Teaching English in Brazil

By | January 20, 2014

As the world’s fifth largest country both by size and population and the largest country in South America, Brazil is the powerhouse economy in the region. It is the only country in the Americas to use Portuguese as their official language and by it is far the largest country in the world to speak Portuguese.

In terms of economy, Brazil is 7th in the world for GDP and it is also among the fastest growing major economies. Brazil’s growth has at its roots the National Development bank and rather than depending on foreign investment, it uses its own money for helping large local companies to prosper.

Central to the banks aims are to promote economic growth while preserving the Brazilian environment and protection of the local communities.

Brazil borders with 10 different countries: French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Read more about Brazil from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Brazil

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Of course, the wide range of natural attractions in Brazil and the vibrant, exciting festivals are well known and just one of the many reasons that people choose to go and teach English in Brazil.

Brazil has over 5 million visitors each year, and although most foreign tourists arrive from neighbouring Argentina, nearly half a million arrive from the USA. In this respect the use of English by the tourist industry is seen as a basic requirement in popular holiday resorts.

With a fast growing economy, growing tourism industry the ability to speak English is considered to be very important in Brazil. As a result there is a real demand for native English speaking teachers that is likely to keep increasing.

It should be noted that Brazil although has wonderful scenery and a vibrant society the crime rate in the country is amongst the highest in the world. Although most crimes are directed to the local population, foreigners can also be a target, especially in the larger cities where carjacking and express kidnappings are commonplace.

Where to Teach English in Brazil

There are opportunities for teaching English all over Brazil and it pretty much depends on where you want to live. Do you prefer a large city of Rio de Janeiro, if you’re after money then São Paulo, but if you’re after a beach lifestyle then you might want to consider Salvador.

We will shortly be publishing an in-depth guide individual places to teach in Brazil.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Brazil

Private English Schools



Private language schools are where most English teachers will find employment. There are many different schools, some very reputable and some that are not. Some schools will require that you have a degree and a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL and CELTA and others will require that you are just a native speaker.

Usually the more reputable schools with the higher standards for the teachers that they employ will offer the highest salaries.

Some schools offer “VIP” classes where students are taught one-to-one. These kinds of classes will have significantly higher salaries than “regular” classes.

Private Lessons

A number of teachers even take private one-on-one lessons. These types of classes can be taken in your student’s home, your own home or some other location. The advantages here are that you can earn quite a lot of money and that you are your own boss.

However, you have to be prepared for cancellations and cancelled classes mean that you don’t get paid. This type of teaching isn’t really reliable until you can build up a good number of students.

Self-Employed Specialised Teacher



Another lucrative and increasingly popular path for teachers is to become specialised teachers that focus on providing English lessons for businesses and professionals. This could include things like English for business, hospitality, tourism, etc.

These types of jobs can be very lucrative and will undoubtedly earn you the most money. However, if you want to be self-employed and work in a company, most companies will require that you have a legal business that is registered in Brazil.

Moreover, you will usually need to show that you have a high level of education and experience in the field that you want to teach.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

It is possible to find a job teaching English in Brazil without a degree or a teaching certificate of any kind. There are so many schools and there is a huge demand for teachers without native English speakers to fulfil that demand. Therefore, a number of schools will take just about anybody who comes from a native English speaking country.

However, some schools will require that you have a degree and a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA and the schools with the higher standards are usually the schools that pay the highest salaries.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1369″]You can expect to earn as little as $8 per hour and as much as $20 or more teaching English in Brazil depending on where you are working and the school you are working for. You can make even more than this is you do private lessons or have the qualifications and experience to be a specialised private teacher.

The average salary for most teachers is around $800 to $1500 per month and those that earn a salary in the higher end of this pay scale are likely to have more experience and qualifications than those at the bottom end.

Brazil is a very large country and as such the cost of living can vary considerably depending on where you choose to teach. Obviously the large cities and popular tourist areas will normally have a higher cost of living than the smaller rural communities. As a country as a whole it is estimated that the cost of living is around 40% less than the USA.[/sociallocker]

For more information about the cost of living in Brazil take a look at Numbeo.

Therefore, if done properly, it is entirely possible to save money working as an English teacher in Brazil.

Visa Requirements

Praia do Retiro

Praia do Retiro

To work legally in Brazil you will need work visa, but this is a long and expensive process and only a few teachers actually do this. A number of teachers work illegally on a tourist visa, but this is never recommended because it is against the law.

Moreover, some teachers also get a student visa and learn Portuguese, but again, you can’t legally work on this visa.

Most schools will not subsidise the cost of a visa. Sometimes, if you are working for a large international school and have a contract of a few years, the school might pay for your visa.

The process is also quite long and difficult. First you will need a job offer and the school will need to apply on your behalf. You will need suitable qualifications (a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate) and experience. You will also need a criminal record check, a medical exam and all documents to be translated into Portuguese. The whole process can take 2 or 3 months.

For more information about obtaining a working visa for Brazil, click here.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Brazil

Praia Brava

Praia Brava

Job opportunities are found all year round in Brazil and it is unlikely that you will secure a teaching position before arriving in the country. In Brazil, most employers will want to complete a face-to-face interview in person before making an offer.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t search the internet for vacant positions! In fact a number of schools will advertise for vacant teaching positions online, but they won’t complete the process online.

You can also search for schools in the town or city where you want to work and check their websites because often schools advertise for vacant positions on their own website.

The best way to find jobs is to find a list of schools and contact them directly. There are local, online and business directories that will list schools in Brazil.

Finally, you can get this information and go around all the schools by yourself and visit them in person, or contact them on the phone or even send an email. Remember that persistence is the key to finding a job!

Teach English in Brazil

There is a huge demand for English teachers in Brazil and as the country’s economy continues to grow, this demand is only going to get bigger. At the moment, there are not enough native English speaking teachers to fill all the vacant positions. Therefore, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to find a job regardless of your qualifications and experience.

As with most countries, you’re not going to get rich teaching English in Brazil, but you should make enough to cover your living costs and enjoy yourself a little!


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 Brazil, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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