language-assistants-ela-argentina-country-notes-2010-11 by stariya


									              COUNTRY NOTES FOR ENGLISH


                                     Source: CIA World Fact Book

                                                                                                   Updated: June 2010
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in these notes. However the British
Council cannot accept responsibility for any errors which may exist or for any subsequent changes.
This is a brief guide to your assistantship in Argentina, with information taken from questionnaires provided by former
language assistants and a variety of guidebooks. It contains some tips and information about Argentina as a country, and
also about what you can expect from your host institution(s) and the British Council during your time abroad.

Please read in conjunction with any other information received from the British Council in the UK or authorities in
Argentina. It is important that you take this information with you to Argentina in order to be able to consult it at all times
when problems/questions arise.

At the outset it should be stressed that these notes are only meant to provide a very general guideline to your
assistantship in Argentina. People’s experiences inevitably vary considerably and these notes are there to provide you
with some provisional information and tips. In addition to this information we recommend that you read as much as
possible about Argentina and Latin America before you go, as this will ensure that your experience is richer and that you
are thoroughly prepared for your time abroad.

We recommend that you give a copy of this information on to your parents, guardians or carers, but please remember that
under the Data Protection Act we cannot discuss an individual’s personal situation and circumstances with a third party
such as a parent/guardian/carer: information on a situation must be conveyed to us first hand by the assistant concerned.

1.1 Ministry of Education – Background
The Language Assistants Programme in Argentina is managed by the British Council in Buenos Aires and supported by
the Ministry of Education in Argentina. The British Council in London liaises with the British Council in Buenos Aires which
deals directly with the Ministry. Although the Ministry is a national body, the local education authorities in the various
provinces make decisions regarding local education policies without having to answer to the Ministry.

The British Council in Buenos Aires decides which provinces can host an assistant and sends your dossiers to the local
education authorities. After this, the British Council is not involved in deciding at which host institutions and towns/cities
the assistants are placed– those decisions are taken by the local education authorities themselves. In order to find out as
much information as possible regarding your post and area you should make sure that you contact your local education
co-ordinator as soon as you receive their email address from the British Council. In some cases, they will wait to meet you
during the induction course and get to know you before making a final decision on the type of institution at which you will
be working.

1.2 Managing Expectations
In Argentina there is often a culture of anti-formality which might give the impression of a lack of organisation and forward
planning. Things tend to happen at the very last minute and many assistants from the UK find it hard to adjust to what they
consider to be a disorganised society. Usually what is lacking in forward planning is made up for in making newcomers
feel welcome. However, you will need to prepare yourself for certain frustrations particularly at bureaucratic level,
particularly prior to departure, especially when it comes to finding out specific details regarding your post and visa

Showing an interest in Argentinean culture, especially football and tango, will certainly endear you to the locals. We
recommend you read up as much as possible before you go as this will help you make conversation and talk
knowledgeably to people you meet in the first few weeks.

1.3 Education in Argentina
According to the new National Education Law, passed in 2006, education is free and compulsory from the age of 5 to 17,
for the first three educational levels: kindergarten, primary and secondary. In 2007, 6.2 million pupils attended primary
schools, 1.4million attended secondary schools and 250,000 attended teacher training institutions.

The British Council in London should be your first point of contact whilst you are still in the UK. As mentioned above the
British Council Argentina deals with the Ministry of Education in Argentina but the final decision on your post rests with the
local education authorities in the provinces. The British Council in Argentina therefore has to wait until it gets information
from the local education authorities or Ministry of Education before they can get in contact with you. Before your
appointment starts you will receive an email from the British Council in Argentina asking you to confirm whether or not you
will be accepting your position as a Language Assistant and, if so, to complete a one-page form in Spanish with personal
information. This document is then sent to local educational authorities in the province to which you have been appointed.
It is very important that you reply as soon as possible with the information requested because the earlier you do so, the
earlier you will receive a response regarding your post and contact details of your local education coordinator. The British
Council in London usually gets an update but it is very likely that you will receive that information first.

From this time on and whilst you are in Argentina you should always try and contact institutions locally if you have any
problems or questions. Issues regarding your school are best discussed with your mentor teacher directly. If you feel you
cannot talk to your mentor teacher or another member of staff please contact the British Council in Argentina. If you have
questions regarding your salary or health insurance please contact the British Council in Buenos Aires. In case of an
emergency or if you need advice on traveling around Argentina please contact the British Embassy in Buenos Aires or the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

2.1 British Council Argentina                                      2.3 Embassy and Consulate in the UK
María Cecilia Pinto                                                Embassy of Argentina
Marcelo T. de Alvear 590, 4º                                       65 Brook Street
(C1058AAF) Buenos Aires                                            London
Argentina                                                          W1K 4AH
 0054 (0)11 4114 8650                                              0044 (0)20 7318 1300
 0054 (0)11 4114 8651                                              0044 (0)20 7318 1301                      
2.2 UK Embassy in Argentina                                        27 Three Kings Yard
Dr. Luis Agote 2412                                                London
(C1425EOF) Buenos Aires                                            W1K 4DF
Argentina                                                           0044 (0)20 7318 1340
 0054 (0)11 4808 2200                                              0044 (0)20 7318 1349
 0054 (0)11 4808 2274                                                                             Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9.30am-14.00pm

2.4 The Ministry of Education                                        2.6 Official Advice for British Citizens Abroad
Ministerio Nacional de Educación                                     Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pizzurno 935                                                          0044 (0)20 7008 1500
1020 Buenos Aires                                                                                                  Or go directly to (International Cooperation                        living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/south-
Department which deals with assistants)                              america/argentina

2.5 British Council London
Sonja Hughes
10 Spring Gardens
United Kingdom
 0044 (0)20 7389 4251
 0044 (0)20 7389 4594


3.1 Passport and Visas
Before leaving the UK you must be in possession of a full passport, valid for the duration of your stay in Argentina.

You will probably enter the country as a tourist. You are advised to bring to Argentina one passport photo, and a Subject
Access Form (simple police clearance) which can be obtained at your local main police station. More information
regarding immigration requirements will be provided during the Briefing in Buenos Aires.

Visa procedures vary from year to year in Argentina. The British Council London tries to obtain the latest information on
your visa requirements but between now and your departure these may change.

3.2 Insurance
The British Council will not be responsible for you while you are in Argentina, although we will offer support when
necessary. You are therefore required to take out comprehensive insurance to cover you during your time in Argentina. It
is important to cover medical and other expenses, personal accident and personal liability, luggage and personal
possessions and cancellation charges. We recommended you research the various options available and consult other/
former assistants before purchasing a suitable policy. However any insurance you purchase should include cover for
emergency treatment and repatriation. Please note that no insurance company will cover you in the event of a natural
disaster or the outbreak of war.

You will be asked to sign a declaration for the British Council in London to certify that you will be taking out insurance. It is
advisable to leave copies of insurance documents with a contact in the UK.

If you do fall ill make sure you keep copies of all medical bills, receipts or other documents. You will then need these to
make a claim.

You will also have access to a medical insurance scheme or obra social called Unión Personal, which will cover basic free
treatment in Argentina and will only be valid during the time of your appointment. During the induction course you will be
asked to fill in a registration form with your basic medical history and will then receive a membership card. The medical,
pharmacy and hospital/clinic directory (cartilla) is available from the website. Please bear in mind that you will be charged
for any medical treatment or private doctor consultation outside what is covered by Unión Personal.

3.3 Registering with FCO Locate
Once you arrive in Argentina you must register with FCO Locate. The Foreign Office and all British Embassies offers this
registration service for British nationals visiting or residing in a foreign country. The details you provide when you register
will help the FCO to contact you in an emergency (e.g. natural disaster, civil disturbance, family emergency etc.), or to
pass on information that we wish to alert you about.

3.4 Documents to take
We recommend you scan important documents before leaving the UK and email these to yourself so that you have access
to these while you are away. Documents you may need access to include; birth certificate (although you should not need
the original) and scanned copies of the photo page of your passport, visa and driving license (take this with you). You
should carry a photocopy of the photo page of your passport rather than the original and always have this on you as a
means of ID.


4.1 Period of Appointment and Induction Course
Appointments are for four months, running from mid March to mid July. You should plan to arrive in Buenos Aires in time
to attend a 2-day induction workshop at the British Council in mid-March before your post starts.

The date of your first teaching day depends on your host institution but it is expected that you will travel to your final
destination as soon as the induction workshop finishes. Your local co-ordinators might be able to provide temporary
accommodation for the first few days and they should be able to help you find somewhere permanent.

There will be no pick-up from Buenos Aires International Airport. The British Council Argentina suggests that you take a
Manuel Tienda León bus service from the airport to the city centre (instead of ordinary public transport, which can be quite
unreliable and troublesome with large luggage), or a taxi or remis (which can be very expensive). Please consult for information in English on schedules and tickets which can be purchased online.

4.2 Terms and Conditions
The number of hours worked will be 18 per week. You will be paid a fixed salary which means that you will not receive
payment if you work extra hours. The size of the class can vary from 10 – 30 students depending on the institution. Most
work will be textbook based but assistants are often asked to set up English clubs for young learners with more activity-
based exercises. The experience of each assistant will be different.

The allowance will be approximately Arg $1750 gross per month. This amount is intended to provide a reasonable basic
standard of living for one person and actually exceeds the level of pay for most local teachers. You are strongly advised to
be sensitive to this when dealing with other teachers. The Ministry of Education will pay you with a money order so you do
not need to open a bank account. Assistants do not have to pay income tax in Argentina.

The British Council produces and co-produces a range of resources specifically for Language Assitants. Making use of
these will help you greatly to deliver interesting and useful classroom activities and support you in solving problems in the

5.1 Language Assistants Manual
‘Language Assistant’ by Clare Lavery is a resource book designed for language assistants and provides on all aspects of
the role. You will be sent a copy of this book to your home address prior to departure and we strongly recommend you
take it with you.

5.2 Language Assistants Website is an online resource centre produced jointly by the British Council and the BBC has a specialised
Language Assistants micro-site.

On the site you will have access to;

- The language assistants manual online
- Teaching tips
- Essential UK: Seasonal lesson plans based around UK topics
- Primary tips: Help getting started with primary-level students
- Classroom games.

5.3 Forum and virtual mentor
The site also includes a forum which provides an opportunity to discuss teaching ideas and share your experience with
other assistants (we send approximately 3000 Language Assistants around the world each year). You will receive
information later in the year about how to sign up to the forums which will be activated in early autumn.

Our virtual mentors, Jo Budden and Jo Bertrand, are both experienced English teachers and will also be on hand to
provide answers to any questions you might have and to suggest useful teaching tips and links to resources and lesson

All of this has been designed specifically for Language Assistants and you can set up an RSS feed, join the page on
facebook and follow on twitter.

Based on the information we received from your predecessors in previous years it is advisable to leave the UK with a
minimum of £500 plus access to funds in a UK bank account to cover expenses for the first few weeks. Your first salary
payment may not arrive until you have been in Argentina for around six to eight weeks. ATMs or cajeros automáticos can
be found in most cities and towns and they are the best way to get money. Nearly all of them have instructions in English
and should accept Cirrus, Plus or Link system. You should also be able to pay by Visa or MasterCard in most areas.
When using a credit card please keep in mind that some businesses add a surcharge or recargo of 5% to 10% towards
your purchases. The actual amount you will have to pay is also dependent on the exchange rate. We recommend
checking with your local coordinator to find out the best way for you to access your money during the first few weeks.

You are recommended to obtain a copy of the booklet Health Advice for Travellers (T7.1) before leaving the UK. It holds
important information on avoiding health risks and obtaining emergency medical treatment. It is produced by the
Department of Health and available to download here;

The British Council is unable to pay for your vaccines but we recommend strongly that you get information on the
vaccinations needed for Argentina before you travel. Fit for travel, and NHS website, will be a useful starting point.

Make sure that if you need medication you bring a large enough supply. Label it clearly before boarding a plane. If you
have to carry syringes or needles, please remember to get a letter from your GP explaining their medical necessity. We
also recommend checking your airline’s website to see whether any other documentation is needed.

Please keep in mind that Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a common danger when travelling long distance. It is usually
recommended to walk about the plane now and then and to perform leg exercises whilst sitting. You should also drink a lot
and avoid alcohol during the flight. More information on DVT is included in both links given above.

The British Council is unable to pay for your vaccines but we recommend strongly that you consult your GP before you
travel to get information on the necessary vaccinations needed for Argentina. Make sure that if you need medication you
bring a large enough supply. Label it clearly before boarding a plane. If you have to carry syringes or needles, please
remember to get a letter from your GP explaining their medical necessity. We also recommend checking your airline’s
website to see whether any other documentation is needed.

Please keep in mind that Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a common danger when travelling long distance. It is usually
recommended to walk about the plane now and then and to perform leg exercises whilst sitting. You should also drink a lot
and avoid alcohol during the flight. Please check with your GP to get further information on DVT and its prevention.
Information is also available on some airlines’ websites and on

You should avoid buying food from street vendors in Argentina as this can carry the greatest risks. It is best to seek local
advice on this, as well as on recommendations for drinking tap water.

Argentina is the 8 largest country in the world and has approximately 36 million inhabitants. The great majority of
Argentineans live in cities – approximately 12 million in greater Buenos Aires alone. Although some indigenous languages
are still spoken, the main and official language is Spanish. Roman Catholicism is the official state religion but other
religions, such as Evangelical Protestantism and Judaism for example, can be found.

After the economic crisis in 2001 and the subsequent devaluation of the peso, Argentina is much cheaper for foreigners
from Europe and the USA although Buenos Aires is more expensive than the rest of the country. The social unrest, which
followed the economic crisis, has now subsided. Foreigners can feel at ease and travel relatively inconspicuously and

9.1 Culture Shock
Even if you have travelled to non-European destinations before you might feel slightly overwhelmed in the beginning by
your experience. Some areas in Latin America can be extremely poor and you might struggle to accept this. Latin America
is also known for its alleged chaos. A different climate and location as well as feeling jet lagged after the long flight and
struggling with speaking Spanish all day long might lead to temporary disorientation, self-consciousness and exhaustion.
This usually leads to feeling homesick but please be assured that this is a very common and normal feeling which usually
disappears after a few weeks or even days.

There are some ways which might help you to overcome this initial culture shock. Try not to be too hard on yourself; yes,
you have come to Argentina to live and work there but that does not mean that you have to be like one of the locals within
a week. Give yourself time to get over the jet lag and to explore your area. Do not stay in contact only with UK assistants
during your assistantship as this might lead to your feeling alienated for the whole time of your appointment. However, it is
important that you contact them and your family and friends back home in the beginning to tell them about your
experiences. Other assistants can be a great support as they are going through the same process. Once you have met
local people and have tackled bureaucracy you will realise that life in Argentina gets much easier and you will have an
enjoyable time. Religion and family play an important role in every day life so although you may at first feel like an outsider,
once you have proved your interest in local people and their culture, you will be welcomed into these tight-knit groups.

The way you behave and represent the UK will shape the view of the UK of those Chileans with whom you are in contact.
There area number of frustrations that Language Assistants to Latin America frequently feel; attitudes towards
timekeeping in Latin America can be somewhat lax, particularly in social settings (although you will be expected to be
puntctual to your classes) Machismo and general gender issues might be something with which female assistants, in
particular, struggle to manage. Bureaucracy can also be very tiresome. Do not get angry as this usually does not lead to
any results – especially when dealing with people in authority. Ultimately, remember that you are an ambassador for the
UK – do not criticise what you cannot change and above all, keep your sense of humour!

Politeness and respect are seen as important everywhere in Latin America. People generally shake hands when they
meet each other and start a conversation with a formal greeting. If you are unsure always use the more formal usted and
remember to use seňor/señora particularly with older people.

Teachers usually wear informal clothes at schools in Argentina but you should check with your mentor teacher what the
dress code is at your teaching centre. Remember that shorts, flip flops and bikinis are for the beach only.

9.2 Practicalities
-The electrical current is 220 Volts and they have two different types of plugs (the European and the Australian style) so
make sure that you get proper adapters.
-UK £1 is the equivalent of about Arg $6 (pesos). You can find bills of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos and coins of 1 peso,
and 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents.
-Argentineans use the metric system for weights and measures. Distances are measured in Km.
-Argentina is 3 hours behind GMT but doesn’t observe daylight saving time which means that an hour must be added
during UK daylight saving time.

9.3 Important Telephone Numbers
Country code          0054
Fire                  100
Police                101
Other emergencies     103
Medical emergency     107
Directory assistance  110

9.4 Holidays
Government offices and businesses are closed during public holidays.

Air travel is more convenient due to the country’s size but it is more expensive than covering the same distance by bus.
There are five different airlines in Argentina – further information can be found below in 12.3. Please remember that we
only pass on information. It is up to you to carefully research and compare each airline before booking your flights.

Most cities and towns have a central bus terminal. A lot of Argentineans get around by bus and the bus network reaches
most parts of the county. On overnight trips you might want to spend some extra money and travel by sleeper class or
coche cama if available. Coche semi-cama is cheaper than coche cama. Bus fares vary depending on company and
season so please make sure to check thoroughly before buying tickets.

If you intend to rent a car in Argentina please keep in mind that you must have an International Driving Permit. It might be
worth checking locally which renting agencies are recommended. If you wish to rent a car you must be at least 21 years
old and must have a valid driver’s licence plus a credit card. Please make also sure that you are adequately insured.

An International Students Card (ISIC) might also be helpful to get, for example, discounts on public transport and
admissions to museums. Information can be found on

10.1 Local Transport
Buenos Aires is the only city in Argentina with an underground system but taking the bus is a much better way of getting to
know the area to which you have been appointed. Buses should be clearly numbered and should also show their final
destination. You mostly pay as you board but sometimes bus passes can be purchased before boarding from a guard.
Please check this with your mentor teacher.

You will be sent a leaflet by the British Council which provides an emergency telephone number as well as essential
guidelines on how to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Although Argentina is generally seen as the safest country in Latin America it is very important to stick to the same health
and safety rules as you would at home and always heed advice given by local people. Stay alert and take precautions to
avoid becoming a victim. It is equally important to stay informed about local and countrywide events. Read local
newspapers and check the internet, watch the news, listen to the radio and talk to people. We recommend strongly that
you do not get involved in demonstrations even if friends try to encourage you. This can reflect very badly on yourself and
also on the British Council.

In the event of an emergency contact the British Council in Buenos Aires or the British Embassy. (Contact details can be
found above). Getting help and information locally is usually more effective and quicker than contacting the British Council
in London. Remember to register with FCO Locate as soon as possible after your arrival.

Smoking is prohibited on buses and planes and it is uncommon in restaurants, bars and cafes as well as shops and
offices. It is not uncommon to find people drinking alcohol on the street. Any drug-taking will land you in prison in which
case the British Embassy or Consulate are unable to help.

For guidance on further cultural issues please read the document Notes for long-term visitors to Argentina prepared by the
British Council in Buenos Aires for all UK visitors and not just Language Assistants.

Internet cafes can be found even in smaller towns. You will probably also be able to use the internet at your school but
please check this with your mentor teacher first and find out which procedure to follow. If you chose to take a laptop,
consider insuring it/ checking your insurance covers it in case of theft/damage.

12.1 Argentina                                 Argentina Travel Net                                 Guide to Argentina for Travelers                                  The Buenos Aires Herald                                          El sur del sur: summary of Argentina’s history and more                                         Argentina’s National Secretariat for Tourism                      University of Texas: Latin American Network Information Centre

12.2 General Travel                            (Also check out LP’s Thorn Tree forums)

12.3 Travel in Argentina                           Manuel Tienda León
Airlines                              Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral                                 Líneas Aéreas del Estado                             Andes Líneas Aéreas                                     LAN Argentina                                Online flight finder                            Online flight finder                             For flights to England
Bus companies (only a few bigger lines are listed here – please get local advice on local companies)                                Andesmar                         Chevallier                          El Rápido International                         Via Bariloche

12.4 Latin America                               Latin American Newsletter                              Search Engine for Iberoamerica and the Caribbean                                 Global Journal of Practical Ecotourism

12.5 Latin American Resource Centres                            Canning House in London                                  Latin America Bureau in London                    University of Cambridge: Centre of Latin American Studies

12.6 Health                                     World Health Organization                          MD Travel Health                                   Department of Health                        Obra social Unión Personal

12.7 Official                              Argentine Ministry of Education (International Cooperation Department)                     Argentinean Embassy in London                          British Council            British Council Argentina                                  Foreign and Commonwealth Office                                    ISIC Student Card                     Language Assistants Website

12.8 English Teaching                      English teaching resources                      Teaching English site with materials, workshops and links                          Teaching tips and activities for the students                             Excellent resources for beginner English                             Tool for making puzzles, word searches, crosswords                          Teaching resources and games                         Dave’s ESL café. Mixed resources                             English pronunciation pair work resource                Useful website of primary resources                            Advice for primary school teachers                 Articles to discuss with students          BBC Mundo website (world news available in Spanish and English)

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