About ESL In Mexico
|By Doug Bower
disappointing than a person who makes a promise he can't keep? A person
who makes a promise that is a lie. Many promises to make a "decent living"
teaching English in Mexico are just that - a lie.
If you do a
phrase search on Google, "teach English in Mexico," you will get
almost 11,000,000 hits. Some of these sites are filled with tantalizingly
appealing phrases like,
"If you sign
up with us to train in TESL we can get you a job in Mexico where for only
a few dollars a week you can have anything you want in Mexico and live
a life of ease".
a life of luxury where First-class bus travel to such and such a place
is only____"- you fill in the blank.
All are allurements,
for sure, trying to sell their how-to books, tapes, seminars, schools,
or placement services for teaching English abroad. These web sites give
the impression that you will be able to make enough money to live a life
of unprecedented luxury and ease with all that money you will make teaching
English in Mexico.
We've met many
young women who come to Guanajuato with the hope and dream of getting a
teaching job and making a bundle. The word "shock" is putting it mildly
when they find out what their salaries will be in some of these private
schools. A good pay scale would be less than $3.00 an hour. I know of some
schools that pay even less than that amount.
Can you imagine
how many hours you would have to work to make ends meet? Minimum wage is
about $400.00 USD a month. Granted, many Mexicans live on that. But could
you - an American? Could you downscale to living on so little?
who come to Mexico to teach English are:
who wants a new adventure - something different.
who wants to build a resume, no matter the salary.
who wants to earn a little traveling money.
who thinks they can earn a decent living.
Groups 1 through
3 don't care what the dollar sign is in their salary. They have other sources
of income like savings or parents who help support them while they are
in Mexico. These are the most transient. Here today, promising their employers
a year contract, and gone tomorrow. Some told me that those who do not
fulfill their teaching commitments no longer surprise them.
accustomed to this unethical practice by mostly Americans. Some employers
will not hire these "floaters" simply because they have built the reputation
of not fulfilling their contracts with Mexican private schools. They are,
in fact, notorious for NOT staying the entire term for which they
contracted. Schools would love to hire those with ties to the community
instead, but they are rare.
Group 4, people
who think they can make a living, do not accept the reality that you can
rarely make a living at teaching English in Mexico. They are like many
of those who go to Hollywood with the delusion of becoming an actor, "Oh,
it's a long shot, but maybe I can do it."
In an informal
e-mail survey I took of Mexican schools that offer ESL classes, the overwhelming
majority agreed that it is rare for anyone to make a living at teaching
English in Mexico. One called it "an unrealistic expectation" to believe
pay is very low and it is difficult to imagine how one could live on it."
told me that unless the teacher had signed a contract with a large established
organization before departure to the country, it was unlikely that a good
salary would be waiting for them. Countries like Japan or China offer a
competitive salary with benefits - Mexico does not.
While in language
school in Guanajuato, I met a young man who was learning Spanish and who
had lived in Japan. He was an American who contracted to teach ESL in Japan
(his Japanese was excellent) and actually did hit the jackpot there.
He not only received a good salary but his housing was paid for and he
received a food allowance on top of a decent salary.
I have a friend
who teaches in China who has a very similar situation. Most of the available
jobs in Mexico are with small private schools that pay too little.
come to Mexico and made a living teaching ESL. But, that is all they can
do - work until they drop. They usually have to sign on to teach with at
least three schools to get enough hours to earn enough to pay for cost-of-living
expenses. There is little time to do anything else.
We had a neighbor
who fell into this trap. She was told she could get a good paying job in
Guanajuato teaching ESL. When she got here reality hit her like a brick.
Just to "make-ends-meet" she had to work in multiple schools, all
hours of the day and night, and when she wasn't actually teaching she was
spending her time trying to get to the various schools by either walking,
bussing, or by cab. Her weekends were taken up with trying to recover from
the week and resting for the incoming work schedule. She had NO life!
A notable exception
to all this is the experience my wife had. When we moved here my wife was
offered two teaching positions at the university level - both offered attractive
job packages. Both schools wanted to pay her $1,000.00 a month with benefits.
They aggressively attempted to recruit her knowing that she was not a "floater".
So, while a decent TESL job is certainly possible, they are rare, employers
want those who will make a long-term commitment - with ties to the community-
and a TESL certificate is not necessarily a requirement. In my wife's case,
they only cared that she had a university degree.
worth noting is that schools that do pay well, will not hire you "sight-unseen".
You will have to come to Mexico for an interview at your expense.
A life of luxury,
excitement, and adventure? Hardly. But they keep coming, filled with the
delusion that perhaps they can make it work.
would like to submit an article to Escape From America Magazine Click
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