Teaching English in Quito, Ecuador: Alumni Q&A with Kim Jackson

What is your citizenship?
United States

What city and state are you from?
Atlanta, Georgia

How old are you?

What is your education level and background?
Bachelor's Degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past
Studied abroad

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
France, Italy, Mexico, Caribbean Islands.

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
Cortona, Italy.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I have always wanted to travel the world, but needed to find a way to support myself financially while traveling. Teaching English abroad was the perfect way to achieve my goal!

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Not being able to find a job

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My family and friends were very supportive. Everyone said that they wished they had the courage to be able to move abroad. There were a few people that didn't think it would work, but overall most of the important people in my life supported me 100%.

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I wanted to be as marketable as possible when searching for a job and having the TEFL certification gave me the best chance of getting a job. I was told about ITA and after much research and asking Matt, my admissions advisor, tons of questions, I decided that ITA was a great fit for me.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Clas

How did you like the course?
The course was perfect for me, because it allowed me to work and make money while also taking my TEFL course. It was a lot of work but very doable; the hardest part was forcing myself to do the work after working all day. Jesica Nkouaga was a great teacher and always gave me tons of feedback. She graded all assignments within 48 hours, sometimes within 12 hours. All of the tasks really help prepare you for working in the classroom-I never felt like I was doing "busy work." I was able to find a practicum location through the school that was about 10 minutes from my house.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training has been incredibly helpful for my job. Before taking the TEFL class, I had absolutely no classroom experience. The course gave me a great background and understanding of how to teach and manage a classroom. Once I started at my job, I had training with that company and they use the same methodology that was presented in the TEFL course. Obviously, teaching is a job where you need classroom experience and the TEFL course prepared me as much as possible.

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Quito, Ecuador. Ecuador has tons of outdoor activities and Quito is located in the mountains, which I love. Quito is very easy to get to and they use the US dollar, so it seemed like a great place to start.

TEFL Ecuador

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay? 
I have been here for 2 months and plan to stay for 8 more months.

How did you secure your English teaching job?
I emailed every school I knew of before coming here, then went by every school once I got here. I actually got my job through an Expats in Quito Facebook group

What school, company, or program are you working for?
I currently work for Inlingua

How did you get your work visa?
I don't have a work visa. None of the schools that I came across in Quito would sponsor a work visa. Some schools will sponsor for a cultural exchange visa, but there are only a few of those here. Inlingua is a language school, so they will sponsor their teachers for a student visa, which allows you to be in the country longer than the tourist visa that I came on. The company gives me a check once a month, so it is not an issue that I don't have a work visa.

Tell us about your English teaching job!
Right now, I am working 16 hours a week and get paid better than most of the other schools. There are always opportunities to get more hours if you want. Since I am taking Spanish classes as well as teaching, I haven't been able to get more hours. I have done a little private tutoring, which pays much better. If I can get a steady amount of private lessons, I will be able to save money, but right now I am breaking even. Inlingua is a private language school that teaches business English, so all of my students are professionals. The great thing about Inlingua is that they already have all of the lesson plans done for you. All you need to do is review what you will be teaching. You also have the ability to add some of your own ideas and exercises into the lessons if it is applicable.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?
The Expats in Quito Facebook group has been a huge help. There are always people posting that are looking for a roommate or have an apartment available for rent. You can also use Craigslist and Airbnb, but those are generally a little more expensive since it's mainly for gringos. I have 2 roommates, one from Spain and the other from Ecuador. Since we live a little out from the city center, we have a 2 story apartment which gives us more space, and I am allowed to have my dog!

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...    

LIFE IN ECUADOR: Ecuador is one of the most amazing places I have ever experienced. No matter where you are, you can see mountains and everything is so green. There are parks all around the city and there is hiking just about everywhere.

THE PACE OF LIFE: The Latin American culture is different from the US, with the main difference being punctuality. I was raised that if you aren't 10 minutes early, you are late. In Ecuador, if you aren't more than 30 minutes late, you are early. This has been very difficult for me to adjust to, but I am trying. People here also aren't in a hurry to get back to you, so when applying for jobs, it would sometimes take 4 days to get a response. That is just how things are done here.

Teach English in EcuadorPUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: I ride the bus everyday, and it only costs 25 cents, so it is very affordable. At night, I take a cab always because it is not the safest to walk then. Cabs are also cheap so it is not a big issue. 

LOCAL NIGHTLIFE: Most of the night life is in La Mariscal, which is also called gringoland because of all of the tourists. People start going out Friday afternoon and don't stop until Sunday.

FOOD IN ECUADOR: All of the food I have had here has been amazing. The typical diet consists of rice, potatoes, and a little bit of meat. I usually cook my own meals to avoid all of the starch. However, fruit is incredibly cheap here, so I eat a lot of fruit.

SOCIAL LIFE & DATING: There are tons of expats here of all ages and everyone is very welcoming. The Ecuadoreans love their gringos, so if you want to date here, that won't be a problem. Just make sure you understand that there are cultural differences between the US and Ecuador when it comes to dating.

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES: Ecuador is not a big country, so it is easy to travel here. The buses are very very very cheap to other cities. Everyone I have met loves to travel, so there are always opportunities to travel around without spending much money.

What are your monthly expenses?

RENT: I pay $200/month for rent and that includes all utilities. This is more on the cheap side in Quito. There are some areas that are more expensive and can be $600/month per room. 

FOOD COSTS & EATING OUT: Food is pretty cheap unless you want something that has to be imported because there is a huge tax on imported goods. You can buy breakfast or lunch in a local restaurant for under $4, but there are also some restaurants in the touristy areas that are more expensive.

TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation is very cheap and costs 25 cents each way on the bus. I might spend $20 a month. 

PHONE & INTERNET: I use my iphone on wifi to communicate with everyone back home and have a local phone for work calls. I spend probably $5 a month for minutes.

TRAVEL: Most of my extra money goes towards traveling but luckily the bus rides are cheap and there are plenty of hostels so keep costs down.

How would you describe your standard of living?
Fairly comfortable

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
$500 a month

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching English in Ecuador?
I would say go for it! Take advantage of this opportunity and don't look back. Don't get me wrong, moving to a new country that speaks a different language can be very scary but it is also incredibly exciting. Make sure you research many countries so you know that it is some place you will be happy and can afford the lifestyle that you want to have.

I had no idea that Ecuador was full of such beautiful places and I feel so lucky that I am able to live here. The way of life is very appealing and much more laid back than the US and the people are the most caring that I have ever met. Traveling and living abroad allows you to experience different cultures and meet so many new people.

Wherever you go, I suggest immersing yourself in the culture as much as possible so you will get a truly genuine experience.


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