Honduras offers a variety of geographic regions and cultures. To the North, leisurely beach-life and Garifuna culture flavor the coastal hub Tela and the Caribbean Bay Islands. To the West, the artsy and historic Copàn Ruinas provide expansive Mayan texts to rival those of Mexico. In the rolling hills of the once-volcanic Lake Yojoa region, hiking and sailing abound.
To the Southwest, cobblestone streets and old colonial buildings grace the peaceful, historic Gracias. To the Northeast, adventurers will find La Moskitia, the largest untamed tropical rainforest in North America, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most ESL instructors venture abroad to gain personal growth and professional experience in the field. The profession dictates an adventurous spirit. Those who realize this will understand that the question isn't "Why Honduras?" it's "Why not Honduras?"
Private Language Academies/Schools:
Private bilingual schools are the most common teaching options available. Typical work hours range from 7:30-3:00, Monday through Friday, with breaks, depending on one's schedule. School typically run from August or September through mid-December, and resumes early January through June. Most schools do not require fluency in or knowledge of Spanish, TEFL certification, or teaching experience. They usually ask for applicants with a college degree or some college experience.
Popular schools include Children's Palace Bilingual School in Roatan, the Abundant Life Christian School System in Gracias and Tegucigalpa, Lake Yojoa Bilingual School in Pena Blanca, Christian Educational Community in Siguatepeque, BECA's San Jeronimo Bilingual School in Cofradia, and Mayatan Bilingual School in Copan Ruinas.
Though ESL job sites tend to lack private lesson postings for tutors, parents and local entrepreneurs will likely seek you out for tutoring when in the Honduras. These arrangements are typically informal, meeting as little or often as your schedule and your tutee's interests dictate. Any Gringo with a passion to network qualifies. These lessons offer an excellent opportunity for supplemental income.
Finding a Job
Where and When to Look for Jobs:
Safety and local attractions dictate the popularity of location. Due to the level of crime in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, instructors should avoid employment in these areas, despite advertisements from some TEFL websites offering certification and placement in these cities. Popular areas to teach include La Ceiba, the Bay Islands, the Copan Ruinas, the Lake Yojoa region, and Gracias.
More established schools will post jobs for the following year during the fall of the current one. However, many post from December on, and screening and interviews can begin as early as March. TEFL Job Placement found the peak hiring times to be May-August. Again, the level of organization dictates these hiring periods. It's generally easy to find jobs on-line. Idealist.org and SECUSS-L sometimes offer opportunities as well. That being said, schools highly value English speakers, so Honduran administrators and businessmen have been known to offer jobs to wayward travelers and missionaries on the spot.
The minimum requirements for most jobs include a degree or some college experience. Most schools do not require CELTA/TEFL certification; however preference may be given to those with these qualifications. In a few cases, where a school is more established and in a bigger city, additional qualifications may apply (ex: Christian Educational Community in Siguatepeque).
Job seekers should note that many bilingual schools are Christian. Though some schools do not require their teachers to be Christians themselves, they do search for individuals who are comfortable with Christian values and willing to be good role models to students. In addition, administrators usually ask that their teachers refrain from drinking in public. While Honduran instructors usually teach Bible class, ESL instructors may be asked to substitute in the local's absence. While religion is not necessarily a qualification, it may be something to consider.
Salary & Cost of Living:
The average monthly salary ranges from $250-350. Instructors can reasonably charge private hourly rate of $10-15, but this is negotiable and the tutee's financial circumstances should be acknowledged. Private Christian bilingual schools typically offer housing, and some even provide reimbursement for airfare. In some cases where housing is either optional or not included, schools will help you find housing, including host family possibilities (ex: Abundant Life Schools and Christian Educational Community). Average monthly rent ranges from $100-250, with prices varying on either end depending on city size. According to TEFL Job Placement, the average cost of living is $100-300. However, if the school does not provide housing and utilities, cost of living is closer to $350-550.
Classroom & Work Culture:
- Student-teacher relations: Compared to its American counterpart, the Honduran teaching style tends to be strict, with an emphasis on authoritative classroom management. Honduran teachers and administration often note the disparity between Honduran and American teaching styles. They encourage incoming instructors to downplay constant emotional and verbal approbation, and incorporate more critical feedback when addressing students on their behavior and academic progress. Another marked difference, the Honduran learning style incorporates a great deal of repetition and copying of information off classroom boards. Younger students often assume that, since they have finished copying a math problem from the board, they have completed the assignment, thereby neglecting to solve the problem itself. Particularly with younger students who still lack fluency in English, teachers must exercise creativity.
- Dress Code: Since most job openings will be found through private schools, administrators have an established dress code and provide uniforms for their instructors. Though uniforms vary, the minimum requirement is a school polo shirt for men and women. Administrators discourage shorts and flip-flops. While both men and women have the option of wearing pants, women also may wear skirts. Some schools have casual Fridays.
- Greetings: Greetings in business settings vary, often depending on the particular administrator's personal preference. Though many teachers use a combined hug and kiss on the cheek to greet one another, some use handshakes to greet administrators. Upon first meeting your administrator, allow him or her to make the first move. This empowers the administrator to establish a rapport with you. In addition, this enables you to both measure appropriate behavior and gracefully show respect, a highly valued concept in Honduras.
Relocating to a different country can be scary and stressful but in the end, it will likely be an immensely rewarding experience. This country, despite the occasional bad publicity, is a welcoming and culturally vibrant place. Not only will you have a positive impact on the country and the people, but they will change you as well.
Contributed by Kate Kirk
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