What if you could teach English in a country that was practically at your doorstep? If you are a native of the U.S. or Canada, consider teaching English in Mexico, where the city of Guadalajara is a terrific option.
The capital city of the Mexican state of Jalisco is a vibrant cultural center of Mexico, considered to be the home of mariachi music. Located between vibrant Mexico City and the Pacific Coast, it’s a convenient location for teachers who want to travel around Mexico in their spare time.
Because of the thriving tourism, commerce, and information technology industries located here, there are many opportunities to teach business English here. Let this guide to Guadalajara help you begin your journey to an exotic country that is much closer than you think!
Photo credit: Belis@rio.
For teachers in various subjects besides English, there is always the opportunity to teach in international schools. International schools follow Western curricula and accreditation from Europe, Australia, Canada, or the U.S. Most of the time, they require their teachers to have professional credentials from their home country and classroom experience. Sometimes, if they really need teachers, they may waive those requirements at their own discretion. The only U.S.-accredited school in Guadalajara is The American School Foundation of Guadalajara.
There are diverse types of public and private schools in Guadalajara, and they all have different ranges of expectations for their teachers. Some expect their teachers to have formal qualifications and classroom experience, while others only require a TEFL certification. You may also teach other subjects in English. The Go Overseas Mexico guide states that elementary school hours are from 7 am until 2 pm, and the jobs are usually stable, if not always very high-paying.
There are several branches of language academies in Guadalajara, such as Berlitz, North American Language Center, and Harmon Hall. They offer classes for children and adults. Working hours are not always stable; an example of a schedule could be 7 to 8 am and then 5-9 pm on the weekdays, and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. If you prove yourself a good worker and committed to the language academy, you could get more hours and classes.
Business and Corporate Classes
Because of the large tourism and commerce industry and the thriving information technology sector in Guadalajara, there is a high demand for English teachers to teach business and corporate classes. The hourly salaries are very high, and English teachers can enjoy networking opportunities. However, the hours are not very stable, as the teacher has to be able to accommodate a businessperson’s schedule. Classes most likely will be offered before work or after work.
Some English teachers also their services as private English tutors to supplement their incomes. English tutors can charge anywhere between US$6.50 and US$13 an hour for their lessons. Be honest with the school that is employing you if you are planning to take on private students, and respect their wishes if they would prefer you not tutor. The school could very well cancel your visa.
If you are more interested in giving something back without expecting money in return, or if you want a shorter commitment, you may consider volunteer teaching. Teachers can teach in local schools, universities, or community centers, wherever the need is greatest. As a volunteer, you may stay with host families or other volunteers in shared accommodations.
When and Where to Look for Jobs
Teaching jobs in Guadalajara are available year-round. If you want to teach in a Mexican school, the best hiring times are August and September. Because Mexicans prefer meeting prospective candidates in person, it is advised by several sources to travel to Mexico and apply directly. For many U.S. and Canadian teachers, it is easy to do so! You can bring your resume, dress to impress your future employers, and go to the school you are interested in. If you are unable to travel to Mexico, you can still apply and make inquiries online.
You can visit the school websites and you can also visit the newspapers in Mexico to inquire for positions. One popular English-language newspaper based in Guadalajara is The Guadalajara Reporter. If you are taking TEFL certification in Guadalajara, such as through International Teacher Training Organization (ITTO), there are job placement opportunities through them.
Schools in Guadalajara have a wide range of qualifications. Some of them require a bachelor’s degree, as well as professional teaching credentials and classroom experience. Some only require a TEFL certification, and others do not. It is best to do your research on the school of your choice and ask questions. They also want teachers who are willing to make the commitment to stay at the school long-term, at least a year.
For visas, Americans do not require a visa for a stay up to 180 days. Check out Mexperience for more information about living and getting a visa in Mexico.
Salary & Cost of Living
Compared to other teaching destinations such as the Asian countries, teaching in Guadalajara is not a very high-paying venture. On average, teaching salaries in Guadalajara range from US$500 to US$800. These salaries can vary, depending on the school and the level of experience of the teacher. Make sure you ask about hourly rates, as well as other benefits the school may or may not provide, such as accommodations, airfare, and health insurance.
While salaries are low, the cost of living is generally lower. Some schools will offer free accommodation, but most of the time teachers are on their own. Fortunately, there is a wide range of accommodations available in Guadalajara, and rent can range from US$182 to US$617, depending on apartment size and location.
In terms of food, Guadalajara is a great place to take advantage of delicious local food whether in the market or in the restaurants. It’s a good rule of thumb that if you buy local food and try to avoid “Americanized” products, you will save a lot more money!
Great guides for cost of living to research further are Expat Arrivals and Mexperience.
Classroom & Work Culture
As indicated in Go Overseas’ Teach in Mexico Guide, the Mexican workplace structured in a vertical hierarchy, so be respectful of those individuals who are above you. If you do not know where you rank, just follow the cues of your co-workers. Mexicans usually greet each other with a handshake or a pat on the back; again, follow the cues of your co-workers. It is preferred that you wear business to business casual clothing, with well-ironed shirts. Always dress conservatively and respectfully while conducting business.
It is also important to remember that newcomers in Mexico are expected to be punctual. However, don’t be surprised if your boss, co-workers, or students show up at least a half hour later than expected. Mexicans do prefer to meet in person above communicating via email or telephone. It may also be helpful for you to brush up on some Spanish; teachers who know some Spanish can establish better rapport with their students and are able to network and market themselves more effectively.