Mexico’s vibrant cultures, beautiful landscapes and incredible food are just a few reasons why it is one of the world’s best destinations for teaching English abroad. Whether you are teaching in a major metropolitan area or small rural city, Mexico is sure to offer you a wonderful teach abroad experience.
Because of its close ties with the United States, Mexico places a great emphasis on the English language. English is commonly used to do business, so you can rest assured that there is a high demand for English language teachers in Mexico.
Teaching children at a bilingual elementary school provides a very stable schedule and income. However, elementary school teachers earn the least. Hours are generally from 7am to 2pm, and you may be required to teach particular subjects in English, rather than teaching English itself.
Additionally, because children require teaching methodology specifically targeted at their developmental level, it would be better if you had some prior experience.
Language center teaching jobs will allow you to work with both adults and children, and also provide networking opportunities. Language centers often cannot guarantee a stable schedule and income however, and a typical work schedule can be from 7 to 8am, and then again from 5-9pm on weekdays, and 8am-2pm on Saturdays.
Your workload will likely increase gradually after you gain more experience and have proven your capabilities and commitment level to the language center. The hourly salary in language centers is somewhere in between company classes and elementary schools. In Cuernavaca in 2006, language centers paid a range of 50 to 120 pesos an hour.
Teachers of company classes work with highly motivated professionals who use their new English skills in their daily work. The hourly salary is highest, and there are also great opportunities present for networking.
The schedule can be limiting and tiring however, as these classes would take place either before or after work. You will also need to invest time and money into commuting from one company to another.
Private English tutors are common in Mexico as well Information on the market rate for tuition fees is difficult to find, but is likely to not be as high as that of private language schools. The perks of being a private tutor however, is that this can be your part-time job!
When and Where to Look for Jobs
To make your search easier, first identify the city that you are most interested in living and working in, then research on existing schools in that area. Mexico City and other large metropolitan areas are the easiest places to find English teaching jobs, and are also where you are most likely to find good hours, pay and housing.
English classes are all available all year-round through Mexico. However, monthly patterns still vary across different teaching jobs. The best time to apply for jobs in language centers is August, in preparation for September.
The month leading up to the holiday month is generally a bad time to apply for language center jobs. For example, try not to apply in November in preparation for December, as people will be off on Christmas vacation.
The school year starts in the last week for August, so if you're interested in teaching in elementary, middle or high schools, you should begin your job search in July in preparation for the first semester of school, otherwise in December/January for the second school semester. Summer courses for young learners also take place in July and August, thus you can start applying for these jobs early as well.
For best results, apply for jobs in person. Bring your resume and ensure that you are well-dressed and respectful. Most schools will review your resume and contact you for an appointment if they are interesting in hiring you and have an open position.
Many schools require a bachelor’s degree, but do not require education or experience in teaching. Of course, if you have a certification in TEFL or CELTA, this would only help your application (especially since most of your “competitors” would be certified as well!).
Many schools also prefer foreigners with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences as they find social sciences graduates to be more open-minded and communicative. Additionally, you have to be willing to stay for at least a year. Professional schools will likely invest time and money into training you and doing paperwork, thus they will expect your long-term commitment.
Salary & Cost of Living
Salaries in Mexico are much lower than in the USA, but the cost of living is also lower. Salaries vary widely across and within cities, as well as different jobs. Depending on the numbers of hours you work and your location, expect to make between $400 - $1,000 USD.
Inquire at various schools to compare hourly rates, but also keep a lookout for other benefits such as transport, materials and housing.
The average cost of living in Mexico is relatively low, at an average of $300 USD per month. Some public schools provide free accommodation for TEFL teachers, but most times you will be on your own.
Naturally, the cheapest (and arguably, the best) way to live is like the locals – buy food from local produce markets and food stands, don’t splurge money on excessive home and “Americanized” luxuries, and you should be able to lead a comfortable life!
Classroom & Work Culture
Hierarchy is important in Mexican culture, and Mexican society and business are highly stratified and vertically structured. As such, always be respectful and be mindful of who is ranked above you. Things are done much differently in Mexico than in the USA, as you will find out.
Regardless of your discomfort, however, remember that you are now a foreigner in a different country and that you are expected to live by their rules and customs.
When greeting in social situations, Mexican women pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder, rather than shake hands. On the other hand, men shake hands until they know someone well. Wait until invited before using a Mexican’s first name as well.
The right connections will ensure your business success, and it is nearly impossible to change one’s first impression of you. All written material that you provide should be available in English and Spanish, and remember to be punctual (although your Mexican counterparts may be half an hour late)!
Mexicans have a high standard of dressing and expect you, as a professional, to pay close attention to your appearance as well. Wrinkly shirts are not accepted in Mexico, so make sure you iron all your clothes beforehand!