Alumni Spotlight: Jim Gearing


Jim Gearing worked for many years with international students, scholars, and researchers in the Atlanta, GA area, to assist them in adjusting to North American culture, as well as teaching conversational English. From 2005-2010, he engaged in additional post-baccalaureate and graduate coursework in TESOL, then travelled to Santiago, Chile to teach ESL through the TeachingChile program at the professional institute of Universidad Catolica. After returning to the USA to care for his mother, he was granted the Professional Educator’s License by the State of North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and now teaches ESL in a high school in Charlotte, NC.

Why did you decide to teach abroad with TeachingChile in Chile?

Most people who travel to Latin America to teach ESL initially travel on a tourist visa, look for work and a place to live, then change to a work visa. It’s common for a person to spend 2-3 months looking for steady work, while spending 2-3 thousand dollars out of pocket until they have a sufficient income for expenses. With TeachingChile, on the other hand, I already had a teaching job lined up, with an appropriate visa before traveling to Chile. In addition to having a job already lined up, TeachingChile arranges for housing at no cost for your first 30 days in Chile.

What made this teach abroad experience unique and special?

The TeachingChile staff are incredibly resourceful and helpful. Not only do you have a job and housing upon arrival, they provide an orientation to Chile, put a ready-to-use cell phone in your hand, and take you through all bureaucratic government processes required once you arrive. A TeachingChile staff member helped me find a fantastic living situation, in a “pension”, with room and meals for a monthly rate that I could afford on my teaching salary. Since the staff live in Santiago, they are always there to assist with whatever issue might come up. You can call them anytime, and they are happy to meet you for a cup of coffee if you have questions about anything. All of the staff members are great, but I have said many times that Andrea is an angel in human disguise – she does miracles!

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)

I had planned to stay in Chile long-term, but my elderly mother’s living situation suddenly deteriorated and I returned to the USA after 1 year to care for her. While in the USA, I applied for a State of North Carolina Professional Educator’s License. Based on coursework I had taken, and my experience teaching through the TeachingChile program, I was awarded a license to teach ESL in North Carolina Public Schools, and began teaching ESL in a high school in Charlotte, NC on August 19, 2013.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering teaching abroad in Chile?

I highly recommend applying for a teaching position through TeachingChile rather than arriving on your own. Occasionally there are posts on a very popular ESL website that trash TeachingChile because of the $1300.00 support and administration fee. The fact is, because you have 30 days housing already arranged at no cost and a job lined-up, you will recuperate the support and admin fee after just one month in Chile. If you go on your own, you’ll end up spending significantly more than $1300.00 before you have stable income. Beyond that, the personal support of Bruce, Andrea, and “the new guy”, is worth the fee without the other perks.