Dana Sibilsky's Three Tips for Teaching ESL in Mexico
Teaching English to students in Mexico was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and though it may sound cliché, I truly feel as though I learned as much -- or more -- from my students and my experience as my students learned from me during my time teaching ESL. The expatriate lifestyle in Mexico was absolutely wonderful, and I was consistently impressed by how passionate my students were throughout each and every class session.
For those who are considering spending some time in Mexico or are preparing to move there full-time to teach English as a second language, there are a few tips that I feel can be helpful. With a bit of planning and preparation, the process of becoming a teacher in Mexico is not all that difficult, and there are some very easy steps to take to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible. When preparing to move to a new country for any period of time, there is a going to be lot to consider, so the following three tips should ease the transition greatly:
• Obtain a TEFL or TESOL Certificate
• Prepare for Economic Differences
• Research Mexico’s Culture and History
There will surely be times when the process seems daunting, but the hurdles are relatively easy to clear and the experience of teaching ESL in Mexico is entirely worthwhile.
Obtain a TEFL or TESOL Certificate
The first step to teaching ESL in Mexico is to obtain a certification to do so. There are two widely accepted certificates held by those who teach English as a second language that make finding a position a much simpler process:
These certificates, when held in conjunction with an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, are extremely helpful in securing a teaching position in Mexico. Personally, I found that having a certificate that read, “Dana Sibilsky, TESOL Certified,” further legitimized my resume and helped to ensure that I had access to many solid teaching opportunities.
These certificates are not always necessary, and it is indeed possible to find teaching jobs that do not require a TEFL or TESOL certificate, but the certification process is extraordinarily helpful as a preparatory step and will provide access to a much wider range of employment options once completed.
Prepare for Economic Differences
A teaching salary in Mexico will provide more than enough to live a nice, modest lifestyle, but it is difficult to find a teaching position in Mexico that is as lucrative as the salaries available in other countries. Prospective teachers should understand this well and be prepared to commit to living a modest lifestyle while teaching in Mexico, as they may not have access to or be able to afford some of the luxuries they may have otherwise become accustomed to.
Of course, this does not mean that teachers do not enjoy the lifestyle they adopt while in Mexico, as there are many clear benefits to living as an expatriate while teaching in Mexico. The atmosphere is very laid-back, the people are incredibly friendly and the work is exceptionally rewarding. I did not earn as much teaching in Mexico as I have elsewhere, but I felt much more at ease and found myself with much more time to enjoy the arts and culture of the country while I was there.
Research Mexico’s Heritage and Prepare to Adapt
Mexico has a rich culture and heritage, and it is worth researching independent of any plans to spend extended time in the country. For teachers who do intend on living in Mexico while teaching English as a second language, there are tremendous advantages that come with being familiar with the culture and history of Mexico. The experience of living in Mexico will be all the more meaningful when experienced in the context of the art, history and culture of the country, and the students and locals will appreciate a teacher who is interested in learning about all the things that shape their unique cultural identity.
The opportunity to teach English as a second language in Mexico is one that should not be passed up. Those who are interested in such an opportunity should understand that their preparations go far beyond getting ready for a new job, as teaching in Mexico is an incredibly rewarding and valuable life experience that should not be taken for granted.
Dana Sibilsky has traveled the world, met a lot of people, seen wonders of the world, but nothing prepared her for the joy that became her passion: teaching Mexican kids to read and write in English. Dana has traveled with Erik Pitoniak and her best friend Jody Rookstool of Rookstool Travel. Dana Sibilsky can be reached on LinkedIn or her business website http://northgeorgiapsychiatry.com/
Photo: Colorful boats in Lake Xochimilco, Mexico. Wikimedia Commons: Jlrsousa