English Language Assistants to Latin America 2011-2012 Supplementary Notes for Applicants Disclaimer: 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. Last Updated: September 2010 INTRODUCTION We have a wide range of exciting opportunities in six countries of this diverse continent. Please ensure you have read the information contained below before making your application. It is essential that you carry out the necessary research before your interview both in travel guides and on the Internet to find out which country, which type of institution and what type of environment will suit you most. Life in Latin America is very different to that in the UK. You will need to be mature, adaptable and open-minded. Things can take longer to organise both prior to departure and whilst in the country, which can be frustrating. However, if you know what to expect then the whole process should go more smoothly! Both undergraduates and graduates are encouraged to apply. You must have A-level/Higher Grade or equivalent in Spanish. You do not necessarily have to be studying Spanish at university, although we expect the majority of applicants will be. WHAT ARE THE COSTS INVOLVED? You will receive a salary for your work as an assistant (see individual country information) but you must makes sure you can afford the initial costs involved:- • Attending interview in London, Edinburgh or Belfast • Attending one-day briefing meeting in London prior to departure • Travel to London to apply for visa (it is not always possible to co- ordinate with the above). This can be and is usually quite close to your departure date. • Flight ticket: we recommend you buy a return ticket to your destination and check the cost of changing the return date. (With a student BLUE Ticket for under 26s, this cost is often reduced). Buying two singles is likely to be much more expensive and can be subject to currency fluctuations. See websites below for more information. • Insurance: there are no reciprocal healthcare agreements between Latin American countries and the UK. In some countries, medical insurance is provided, but we recommend you take out a policy that covers emergency repatriation to the UK. In some countries it is compulsory to take out private medical insurance. • The visa: the procedure and cost for obtaining a visa is not necessarily the same every year, but you should be prepared to travel to London in the two weeks prior to departure to apply for the visa. It is not usually possible to apply by post. We are not in a position to predict the exact costs for each country as they may vary each year, but for some countries they can be around £160. However, the Chilean visa cost is higher – please see country specific information for Chile for further information. • Vaccinations: assistants appointed to some areas might be advised to get vaccinations for certain diseases. You must consult your GP for advice on this. You should also try to plan ahead and get jabs for areas you are likely to visit in the holidays, although this can usually be done locally. The British Council is unable to advise on which vaccinations to obtain. The following websites may be useful for researching airfares. You should note that we do not recommend you purchase a flight until the destination of your appointment and the arrival date have been confirmed. This is sometimes within a month of departure and the eventual cost may be higher than prices advertised now, often up to around £1000. STA travel http://www.statravel.co.uk Trailfinders http://www.trailfinders.com/ Cheap flights http://www.cheapflights.co.uk E-bookers http://www.ebookers.com Student Flight http://www.studentflight.co.uk/ Latin Tickets http://www.latintickets.com/ Other Useful websites Journey Latin America http://www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk/ Lonely Planet Traveller’s Forum http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa IS TEACHING EXPERIENCE ESSENTIAL? No, not in most cases, but it may help to have had some experience of planning activities and speaking in front of large groups. Many assistants in Latin America take whole classes but are not responsible for the overall curriculum for the students. However, there are some posts in Chile and Colombia where this is the case and certain applicants will be selected for these. Preference is given to undergraduates for posts in Argentina and to graduates in Colombia. However if you are confident, resourceful and ready for a challenge, then you are halfway there. WILL THERE BE ANY TRAINING? Yes, there will be an induction course at the British Council in London in late June/early July where advice is given. You will also receive a ‘Language Assistant manual’ and online support and guidance while you are abroad. Applicants applying through our offices in Belfast and Edinburgh will also have the opportunity to attend a local course. St Martin’s College in Lancaster usually offers a week’s course for British Council language assistants. In addition, each institution in Latin America offers its own form of training and observation, but the extent of this varies depending on the institution. There will also be an induction course at the British Council in the country on arrival, except in Ecuador and Paraguay where courses are held at the employing institutions as there is no British Council Office. WHAT IS THE SALARY? This is described in the individual country section, but is only a rough indication as exchange rates fluctuate. The monthly allowance in each country is intended to provide a reasonable basic standard of living for one person and actually exceeds the level of pay for some local teachers. You are advised to be sensitive to this when dealing with other teachers. The payment is usually made into a local bank account or you may be paid in cash. If you wish to go travelling during the holidays you will need to take extra money with you. DO I HAVE TO FIND MY OWN ACCOMMODATION? In most cases yes, although if you contact your host institution before you arrive it is usually possible for them to arrange somewhere to stay for you on arrival - you will not be left on the streets! However, in most cases the accommodation provided is only temporary and you may have to find something more permanent. Your employing institution should be able to provide guidance. WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE APPLYING? Passports You must have a valid full passport before leaving the UK and ensure that it will not need to be renewed before the date three months after you return to the UK. If you do not have a UK or Irish passport, we need to be aware of this and you should indicate this on your application form. Travel The approximate period of appointment for Language Assistantship Posts in Latin America is as follows: Argentina: 15 March 2012 – 15 July 2012 (four month posts in Argentina only) Chile: Late July/late August 2011 – late June/late July 2012 Colombia: Late July 2011 - late May 2012 Ecuador: 1st August – 30th May 2012 Mexico: Early September 2011 - late June 2012 Paraguay: Late July 2011 for 12 months Please note that you may have to arrive a few days early for an induction course. You will be informed of the exact start date around two months before departure. It is not possible to be accepted on the programme if you are not available for the full duration of the appointment. You should always ensure you are in the UK at least two weeks prior to departure in order to obtain your visa. Visas Please refer to the information given above. Obtaining a visa can be a frustrating process as certain documentation is required which is not always available until shortly before departure. Authorisation normally has to be sent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country to the relevant embassy in London before a visa can be obtained. It is not possible to arrange to collect a visa from an embassy or consulate outside the UK. COUNTRY SPECIFIC INFORMATION ARGENTINA: Mid March 2012– mid July 2012 only. There are usually eight posts in secondary schools, language centres and teacher training colleges. You will be required to work around 12-18 hours per week and there may be opportunities to work more hours. Class sizes can vary from 10-30 students depending on the institution and in the language centres and teacher training colleges you may be working with adult learners. There may be some opportunities for independent teaching and to set up English clubs for young learners with more activity-based exercises. You will be paid a monthly allowance by your institution which is intended to provide a reasonable basic standard of living for one person. The locations of the posts are not the same every year, but are usually in cities. We do not expect to find out the location of the posts prior to interviews, so flexibility is encouraged. Please note that there is usually only one post in Buenos Aires. Argentina is one of the most ‘European’ countries in Latin America with a variety of amazing natural scenery. Assistants in Argentina are rarely placed in the same location as one another, so if you are thinking of applying, you should be adaptable and independent. If selected, you are likely to find out which province you have been allocated to in late January/February, only a month or two before departure. You will be assigned to a co-ordinator who will be based locally and will have e-mail contact with them shortly before departure. They will have the final say regarding which institution you are placed at and this will depend on local priorities. CHILE: Late July/late August 2011– late June/late July 2012 There will be around 40 posts in universities and possibly an additional two posts in primary schools. The number of hours worked will be around 15 per week. You may be asked to work additional hours, but will be paid extra on a pro-rata basis. It is important to point out that the programme in Chile is not organised through the Ministry of Education and the institutions where you work are all independent bodies and decide their own rate of pay for their assistants. Therefore there will be a slight difference in pay between institutions. You should not react negatively if you receive less money than another assistant as there may be other comparable areas in which you are better off. All salaries will be entirely sufficient to cover all essential expenses (accommodation, food and travel within your town or city). It is not designed to provide you with ample savings with which to travel with and you should try to take some extra funding if you want to do a lot of this. In 2010-11, the Language Assistants travelled on student visas. The cost of the visa was £622. We are trying to negotiate a different visa for this year but assistants should be prepared that visa costs for Chile can be very high. The size of classes ranges from 10 to 20 students at universities and 30 to 40 at schools (half a full-size class). The age of students can be up to 30 at university, but on average is between 18 and 21. There are also usually two posts in primary schools. Posts are likely to be in Antofagasta, Santiago, Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Concepción, Temuco and Talca with one post in Arica in the far north of the country and another one in Valdivia in the south of the country. Around five posts are likely to be with the DUOC-UC in and around Santiago. These posts require assistants to take whole responsibility for the progression of a group of around 15 students for two semesters, setting and marking work, choosing relevant discussion topics and helping with exams. If you have teaching experience, or a keen interest in teaching, you may be suitable for one of these posts. From glaciers in the south to the desert of the North, Chile is an incredibly diverse country. Most posts are located in central Chile, with the majority in or around Santiago - one of Latin America’s largest and most vibrant cities. The only exception is the post in Arica. Only 20km from the border with Peru, Arica is much more remote and has a warmer climate. Chile is one of the easiest countries to settle into, especially if you have not visited Latin America before. COLOMBIA: Late July 2011 - late May 2012 There will be around 20 posts, mainly in primary and secondary government run schools and universities. British Council Colombia has partnerships with educational organisations across the country so the type of institution you might teach at can vary tremendously. The size of classes ranges from 40 to 50 students. The age of primary children is from 6 to 11 or 12, secondary children are between 11 and 18, and university students are aged 19+. British Council Colombia’s recruitment process is very personalised and they do their best to accommodate you with a close a match as possible to where you would like to live and teach. This year, assistants were placed mainly in Bogotá and other cities such as Medellín, Barranquilla, Cali, Ibagué, Tunja, Pamplona y Valledupar in schools and universities with whom British Council Colombia have an established working relationship. The monthly allowance for 2010-11 is currently 1.545.000 Colombian pesos which is calculated to be three times the minimum national salary and will increase in line with this for 2011-12. This is about £535 per month at the time of writing (Aug ’10). Cost of living in Colombia is low and being a Language Assistant offers you a salary which will mean you can enjoy living comfortably. You can expect to work about 18 hours a week, and the programme allows for an amount of paid leave (holiday), giving you the time to travel and see what the rest of the country has to offer. You will also receive comprehensive medical insurance coverage, and the support both of the British Council and ICETEX, the State organization administering the Colombian government grants scheme. Colombia has had an abundance of negative press in the past, but Colombia offers a fantastic context in which to live the experience of being a Language Assistant in Latin America. The country is hugely diverse, and is often described as one of South America’s hidden treasures. In recent years the security situation has improved greatly in Colombia, and once you arrive you will find that in most places life appears as normal as anywhere else. Bearing in mind the local British Embassy guidelines on travel and security and taking the usual precautions it is safe to travel within the country. It's true that some remote regions of the country suffer guerrilla and paramilitary insurgence, but the British Council, working closely with the Foreign Office, only arranges placements in secure locations. For more information on Colombia you can take a look at http://www.turismocolombia.com/en/ and http://www.colombiaespasion.com Assistants in Colombia in the past have found their posts very rewarding and the programme would not exist if we felt there was a major threat to your safety. However, we are looking for people who are seeking a challenge, both professionally and on a personal level, who are adaptable, mature and are preferably well-travelled and can deal with the potential frustrations of getting things done in a country where timescales and deadlines are often on a different level to that of the UK. That said, wherever you go in Colombia one thing is for sure; you will find people are hugely friendly, helpful and welcoming, making your experience of living and working there truly unforgettable.” ECUADOR: 1st August 2011 – 30th May 2012 There is no British Council in Ecuador and we work directly with the Catholic University of Ambato who host three assistants each year. You will normally work between 15 and18 lessons per week, in 60-minute lesson periods. The monthly allowance will be the equivalent of US$400 for the coming academic year and is intended to provide a reasonable basic standard of living for one person. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll make money for savings, your accommodation is paid for by the University and most Assistants find that the salary is enough to live on and for travel around Ecuador. The scheduled hours are usually in the afternoon and evening, Monday to Friday, but morning courses are also offered. The English department offers English courses for students aged 15 and over. Although the number of students varies between semesters, there are approximately 900 students who are placed in groups of 15-20 students according to their level. Most of the students will have upper intermediate or advanced level English. In spite of being one of the smallest countries in South America, Ecuador has some of the world’s most varied geography. The Andes Mountains form the backbone of the country, separating the tropical Amazon jungle from the lush coastal regions. Ambato is in central Ecuador and has around 250,000 inhabitants. The University in Ambato provides assistants with an apartment located 5-10 minutes walk from the University. If you’re looking for an experience in Latin America but would prefer the security of being placed with other assistants, a post in Ecuador could be for you. MEXICO: Early September 2011 – late June 2012 Your contract will be with the local Ministry of Education (SEP – Secretaría de Educación Publica). You will be expected to work up to 14 hours a week, although some institutions are able to offer additional hours if requested. The monthly allowance is of approximately 8000 Pesos which is intended to provide a reasonable basic standard of living. The size of classes varies from 10 to 30 students depending on the type of institution. Students at universities or language institutes will be aged between 18 and 30, at secondary schools between 12 and 18 and at Primary Schools between 6 and 11. There are likely to be 35 posts around the country. In recent years, these have been in Mexico City (Distrito Federal), Estado de México, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Yucatan, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Tabasco, Puebla, Baja California Sur, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, Aguascalientes, and Veracruz. Mexico is a fantastic mix of archaeological sites, fiestas, cultures, food, music and landscapes. It is usually the most popular destination for applicants to Latin America. Although it is seen as one of the easiest countries for Europeans to settle in, you will need to be resourceful, confident of making friends and coping on your own initially. PARAGUAY: Late July 2011 for 12 months There is no British Council or British Embassy in Paraguay. There are usually five posts at the Asociación Cultural Paraguayo-Británica (the ‘Anglo’- http://www.anglo.edu.py/ ): four at their language institute in Asunción, and one in their branch in Fernando de la Mora, 40 minutes away from the headquarters in the capital. You will be expected to work a minimum of 12 hours a week, but most assistants teach between 20-26 hours depending on their teaching capacity. The minimum 12 hours a week is calculated as 50 hours per month, for which you will be paid roughly US$220 at the current exchange rate (Nov 2009.). Your salary will be higher if you work more hours which are readily available with many assistants in the past working up to 18- 20 hours/week.. The Anglo also offers in-company classes to managers or employees. These classes are paid at a special rate that includes a transport allowance. You must be prepared to teach classes at various times of the day including Saturdays which is the busiest day (40% of the students come in on Saturdays!). It is usually possible to take time off if required as long as you are able to find another teacher to cover your classes. The week between Christmas and New Year is a holiday, and classes will finish on between the 20th-22nd of December. January and February are holiday months, and students will return for classes during the last week of February. Holidays are paid. All teachers in the Anglo receive 22 hours of training, constant support and a handbook covering procedures. The language centre also provides assistants with a teaching pack (including a teacher’s book, student’s book, workbook and audio materials), supplementary materials and internet. There will be a wide variety of students with around 10 to 20 to a class, ranging from children to adults. Posts in Paraguay may suit candidates who are considering teaching as a career, as assistants here are always given the opportunity to teach students directly and are regarded as teachers rather than assistants. You may also get the chance to participate in local social and cultural projects such as fund raising events, drama clubs, special interest workshops (e.g. history, literature, etc) and festivals. Assistants are encouraged and supported to contribute to the English-learning community. Paraguay is relatively off the beaten track compared to other Latin American countries and is a great place to work if you are looking for a totally new and different experience. Rich in ethnic diversity, the country has its own language, Guaraní, although the vast majority of people are bilingual and speak Spanish as well. It is ideally placed for travel to Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil in the holidays. Asuncion (currently the second cheapest city in the world) itself has a population of 1.2 million, but still has a small town feel about it with a vibrant social scene. If you are interested in a unique experience and would prefer the security of being placed with other assistants, Paraguay could be a good choice for you. APPLICANTS FOR ALL COUNTRIES We encourage all applicants to carry out research on the Internet and from guidebooks prior to application and interview. The more research you carry out initially, the more likely we are to be able to find a post that is suitable for you and the better prepared you will be for the year ahead. We strongly urge you not to choose countries just on the basis of the dates of appointment being the most convenient for you. Good luck with your application!
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