I get asked this question a lot by foreigners wanting to make it in Brazil “how do I get into an English school??””
Today, in part 5 of the “Teaching English in Brazil” series, I will show you what needs to happen in order to find an English school to teach in!
Like I’ve mentioned in the previous parts of this series, teaching English is probably one of the best and most lucrative options for foreigners that live in Brazil.
Here’s a little recap for ya: in part 1, I covered the different scenarios you would want to consider for teaching English in Brazil, in part 2 I covered the qualifications to get you started, and part 4 were all about how to get you a website up and running so that you can make money by teaching English online, whether abroad or in Brazil.
If you chose Scenario 1 – Work for an English school on their payroll or Scenario 2 – Work for an English school as a “private teacher” from part 1, then this is the guide for you!
1. Finding an English Teaching School
The first step in finding a suitable English teaching school, is to obviously figure out where you would imagine yourself teaching via research, your network and other means.
What city could you see yourself teaching English in?
Maybe you have never been to Brazil before and have a romantic idea of moving to Rio and easily getting a job at an English school there and living large. Well, the truth is that many have had that same romantic idea and the English teaching schools have a huge list of foreigners wanting to get in.
If you are set on moving to a particular well known city which has tons of foreigners, then by all means don’t let me stop you, I just want it to remain clear that it will be much more difficult for you to get a job unless you are really well connected.
I have figured out an unconventional method that will get you a job pretty easy, ever heard of a city called ? I didn’t think so and neither have most other foreigners out there! But it is a wonderful city tucked into the state of Paraná and also coined by in July 2008 (a large and well known Brazilian Magazine) as “Brazil’s safest city” – comparing its crime levels with Amsterdam’s.
I know from personal experience that it is really easy to find a position in a school in these more rural or lesser-known cities. As a matter of fact, if you walk into one of these schools, you quite often get offered a job teaching English there – I have personally turned down MANY offers!
So really do your homework and don’t just concentrate on well known touristy cities, the market for native or near native teachers is huge – ALL over Brazil!
Find some English schools on the internet. Remember that these schools are on Google Brazil’s search engine as they are geared towards Brazilians wanting to learn English and not Foreigners wanting to find English schools.
Here are a couple sites to get you started:
- Go to and search for “escola de ingles” + the city you want to find a school in, then use translate.google.com to figure out what it says.
Who do you know that can get you a job teaching English?
If you have connections
If you have a lot of friends, family and aquantances, then you should be using this network and asking around a lot! Don’t be afraid to use the people you know, Brazil is all about “who” you know and not so much “what” you know.
Somebody always knows someone who then knows someone, who can get you a job.
If you don’t have connections
If you are not well connected, then don’t worry. There are tons of places where foreign English teachers congregate on the internet that can help you.
Here is a list of a few places that I would recommend checking out:
- The TEFL course (They give you tons of connections and resources when you sign up)
- ESL forums
Build relationships with these people and don’t be afraid to lean on them. You can also get most of your questions answered and put into perspective. I have always found TESOL teachers to be very passionate about what they do and very interested in helping other foreigners.
2. Establishing Contact with the English Teaching School
Once you have prospected around and found an area(s) you would consider teaching English in, you will need to become very proactive to find a place.
This will require that you call around and e-mail a lot. People in Brazil are much more flakey and non-responsive then in colder countries, this is very normal and just requires that you become extra proactive.
Do not feel rejected or that they don’t care about you just because you don’t get a response right away, followup!
Calling and testing the waters
Find the contact information of several English schools you would consider working at and see if they have a direct number/e-mail for the owner or director.
The next step is to give them a call. I recommend calling over e-mailing because it is much more personal and much easier to establish contact – and since calling around in Brazil is fairly pricey (very if on mobile), it shows seriousness and commitment.
If you are abroad, I always recommend using a VOIP program like , or the like, you can call for almost nothing.
If you call the main contact number of the school, be aware that the person answering may only speak Portuguese as the employee may be working as a secretary and not a teacher. If that is the case, then ask “Olá, eu nao falo Portugués, tem alguem que fala Inglés ai?” (Hello, I don’t speak Portuguese, is there anyone there that speaks English?).
When you get someone on the line that you can understand and can understand you, don’t waste too much time but tell them basically “Hi, my name is Kevin and I would like to talk to your owner or director”. If they ask why, then just tell them that it’s about a possible future opportunity or something.
This is because you want to be careful not to give the employee a feeling of too much power – many Brazilians jump on any opportunity they can to make “big boss” decisions when they shouldn’t.
What to say when you get the boss
Be aware that despite the fact that you are contacting the boss of an English school, many times their English sucks! They are in many cases business people and nothing more, not necessarily the embodiment of their target group.
So when you get the boss on the line, you want to be very convincing and insistent – this is the Brazilian way. If you have a friend or connection that referred the school to you, mention this!
I.E. “a buddy of mine named Kevin told me about this school and that you may be looking for a native/near native English speaking teacher. I just wanted to assure you that I am willing to do anything I can to work for you and do a wonderful job. Are you looking to employ any full time or private teachers?”
Remember that having a native/near native teacher at an English school makes it very attractive for their customers or possible customers, this gives them a competitive edge over other schools.
If the owner/director tells you that they aren’t looking for any teachers at the time, then be insistent, don’t give up yet and ask “are you currently offering private lessons with native/near native speakers to your current students?”
A private teacher is a good money maker for them, it means that you are basically freelance for them and give classes according to the students schedule instead of the school schedule. This is where many schools want a native teacher as it gives their students the opportunity in a 1-1 or small group setting to become conversationally fluent.
This could start a dialogue about the possibility of you expanding their business if they aren’t currently offering this type of service.
I would also test the waters to see if they have had a foreigner teach at the school before or not, an already blazed trail is an easier trail to follow again (for you and the school).
If everything goes well and the answer sounds positive then agree to talk again at another time more about it. Remember that in Brazil, a yes isn’t always a yes! It becomes a yes when the owner/director starts talking about what they can do to help make it happen.
Remember to keep following up with him/her, if they say that they will get back with you and don’t, call again after a few days.
3. Closing the Deal and Getting the Job
If the owner/director has given the ok to give you a job then there are a few VERY important things you want to consider.
You are “required” to have a relevant when working in Brazil but I don’t think I have ever met an English teacher that did.
Getting a working Visa is a very lengthy, bureaucratic and expensive process for a school. So if you demand this of the school, odds are that they will turn you down as they don’t want to have to gamble this much time and money on someone who may or may not pan out – you haven’t proven yourself to them yet.
I in no way advocate working illegal but most people come on a 3 month Tourist Visa, renew it for another 3 months and just work on this. The schools generally don’t care about your visa status as it’s your problem, they will just cut you a check/give you cash at the end of each month.
After the visa is over, you can
- Pay 8 reais per day for overstaying (it maxes out around 800 reais) with no future backlash
- Arrange to get a work visa later on with the school (after proving yourself – you will have to leave the country)
- Get married to a Brazilian or have a baby in Brazil (guarantee you residence right away without having to leave – what I did)
- Leave the country and arrange for another type of a Visa to come back
Make sure you are very clear with the school about what you will do, how many hours per week you will work guaranteed and how long they will guarantee you the position to start.
Just remember that if you are living abroad and are going to try out the English school, you wont want to move from everything you know or have to have the English school not need you after a month.
The people I know or have read about, agree to show up at their own expense as long as the English school provides a written contract or the like. In other words, don’t take their word for it! Have them draw up a contract and have it notarized and then sent to you.
Make sure that you negotiate your salary appropriately. Normally natives/near natives get paid higher then Brazilian teachers as they are more in demand and more lucrative for the school to have.
If you are unsure about what salary to expect, then do some research prior to negotiating it. (I gave a brief introduction about what to expect in part 1 of this series).
Be aware that English schools in the more rural or less known parts of Brazil will pay less then ones in larger cities. This is due to the huge difference in cost of living.
Also be aware that the salary for giving private lessons at an English school will be higher than your per hour salary for giving classes but this is due to the fact that you have to allow more time for lesson planning, transportation, meals, cancels etc. If you live or are considering living in a large city, then you definitely want to research how long it would take you to get to the school from where you live or will live.
Finding a Place to Live
Brazilians are very warm and welcoming in general and this is usually no different for the boss of the English school. They will normally be more than happy to help you out in finding a place to stay (maybe even let you stay at their place for a while) while there.
Be aware that renting a place in Brazil is much different then abroad, they usually require references, co-signers, proof of address, a deposit etc. So you will want help with this.
It seems like the more I write in this post, the more I feel like writing more. There is so much to know and share but don’t worry as I will continue to cover more and more aspects related to teaching English in Brazil.
I really do hope that you have found this part of the series very helpful in many ways if you are looking to be employed by an English school.
Don’t be shy, if you have experiences or info to share regarding this subject, then write it below in the comments field. Let’s help each other out!
Cheers – valeu, like and share this!