, Bolivia is a very developing country, and there is a reluctance to try and learn English as well as Spanish because, for most of them, the native languages will be indigenous. Although Bolivia may not be a natural tourist destination, there is still plenty of beauty in the country. It does have unique natural surroundings and a variety of wildlife, and educating yourself in the indigenous cultures is fascinating. You will find the locals friendly and welcoming, and if you are working at a private school or language school, you will find most of your students wanting to improve their language skills for travel and education in other countries.
In this guide, you will find all the information you need if you are considering teaching English in Bolivia, including how to find work, where to live, the cost of living and getting your Visa.
There are quite a few private schools in Bolivia, including Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and La Paz. In order to qualify to work at one of these private schools, you will need to be a licensed teacher, and you will also have the opportunity to teach other subjects while you are there.
There are plenty of opportunities for volunteer teachers of English in Bolivia. Many different organisations have set up programs, most of which will provide you with food and accommodation in return for your teaching skills; however, there are some projects that charge teachers to join.
It is most likely that you will find work in a language school, but they are not the highest-paid language schools in the world; however, you can still have some great experiences living and working as an English teacher in Bolivia.
Many teachers also offer private language lessons, and although these do not pay brilliantly, they can certainly help top up your income. In addition, if you can find somewhere to live that has a good Internet connection, which is a really tricky thing to do in Bolivia, you can also teach English online, and your students can come from all over the world, which means you will be paid better.
Finding a job
Bolivia is a great place to teach English if you are looking for a short-term contract. Often your teaching contract will only be for a month, and although it will renew for as long as you need it, there is no particular stability. It is a good place for a working holiday or for a gap year.
As with most places, a TEFL certification is required to teach English in Bolivia, although sometimes volunteer programs are less interested in qualifications and more interested in getting people to work for them. You do not need to have a bachelor’s degree to teach English in Bolivia, but of course, many employers will prefer it. Although you do not have to be a native English speaker if it is your second language, you will need to demonstrate extreme fluency and understanding for teaching purposes. Generally, the jobs will go to someone who comes from an English-speaking country like the USA, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Visa Requirements for English Teachers in Bolivia
If you are planning to teach English in Bolivia in the short term, you may do so on a tourist visa. You can obtain a tourist visa in advance or once you arrive in the country. The tourist visa is valid for five years and allows re-entry to the country three times a year, but each time you can only stay for 90 days at a time. If you plan to stay in the country for any length of time, you would need a special-purpose Visa to be able to teach, but they certainly are not easy to obtain, and there is a lot of paperwork and complications to get one of these. Teaching English in Bolivia without a Visa is illegal and should never be attempted.
Need to know
The pay in Bolivia is not the best; as an English teacher in Bolivia, you can earn between $500-$900 a month. This is why so many English teachers in Bolivia top up their income by teaching English online. However, the cost of living is also low in Bolivia, so you can afford to live and work. Unfortunately, this does mean there is not much scope to save any money.
In Bolivia, there are 30 different languages; two of the most commonly used are Quechua and Aymara, but the most used language by far is Spanish. It is therefore recommended that you learn conversational Spanish before moving to Bolivia as it will make your life a lot easier when you are trying to fit in.
The most popular locations for English teachers in Bolivia are La Paz, Santa Cruz, El Alto, and Cochabamba, and more information about each is below. It is recommended that you do some research and decide which of these is most likely to fit your lifestyle before heading out and finding work.
Backpackers arriving from Peru or Chile will likely head straight to La Paz. Visiting Lake Titicaca is something most people want to do when they visit Bolivia, but from here you will find the public transport is a dubious and rather worn bus and it will take you about seven hours. La Paz is situated in a mountainous bowl, and the altitude above sea level is 3640 m which you may find strange to start with. There is lots of work on offer in La Paz, and business professionals are very keen to improve their English skills. However, this means that during the day, they will be at work, so you will have to be prepared to teach evening and weekend classes which is generally what most language schools offer. Although La Paz is fairly safe, you should take care if you are walking alone at night as pickpockets and robbers have been known to strike.
Santa Cruz has released ambitious plans declaring that it will become the financial centre for South America. It is an interesting city because it feels more like a small town, although it is one of the largest in the country. The climate is tropical, and the city has an amazingly laid-back feeling making it an amazing place to teach English in Bolivia.
The highest airport in South America is found in El Alto, and it is a rapidly growing city that looks to rival La Pas. It offers plenty of work for an English teacher in Bolivia, and you will find pay and conditions on par with all of the larger cities in the area.
Culture and Living in Bolivia
Living and working as an English teacher in Bolivia can be a lot of fun. Generally, you will find locals tend to be very warm and welcoming to strangers. It’s a very relaxed culture, so don’t expect much in the way of punctuality or timekeeping; late is normal and accepted. An expected greeting in Bolivia would be a friendly kiss on the cheek or a hug. They tend to say hello to everyone they meet when they pass on the street, so you should return the greeting with a smile.
Culturally there is still a lot of influence from the indigenous history of the country, especially the colonial rule of Spain. You will find that even today, in the more rural areas, traditional clothing styles are worn. However, in the city, teenagers and young people tend to dress in typically western styles that you will be used to. The culture is diverse and something of a mix between Spanish origin and indigenous groups from the mestizos and the Andes. This creates a myriad of colours, styles and food experiences that you will love.
The cost of living in Bolivia is very low, which is one of the reasons why the wages do not seem to be that high. It is all relative, and that means your living expenses will also be quite cheap. Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries found in South America and 83% cheaper than most countries around the world. The advice is always to live like a local because anything that is imported will be much more expensive. For example, a local meal tends to cost the same as just getting an imported cappuccino. Eating out is particularly cheap, so if your accommodation is not furnished when you arrive, you need to weigh up the cost of purchasing cooking equipment against the ease and low cost of dining out. it is a wonderful culture to be able to immerse yourself in there is so much colour and tradition found in the local dress, and there is plenty to see and do if you are interested in getting out and about. This also doesn’t have to cost any money as there are amazing archaeological sites, caves, ruins, and nature reserves to take up your time. in every city, you will also find the most amazing street markets which sell so many different things. Although we can’t claim that Bolivia has world-famous cuisine, there are plenty of local dishes that are simply delicious. The local menu features quinoa dishes, stuffed potato balls, and spicy pasties, as well as the most exquisite Bolivian chocolate.
In order to provide the most accurate cost of living figures, we use numbeo.com, the world’s largest cost of living database, updated regularly.
- Accommodation: £371–£465/$477–$598/€410-€520)
- Utilities: £36/$46/€40
- Health insurance: Cost of a typical visit to a GP: £22/$29/€25
- Monthly transport pass: £16/$21/€19
- Basic dinner out for two: £7/$9/€8
- Cappuccino in ex-patt area: £2.70/$3.47/€3.00
- A beer in a pub: £1.98/$2.55/€2.20
- 1 litre of milk: £0.71/$0.92/€81
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.19/$1.53/€1.34
Tefl Jobs In Bolivia: KEY POINTS
TEFL CERTIFICATE NEEDED
120-hour TEFL qualification
MAIN JOB TYPES
Public & private schools
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: La Paz, Santa CruzCochabamba, El Alto, and Oruro
- The average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for a full-time English teacher in Bolivia will be around 3,000–6,200 BOB (£330–£1,000/$430–$1,400/€380-€1200) per month or 27-76 BOB (£3–£8/$4–$11€3-€10) per hour, usually at the lower end of that scale.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification is required or preferred for most positions
- Prerequisite university degree: No, but a BA is preferred
- Term times: Feb-Sept, Sept-Dec
- Currency: Boliviano (BOB)
- Language: Spanish (and many other official languages)
- Teaching programmes: Bilingual Schools, Private Language Schools, Freelance, Volunteering
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: Necessary for the best-paid jobs, but many don’t require prior experience
Facts about Teach English in Bolivia the Complete Guide for TEFL Teachers | Reviewed May 2022
TEFL TEACHER DEMAND
OUR BOLIVIA TEFL RATING
Tefl Jobs In Bolivia: FAQS
How much can I earn as an English teacher in Bolivia?
The basic monthly salary for a full-time English teacher in Bolivia will be around 3,000–6,200 BOB (£330–£1,000/$430–$1,400/€380-€1200) per month or 27-76 BOB (£3–£8/$4–$11€3-€10) per hour, usually at the lower end of that scale.
Is Bolivia expensive to live in?
The cost of living in Bolivia is very low, which is one of the reasons why the wages do not seem to be that high. It is all relative, and that means your living expenses will also be quite cheap.
Can I teach English in Bolivia without a degree?
You do not need to have a bachelor’s degree to teach English in Bolivia, but of course, many employers will prefer it. You will be required to have a 120-hour TEFL certification for all but some voluntary positions.
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