Located on the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. Its natural beauty is world-renowned, but this vibrant nation boasts a rich culture of national dances, music, and delicious foods.
As a popular tourist destination, the Dominican Republic has seen an increase in English speakers. Teachers are needed, especially in poorer towns, as inequality between the urban and rural areas increases. Who could pass up a stay in this sunny, cheerful nation!
Many international schools follow an American curriculum, like the Saint Joseph School. Others follow a bilingual or American-Dominican educational system, such as Las Terrenas International School. Primarily teachers are needed for elementary-aged children, learning beginner’s English.
ESL teachers are needed in low-income areas, as volunteers for primarily young students. These programs do not look solely for TEFL certification, but rather prior experience working with children and/or some knowledge of Spanish to help in the classroom. In addition, there are short-term opportunities to volunteers in summer camps, teaching not only English, but art, sports, or music for example.
The Ministry of Higher Education actively seeks English teachers for university-aged students at immersion schools. Many of these students have zero to little background in English language education. In addition to teaching ESL, teachers would help instruct a bit of computer literacy (i.e. basic computer competency).
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
International schools are primarily located in the larger cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago. Though, volunteer programs are widespread in rural and low-income areas. These programs hire year-round.
Most schools and programs require some sort of teaching certification in order for instructors to teach English. However, if you are volunteering at a school or summer camp that offers arts or music classes, then you are not required to have TEFL/TESOL certification.
Salary & Cost of Living:
Volunteer teachers may receive a stipend of around $200-400/month, or expect around 200-400 Dominican Pesos per classroom hour (about $4-10/hour).
Aside from rent, cost of living in the Dominican Republic is quite affordable. If you eat locally, you will be able to save part of your stipend. Many people do not spend money on activities (e.g. movies, attractions), but prefer to use their free time to see friends and family. Keep in mind that imported items, such as clothing and gas, tend to be expensive.
Classroom & Work Culture:
Some knowledge of Spanish might help in the classroom. Although, you may develop a slight Dominican accent! In addition, avoid speaking about Haiti. Even though conditions between the two nations have improved, it remains a touchy subject given the two countries’ turbulent history and recent issues of illegal immigration (from Haiti to the D.R.).