Are you thinking about teaching English in Mexico? You’re not alone!
From a cultural standpoint, Mexico has it all. Cities like Guadalajara, Queretaro, and Mexico City overflow with art museums, world-class restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Towns like Merida, Oaxaca, and San Cristobol combine incredible colonial architecture with a rich, indigenous background.
If that’s not enough, Mexico has some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Who hasn’t dreamed of spending their weekends swinging in a hammock on a sunny beach in Mexico? For me, it’s not just a dream. I’ve been living on the coast of Oaxaca for more than 11 years. I teach English lessons part-time to supplement my income.
While it’s only a part-time gig for me, I have tons of friends who teach full-time. Some stay a year or two before going off to explore other parts of the world. (They always come back. Even if it’s just for a visit.) Other friends loved Mexico so much that they couldn’t leave. They’ve established rewarding, lifelong English teaching careers on the beautiful Mexican coast.
Rent, food, and transportation are super cheap in Mexico. English teachers can easily earn enough to live a comfortable lifestyle. You can too!
Let’s look at some of the exciting ways a TEFL-certified instructor can make money teaching English in Mexico.
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How to Teach English in Mexico: Schools and Private Lessons
1. Private Schools
This is by far the quickest route to full-time employment in Mexico. Private schools are always looking for qualified English teachers.
Private business schools offer excellent pay. You’ll teach small classes of highly-motivated adult students. Classes take place in the evenings or split shifts from 7-9 a.m. and from 5-9 p.m. Most schools give you a long 3 or 4-hour lunch break. That’s perfect for a museum visit or lunch on the beach.
Are you more interested in teaching children? Public grammar schools generally hire within their unions, so they’re not normally available to foreigners. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of private grammar schools in Mexico. Many are founded by ex-pat parents who are looking for alternatives to the Mexican public school system. Private grammar schools are great places to meet new English-speaking friends and expand your social circle.
Private schools are ideal for students taking a gap year. Many schools don’t require a bachelor’s degree. However, you will need a TEFL certification and a working Visa. GlobalU offers the best solution for both of those requirements. Plus, graduates of the Mexico TEFL Program get guaranteed job placement and help with visa and housing arrangements.
2. Public Universities
Most of my friends who teach English here on the Oaxacan coast work at the local university. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate to teach at a Mexican university. Contracts can be as short as six months, but many teachers choose to stay longer. Teaching at a university can really make your resume shine. Getting teaching jobs in other countries will be a breeze with this credential.
Our local university offers a ton of benefits. Besides a stable salary, you’ll get health insurance, a matched-deposits retirement plan, and credits for the university dispensary. Teachers get five weeks of paid vacation. The Christmas bonus is a full month’s salary.
Are you looking for a career path? The university route is the way to go. Mexican universities typically offer tenure much more quickly than universities in the US and Europe. If you’re a good fit, you may get offered tenure in as little as a year! After six years at our local university, you’ll even get a six-month paid sabbatical to travel or just be a beach bum.
Explore our Mexico TEFL Program in Guadalajara — the heart of tequila and salsa.
3. Private Lessons
Teaching private lessons can be fun and rewarding. You can make your own schedule. You can offer personalized education to your students. And you can teach for shorter periods on a tourist visa.
Making a few extra pesos a month part-time works well for me. But, if you want to make a full-time living teaching private lessons, you’ll have to hustle to fill your schedule.
I started teaching private English lessons by accident. I was giving music lessons to local children for fun and a little extra cash. Parents eventually began asking me to teach adult English lessons. I taught for a while before I got my TEFL certification. Bad idea.
My job got so much easier after I got my TEFL. Before my certification, I spent a ridiculous amount of time planning lessons and finding resource materials. Through my TEFL certification, I developed essential skills specific to teaching English. I became more confident and was able to give my students more value for their time and money. Finishing my TEFL credentials also helped me get higher-paying private students.
4. Casas de la Cultura
Mexican Casas de la Cultura, or Houses of Culture, are organizations located near the city hall of most Mexican towns. The Houses of Culture act like community centers sponsoring local events. They offer affordable workshops in the arts, languages, sports, and other fun activities.
Mexican Houses of Culture usually work on a volunteer or low-paying, near-volunteer basis. You’re probably thinking, “I need to make a living. Why would I be interested in unpaid work?”
Teaching a couple of English classes at the Casa de la Cultura offers plenty of rewards, including:
- Access to the community: You’ll be able to attract private students and find leads about more lucrative teaching positions in your area.
- Teaching experience: Recent TEFL grads can get some hands-on experience before committing to a full-time teaching position.
- Resume-building: Your volunteer experience might be the thing that earns you a full-time dream-job teaching English in Mexico.
Plus, you’ll be invited to every quinceñera and wedding in town. Free beer, anyone?
5. Online Teaching
Online English teaching is a great way to supplement your income or earn while you’re waiting for your work visa to be processed. Online schools pay up to $25 per class and usually accommodate a flexible schedule. If you’re a recent TEFL grad, you’ll be able to build your resume before applying to local schools or universities.
Keep in mind that online teaching may not be available in remote areas due to slow internet connections.
How to Teach English in Mexico: Visas
Most teachers enter Mexico on a six-month tourist visa. After you begin teaching, the institution will help you arrange a longer visa. The school will grant you a sponsorship, but you’ll have to leave the country to begin the visa process. You can go to a consulate in your home country or apply in a neighboring country like Guatemala.
The whole process will take a few weeks. Make sure that you have enough cash to survive in the meantime. Another alternative is to teach online while you await your visa. Graduates of globalU’s in-person or online TEFL courses also get job placement assistance for online teaching jobs.
Words by Cat Winske.