By Dorien Boxhoorn, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Every year people from all over the world come to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa, many of whom try to either stay or come back looking for work, and often find it as an English-language teacher. Now more than ever, with the emerging Oil economy, 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics on the horizon, there is a demand for Brazilians to learn English.
For many native English speakers, this means an opportunity to find work in Brazil. Job-hunting can be daunting for newcomers, but for those willing to navigate the system, the pay can be enough to squeak by in this recently very expensive city.
David Hielkema, who is traveling around the world and initially came to Rio with the intention of staying for just one week, ended up staying five months by earning extra money teaching. Hielkema describes: “Teaching in the beginning was a whole new experience for me. There is a lot to learn when you stand in front of a class, but the satisfaction is there when you see improvement in your students.”
Hielkema offers some advice on how to search for a job in Rio: “Talk to people, don’t be scared to get rejected. If you want to work you have to go to the schools, take initiative. I think this is the way it works all around the world, but especially in Brazil.”
Some schools require TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) certifications before you can start as a teacher. Other schools provide in-house training for newcomers.
Some of the major schools in Rio at the moment are Brasas, Cultura Inglesa, WiseUp, CAN and Brittania. Sources indicate new teachers should expect to be paid between R$20 and R$30 per hour to start.
In addition to working at an established school, many move on to teach independently. As a private teacher some are paid significantly more, an average of R$45 to R$55 per hour, and sometimes as high as R$120. Many teachers start of at a school and slowly transition to private lessons, as it takes time to establish a student base.
For many, the biggest consideration is obtaining a work visa, which is also referred to as VITEM-V. The easiest way to obtain a work visa is to be hired by a company that is willing to take care of the visa process, which is by no means easy.
For some it works out though, and short of working for a large multinational company, teaching English remains one of the most accessible means of making a living in Rio.
Dan Markham, who has worked in Rio for the last two years, shares: “I loved teaching English in Rio. The [Brittania] school, the other teachers and staff and the students were fantastic. The relaxed and fun Carioca attitude made coming to work a pleasure.”
However, there are pitfalls to watch out for, and unfortunately Markham has ended up in a very frustrating position just as he made plans to leave the school. In essence, thousands of reais in back-pay have been withheld with little legal recourse.
Markham explains, “The school is now fining me R$7,000 for a breach of contract which I strongly dispute as well as withholding R$3,000 of miscalculated deductions.”
He continues, “Make sure you are aware of the detailed terms of any contract you may have and what the exact terms are should you wish to leave.”