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TEFL Certification and English Teaching Programs in Latin America

Robin Van Auken | Hands-on Heritage
Written By
By Robin Van Auken

Leverage your native English-speaking skills for the benefit of others with an international career teaching English as a foreign language! The demand for TEFL teachers is an all-time high as nearly 2 billion people worldwide are learning English. This means there are literally thousands of employment opportunities for English teachers, even those without prior teaching experience.

Latin America is a great place to launch your English teaching career, or even prep for it. There are 33 countries in this region, from South America to Central America and Mexico, and including some islands of the Caribbean. As the “New World,” whose people shared the experience of conquest and colonization by the Spaniards and Portuguese starting in the 15th century, it’s also one of the most interesting regions on the planet. In addition to Latin American culture – both high culture (literature and high art) and popular culture (music, folk art, and dance) – Latin America is enriched by the Africans who survived the Transatlantic slave trade, bringing with them influences in music, cuisine, and religion. It’s also a fusion of Asian cultures, due to immigration and indentured laborers who arrived late in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Spanish is the primary language spoken throughout Latin America, with Portuguese spoken in Brazil, and French in parts of the Caribbean and French Guiana, but English is highly sought after by those entering the workforce. In fact, it’s vitally important that people all across the world have access to quality English education.

When you complete a TEFL certification program in Latin America, you’ll be able to teach English to learners of all ages and skill levels even if you don’t have any prior experience as a teacher. More importantly, TEFL certification opens up new job opportunities and paid internships globally.

Take a look at some of the top TEFL and teach abroad opportunities you can sign up for in Latin America!

Featured Teach Abroad And TEFL Certification Programs

Maximo Nivel


Maximo Nivel is a leader in international education, study abroad, and travel in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Founded in 2003, this organization is a top-ranked local provider in Latin America, specializing in work abroad, study abroad, and travel abroad programming. Maximo Nivel works with more than 4,000 travelers each year to deliver high-quality, safe, and affordable programs.

TEFL Course Abroad

Maximo Nivel offers internationally-accredited programs for students, including TEFL certification, Spanish-immersion courses, study abroad, and university study at its world-renowned institutes. Get TEFL certified at Maximo Nivel’s four-week, 150-hour course in Latin America and find paid English teaching opportunities worldwide. As a TEFL trainer, you’ll participate in 100 hours of in-class instruction, 35 hours of reading and written assignments, and 15 hours of observation and practical teaching. Spend the final week of your course teaching an English class with real, non-native students so you can become more familiar with the work you’ll do as an ESL instructor. Click here to learn more!

TEFL certified or want to gain experience as a volunteer? Take a look the following teaching programs offered by Maximo Nivel in:

Central America

Guatemala – Teach at the Maximo Nivel English Institute in Guatemala or at public schools in Antigua, Guatemala City, and Xela. Students are eager to learn, making this opportunity a great choice for a first-time English teacher.

Costa Rica – Teach at the Maximo Nivel English Institute in Costa Rica, or at public schools in San Jose. Students here are serious about their studies, with the ‘pura vida’ attitude, which makes Costa Rica a great place to begin an international English teaching career.

South America

Peru – Teach at the Maximo Nivel English Institute in Peru, or at public schools in Cusco, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, and Lima. Peruvians value their academic credentials and wish to advance their English language skills to succeed in the international job market.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)


International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is a leading volunteer travel organization, aligned with NGOs and community-based groups in more than 40 destinations around the world. Founded in 2007, IVHQ offers more than 200 affordable projects and has placed more than 94,500 volunteers abroad. A trusted volunteer organization, IVHQ offers volunteer programs, internships, TEFL certifications, as well as adventure travel.

TEFL Certification Courses

Teaching English as a foreign language is a challenge, and if you’re an aspiring teacher, or if you’re interested in improving your current teaching skills, consider an online TEFL certification course with IVHQ, who has partnered with CCELT Online to offer discounted rates of just $399 for this program. This 100-hour course was developed by language acquisition specialists to help you teach abroad successfully – it’s a flexible option that you can schedule around your current studies or work schedule, and complete at your own pace. Learn more here and get started today!

Teaching English Overseas

Access to education and the opportunity to study the English language is highly valued overseas, and your assistance is gratefully accepted in the countries where IVHQ is located. As a teaching volunteer, you’ll work alongside local teachers to promote literacy, support higher education, build vocational skills, and help to enhance the future prospects of students in needy countries. Choose to teach independently, or support educational staff, or team up with other international volunteers to offer lessons in non-traditional settings, such as community centers, childcare centers, and special needs facilities. Learn more about teaching English overseas with IVHQ here, or check out the following Latin American destinations that are in need of English teachers:


Mexico – Merida – Join IVHQ in Merida to teach English, inspiring Mexican students to build bright futures. While on the project, learn Spanish with affordable lessons. Help to plan activities to reinforce the weekly theme, prepare worksheets, play educational games, help with homework, and review lessons.

The Caribbean

Jamaica – Volunteer with a teaching project in Jamaica, supporting instructors with academic and non-academic subjects for elementary school students. This placement is well-suited to creative volunteers with initiative and a passion for teaching.

Central America

Costa Rica – Teach English in San Jose or Manuel Antonio, helping to develop the English language skills of students from low-income communities of Costa Rica.

Guatemala – Teach in Antigua, and help to provide free English lessons to adults and children so they can learn the language.

South America

Argentina – Buenos Aires or Cordoba – Volunteer teaching as part of an integrative educational project that addresses issues of poverty and illiteracy in low-income communities.

Brazil – If you have a passion for teaching, you can help to supplement what students have learned in school and provide those who have never had any English instruction with an opportunity to learn the language.

Colombia – Bogota or Cartagena – Volunteer to provide educational support for Colombian students in learning mathematics, science, humanities, music, sports, dance and art, as well as the experience of conversing with fluent English speakers.

Peru – Cusco or Lima – Work in local schools as well as community and rehabilitation centers, providing tutoring to students, hosting workshops, assisting teachers, and organizing educational games and activities.

Ecuador – Santa Elena or Quito – Volunteer to assist Ecuadorian teachers in primary and kindergarten classes, teaching preschool math, writing, reading and art lessons, as well as helping out with lunch and playtime.

Plan My Gap Year


Plan My Gap Year works with communities in need around the world, sending more than 4,000 travelers overseas each year to Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America. Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year empowers volunteers to travel, understand, and make an impact. Plan My Gap Year has received numerous awards, including recognition from the United Nations for its work in Sri Lanka. All programs are personally inspected and vetted by the team, and risk assessment is performed on an annual basis.

TEFL Express Will Get You Prepped

Plan My Gap Year offers TEFL Express, a 60-hour, internationally-recognized and accredited online course that allows you to learn the core principles of teaching English on your own time, at your own pace. This course helps to give you a firm foundation, and teaches you the core principles of Teaching English and Survival Teaching, and when you combine it with a Plan My Gap Year volunteer program, you’ll save up to 30% on the cost. If you find that teaching really is your calling, this course can be built upon with more modules leading to a paid teaching position in the future. Learn more here.

Plan My Gap Year’s TEFL course is ideal for anyone planning to become a volunteer English teacher, but if you’re looking to volunteer only, this organization offers teaching opportunities in:

Central America

Costa Rica – If you speak basic to intermediate Spanish, consider teaching English in Coronado, Costa Rica. You’ll assist teachers at a nursery, primary and secondary education center for children aged three to 18.

South America

Ecuador – Teach English in Quito in two different environments based upon your interests: A typical Ecuadorian classroom or a school for the blind and deaf.

Peru – Assist teachers in the overcrowded classes in Cusco, teaching English as well as math and communication. Volunteers are needed in regular and special needs schools.

Love Volunteers

teach abroad with Love Volunteers

If you’re a teacher looking for an affordable and short stay overseas, take a look at Love Volunteers, a trusted and highly-rated volunteer abroad organization. Launched in 2009, Love Volunteers has placed more than 20,000 travelers abroad on meaningful projects. This organization works in 34 countries worldwide, with more than 120 different programs to choose from.

English is becoming increasingly important in Latin America to securing employment. If you’re interested in a wonderful educational support or English teaching program in Latin America with Love Volunteers, check out its affordable programs lasting from one to four weeks in the following destinations:

The Caribbean

Grenada – St Georges – Volunteer in Grenada to help improve the education and literacy levels of children and young people and take time to explore this beautiful Caribbean island while you’re there.

Jamaica – Mandeville – Friendly people and sunny beaches makes Jamaica a great place to volunteer on a worthwhile project. the education program works across all levels of schooling, especially in communities where resources are limited and literacy rates are low.

Central America

Costa Rica – Playa JacoSanta Barbara de Heredia, or San Ramon – Provide education support in Costa Rica, assisting teachers and helping to improve the English speaking abilities of children here. Choose from one of three beautiful locations.

Guatemala – Volunteer as a teaching assistant in Guatemala school program and meet wonderful children and teens who are eager to improve their English and learn new skills. You can make a difference in the lives of children with an uncertain future.

Honduras – Travel to El Porvenir and join a new school that provides free English classes for kindergarten, elementary, teenage, and adult students. The ability to speak English unlocks a world of possibilities for the older students, often within the service and tourism industries.

South America

Brazil – Rio de Janeiro – Volunteer in the Favela English program and work in Rio de Janeiro’s largest shanty town communities: Complexo do Alemão, as well as the favelas of Vidigal and Rocinha. You’ll help to offer free, short-term, intensive English lessons to residents to prepare for the job market and school exams.

Colombia – Cartagena – Travel to Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage city that is a delight to experience! Volunteer there to provide free lessons to youth and adults and help them improve their English language skills.

Ecuador – Quito – Join other teaching volunteers in Quito and improve the future prospects of its impoverished children, helping them to break the cycle of poverty.

Projects Abroad


Projects Abroad offers a variety of global service opportunities, allowing volunteers to immerse themselves in the language and culture of their chosen host country, while having a meaningful impact on the lives of its residents. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has placed more than 100,000 people to work in 38 countries around the world. Project types range from volunteering, internships, high school specials, alternative spring breaks, gap years, language courses, and programs for professionals.

Volunteer teachers not only offer English lessons, but can instruct in a variety of subjects, including English, Spanish, geography, history, math, IT, and physical education. You can also get involved in teaching extracurricular activities such as art, dance, drama, and music. Most schools need your help as an assistant, supporting teachers with their lessons, but you’ll also have plenty of opportunity for input and grow your confidence as an instructor. Check out the Projects Abroad in these Latin American locations:


Mexico – Guadalajara, Cuyutlan – Volunteer as a teaching assistant in elementary schools, high schools, or colleges in a country with limited resources, helping students improve their conversation skills.

The Caribbean

Jamaica – Mandeville, St Elizabeth – Gain practical classroom experience while helping to raise the literacy levels of young and older students when you volunteer as a classroom assistant in a primary or secondary school in Jamaica.

Central America

Belize – San Pedro – Work alongside teachers in a primary or secondary school, or support education for disadvantaged children and raise literacy levels in Belize.

Costa Rica – Heredia – Costa Rica’s tourism and coffee industry needs its residents to speak, read, and write in English, and you can help by improving students’ conversational English.

South America

Ecuador – Galapagos Islands – Work alongside teachers in the Galapagos, supporting students with conversational English and giving them confidence with speaking. Gain practical experience developing lessons and activities in this unique destination!

Peru – Cusco – Travel to Cusco, Peru and help young students and teachers improve their English-speaking skills. Work at disadvantaged schools, and gain classroom experience for your future career.

A Broader View Volunteers Corp


A Broader View offers more than 245 projects in 25 countries. A nonprofit organization, ABV has 20 years of travel and hospitality experience and was founded with the belief that a single person can make a difference in the world, whether it’s for one week, or several months. To date, they have donated $3 million to their overseas partners and sent over 12,000 volunteers abroad since 2007. A Broader View offers five different teaching English in Latin America programs.

Teach conversational English, assist teachers, organize and lead lessons, and help to supervise students’ free time with A Broader View in South America. Check out the following programs and choose your destination today:

Central America

Costa Rica – Escazu – Contribute to the welfare of the education system in Costa Rica, and help support a preschool for underprivileged families. Tutor students in need, and get involved in teaching extra-curricular activities such as art, dance, drama, and music.

Guatemala – Guatemala City – Help change the outlook of children in Guatemala when you show them the importance of an education. Children here don’t often go to school, and they need help prioritizing education. Help teach English, as well as teaching sports classes, painting, drawing, crafts and dance.

Honduras – La Ceiba – Hospitality work is a growing industry in La Ceiba, and English-speaking jobs are important for the economy. You can help school children master grammar and learn conversational English as a volunteer here.

South America

Chile – La Serena – The Chilean government has a goal to become a fully bilingual country, and English is taught in all schools. When you volunteer to teach English here, you’ll work closely with teaches, helping with students’ pronunciation, verbal exercises, correct grammar and spelling.

Ecuador – Galapagos – Work with indigenous communities in Santa Cruz, Ecuador, teaching conversational English at public schools. Volunteers are needed to help with English lessons, recreation and also developmental needs of the children.

Peru – Cusco – English programs in Peru are focused in Cusco’s Mariscal Gamarra neighborhood, where volunteers are needed to help at under-resourced schools. Being able to speak English helps the children here avoid a life of poverty.

Cross-Cultural Solutions


Cross-Cultural Solutions offers international internships, gap year experiences, volunteer trips, and high school volunteering programs in nine countries throughout Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Founded in 1995, its programs focus on important topics such as child development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and global health. To date, nearly 35,000 volunteers have traveled with Cross-Cultural Solutions.

Join Cross-Cultural Solutions in Latin America on a child education project that will change your life, as you influence the futures of others. Students attend classes in overcrowded schools with a shortage of teachers and limited availability. You can provide a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy, social and emotional skills, and motor skills, while providing the positive start children and families need to achieve long-term goals.

Central America

Costa Rica – Guanacaste – Families struggle for a decent education in Guanacaste because of overcrowded schools and teacher shortages. As a volunteer, your help is needed to provide a foundation in literacy, numeracy, social and emotional skills, and motor skills.

Tecpán Guatemala – Help break the cycle of poverty in Tecpan where schools lack critical resources, even textbooks, and struggle to keep students attending past the sixth grade. Help is needed to provide engaging lessons and activities to young children in primary schools, giving them the individual attention and resources to be successful.

South America

Peru – Lima – Poverty in Lima impacts all, but the displaced people suffer the most. As a result, education is lacking in these temporary communities. You can help to improve the day-to-day education of children through activities, instruction, and individual support at day care centers and pre-schools. Your care and attention can give these families a positive start to meeting their educational goals.

Look Before You Leap

Excited to get started? Look before you leap, because not all TEFL classes are the same. There are established professional standards that are recognized globally, so don’t opt for the first inexpensive, self-taught certifications you may find online. Choose an accredited curriculum from a trusted, recognized organization that offers job placement assistance and you’ll be set up for success.

Once you’re a trained teacher with a TEFL certification, you will enjoy a rewarding and satisfying teaching experience abroad. You owe it to yourself to get proper training before traveling if you want to feel confident and comfortable in a classroom as an English teacher abroad!

Want to know more about TEFL certification abroad? Check out these articles!

2018 – 2019 Best Teach Abroad and TEFL Programs

Teach English Abroad: What’s the Difference Between TEFL, TESOL and CELTA?

TEFL Certification and English Teaching Programs in Asia