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Arequipa, Peru English Teaching Q and A with Degen Hill
Written by: Degen Hill
Last Updated: July 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?
Taught English abroad previously
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Spain, Holland, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Canada
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
Looking for a little adventure. Also, after teaching English in El Salvador and returning to the States, I was bored after 2 months.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
After comparing many companies that offered TEFL certifications, I chose ITA based on a phone conversation I had with a very helpful guy in Chicago. He helped me get everything set up, made recommendations, and through that experience, I felt that I would be in good hands with ITA.
Getting TEFL certified was a no brainer if I wanted to make money teaching English abroad. Seemed more logical than CELTA.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
How did you like the course?
I loved the course. I had 2 hours of grammar in the morning and 2 hours of pedagogy in the afternoon. We spent a lot of time acting out scenarios, playing ESL games, and learning methodology that could be utilized in the classroom. My instructor, Ellen, was very helpful and always willing to show us different ways to approach situations. Along with my classes, I had 10 hours of observed teaching, and 15 hours of observing other teachers. It was a great experience and I gained a vast amount of knowledge, not only about English grammar, but also such things as classroom control, creating fun lessons, and how to establish rapport with my students.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
I have been teaching English in Arequipa, Peru for 11 months now and although I have grown as a teacher through my experiences, I use what I learned in my TEFL course every single day. Learning so many different approaches, methods, and ways to teach a class from my TEFL course, I have been able to adapt quickly to new classrooms and figure out what will work best not only for my students, but for me as well.
TEACHING ABROAD IN AREQUIPA
Which country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Peru. I majored in Spanish and knew I wanted to be in a Spanish speaking country. After seeing the list, I chose Arequipa, Peru at random. It wasn't the most practical approach, but sometimes the unexpected parts of life are the most fun.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
11 months, plan on staying until March '13 (13 months)
How did you secure your English teaching job?
I was promised a job upon completion of my TEFL course.
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.
Not much to elaborate on. All the teachers at my school have a tourist visa and when it expires, we travel to Chile (6 hours away) to renew the visa. Depending on your Spanish and fluency in 'bullshit', visa lengths range from 3-6 months. We get paid every 2 weeks in cash. Our school calls us 'interns' thus avoiding a necessity for a work visa.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I teach 6 hours a day, 5 days a week plus 1 private student for 1 hour, 3 times a week for a total of 33 hours a week. I teach 18 days a month.
I get paid S/. 13 an hour ($4.99). I can't save money but I can pay rent, food, have money to go out, and occasionally buy new shoes, clothes, etc. I get by fine.
My school is an English institute that teaches all levels from basic to fluency. This includes all types of people, children, adults, students, professionals, teenagers etc.
I am currently enjoying 16 days off for Christmas / New Year's, but we usually get 4-5 days at the end of the month for vacation time in between the months. We can also request time off without losing our job.
South America has a rich culture and for people who love Spanish, it's great. Although from what different teachers have said, along with general ESL knowledge, if you want to make money, go teach in Asia.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I found a place through my teachers at my school. Lived with other teachers for 8 months, then decided to move out. I found a new place by asking around and the lady who cuts my hair found me a place, introduced me to the landlord, and I moved in. It's a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, no kitchen and I love it. Exactly what I needed for my remaining 4 months.
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: Peru has an abundant culture and Peruvians are always eager to share it with whoever is interested.
Public Transport: Is dominated by taxis (1 every 5 feet) and combis (public bus for S/.80)
Nightlife: Is alive and well. Lots of bars, lots of clubs, and lots of hostels filled with tourists anxious to go out and have a good time.
Social Activities: Climb Misti, go rafting, day tours, weekend tours outside of Arequipa (Colca, Puno, Mejia), Spanish clubs, boxing, gyms, etc.
Food: Peruvian food is amazing. I typically eat at a Menu, which is soup, main dish, and juice for S/. 5 ($2) and it's always delicious. Lots of street food, including anticuchos, empanadas, salteñas, hamburgers, etc. I would recommend locro, lentejitas con bistec, and lomo saltado.
Expat Community: None except the English teachers in my town.
Dating scene: I guess it depends on the person but Peruvians are down to go out on a date, although beware that this signifies that you are together so be careful with who you choose.
Travel Opportunities: Arequipa is the gateway to the south of Peru. Lots of people travel here before Cuzco and there are always flights and busses leaving Arequipa to every part of Peru. If you want to travel from Arequipa, you're in good hands.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: S/. 250 a month, utilities included
Food: S/. 100 a month, give or take
Internet: S/. 99 a month
Social activities: S/. 200 a month, depends on if I go out and again, where I choose to go
Transportation: S/. 50, I walk a lot, but then there are those lazy days where I take a taxi
Phone: S/. 30, I have a pre-pago, so I put money on it when I need it
Travel: S/. ?? Depends on if I travel, but bus tickets are usually less than S/. 30 for anywhere in the south of Peru
Laundry: S/. 60 a month, I take it to a 'lavandería' and have it cleaned and folded twice a month
How would you describe your standard of living?
Like a college student.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
More than what I'm making haha. I think at least $7-$8 an hour for an ESL teacher in a foreign country.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN AREQUIPA, PERU
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
DO IT! It's only a year of your life and the experiences you'll have, along with the people you'll meet are priceless. Plus, it's a cool story to tell people when you return to your motherland.
I would recommend Peru. Although I have only taught in 1 city (Arequipa), it's the 2nd largest city and I love it. I'm aware that every city is quirky in it's own way, but as a whole, Peru has been a great experience so far. It's not as 3rd world as Central America, but different enough from America or Europe that each day you will be reminded that you are in a foreign country.
Degen is from Boise, Idaho and took ITA's TEFL course in Arequipa, Peru. He then decided to stay in Arequipa and continued teaching English there.
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