Santiago has everything a city could offer – an excellent transportion network, a vibrant cultural scene and several hilltop walks offering mesmerizing Andean views are just a few things to take advantage of. The city is neither overwhelmingly huge nor smothering and small.

It manages to be bustling and lively while avoiding the widespread chaos and crime existent in other South American cities. The only difficulty is deciding where to go on a weekend trip – mountains and beaches wait for you on either side of the city, and both are only an hour and a half drive away.

Chile has one of the strongest economies in Latin America, reflected in the growth and rapid development of its capital city. As Santiago transforms itself into a major fiscal city, the demand for English has become insatiable, and job opportunities for native English speakers innumerable.

Photo Credits: alobos Life.

Job Types

Private Language Companies / Schools:

There are literally too many to name – from small companies which work with specific businesses and locations, to larger ones which will connect you with several individuals throughout the city. Beware – a lot of private companies will take a handsome cut of your hourly pay, and some are notorious to underpay. Most are looking for part time workers for no more than twenty hours a week.

Public Schools / Universities:

Some public schools and universities have recently been affected by student strikes lasting up to half a year. The situation has stabilized but it is still a present issue. Public schools will generally pay less than private, and you will be paid significantly lower than the average Chilean professional.

Private Schools:

Private Schools are often looking for native speakers, especially those that teach international curriculum. Many will be willing to invest to have a native speaker on campus. Chileans appreciate the presence of someone with a native accent, and this inherent quality along with previous teaching experience or qualification should allow you to find a well-paid teaching position at a private school.

Finding a Job

When and Where to look for jobs:

If you’re already in Santiago, it is not too difficult to find jobs through private language schools – as there are so many there are jobs available year round. Applying to institutions directly tends to be the best option.

Many search for teachers by advertising a position on a site such as craigslist, so scouting around the internet can easily find you some teaching opportunities. Private schools and universities will be more anxious to find a native teacher before term time beginners (with an academic year typically March – Dec). They search for teachers through organizations such as British Council or by posting ads on CELTA / TEFL websites.


It is possible to be hired by a private language company with only the skill of being a native speaker. Many of their clients seek conversation classes to practice so previous teaching experience is not necessary. However, for the higher paid jobs and private school / university position, it is beneficial and sometimes essential to have a CELTA or TEFL qualification.

Need to Know

Salary & Cost of Living:

It varies greatly. An average Chilean teacher in a public school will work long hours and not save much money, but as a foreign teacher you can be expected to earn more. Private companies can earn you slightly more, yet as they are mostly part time contracts, you should expect to juggle numerous classes in several different companies to save.

Sometimes this can have you traveling around the city which leads to a lot of unpaid commuting time and can be extremely exhausting. The most secure position is to have a full time contract in a private school or university, where you can earn a decent salary and enjoy long holiday breaks.

If you have been hired from home, or work within a more prestigious company, a company may offer to pay flights, visa and contribute to your monthly rent. In this case, you are definitely likely to save and be in a comfortable position in Santiago. In full time positions, tax will be deducted for pension funds and health care. If you do not plan to stay in Chile and are prepared to fill out a lot of paper work, the pension fund can be refunded, meaning that the tax deduction is a relatively small percentage of your wage.

Rent is generally cheaper than the west– you can live in the heart of the city center for cheap, while more remote areas are more expensive. Eating out and drinking in certain areas are also quite affordable (there are, of course, areas which are not). A dinner can be between 5000 – 15000 CLP depending on the place, and alcoholic drinks cost an average of 2000CLP.

A foreign language teacher can expect to pay from 4000-6000 CLP (rent included) depending on their activities – restaurants, weekend trips and nights out are all affordable, but in order to save money, budgeting on a teacher salary is necessary.

The cost of living in Chile is generally high - it is one of the most expensive countries in South America, yet it is also one of the safest.

Classroom and Work Culture

As can be the problem with youths all over the world, it is sometimes a struggle to motivate students to enjoy and practice English with discipline and patience. However, there are many young Chileans devote time to master the language with hard work - mostly students who express a desire to travel.

For adult teaching, sometimes teaching specific companies can be trying, as grammatical rules and phonetic pronunciation can be difficult to teach to professionals who feel they do not need the language.

However, most Chileans studying English want to learn the language and enjoy practicing. It is a hard working culture and many sacrifice their free time to devote hours of studying and attending classes to achieve a higher level of English. Personally, it has been a joy to teach a culture so interested in learning my language.

Contributed by Charis McGowan

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