Teaching English in Bolivia

By | January 20, 2014

Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America and it is bordered by Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile. Before the Spanish colonised the country, it was part of the Inca Empire and during the Spanish colonisation it was known as Upper Peru. After independence the country was named Bolivia after Simón Bolívar.

The country is quite small with a population of only 10 million people. However it is a very ethnically diverse country with ethnicities including Europeans, Asians, Africans and Amerindians. The official language is Spanish, but there are a number of different official indigenous languages that are spoken in the country.

Bolivia has a diverse landscape that includes the Andes in the west and lowlands in the east. This developing country is rich in natural minerals and the economy is growing rapidly.

Read more about Bolivia from Wikipedia.

Why teach English in Bolivia

Palacio del Congreso Nacional La Paz Bolivia

Palacio del Congreso Nacional La Paz Bolivia – Image Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Bolivia is a politically stable country and its economy is growing very quickly. As the country continues to grow, especially in the tourism industry, there is a realisation that English is an important part of the economy. As a result, there are more and more private language schools opening up and they look to employ native English speaking TEFL teachers.

Although you won’t get rich teaching English in Bolivia, you will have no problems finding a job in the country. There is a demand for TEFL teachers and very few teachers to fill this void.

There are different options available including volunteer and paid work. Usually, contracts are very short and it could be a good destination if you just want to teach somewhere for a couple of months.

Where to Teach English in Bolivia

As is the case with most countries, you will find that the most paid opportunities will be in the larger cities, especially the nation’s capital city, La Paz. Santa Cruz, Oruro, El Alto and Cochabamba are also popular destinations where you will find some opportunities.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Bolivia

Volunteer Teaching

El Alto Parade, Bolivia

El Alto Parade, Bolivia

If you want to volunteer there are many NGOs in the country that offer both short and long term contracts. Some of them will even provide you with free accommodation and a small allowance, but this won’t usually be enough money to survive so you’ll need to have some savings.

Private Language Schools

There are now many private language schools that specialise in teaching the English language. There are also new schools opening up all the time and it is in private language schools where you will find the most opportunities for employment.

Most schools will employ teachers without a degree or any teaching qualifications.

Private Lessons

If you are looking to supplement your income you might want to consider taking private lessons. You probably won’t be able to use this as a main source of income, but it could be a good way to get a little extra cash.

One of the biggest problems with this type of teaching is that students often cancel at short notice, meaning that you won’t have a very stable income. So it’s always better to think about this kind of teaching as supplemental to your main income.

[sc:ESLBannerInText ]

Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

If you want to volunteer there are no minimum requirements needed other than a willingness to help other people.

For paid positions it is possible to find jobs without a degree and a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. However, if you have a degree, a teaching certificate and experience, it always helps. Some of the ‘better’ schools will also require that you have these things.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1407″]Don’t expect to get rich in Bolivia with average monthly salaries of just $400 to $600 a month. Most schools won’t pay for accommodation, return flights or contract completion bonuses as they don’t usually offer yearlong contracts and most teachers are employed month to month.

This amount would be sufficient to pay for your living costs and unless you are out partying every night, $400 – $600 should be enough to support yourself.

You won’t be able to save money on this amount and it’s advisable to have some savings in the bank before you arrive in Bolivia because you will find it hard to save even a few dollars each month.

For more information about the cost of living in Bolivia, click here.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

El Alto, Bolivia

El Alto, Bolivia

There is no such thing as a working visa for Bolivia, instead you must enter the country with a specific purpose visa. You can’t enter the country on a tourist visa and then change it when you are in the country. If you enter on a tourist visa, you must leave and then re-enter the country on a specific purpose visa.

You then have 30 days to apply for a work permit which is done through the Ministry of Labour and this is given to you after you have received approval for residency in the country.

Read more about work permits and working in Bolivia here.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Bolivia

Bolivian Altiplano

Bolivian Altiplano

You can generally find teaching opportunities, both paid and voluntary all year round, but it’s usually better to look for jobs at the beginning of the year in January and February and also in the middle of the year in June and July.

You will find voluntary teaching jobs online, but it is rare to find paid teaching jobs advertised online other than the school’s own website. If you are looking for paid work, it is much better to start your search when you are already in the country.

Get a list of schools in the town or city where you are living, print some copies of your CV and head out to all the different schools and apply directly. You can do this on the phone, by email or in person. As you don’t see positions advertised, it might better to go round in person and ask for vacant positions.

Teach English in Bolivia

You won’t usually earn enough money to save, but you will earn enough money to pay for your monthly living costs in the country. Whilst you are living in the country, you can experience first-hand the multi-cultural country and see some stunning landscapes.

The people are very open and friendly and you will witness some age old traditions throughout your time in the country.

People don’t go to Bolivia for the money, instead they go to immerse themselves in the culture and experience the unique country that is like no other.

Disclaimer

Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Bolivia, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

[sc:ESLBannerEndArticle ]

4 thoughts on “Teaching English in Bolivia

  1. Danuta

    So true! I had been teaching in a private institute in Santa Cruz for a year and barely earned enough to pay my bills. Unfortunately, many private schools employ teachers without contract (so you have to take care of your insurance and visa), but on the other hand that gives you more flexibility to choose your holidays. Teaching standards are quite low here and one can not expect to be treated exceptionally well by employers, but it’s a great experience anyway;)

    1. William Lake

      I’m glad you found the article spot on. A lot of research goes into these before I write them, I also interview past and present teachers!

  2. Wendell

    I guess the culture there is very interesting.

Comments are closed.