Teaching English as a Second Language in Brazil

For anyone interested in moving to Brazil to teach English as a second language, know that it is an extremely difficult process, yet the payoff of having the privilege to live in such an amazing country is huge! Currently I am teaching English part-time at a lovely school called Spezzia Idiomas. I am an anomaly as I moved to Joinville, Brazil with my husband for his job, and I have a Viper Visa which makes me a permanent resident of Brazil. Therefore I am allowed to legally work. I had to go to the labor department to apply for a work card which was a tricky process but all of my paperwork allows me to be 100% legal in Brazil.

It is difficult to get a Brazilian work Visa. In fact most English teachers come to Brazil on tourist or student visas and work illegally. From what I hear the Brazilian government is a little too busy with other major problems to crack down hard on poor English teachers working illegally. Businesses however caught hiring illegal workers can face a lot of problems so many English schools will not hire a foreigner to teach without a legit work Visa.

A very important thing anyone interested in teaching English abroad in Brazil should know is that Brazil already has a lot of Brazilian English teachers and most of them speak English really well. Therefore in Brazil there is not a huge demand for English teachers as there is an English school in just about every neighborhood, sometimes as many as 5 or 6 of them. Also, most of the Brazilians who teach English studied abroad in the United States, Canada, or the UK and there is a lot of competition.

Spezzia Teachers

My Fellow Teachers

A second point I would like to make is that the salary to teach English in Brazil is much lower than in Asian countries including South Korea. In Joinville where I live, which is in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, the average hourly pay is around 20-25 Reals per hour if you are teaching at a school. That is between $6.96-$8.71 USD per hour. However, to give you some perspective the minimum wage in Brazil averages between $2-$3 USD per hour. Teachers that teach private lessons charge anywhere between 50-65 Reals an hour, but often they will travel to the students’ homes. So teaching private lessons is where the foreign teacher can earn more money.

In addition, unlike English schools in Asia, Brazilian schools rarely assist English teachers with getting a work Visa as it is very expensive for the school, and they seldom pay for housing.

You may think, “But things are cheaper in Brazil, right?” Wrong! The cost of living in Brazil is higher than the cost of living in the United States. Also, the Real, the Brazilian currency, has taken a big dive over the past 7 months, gasoline prices have increased and electricity is soon to go up as well. In the past it was possible to teach and make a decent living in Brazil but currently it is more difficult. However, it is quite possible to live on a teachers’ salary in Brazil and people do it all the time. You can earn enough money to pay your bills and have a social life, but don’t expect to be able to save a lot of money like you can in some of the Asian countries. Most English teachers don’t come to Brazil for the pay, but rather the experience, and of course the beautiful beaches which are free to everyone!

Brazil Flag Beach

My situation is different from most people who move to another country to teach English. I was once the single English teacher in Korea. Now I am married and we moved to Brazil for my husbands’ career. I’m teaching because it is a lot of fun and teaching fills the gap in my resume. If money is your prime motivating factor you may want to look into teaching English in Asia. But if you want a wonderful experience, love beautiful beaches, friendly and accepting people, and learning a new language, Brazil is the place to be!

What are Brazilian students like? I’ve taught English in three countries now and Brazilian students are my favorite students to work with! I enjoy sharing with them my experiences living in the United States, travelling to different places, and they love to teach me all about Brazil and give me great travel tips and advice.

Brazil Bar Class

Having Class Over a Couple Liters of Chopp!


Another thing I love about Brazilian students is that they are so open. This makes for some awesome conversation classes that do not feel like work at all, but like visiting with good friends. They love to talk about things openly that a lot of people from the United States shy away from. We have wonderful conversations about politics, religion, and other topics Americans often find too controversial. My Brazilian students are very accepting of others points of views and nothing is considered off the table in regard to great conversations. When teaching, I have to watch the clock very carefully because I find it is so easy to lose track of time because we have so much fun.

cooking class

Cooking Class – American Hamburgers

What is it like working in a private for-profit school in Brazil? My boss, Rafaela constantly seeks input from the teachers at our school and welcomes our ideas. She is very enthusiastic and loves trying new approaches. From teaching cooking classes in English, classes about American culture, to holding classes outside the school in restuarants, teaching at Spezzia Idiomas is very entertaining and fun!


Click the Picture to Visit Spezzia’s Website!

Rafaela treats the teachers and secretaries as co-workers, friends, and teammates.  She values our opinions. This approach to management is very different than the approach school Directors in Korea take – which you can read abou in my article on teaching English in Korea.

Brazil Hawaii Class

Hawaii Class

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be part of an amazing team! It is also great to work with co-workers who treat me like a friend and value my thoughts and ideas, even if they don’t come across too clearly in my broken Portuguese! Rafaela and the other teachers and secretaries have reached out to help me navigate difficult tasks in Brazil, from vocabulary on how to get the oil changed in my car, to doctor’s visits, helping me find a good mechanic, and what I should wear when I go to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval.

Brazil Birthday Party

My First Summer Birthday with Friends and Coworkers!

Teaching in Brazil has been by far, my favorite teaching experience! I would love to hear any comments or experiences of others teaching English. What is your favorite teaching experience and why?