Readers have posed a number of oft-asked, poignant questions about teaching English in Mexico which I'll be unable to answer in full detail here, but I should be able to address the brunt or so of them with brief snippets of information.
photo credit: ELT professional Shebnem Itil teaches a conversation-generating dynamic
Q: First, I have heard that it is possible to work at a university teaching English, but I wonder if I have enough experience? It looked like according to your article only highly qualified teachers could get positions in a university.
A: First, you shouldn't worry too much about a lack of more experience. if you do have some, you're a trained, educated TEFL teacher and a native speaker, you'll be okay. Go ahead, apply to schools, institutes and universities.
Q: Second, what is the best time of year to go to look for work in Mexico?
A: As far as looking for work is concerned; July to August you should be pounding the pavement. The next best time frame is in early to mid January. Another critical period for job-hunting is May to June. Most importantly, choose where you want to live and work, then take a pilot trip to uncover essential facts, leads and information.
Q: Third, do you think it would be possible to earn enough money teaching English as a foreign language in Mexico that I would be able to pay some of my bills back at home, for example my student loan payment?
A: While you can certainly earn a living in Mexico teaching English as a foreign language in primary / secondary schools, trade schools, language institutes and universities – even giving private classes on the side, paying off a student loan in US dollars is a bit over the top for a salary earned in Mexican pesos. I certainly wouldn’t count on getting that kind of money – at least, not for a while. Travel to your planned work area by making a pilot trip to ascertain what kind of salary range TEFL teachers get there among other things.
Q: How much money do you think I need to have saved up before I would go to Mexico City? I´ve read as much as $3,500 just to get started, is that true??!!
A: You should try to have enough money to tide you over at least a couple of months to give you some breathing room, but even one month of savings will cover you some. Just look at the exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Mexican pesos. Factor in the cost of living per month and you’ll likely find that 3500 dollars is hardly necessary. You should work up a more accurate - much lower figure using a pilot trip, if possible. Check out http://www.tefl.com/ for their city cost guides to give you ballpark figures.
Finally, ask yourself some hard questions about why you want to be at ABC city in XYZ country, in this case, Mexico. Surviving those soul-searching questions, you'll be better prepared mentally to cope with whatever happens and will intrinsically have the innate staying power to “hang in there” when the going gets a little rocky - which, my friend, it will.
I hope these brief answers start to help you. Do consider making a pilot trip to your planned destination. Check out my blog post: “Teaching English in Mexico: Why You Need to Take a Pilot Trip”. Also, let me know if you'd like to be placed on my mailing list for new articles, TEFL info and updates.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org