Beautiful beaches, colourful houses, and interesting culture are some of the things that come to mind when people mention Puerto Rico. But, did you know that you can do more than just bask under the sun with a Piña Colada in one hand while enjoying the sights and sounds of the “Island of Enchantment”? But, what about teaching English in Puerto Rico? Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about how to teach in this beautiful location.
Umm, let me rephrase that. Did you know that Puerto Rico is more than just a vacation destination if you’re an ESL teacher? You can actually teach English in Puerto.
English may be one of the official languages of this Caribbean island, but it isn’t widely spoken. Additionally, Puerto Ricans are eager to learn English due to the booming tourism industry. Learning the language makes it easier for them to communicate with tourists and other visitors.
So, do we have your attention already? Continue reading to know your options if you want to teach English in this unincorporated US Territory.
Teaching English in Puerto Rico
Even though English is one of the two official languages but not all Puerto Ricans can speak the language fluently. The language may be one of the required subjects but the medium of instruction for the other subjects is Spanish for primary and secondary schools.
At the university level, the medium of instruction is either English or Spanish depending on the instructor and subject matter. Moreover, Puerto Ricans are used to speaking Spanish at home. With this in mind, it’s clear that English is not really widely spoken here.
But, the tourism industry has spurred the need to learn English. Tourists and other visitors normally communicate in English, which creates a language barrier for locals who may not understand or speak the language.
As a result, Puerto Ricans are eager to learn English. Speaking the language allows them to have a piece of the tourism pie. Moreover, it also opens a lot of opportunities for them to work in other industries, and possibly in the US or Canada.
Teaching in Puerto Rico
Even as Puerto Rico has a moderate demand for ESL teachers, there is a considerable amount of competition, similar to other tropical locations like Okinawa, Japan. The climate and ambiance of the place make it one of the preferred destinations of foreign English teachers.
Aside from foreign native speakers, teachers also have to contend with home-grown English teachers. At this point, qualifications come into play when it comes to finding a teaching job in Puerto Rico.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of options where teachers can find a job here. Apart from public schools and private international schools, they can also teach in a university or an ESL school.
Americans and Canadians have a good chance of getting a teaching job due to their accent.
Requirements for Teacher Jobs in Puerto Rico
Similar to other countries around the world, Puerto Rico also has a few requirements before you can teach English. These requirements are as follows:
- Bachelor’s degree (A Master’s degree is preferable since you get a bigger salary)
- Valid teaching license from the state or country of origin for certified teachers
- TEFL certification for ESL teachers
- Work visas for non-US citizens
If you don’t meet these requirements, there is another option for you. In some cases, you don’t need a university degree to teach English in Russia.
Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in Puerto Rico
Native English speakers can expect a good salary. The average monthly salary of a teacher is from $1,000 USD to $2,000 USD. But, some private schools may offer up to $3,200 per month.
In addition to this attractive remuneration, teachers can also expect the following benefits depending on the school:
- Airfare reimbursement (return ticket)
- Health insurance
- Paid leave and school holidays
- Completion bonus
But, you should take note that not all schools offer the above benefits. With this, you should check the benefits offered by the school before you sign the contract. This is similar to teaching jobs in Japan, where benefits vary widely among schools.
There are a couple of options for you if you want to teach English in Puerto Rico. These options include the following:
While the primary medium of instruction in primary schools is Spanish, English is a compulsory subject that students have to learn. Moreover, the Department of Education in Puerto Rico is gradually putting emphasis on bilingualism. With this, ESL teachers have the option of working in a public school.
Private International Schools
Another option for ESL teachers is a private international school. These schools normally use an American or a bilingual curriculum, which makes it favourable for American ESL teachers. Many of these private international schools are situated in major urban centers, but there are also some schools located in rural areas.
Some university subjects are taught in English, which means Puerto Rican universities normally look for teachers with the necessary qualifications. The teachers should have a degree relevant to the subject offered. So, ESL teachers who hold a Bachelor’s degree relevant to the subject can include universities as one of their options.
The emphasis on bilingualism by the education department has increased the demand for English teachers in Puerto Rico. With this, ESL schools have opened to meet the demand for English language instruction. Similar to international schools, ESL schools are located both in the big cities and rural areas of Puerto Rico.
Things to Consider When Teaching in Puerto Rico
Before you start packing and book a ticket, there are some things you need to consider if you want to teach English in Puerto Rico.
- While the cost of living is comparable to the United States, transportation and food are relatively cheaper.
- Before signing a contract, make sure the salary and benefits are clear and you should be familiar with the place where you’re teaching.
- Similar to other countries, the salary in the major urban centers is higher than in rural areas of Puerto Rico.
- Having a little knowledge in Spanish will make it easier for you to teach your students. It also allows you to build a connection with them and facilitate the learning process.
Aside from being financially-rewarding, teaching English here gives ESL teachers a chance to stay in a tropical paradise in the middle of the Caribbean. You may also want to consider teaching English in Mexico if you like the hot weather.
Not sure the tropics are for you? Consider a teacher job in Finland instead.
Should I Teach English in Puerto Rico?
Deciding whether to teach English here is a personal choice that depends on various factors. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:
Teaching English in Puerto Rico provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant Spanish-speaking culture while also engaging with the English language. You can explore the island’s rich history, traditions, and cuisine.
Puerto Rico has a demand for English teachers, particularly in private language schools, international schools, or as private tutors. Research the job market and availability of teaching positions to ensure there are suitable opportunities for you.
While English proficiency in Puerto Rico varies, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of Spanish. This can assist in communication with students, colleagues, and the local community.
Consider the work environment and teaching conditions in Puerto Rico. Factors such as class sizes, resources, support from the school, and the overall education system can impact your teaching experience.
Cost of Living
Evaluate the cost of living in Puerto Rico, including housing, transportation, and daily expenses, to ensure it aligns with your budget and lifestyle expectations.
If you have a personal connection to Puerto Rico, such as family or friends, it may enhance your experience and provide a support network during your time teaching there.
Research professional development opportunities available in Puerto Rico. Consider whether the teaching experience in this country aligns with your long-term career goals and if it can provide valuable experiences and growth in the field of education.
Moving to a new country, even one with ties to your own culture, can involve an adjustment period. Consider your adaptability to new environments, different customs, and potential challenges that may arise.
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching English in this country. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
Do I need to speak Spanish to teach English in Puerto Rico?
While it is not a strict requirement, having a basic understanding of Spanish can be beneficial for communication with students, colleagues, and the local community.
What is the cost of living in Puerto Rico?
The cost of living in Puerto Rico can vary depending on the location and your lifestyle choices. Generally, the cost of living is lower compared to many mainland U.S. cities, but it is recommended to research and budget accordingly.
What is the work environment like for English teachers in Puerto Rico?
The work environment for English teachers in Puerto Rico can vary depending on the institution and the specific school or organization. Factors such as class sizes, resources, support from the school, and the overall education system may impact the work environment.
Are there opportunities for professional development in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico may offer professional development opportunities for English teachers, such as workshops, conferences, or training programs. Research local organizations, educational institutions, and online resources to find relevant opportunities.
How can I connect with other English teachers in Puerto Rico?
You can connect with other English teachers in Puerto Rico through professional networks, social media groups, or local teaching associations. Reach out to local educators or join online communities to expand your network.
What is the cultural experience like for English teachers in Puerto Rico?
Teaching English in Puerto Rico provides an opportunity to experience a vibrant Spanish-speaking culture with its own unique traditions, history, and cuisine. It can be a culturally enriching experience, and you may have the chance to engage with the local community.
What are some challenges I may face as an English teacher in Puerto Rico?
Some potential challenges may include language barriers, adapting to a new work environment and education system, cultural adjustments, and differences in teaching methodologies. However, these challenges can be overcome with flexibility, cultural sensitivity, and a willingness to learn and adapt.
Have your Say about Teaching in this Tropical Paradise
Do you have any tips or tricks for getting one of these coveted teaching jobs? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think about it. We’d love to hear from you.
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