I wrote an article for Brazzil Magazine
in 2001 regarding my experiences teaching English in Brazil. Since
then I have received many e-mails from native English speakers from
all parts of the world asking for more information. I`ve put this
simple site together to give some tips and general information to
anyone who is interested in teaching English in Brazil.
You can read
the original article here.
is taken from my personal experiences and is not intended to
be professional advise. I cannot be held responsible for any
actions taken by anyone as a result of the information on this page.
I also am not suggesting anyone do anything illegal.
It is illegal
to work in Brazil on a tourist visa. It is also illegal to
overstay an expired visa. Got it?
If you still
have questions, please feel free to contact me
and I will do my best to add that information to this site.
It is fairly
simple for most Westerners to get a tourist visa to visit Brazil.
You will need to contact your local Brazilian Consulate and apply
through them. I don`t know specifics but I do know that a valid
passport and a round-trip airline ticket are required as well as
a fee payable at the consulate. A tourist visa is valid for three
months and is renewable for three more months at any Federal Police
office in Brazil. A foreigner may visit Brazil for the maximum of
six (6) months out of every calender year. That means that, even
if you come and go between Argentina or any other neighboring country,
you still cannot legally stay in Brazil for more than six (6) months
out of every year.
How well does
the Brazilian government control who enters and leaves? I don`t
know but I don`t think it could possibly be compared with the United
States. If you overstay your visa you will really only have a problem
when you leave the country. You may be banned from re-entering the
country. I honestly don`t know the penalty. If you decide to live
here permanently, realize that you will not have the freedom to
come and go as you please until you have resolved your visa situation.
Can I work with
a tourist visa? No, not legally. Will anyone ever give you a problem
if you do work while on a tourist visa? No, I doubt it.
Can I change
from a tourist visa to a work visa? I believe you can. You will
need to have a sponsor first, of course.
write to me asking if I know a way for them to be sponsored for
a work visa. I have never known of an English school to offer sponsorship.
It is very expensive and complicated for a company in Brazil to
sponsor a foreigner. I do not know of any way for a person wishing
to teach English in Brazil to be sponsored while they are in a different
If you are a
professional in another area such as information technology, engineering,
etc. you may have a chance of finding a company to sponsor you but
then you would not be teaching English.
Should you wish
to stay in Brazil for an extended period of time you might find
an English school or course which would be willing to sponsor you
if you pay for the entire process. This is a possibility and one
that you will have to discuss with someone you trust once you have
been in Brazil for a while.
Sure, if you
find someone willing to marry you, the foreigner, will become a
Brazilian citizen. Of course marriage fraud is a serious offense
so be careful.
I came to Brazil
on a tourist visa in 1998. I was preparing to renew my tourist visa
for a second three-month-stay when I heard rumors that the Brazilian
government was going to give amnesty to anyone who was illegal in
the country. I went to the Federal Police in São Paulo and told
them that I wanted to renew my visa but that I also wanted to get
amnesty when it was offered. The officer who attended me said that
I should not renew my visa because if I did I would then
be legal in the country thus, unable to apply for amnesty. He recommended
I become illegal first so that I could then apply for amensty. It
hundred Reais, lots of paperwork, and about a year of waiting I
finally received my provisional citizenship which is valid for four
years. After that time I will be able to apply for Brazilian citizenship.
not offer amnesty often. They offered amnesty in 1988 and then only
again in 1998. Who knows if they will offer it again in 2008?
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Work as a Teacher
write and ask me to send them names of schools, internet web addresses,
and personal contacts so that they may set up classes before they
arrive in Brazil. As I wrote in the article for Brazzil, I recommend
you simply come to Brazil and start your search here. An English
school or course will most likely not hire you until you are here
in Brazil because:
1.) the school
or course has no guarantee that you will really come to Brazil and
stay for a sufficient period of time to merit the investment of
classes and students with you and
and students come and go very quickly. If a school needs a teacher
for a class on Monday morning they will probably start calling on
Friday evening to get that spot filled. Normally students are not
kept waiting until a professor is available.
Plus, they won`t
hire you legally so how can you trust them to hold classes for you
until you arrive?
In my experience
the best way to go is to simply arrive with a few resumes (in English)
and hit the streets. In large cities like Rio de Janeiro and São
Paulo there are many English schools and courses. Also, buy O
Globo on Sunday and check out the classifieds. You will see
lots of advertisements looking for professores de inglês.
I know it sounds
strange, to leave all of what you have behind in your native country
on the hope that you will find work here in Brazil as an English
teacher. You will. There is work here.
Once you have
been working for a course or school for a while you will start getting
private students. I have found ''word of mouth'' to be the best
advertisement. You can print up some business cards and pass them
out to your students. You could also advertise in the newspaper
or on a community bulletin board. There are plenty of Brazilians
willing to pay a native English speaker for English classes. Keep
your eyes open and give good classes. That way you will have lots
The months of
December, January, February and July are notoriously slow months.
As you can imagine Christmas, New Year`s and Carnaval steal a lot
of our students away from us. July is a vacation month for school
kids so a lot of parents take some time off as well. These months
can get rough financially and I wouldn`t suggest you start looking
for work during these months.
The best months
are March (everyone is excited to get back to the grindstone) and
August (the kids have gone back to school too.)
to Teach in Brazil
A lot of people
have asked me what I know about these organizations that you pay
to come and give class in some rural part of Brazil. I don`t know
anything about them really. I have checked out a couple of web sites
and what I noticed was that they generally do not pay well and that
their estimates of the cost of living are below what is accurate.
If you think
one of these organizations is better for you then you should definitely
utilize their services. However, I do not feel that any organization
is necessary. Just come to Brazil.
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I did not have
any experience teaching English when I first arrived in Brazil.
I couldn`t even remember what the difference was between an adverb
and an adjective or when to use the gerund form of a verb. What
was most important was the fact that I spoke English as my native
ask me if it is necessary to get a teaching certificate. I do not
think so. I always say, if you feel it will help you give better
English class then I don`t see anything wrong with it. However,
if you don`t feel it is necessary than just come without it. I have
never been asked for a certificate of any kind.
You will learn
as you go. All teacher`s editions have the answers in the back.
You too will soon remember when to use the present perfect and when
to use the past. Most of your students will probably already speak
English well. They need you to become more fluent. I always try
to stay away from beginner students because much more preparation
is required which translates into more work for the teacher.
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The editor of
Brazzil felt it best to quote
in dollars the wages I wrote about. The only problem with that is
how quickly that article became dated. As you probably know, the
exchange between the dollar and the Real change daily.
You can expect
to make between R$15 and R$20 per hour working for a course or school
and between R$25 and R$40 per hour with private students.
will probably not be able to work eight hours a day. Most students
want class early in the morning, at lunchtime, and after work. You
will also have to spend some time on buses and the subway to get
to and from each class. In my experience five to six classes per
day is about all your time will allow.
of that in mind I will tell you that I make about R$2.000,00 per
month. Now, for a common Brazilian this is not a bad salary. However,
if you are coming to Brazil with nothing and starting from scratch
it is not very much money. You will not become rich teaching English
in Brazil. That is one promise I can make. You will not be able
travel all over South America whenever you`d like on what a teacher
makes either. Heck, I have lived here for four years and I still
don`t have an air conditioner, cable television, or a microwave.
As you can see, you will earn a lot more experience than you will
we are normally only payed once a month. So, if February was a slow
month (as it usually is) you can expect March to be a ''tighten
the belt'' month. You should always work out payment with your students
or the course beforehand. Some may pay in advance but this is not
common. Some students may pay you cash after each class. Great,
but this is not common either.
You can accept
checks but make sure the student or course does not ''cross'' the
check. This means that they do not put two lines on the upper left-hand
corner of the check. Without these two lines you can
go to the student's bank branch and cash the check using your foreign
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This is of course
all relative but let me give you a general idea of what things cost
for a person living alone in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The amounts
are pretty much the same for São Paulo.
(unfurnished) - R$350 to R$400 per month
If you are
coming to live in Rio and intend to survive on what you make as
an English teacher I would suggest you check out the neighborhoods
Botafogo, Flamengo, Largo do Machado, and Gloria. These neighborhoods
are considered safe, cheap, and are close to all forms of transportation.
If you must
live in Ipanema, Copacabana, or Leblon you should have plenty
of savings as these places can be very expensive.
apartments are available on a temporary basis. The good side is
that they already come with furniture (obviously) plus a refrigerator,
stove, and maybe even a telephone. The down side is that it is
more expensive (or course) and most are located in the tourist
section of Rio. Great in the beginning but there is no subway
for all of Copacabana, nor is there a subway for Ipanema, Arpoador,
you will often have freetime between classes. By living close
to transportation you have the chance to run home and eat, watch
t.v., surf the web, whatever you`d like until your next class.
are not common in Brazil. You may find someone who is willing
to share an apartment but the custom here is to live with one`s
parents until marriage. You may find some other foreigner to live
with but…why did you move to Brazil in the first place? Not to
live with other English speakers I would imagine.
- R$150 to R$300 per month
What the heck
is a condominium charge? It is a necessary evil here in Brazil.
You would never consider living in an unguarded builiding or house.
This fee pays for the doorman and the person who cleans up the
halls, elevators, etc. Be sure to ask what this cost is when negotiating
an apartment. Just because the rent looks cheap it may come out
much more expensive because of this charge. You may find, like
I have, that what you get for what you pay for is very little.
What can you do?
charge may include water and gas. Then again, it may not. Be sure
to verify this information as well. Also see if the IPTU (a tax
by the government which the renter pays) is included. This usually
runs about R$10 per month.
- R$50 per month (no air conditioning)
Gas - R$10 per
It is getting
more and more common these days to have a telephone. The situation
has changed dramatically since privatization started in the late
1990s. When I first arrived it cost over R$1000 to buy the telephone
line. Nowadays the price has dropped quite a bit. You may even
have a good Brazilian friend who could request a free line for
you. If you live in a decent area it may only take a couple of
days to get your telephone line. If you live in the suburbs it
could take you several years to get your telephone line.
I spend around
R$300 to R$400 per month on the telephone bill. In Brazil you
are charged per ''pulse'', not per minute. What the heck is a
''pulse?'' Your guess is as good as mine. You are charged
for local calls. I spend around 70 hours per month on the internet
which runs about R$100 plus I call the United States a lot. Sometimes
there are deals for calls to the US but you can expect to pay
from between sixty centavos to one Real per minute.
If you do not know how long you intend to stay in Brazil I suggest
you buy a cellular telephone. The kind where you buy a card with
a certain amount towards calls is the best. You pay a flat fee
(R$200) and you receive your cel. phone plus your telephone number.
This way you can receive calls for free. You will only have to
pay when you want to make a phone call. It is much cheaper to
use a public telephone to make phone calls.
Stove - R$175
Head - R$30
Food - R$300
- R$400 per month
how much you spend on food is up to you. Food at the supermarket
is pretty cheap. What is expensive are prepackaged foods which
we are used to in the US. These types of products are new in Brazil
and can be quite expensive. I rarely eat out. I often have a snack
at a luncheonete which runs about R$1 to R$2.
Beer - R$1
to R$2 per can
- R$1,90 for 2 liters
Chicken breast - R$5 per kilogram
Fruits and vegetables are very cheap.
Milk - R$1 per liter
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I`ll be updating
this part of the webpage from time to time. You can see Contact
Me below to see how to send me questions or suggestions.
Just some quick
answers to more common questions:
- I recommend relaxed but business like clothes. I usually wear
slacks or a pair of nice jeans. I almost always wear a button down
shirt with a collar. I prefer long sleeves but it gets too hot sometimes
for that. You can find many options for short-sleeved dress shirts
here in Brazil. I never wear tennis shoes unless I am going to a
private student`s home and I feel comfortable doing so. Remember,
these people are paying a lot of money to have you as their teacher
so you should dress the part. I see women wearing sandals a lot.
I think the dress code for women is more relaxed. Probably summer
dresses would work well.
and Foreigners - Brazilians are great with foreigners. They
are very open people and are always interested to know why you are
here. They will love it if you do your best to learn Portuguese.
Few foreigners do so they find it compelling that you are doing
your best to learn their language as well. You will have many invitations
to barbecues, dancing, etc. Accept and see how real Brazilians live.
Do I need to speak Portuguese? No, you don`t. You won`t use Portuguese
in your classes. Sure, it helps for day to day life but as far as
teaching English it is not necessary to speak Portuguese.
- Do you miss home? Yes, very much. But I also love learning new
things and sharing new ideas. I see things that shock me, anger
me, surprise me, make me laugh, make me cry, make me dance. It`s
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Feel free to
contact me with specific questions. I have been really surprised
by the number of people who have contacted me after writing that
article. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. I will
also do my best to put those questions and answers on this webpage.
not ask me general questions like ''What is Brazil like?'' or
''I want to live in Brazil. What should I do?''
I`d love to
talk to everyone about these subjects but unfortunately there are
never enough hours in the day.
I love to debate
so feel free to contact me if you disagree with anything I`ve written.
But before you do, read the original article
and note that I do not claim to be a real teacher, I do not
presume that native speakers are better teachers than Brazilian
teachers, and I do not think it right, just, or fair that a foreigner
take a job away from a Brazilian. But…It`s Brazil!
You can write
to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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