Friday, September 24, 2010

Teaching in Montevideo Uruguay, a Discussion

Ever wondered about teaching in Montevideo, Uruguay? A good discussion with participation from teachers on the ground in this South American capital is happening over at Dave's ESL Cafe.

Hello, since as far as I can see there's not an entry about Uruguay (let alone a whole country section!) I thought I would add my experience since Uruguay and Montevideo are both hidden gems and in my opinion well-worth coming to - and pretty straightforward as far as English-teaching goes, after the usual due-paying that seems to be the norm in South America.

I arrived in Montevideo in March 2009 after doing a CELTA in Buenos Aires and finding it impossible to get work over the summer. Not only that, a few mates who did manage to find some said that all the institutes wanted people with a legal work permit which is basically impossible to organize from within Argentina.

So, after getting fed-up with the hectic-ness of Buenos Aires and the lousy work situation, I made it over to M'vid to visit some friends and immediately loved it. It's small enough to get around easily (walking, bike or bus), faded-charming, but still enough of a city to have bars, restaurants, great cinema and theatre scenes and enough going on to keep you busy.

After several hours on Google, I'd sent my CV to about 25 English-language institutes and immediately started working for the London Institute (the International House affiliate here). I quit there eventually since I felt they were taking advantage of me and the organization was just terrible. But by then I'd found 4 or 5 other institutes all of whom have work for me either permanent or now-and-then. The reputable ones I would recommend approaching are:

Focus Ingl├ęs Empresarial (in-company stuff)
Eureka (a small institute owned and well-run by a great English guy who pays well)
Widd Professional (a small, new institute, again family owned-and-run and really friendly)
The Langland Institute (a very well-run and professional institute that does in-company as well)
The other big ones are the Anglo (an Anglo-Uruguayan cultural institute) and the Alianza (a US-Uruguayan venture) which never responded to my approaches.

Because I turned-up right at the start of the academic year (beginning of March) a lot of places had already organized teachers for their classes for the entire year, so arriving beginning of February might be a better bet to get in on the ground floor with the bigger institutes.

As far as work visas are concerned, a couple of places asked me to become legal - but I've been working for them no problem in the meantime. As a Brit, I've had to get a police check from the UK, get that and my birth certificate legalized by the UK Foreign Office (which is the stage I'm at now), after that I have to get them both legalized by the Uruguayan embassy in London, then sent here, translated, legalized AGAIN by the Ministry of Immigration here, and then along with a local police check and medical certificate I can get a year's work permit. It's a long process and to be honest I'm not sure if I'll get to the end of it before I leave Uruguay (at the moment, December). But it's worth doing if you're planning on staying longer than a year and it allows you to get free medical treatment here.

The pay rate is good, after about 3 months sorting myself out and getting to know the right people, I'm up to a full timetable of 25 hours teaching a week which is more than enough to pay my way and save some too. I was lucky enough to be able to stay even when the work wasn't coming in, but now it is I should be able to recoup the money I spent during the fallow period. Foreigners are definitely more of a rarity in Montevideo than in Buenos Aires, so the novelty-factor (and native-speaker thing) goes a long way. People are definitely Anglophiles here, but I don't think that would affect getting work. And no-one's asked to see my CELTA certificate, even though I do have one!

Apart from that; renting a place has been no problem - sharing is pretty rare for young people since everyone lives with their parents til they're married, and students are normally in dorms (foreigners can live there too, but they're pretty student-y and at least 4 people to a bedroom). I managed to find a shared apartment with my own bedroom from a classified in the newspaper so they do exist. Renting an apartment by yourself is possible with just a passport as proof of identity, but the estate agents ask for 6 months' rent as deposit.

I can't think of much else but if you're thinking of coming to Uruguay - do! And contact me if you have questions.

I've been living in Uruguay for the past almost 5 years now.. its great.. although i hate Montevideo.. too many ppl.. the coastal towns are where its at..
there are many options down here.. its a great place to live and rock out.

its funny that they are making you get a visa.. most places are ok with just a passport and you can get the socidad free still...
but its only like $50/month.. and honestly if you calculate all of the costs for translations and legalizations it may not be worth it so much..

if you need a translator let me know i have a great one who is fairly cheap and close to the migracions office. on missiones.

more discussion at the link above


  1. Thanks to share great information!

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  2. Hi there. I have both Uruguayan and USA citizenship. I am currenty living in NY but moving back to Uruguay is in my near future.
    When I lived there, I had just finished high school and started teaching english to pre- schoolers in the city of Florida at Midlands College. I completed my Proficiency Anglo course and was able to teach with that.
    However, I am interested in teaching at a private institute in Montevideo when I move back. What other preparation should I have in order to do so based on your experience. In other words, what have been their requirements?

  3. You might be able to land a job with what you have, though it might be a good idea to take a TEFL or CELTA course in Montevideo. You'll get very practical training and good job connections that way.

    Best of luck!

  4. I would be interested in taking a TEFL or CELTA course in Montevideo. Does anyone know of an institute who teaches the classes there? I haven't had much luck finding anything online.

  5. You may have some better luck next door in Buenos Aires for a course.

  6. It would be great if you could let us know the average salary for an English teacher and the average rent for a flat/house, etc

  7. I want more than anything to move to Colonia del Sacramento, I live in Sacramento, Ca. USA now ironically. I would love someone to talk with about it. I am not a teacher BUT if you don't mind?

    Facebook Kelly Tankie Garner or post here :))

    thank you!

  8. For a small country, beaches are big in Uruguay. The South American nation has more than 400 miles of coastline, according to the Uruguay Ministry of Tourism. I travelled there for a weekend when I was in Argentina. I had rented some buenos aires apartments and thanks to that, I was able to leave all my stuff there and only take a backpack to go to Uruguay for a weekend. I have to say it is very similar to Argentina, but people are different in terms of personality. Argentineans are a little bit more outgoing!
    Anyways, continue having a good time and teaching!

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for the information, very helpful. My husband is from Uruguay and we plan to visit Dec2011-Mar 2012 and look into a permanent move thereafter. I've been researching certifications to teach English in Uruguay, I am just a bit confused on which one to take that will be accepted in Uruguay CELTA, TELF, or TESOL any advise? also, once certified do you know of an institute that will hire for less than 6 months? or where can I provide particular class lessons?

  10. I have wanted to live in Uruguay for sometime now. Can an old teacher--literally--retired with 27 years experience teaching English, GED, Special Ed secondary, and US history (grades 5 through 12 over the years,) possibly get a position teaching English there? I am not Spanish speaking though I have had class in the language and live in Texas, thus have a slight acquaintance with it. If you think that I would be of use to a school around Montivedeo, what do you think an old-timer could earn teaching English there? If it were possible, should one teach in a public or a private school? Of course, I know that you can only give your opinion, but whatever you have to say will be appreciated.

  11. Hi,

    Such great info - thanks for sharing!

    I'm multi-degreed, live in Austin, TX and am completing TEFL certification in early Feb. 2012. I am currently an editor for a national media company, speak some Spanish and am currently taking Latin American Spanish immersion lessons. I want to move to Montevideo for six months to teach, starting in late Feb.

    I prefer to live alone in a studio or one bedroom apartment as I would like to bring my older, well-behaved, house trained dogs (20 and 45 pounds.)

    I can pay for six months' rent up front, as well as a pet deposit. My questions are:

    - Is it difficult to find a pet-friendly apartment?
    - Do you know approx. how much a pet deposit costs? and;
    - Can you recommend a couple of areas in which a single woman might feel safe living?

    Thanks so much!

  12. I teach first grade at a school with an emphasis in international studies. My class will be learning about Uruguay this year. I would love to find a class that we could communicate with. Any ideas on how to find one. Or, any resources that would help my students experience Uruguay in a deeper manner than what they can find on the internet?

  13. This Information was just what I needed, Thank you so much!! Uruguay here I come!!

  14. How can I get a private email to you? I was born in Uruguay, even though I have lived in other countries the most of my life, so mostly outside the country even though I maintain my language skills faultlessly and my Uruguayan identity... I would welcome the opportunity of teaching in M'vdo. My personal email is I would appreciate a reply and any information you can provide. Thank you y que pases muy bien!

  15. Where did you take your course in Buenos Aires? I am considering doing the same (studying in BA and then teaching in Montevideo) but a struggling to choose a course. Thanks so much for the information, it was truly helpful!

  16. I am ready to move. My husband is a certified teacher in Arizona, USA. Does he need the TESOL Class?

  17. looking for a teaching job in Montevideo .. I am a native german
    and I majored in French...

  18. Found the information on your blog very helpful. I am an American citizen currently living in Antigua, Guatemala. Most recently, I taught English as a Second Language for two years in Israel, and have continued to work as an ESL teacher in Guatemala. I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marketing as well as a Teaching certificate.

    I will be moving to Uruguay in July and am interested in finding out which ESL certificate course to take. There are several out there and I am not finding anything as far as the requirements needed for Uruguay. Does it make a difference whether or not the certificate is on-line? I would appreciate finding out more about what the schools are looking for.

    My direct e-mail address is

    Thanks, Sylvia

  19. Hi Sylvia,

    An online TEFL or TESOL certificate course is usually not recommended for those without prior classroom experience as the medium of an online course doesn't allow for the all important practicum. In your case, already having the classroom experience is very helpful.

    Why not check out our online TEFL course? We serve the Latin American region.

    Teachers Latin America