I thought some of you might want to know what a typical day/week is like for me as an English Teacher in Chile. First of all, I work for a language company so it is not connected whatsoever to the public/private school calendar. (I happened to start right around the time school was starting for most kids in Santiago, but it seems as though the company hires pretty much year-round. However, I hear there is a lack of hours from December-March). With that said, my schedule is a bit crazier than a normal school day.
My students are of varying ages ranging from 5 years up to 50s or 60s. Most of them work or go to school, so that means my schedule must fit around theirs. I have 2 students who are taking private lessons and whom I teach at their office in the morning. I also have some private students that I teach at the school locations. There is a school in the Providencia neighborhood of Santiago and there is one in Las Condes. They are 4 metro stops apart, and the closest one (Providencia) is 7 metro stops from my apartment. The private on-site classes are in the same area. Typically it takes ~30-45 minutes to get to my classes. Other than private students, I do have some small group classes of about 4-6 students each, which I teach at the schools. Classes usually last an hour or an hour and a half.
I mostly teach adults, but I do have kids on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. The kids’ classes are all 2 hours each and I have 3 different age groups. My youngest group is 5-year-olds. I also have a group of kids who are about 10-12, and another that is 13-16. Oddly enough, my teenagers are the best behaved and my preferred kids’ class to teach. The 5-year-olds have so much energy and are also just done with learning since I teach them on Fridays at 5pm! By far, I prefer the adult students because of the conversations we have in class and the things they teach me about Chile. Some of them I would even consider friends.
The classes are all different levels, but the students are at least grouped according to skill-level. At the company I work for, they use the Common European Framework, meaning the students range from level A1 to C2. A1 is the most basic and C2 is very advanced. Within each level though, there are 3 classes. So there is A1-1, A1-2, A1-3, B1-1, and so on. Currently I have levels A1-2, B1-1, B1-2, C1-1, and I just finished with a private A2-2 student. It has certainly given me lots of experience! There is a book for each level so that I don’t have to prepare my own exercises and activities, and it also gives me a good guideline of what grammar to teach based on the level. However, I do try to supplement my classes so they are more interesting.
My earliest class is at 7:45am on Tuesday mornings. That one is brutal, but I have a long break afterwards so I am able to come home and take a nap if I need to. Otherwise, I usually don’t start until 9:00am (M-W-F-Sat). My latest class is from 7-8:30pm, which is pretty much Monday-Friday right now. Soon though, my Friday evening class will be changing the schedule and I will be done after my kids’ class at 7pm on Fridays. As you can imagine, there are days where I am gone for about 13 hours (8am to 9pm). Sadly, I am only paid for the time in the classroom, which equals out to be about 25 hours/week right now. It also makes for late dinners, which I am still not used to. Chileans usually eat between 8 and 10pm, but I am finding it very difficult, not only to wait that long, but also to eat so soon before bedtime. As a result, I stay up later than I would like.
With all of the downtime I have during the day, I usually lesson plan and keep myself organized for my classes. Luckily, the school has resources to print things and make copies, as well as some old books and flashcards to use in the classroom. Oftentimes at the Las Condes school, I also create SmartBoard presentations that I can save to my own folder and have ready for a future lesson. When I am not lesson planning, I go to lunch or the mall. On Mondays, I have started taking Spanish lessons with a Chilean teacher who works at the same language company and who also has a break at the same time. If I have more than a 3-hour break, I go home to run/eat/nap/whatever.
Overall, I have been very happy with my job so far. While the schedule might look hectic to you, I’ve gotten used to it. Obviously it is not ideal, but I am lucky to do a job that I enjoy and to have enough hours to pay my bills. I don’t get a lot of time off, which is a bummer, but then I have to remind myself that I didn’t come to Chile to travel. I came to teach English and to ‘live’ in a foreign country again. I’m learning a lot about myself, Chile, teaching, and what I want in a career. And that was the whole point.