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Buenos Aires, Argentina English Teaching Q and A with Mia Spingola
Written by: Mia Spingola
Last Updated: February 19, 2021
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?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Italy (multiple trips), Spain, Mexico (multiple trips), Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Slovenia, Croatia, Montreal, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I wanted to travel after I graduated from college!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
If my knowledge of the English language was up to par with the student’s needs.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Everyone was very supportive and excited for me. A lot of friends couldn’t believe I was moving alone without a job or place to stay.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
The headquarters are based in Chicago (where I’m from). Plus, after many nights researching certification, the International TEFL Academy seemed like the best option. I’m so glad I went with this decision.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
I loved it! The setup was great in addition to the teachers and online seminars. I learned so much about the language that I forgot! I often reference the course in my classes.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I always refer back to my notes during classes for reference on grammar, examples, or ideas for activities.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Argentina in the city of Buenos Aires. I grew up with Latinos and wanted to be exposed to a Latino culture I was unfamiliar with. In addition, I was intrigued when hearing a lot of immigrants come from Italy (my first love is Italy).
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Robinson Institute of Language
During which months does your school typically hire?
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
How did you interview for this position?
What kind of Visa did you enter on?
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
A work visa in Argentina is not necessary- I stayed on a travel visa. After 3 months you simply have to leave the country or pay a fine. The fine just went up a lot this year, and any excuse to see another country was fine by me. Uruguay is a quick ferry ride and beautiful!
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
-Native English Speaker
What is the best way to apply?
Please include any application resources (website, email, etc.) or other information here:
Tus Clases Particulares, Craigslist, Facebook groups, Mundo Lingo
Tell us about your English teaching job!
HOURS: My schedule varies every week- I have anywhere between 1-4 classes per day with a day off (no weekends). I like to schedule a lot of my classes on the same day. Typically I am working anywhere between 10-20 hours per week.
PAY: I was paid 80 pesos/hr with the Institute, and charged 100/hr for my own classes.
SAVINGS: I broke even each month. If I wanted to travel, treat myself to nice meals, or go shopping I would dip into my savings. Some months I could save (after holidays), and some months I was short. Alll and all, you can live comfortably with private classes.
SCHOOL TYPE: An institute and my own private classes.
STUDENTS: (children, adult, business professional, etc.) When doing private classes, you receive a full array of students. Mainly, I taught private classes to business professionals, but also had kids, a stay at home mom, and creatives.
VACATION TIME: I took one vacation per month. Again, I pretty much made up my own schedule so making time for seeing the rest of the country is very flexible.
(Almost) EVERYONE wants to learn or improve their English. You will not have a problem finding work. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people contacting me for lessons, but I was also very ambitious and always finding new ways to receive more students.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
Craigslist - There are a ton of postings there that you will find other expats either studying or living abroad. I was hoping to live with locals, but the apartment I found was too good to pass up. I think my housing situation was the best part about my time in Argentina. Not only was the apartment beautiful and cheap, but the landlord was so helpful and I loved my roommates (I lived with 3 other people). It was very hard to leave this place.
On a scale of 1 - 10 please rate your experience with this school.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
CULTURAL ASPECTS: Tranquillo, amigo. Argentines are known for being the “Europeans of South America.” While they do have lines of European ancestry, when it comes down to it they are still Latinos. Being on time typically is about 30 minutes later than the scheduled time, and work ethic is veeeeery laid back compared to the United States. Get comfortable, grab a chair, sit back, and enjoy some mate.
The love affair I have with the culture is like the crazy ex you can’t get rid of. One day you’ll be skipping through the cobblestone streets hugging everyone, and the next cursing everything wrong about the country with fellow expats. The passion these people have for life will quickly rub off on you.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: While most people take the bus, I do whatever I can to ride the SUBTE (underground train). It’s faster and 100% more dependable. You will find that sometimes buses like to take their own route. It’s cheap and you can pretty much get anywhere in the city. Cabs aren’t too bad—just make sure they don’t somehow end up on Av. De Julio!
NIGHTLIFE: Take advantage of siesta time in the afternoon when everything is shut down. Nightlife here doesn’t begin until 2/3am, and goes until the sun rises. They are wild, and don’t need mass amounts of alcohol to do so. 1-2 fernet y colas will suffice for a good night.
SOCIAL ACTIVITIES: Where do I even begin! There are always concerts, shows, classes, activities going on. My friends and I usually referenced this page if we were looking for something to do:
FOOD: Good meat. Even better red wine. Maybe some dulce de leche and that’s all you need.
This blog covers all things about food in BA. Highly recommend giving it a look https://www.facebook.com/
EXPAT COMMUNITY: HUGE. I planned on only being friends with Argentines, but it is inevitable that some of your best friends will be other expats. Also- the French love BA!
DATING SCENE: Unfortunately it is a culture with heavy roots in infidelity. However, there is always the minority of a culture that makes it worth while! I know A LOT of people who stayed longer than they planned to because they fell in love with an Argentine.
TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES: Endless. Argentina is so huge and diverse that you don’t even have to leave the country. Patagonia, el Norte, Cordoba, Mendoza, Rosario, Iguzau Falls. Day trips to Tigre….even Uruguay is easily accessible. I was overwhelmed with all the places to see in Argentina and how diverse each part of the country is. I was so happy I came with some savings so I could experience the beauty of the country.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
(note: $1 USD = 13.15 Argentina pesos)
-Rent/utilities: 290 including utilities
-Food: Groceries 46. Eating out 50. I cook a lot, but I also like to try new restaurants and cuisine.
-Social activities: 75
-Transportation: 41, public transportation is cheap
-Phone/communication: 30- I used my phone from home in which I have an unlimited international plan. But otherwise, everyone here uses whatsapp which simply needs Wifi.
-Travel: I like to do a trip a month, which was anywhere between 50-150 depending on how I wanted to travel.
How would you describe your standard of living?
Comfortable with 1-2 “treat yourself” per month
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Teaching English is not for everyone. I met a lot of people who taught simply to live/travel abroad, but ended up not enjoying their day-to-day life of teaching. Teaching takes a lot of time, dedication, patience, and love for the craft. It can be very rewarding! But really take time to consider why you are teaching and if it is something you will enjoy. Otherwise, you will only have negative memories of living abroad.
Teaching in Argentina is more about the experience rather than making money. If you want to make money, head to Asia. If you want to teach here, come with savings. Jobs are plentiful, but the pay isn’t the prettiest.
I came here without friends, a place to stay, or a job. I was motivated to make it work, and I did.
If you are anything like me and excited to be in a new place, don’t hesitate and just DO IT!
Mia is originally form Illinois and got TEFL certified at ITA's headquarters in Chicago. She studied abroad in Italy and wanted to continue traveling after graduations, so she moved to Argentina to begin her teaching career.
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