Earn a Living as an English Teacher in Latin America

The bright Andean sun is bursting through the cloud cover and slowly breathing fresh life into this bustling mountainous region. The waitress smiles pleasantly as she pours me sticky, black Peruvian coffee. I pause for a second and savor the aroma before taking a big gulp and wash down the pastry that I’ve just eaten.

I’m in Cusco, Peru, the historic and spiritual heart of the Inca Empire and a designated World Heritage Site.

I glance up from my table as a young artist introduces himself as the next Pablo Picasso.

The young boy has an infectious smile. A mop of thick, jet-black hair hangs down onto his face as he shuffles through his many paintings and giggles nervously. “This one is a view of the mountains and this one is a portrait of a local artisan.”

I invite young Pablo to breakfast and as he begins to tuck into this hearty delight of pastries and coffee, a plan slowly starts to form in my mind.

I’ve been traveling around Latin America for 10 years now, using my teaching English skills to fund my life. I’ve taught in schools and academies but I mainly aim for private classes. This allows me to have as much free time as possible to explore the region while also providing me with a great income.

I’ve learned that this can be as easy as chatting to a friendly local like Pablo. When I tell him that I am an English teacher and want to stay in Cusco for three months, he beams back a big smile and informs me that, “My older sister really needs to learn English and she works for a travel company which struggles to find English-speaking guides.”

Two paying jobs just for breakfast…that’s not a bad deal!

Before the day was out Pablo had introduced me to his family. He also took me to the travel company where I secured three clients who wanted to learn English. I visited the tour operators along that same street and promised to teach eight more people for $5 an hour. Doesn’t sound much but teach three people in one class and that’s $15 an hour. Let them supply the venue. It could be a local café or a back office at the tour company.

So Pablo was coming up trumps. Over the next three days he introduced me to local shop owners, taxi drivers, and hoteliers, who were all willing to pay for English classes.

And that’s how I do it. By the end of week one, I had enough clients to pay for my accommodation. By the end of week two, I was struggling to find enough time in the day to cope with all the demand.

You see, it’s essential that people who rely on their income from tourists can speak English. It’s just one of the things you need to be aware of to make an income like this. When you know what you’re doing, it can be as simple as just taking a trip like the one above. It can be for three months or maybe a lifetime…who knows!


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