Teaching English in Brazil

As the largest country in South America, Brazil is big on business. Their geographical proximity to the United States, as well as their trade agreement with North America, makes speaking English a very important asset for Brazilian citizens. English is taught to all levels of Brazilian students, from childhood on up. Some Brazilian companies will hire English teachers to train their employees to make foreign communication easier.

With that said, Brazil is naturally a major destination for those looking to teach English in a foreign country. Teaching English in Brazil is a unique and enriching experience that anyone who wishes to travel should consider.

What is required?

Some countries require English teachers to be certified in any number of teaching courses. TEFL, TESOL, and the Cambridge CELTA are all certifications that are often required for foreigners wishing to teach English in another country. Brazil, however, does not consider this a prerequisite.

If you do have a certification, it may very well help you in the classroom. But chances are good that if you are hired by a Brazilian company or school, they will require you to go through an in-house training program regardless of whether or not you are certified to teach.

What is recommended is a BA in some subject and a working knowledge of Portuguese, the official language of Brazil.

What about a visa?

This is where the information can get a little sketchy, and keep in mind we're not advocating one course of action over another. The truth is, getting a work visa for teaching English in Brazil is going to be very, very difficult.

The vast majority of schools in Brazil that hire English teachers are unwilling to sponsor those teachers for work visas. Sponsorship by an employer is required to get a legitimate work visa. It is also extremely expensive and complicated, and many companies steer clear of doing so for those reasons.

With that said, if you are planning on remaining in Brazil to teach English for an extended period of time, you may be able to find an employer who is willing to sponsor you. The catch is that you will probably have to pay for the process yourself. This is something that you should actively research and discuss with your employer if you're interested in pursuing a work visa.

So you might be wondering how so many English teachers manage to work in Brazil. The answer is, the majority of them are working on tourist visas. Technically, it is not legal for a foreigner to work on a tourist visa; however, chances are very slim that you will ever get into trouble for doing it.

Tourist visas are fairly simple to get, and require an application through the Brazilian Consulate as well as a valid passport and other documents. Tourist visas are valid for three months, which means if you are working in Brazil you will have to renew your visa at a Brazilian police office every three months. You are also not allowed to remain in Brazil on a tourist visa for more than six months every year.

It is possible to get a tourist visa changed over to a work visa, provided you can find a sponsor. Your best bet may be to begin a job on a tourist visa, get comfortable with your employers, and then bring up the subject of a work visa after they have decided they want to keep you. At that time, they may be willing to sponsor you.

It sounds like a lot of red tape, but the truth is that teaching English in Brazil isn't as complicated as it sounds. The market for English teachers in Brazil is booming, and with that demand comes an increased possibility that you'll be able to find the right job for you. With thousands of English teachers needed all over the country, Brazilians are for the most part eager to help. Do your research and be prepared, and you're sure to have the experience of a lifetime.

By Michelle Simmons