By Rebecca Sigler
My inspiration to get certified through ITA came from a friend, Julia, who moved to Thailand after getting her certification. She would upload snapchats of herself teaching a classroom of 7 year old boys, grading papers and riding through the streets of Bangkok on the back of motorbike. Fascinated by her bravery and tempted by the thrill of adventure, I decided to take the plunge and uproot my life to go teach English in a foreign country. But as someone who’d never even babysat before, the thought of being in charge of a whole classroom full of grade-school aged kids TERRIFIED me. Thankfully, not all EFL markets are created equal and I was able to find the perfect place for me in the English teaching world.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, called my name. While searching for where to begin my English teaching career after ITA, it caught my attention, among other things, due to the fact that the demand mainly lies in giving one-on-one private classes to adults. This kind of job felt much more in my comfort zone, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The ITA course I took here left me fully prepared and confident, and all the while I was able to get my feet wet living in a new city.
Fast forward to two and a half years later, and I’m still very much in love with my life here. I give private classes (clases particulares) in my studio apartment in the beautiful neighborhood of Recoleta. Classes are usually one-on-one, but I’ve also given group and online classes. I charge the equivalent of about $10 an hour and have an average of 20 hours of class time per week. What I love about my job is that the structure is very laid back, and many students are just looking to practice conversation and have someone correct their mistakes. Giving private classes also has some awesome advantages: you’re your own boss! That means you set your own hours, prices and can go on vacation whenever you want to. The downsides include not having a set income due to cancellations, and potentially having to do a lot of traveling between classes. Thankfully, though, English is in high demand, and being a native speaker and certified through ITA will definitely give you an edge. You can find students through online forums/websites, word of mouth or going to weekly language exchange events such as Mate Club, Spanglish or Mundolingo. The aforementioned are an amazing way to meet new people and make friends from around the world as well!
Okay, so let’s talk about the “i” word. Yes, I’m talking about inflation, and it’s an issue here in Argentina. Last year, the yearly inflation rate reached 47%, and the dollar to peso ratio changes daily. When I arrived at the beginning of 2017, I decided to memorize conversion rates to check how much I was spending. At that point, 100 pesos was worth $6. As of right now, the peso has devalued to $2.20. The constantly changing economy can seem very confusing, and it takes quite a while to get used to, but living in Buenos Aires is all about being adaptable. If you have private students, a smart way to avoid awkward conversations is to show them your price augmentation schedule for the rest of the year. I currently have contracts where my hourly price raises 25 pesos every three months. Also, it’s a good idea to have a cancelation policy where any classes that are cancelled on the same day must be paid for; this weeds out flaky people and guarantees you won’t be left high and dry.
Okay, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows here, but don’t let any of that scare you! The experiences that Buenos Aires brings you are absolutely one-of-a-kind. There’s an abundance of art and culture, amazing nightlife, great food and the people here are the most warm and friendly you will ever meet. Its large community of expats will make you feel right at home, and there are plenty of other English teachers that you’ll be able to share ideas with and gain some mutual support.
All in all, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love in such an incredible place. Yes, I’m teaching, but I’m also learning and gaining valuable experiences every step of the way. I’m thankful to ITA for starting me out right and would highly recommend anyone else do the same. So, what are you waiting for? A life changing experience could be right around the corner!
Rebecca Sigler is 31 and originally from NJ, USA. She moved to Buenos Aires in 2017 to teach English and has fallen in love with the city and her new life.