Teach English in São Paulo, Brazil

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While Sao Paulo is more well-known for serious traffic problems, a great economic divide between the rich and the poor, and a large privately-owned helicopter fleet, it is still a city of great ethnic flavor, a place of great sporting events (including the 2014 FIFA World Cup), and a city filled with truly warm people.

Teachers who come to Sao Paulo will find eager students of all ages, especially businesspeople who want to learn English. While the cost of living may be higher, teachers will still be able to make enough money to cover most expenses, and maybe even save a little if they budget appropriately.

Teachers in Sao Paulo can also experience great flexibility in their schedules, as some of them teach in-house for companies and can supplement their income with private tutoring. With patience and good planning and research on life in Brazil and Sao Paulo, such as Brazilian Gringoes, English teachers can make the most of their time in Sao Paulo.

Photo credit: Artur Luiz dos Santos

According to TeacherKick, a blog all about teaching, traveling, and working in Latin and South America, Brazil and Sao Paulo currently has a growing tourism industry, thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Sao Paulo is also a booming financial center with a diverse ethnic population from all over the world. Which means, there's a high demand for native speaking English teachers in Sao Paulo. It is a large market, but a very competitive one, so consider setting yourself apart from the rest with a TEFL Certification Course either in Brazil or before you go.

Private language academies/schools:

Due to being an international center for business, commerce, and trade, perhaps the biggest demand for English teachers in Sao Paulo is for Business English teachers. Businesspeople want to develop their English skills. Some chain schools include CCAA and Cultura Inglesa.

Note: Both of these sites are in Spanish, so if your Spanish skills aren't up to the challenge, it might be better to look for a position through resources such as TeacherKick or AngloINFO. Typically, these schools hire teachers year-round, and classes are taught after school or at other convenient times for business people. Private language schools also serve children and teenagers.

Public schools:

Public and private schools are run very similarly to the private and public school systems in the United States. However, remember that Sao Paulo is located below the equator, so summer vacation will be from December to February! Public school education is free to everyone, and is mandatory for children ages 7 to 14.

There is a two-semester system, with a break in July, so usually public and private schools look to hire teachers before February and July. Private schools in Sao Paulo are often Christian-run, mostly Catholic, and some of them have a bilingual curriculum.

Private lessons:

Private tutoring is very common in Sao Paulo, especially since a good number of an English tutor’s clients are businesspeople who can pay for private lessons. Businesses can also hire private in-house English teachers to teach classes to their employees during lunch hours and other convenient times. An English tutor can set their own schedule, make as much as US$22 an hour, and build a very good clientele through networking opportunities through businesses. Once again, networking is the key to building success as an English tutor.

Universities:

Thanks to a recent effort in improving the quality of higher education, English teachers can look for positions in universities and colleges. They run in two semesters: early March to the middle of July and then early August to the middle of December. Teaching positions in public universities are highly coveted, so be prepared for fierce competition!

When and Where to Look For Jobs:

The best time to look for jobs in the public schools would be before February and July, before the beginning of semesters. Otherwise, language schools look for teachers year-round.

Most employers prefer their potential employees to apply in-person; however, there are plenty of online resources to look for jobs in Sao Paulo and Brazil, such as GoOverseas’ Job Board, TeacherKick, and AngloINFO.

Qualifications

It is possible to teach English in Sao Paulo without a formal qualification. However, you will certainly get more of a competitive edge if you have a TESOL, TEFL, or CELTA certification.

You’ll gain more confidence in your classroom if you have prior knowledge that can be gained through TEFL certification courses. Some schools will require you to have one already; others will provide training. Otherwise, you can take a certification course before you arrive in Brazil, in-country, or online. Teachers are also expected to be native English speakers and have a university degree.

Salary & Cost of Living

English teachers can live comfortably in Sao Paulo, depending on their lifestyle. Usually teachers can pull anywhere between US$800 -- US$1500 and can supplement their income if they do some private tutoring.

It is not likely that employers provide airfare or living accommodations for their teachers, so it’s very important to do your research about how much money to spend on initial moving costs.

Most expats tend to rent apartments in Sao Paulo. Expat Arrivals has great information and resources about living in Sao Paulo. Apartments are as diverse in style, cost, and services as they are in any megacity. Some teachers end up doing shared accommodations to save on money.

Pay attention to where you live in terms of access to public transportation, noise, traffic, and available facilities. Some of the favorite areas for expats to live in Sao Paulo include Brooklin Novo, a residential area with plenty of green places and plenty of chances to interact with native Brazilians, Santa Cecilia, which is close to Sao Paulo’s city center and full of historic charm, and Vila Madalena, a very artistic area that is well-connected to public transportation.

Eating out in Sao Paulo is certainly an adventure in ethnic cuisine. There are influences from Europe, Asia, and Brazil, so if you want to eat out in diverse restaurants, you will certainly have many choices. You will also find familiar American favorites, such as Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.

There are also plenty of fantastic eateries where you can sample local Brazilian food, and most likely that will be your cheaper option. A combo meal at McDonald’s can cost US$9, and a meal in the business district can cost up to US$12. If you are the kind of person who enjoys the nightlife, you will certainly find plenty of entertainment options, but be prepared to pay anywhere between US$42 to US$81 for dinner for two.

Classroom and Work Culture:

As always, follow the cues of your co-workers as to what’s appropriate in terms of dress and etiquette at work and in the classroom. What follows are excellent tips which can be found at Oxford Seminars and Maricela Palma’s article on Go Overseas about teaching in Brazil. It is helpful to learn some basic phrases of Sao Paulo’s native language, Portuguese, in order to make life less stressful in your early days in the megacity.

When greeting a man, give him a good, firm handshake. When greeting women, it’s appropriate to kiss once on each cheek. Brazilians are very passionate and warm people, so expect animated classroom lessons. Also, be prepared for a relaxed attitude regarding showing up on time; Brazilians rarely rush for anything, so expect some tardiness among your Brazilian students and co-workers.

Contributed by Whitney Zahar

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