Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Teaching English in Cancun

Me gots good English.

I've received lots of emails lately asking for advice on getting a job teaching English in Cancun so I thought it was about time I just laid it all out in one concise post. Much easier to paste a link than to type and re-type the same information over and over. Not that I mind helping, I am just streamlining. So, here's Canucka's FAQ's on the world of ESL in Cancun (may also apply to other parts of Mexico).

1. Do I need a special teaching certificate to get a job?- No. It can help, but it is not a necessity. From what I have witnessed, people are hired based on their ability to speak English, general intelligence and personality. The willingness to work strange long hours also helps. Some teaching experience, even volunteer work can be an asset.

2. Is it hard to get a job teaching ESL?- Yes, it can be. Immigration imposes a limit to the amount of foreigners a school can employ at any one time. Best advice is to come down with enough money to survive a couple of months and get your walking shoes on. Go to every school, introduce yourself and express your willingness to work. Hopefully something will open up before you run out of funds.

3. What are the major schools?- The main players in the market of private English language education are Harmon Hall, Interlingua, Quick Learning, and the famous Berlitz. There are sometimes openings in the regular schools (I mean regular like readin', writin', 'rthmetic, history kind of schools), but usually only once a year and the jobs are very limited. Some hotels have in-house teachers as well, but again, they don't open up too often.

4. Does the job pay well?- That all depends on your expectations. Do not come here thinking you will make the same amount as back home, but in comparison to other jobs in Mexico the pay is pretty good. A full time teacher can make anywhere from 10 000 to 15 000 pesos per month. Compare that to the legal minimum wage of 47 pesos a day, and you are doing rather well.

5. What kind of hours are expected?- Again, depends on the institution. My place of employment (which shall remain nameless for security reasons) holds classes starting at 7 am and the school closes at 9 pm. If you are a full time teacher, usually your schedule would be 7-10:30 am, then 4:30 to 9 pm, plus Saturdays 8-1. Everyone works six days a week, no exceptions. It's a tough schedule, thus I only work part time, 7-10:30 plus Saturdays. In addition to those hours, you will have many hours of unpaid prep time, training and workshops. When you first start the job, you have to train for one month, unpaid, be prepared for that!

6. What's the best part of your job?- My students! They are mostly young adults who work in the tourism industry. I admire them so much, they come to school before working 10-12 hours a day, sometimes they go to university after their jobs, go home to do homework and take care of their families and their homes then get up and do it all over again. They work HARD and pay a lot of money to better themselves. It's wonderful to watch them grow and learn and there is nothing more satisfying than hearing from a student that I made a difference in their lives.

7. What's the worst part of the job?- The hours and the corporate B.S.. It took a long time for me to get accustomed to being full of energy at 7 am, I have never been a morning person at all. Working for any large company comes with the normal corporate B.S., I've had my fair share in my life and have never enjoyed it, but it comes with the territory and is tolerable.

So, there you have it in a nutshell. The basics of teaching ESL in Cancun. It's not necessarily an easy life, but I love it and plan on doing it until we win the lottery. For me it beats the alternative which is selling time share, oh the horror, the horror of having to sell time share!

Now class, any questions or shall we just take the quiz?


Scott Bulger Photography said...

Teaching has always been one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do. I always admire good teachers, but am repulsed by lazy, bad teachers.

CancunCanuck said...

Scott- From reading your writings, I suspect you are a fabulous teacher. It is definitely one of the most rewarding things I have done with my life. And I agree, lazy, bad teachers should not be tolerated (and oh man do I work with a few!)

Nicole said...

Ummmm, yea, teacher what did you start teaching before you had Pinche Max or what?
I am looking into getting into this in another country, but my concern is finding a school to put the cultureprincess in.
Any suggestions?

CancunCanuck said...

culture queen- I actually conceived Max the day I was told I got the job, a celebratory moment, KWIM? ;) So, technically I started working while I was preggers. In terms of finding a school for the cultureprincess, your best bet is to research a couple of places you would like to live and hit some forums looking for other parents. In Mexico, your definitely looking at a private school, the public school system is er, um, uh, "lacking". There are several good options here in Cancun (luckily), but the smaller the town, the more limited you will be in terms of finding a decent, bilingual school. Send me mail if you want more info about Cancun specifically!

I can recommend www.escapeartist.com as a place to start the journey of looking for different countries to live in.

Anonymous said...

To a Canuck in Cancun from one who is considering...

I made a friend in Canada 7 years ago...he was from Mexico learning English. He later went home and we have stayed in touch, and recently I have gone to visit.

I love it there. And I love this man - who has offered to move to Canada to be with me. But then I think, It's cold here and I could move there? He owns restaurants there...he is established. I would have a place to stay and someone to help me with the culture shock.

Here's the thing. This is BIG. I just want to know, in your opinion, with all the opportunity available to me, and the challenges I would face still, should I really do this? Would this be considered a safe "risk"?

Tanessi said...

Hola Canuck, how you doing? well, have a question, i've read that you are a Canadian living in Cancun, and also, a teacher in Cancun, teaching english, of course...well....my friend, my wife and myself were living in Canada for some time, and we would like to have some private classes, just conversation classes with an english speaking teacher, is there a way for you to assist us with one hour per week? or, do you know somebody who wills to do it? thanks a lot and i like to surf in your blog and read, practicing my skills in english.... take care...and i hope to see you soon...AB

CancunCanuck said...

HI Tanessi,
I'm not teaching any more, I got a new job a year ago. If I were you I would contact Harmon Hall, the classes really are great. I don't know anyone doing privates right now, it's a tough business as so often students don't show up, cancel at the last minute, etc, so it's difficult for someone to consider private classes as a way to earn money. I wish you all the best (reading is a great way to continue to learn!) Sorry I can't be more helpful.

bill said...

Hi Canuck!
I am in Cancun for a couple of days at the end of November,(2010). I am enquiring whether you might be able to point me in the direction of a couple of schools in Cancun, where they may allow me to spend a day, "getting a flavour" of English teaching.I live in the UK, British Citizen, fully qualified School teacher and studying Spanish at Evening school.In the near future I am hoping to come to Mexico/Central America to teach English. All advices gratefully received!

Unknown said...

Hi Canuck.

I was lucky enough to befriend an owner of a private company who offered English classes to hotels. I worked for him for about 2 years, going up and down the hotel zone teaching students in the hotel industry. The hours varied. Some days I started at 7:00am, other days could be 1:00pm. The pay was pretty good and it was only Monday-Friday. I think finding that great opportunity on Cancun can all depend on who you know. Network and get out there you job seekers in Cancun. Tell everyone you're looking for work.

Lonesomehobo said...

Hola! I was just curious about your timeshare comment a while back. I came to Cancun from the USA 2 years ago. I knew nothing about timeshare but had a contact in the industry and started in right away. I learned quite a bit over time and have come to feel it is a great job - short hours, meeting my country people and having fun making good money. There are programs that are not so beneficial to the member - I won't sell for those companies, but some are true to their word (I really like my current club). I would love to teach English also - but I believe timeshare to be such a pleasant way to enjoy this paradise. Have you still the opinion that it is a "horror"? Just a friendly question.

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