TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Brazil was the only place prior to this trip.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
In the 2010-2011 school year, I met a girl who was a Brazilian exchange student in my city (Allegan). She and I began dating for 7 months while she was here. She had to leave in June of 2011, but my family decided to host her cousin for the 2011-2012 school year.
It also just so happened that some family friends of ours wanted to host her brother too. So, for the 2011-2012 school year, both her cousin and her brother were close to me. Her and I were separated for 6 months, but I went and visited her in São João del Rei for 3 weeks during Christmas break.
When I left, we ended the relationship due to distance. But now her cousin and her brother were like younger brothers to me. So, when they left in June 2012, I knew I had to go back and visit again. I visited for 6 weeks in July and August of 2012 and stayed in my exchange student's house. While I was there, I made contact with an immersion language school and began practicing. I had a guaranteed job. I came back to the U.S. and during that time I just worked and saved money, as well as took the TEFL course. So, eventually I arrived back in Brazil on January 25, 2013 to stay in my exchange student's house again. It's nice living with a family who can support you while still being able to work!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Transportation and whether or not I would work enough hours to pay the bills.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
They were all slightly worried but supportive overall. It helped that I had already visited the city I would teach two times before.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
Even though I had a guaranteed job, I still wanted to get certified in case new opportunities arose in the future. I figured most schools may require certified teachers. I chose International TEFL Academy because I saw student testimonial videos, fair prices, and everything about the website just seemed more legitimate than other websites.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
How did you like the course?
I liked the TEFL course a lot. It was just like other online courses I took in college with the Moodle system. My teacher always answered questions promptly when I emailed her. The practicum (student teaching) was easy to coordinate. Even if you are from a small town, it's pretty easy to find nearby locations where you can help teach English as a second language.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
The thing it helped me with most was teaching me about the English language. We all already know how to speak it, but that doesn't always mean it's easy to teach someone else who doesn't speak it.
TEACHING ABROAD IN SAO JOAO DEL REI, BRAZIL
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I am teaching English in São João del Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil because I already have a "family" there.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
As of right now, I've been here for 2 months and plan to stay for 6. I'll likely come back in the future.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
By taking the initiative and going to Brazil to meet with schools face to face.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Ceal Express Total Immersion. By the way, they also teach expats Portuguese!
How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
In Brazil, they only give work visas to "professional" jobs such as engineers, business workers, University Professors, etc. But working under the table is easy. A lot of schools love having native speakers. There's more opportunities in big cities, but people in smaller cities like mine are more appreciative of native speakers because they don't encounter them as often. It's also easy to establish yourself as a private teacher.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
My work hours per week are less than most because I can afford it (I'm living with a family). I work at an Immersion School which is where the students stay at the school and sleep at the school for 3, 5, 7, or 10 days speaking only English. They are business professionals who want to improve their English before they travel for business purposes. Since the school gets students based on appointments, I don't work every day.
However, if I wanted to get a job where I worked full-time I would make enough money to get by. Don't count on saving a lot of money or anything but this is an experience of a lifetime that money can't buy.
How many people can say they got to stay in Brazil for 6 months and the only thing it cost them was a plane ticket?
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I live with my former exchange student and his dad. It makes my life a lot easier that I already have a family to stay with! Who knows, if you already had an exchange student or you make good friends while you're abroad, you can be lucky enough to be in a situation like me too.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Culture - There's always differences in every culture. You just have to have an open mind and
remember you're there to learn other cultures, not to continue living your old life.
Transportation - Public transportation is way better than small town U.S.A. I can't speak for big cities in the U.S. but my small town in the U.S. doesn't even have a bus station. Here, I can take a bus and go just about anywhere I want in the country.
Nightlife -There's plenty of bars and/or clubs within walking distance of anywhere you stay in any city.
Social Activities -They have many concerts and organized, private parties to go to.
Food -The food is good. The home-cooked meals are really similar to the home-cooked meals in the U.S. The biggest difference is the taste of convenient foods like hamburgers and pizza.
Dating Scene - If you go out to a bar, a club, a concert, etc. you will find many girls (or guys). There's a great opportunity for dating. Especially once they find out you're a gringo or gringa with blonde hair and blue/green eyes!
Travel Opportunities -There's a lot of opportunities to travel because of their nice bus system. I've been to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and a small tourist beat city in the state of Espirito Santos.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Since I live with a family, the only real expense i can give you is my cell phone bill. I pay 36 reais (18 dollars) per month. Cheap, right? With that plan I get unlimited texting and calling to other people who have the same company as me, as well as 36 credits of texting/talking to numbers on other companies. I also have unlimited internet/data. The best thing is that everyone uses whatsapp or facebook messenger so, even if they don't have the same company as you, you can still communicate that way.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I'm living comfortably. I don't have a car, but I can easily walk wherever I need to go.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I remember reading on the International TEFL Academy website that you need to earn about $1,200-$1,400 per month which is easy to do if you work at a school that you can work every day. Plus giving private lessons will help too (which it's common to make double the hoursly wage).
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN BRAZIL
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
If you're planning to teach in Brazil, don't be afraid to go there without a guaranteed job. It never hurts to make contact with school before you go, but schools here are likely going to want to meet you face-to-face before they hire you. Once you get here, there's so many schools you can talk to. It's a sure thing that you'll find a job somewhere. Plus International TEFL Academy's job search guidance will be a great help!