Published: 15 March, 2015  |  Last updated: 03 November, 2016

Teaching English in Contagem, Brazil

Contagem, Brazil 

Report submitted on 27 February, 2015 by Karen.

Teaching English in Contagem, Brazil:

How can teachers find teaching jobs in Contagem, Brazil?
Most private schools require you to take the Cambridge test. But if you are going to teach English at the public schools you must have a bachelor´s in English.

The main English teaching jobs available are:
Part time English language school positions.

What are the minimum teaching requirements?
I’m not sure. I do know my nephew passed Cambridge´s FCE and was given a part time job, but when they needed to lay off some teachers he was one of the first to go.

What teaching requirements would you recommend?
I would think that a certificate in Advanced English would be sufficient.

What are the levels of payment?
Private conversation classes US$30-US$75 an hour. I don’t know what other pay is because I am my own boss (I charge about US$15).  I charge less than half the most expensive schools charge and a little lower than say Kumon.

How many teaching days a week is normal?
Two days per week.

How many face-to-face teaching hours a week is normal?
Two hours per week.

What is the normal arrangement for holidays?
Brazil loves holidays and no one expects to have to work much less study. Exception: Kumon that is Japanese.

What advice would you give to someone considering coming to Contagem, Brazil to teach English?
Seek out Businesses. They pay well and have accommodation for you to teach at. They are always searching for qualified teachers.

What are the positive aspects of teaching English in Contagem, Brazil?
Pretty much everyone loves English. They know the songs and watch American movies. For this reason there are many things to discuss that they may have not understood and want to understand.

What are the negative aspects for teaching English in Contagem, Brazil?
Can’t think of any.

What are some of the teaching challenges for English teachers teaching the local people in your area?
Controversial issues like American military and use of guns. Also the down talk of local politicians. Although I can agree that there is a lot of corruption, I don´t think foreigners should point fingers. It is tricky territory.


Living in Contagem, Brazil:

Are there any visa or other legal requirements to live in Brazil?
Yes. Equivalent of American Green card.

What is the cost of living like in Brazil?
Our family of 5 has been living on less than US$1,000 a month. I do not recommend it. I would say that at least US$2,000 would be sufficient. But that is me. Depends on what you consider necessities. We don’t go out much at all. Our splurging evolves buying extras for pizza night or buying a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner.

What are the usual accommodation arrangements and how can you find accommodation?
Apartments are common in the cities. We own our home but many people rent either house or apartment. A reasonable apartment runs about US$500 a month in my neighbourhood but it can be as much as US$1000 in better neighbourhoods.

Other than teaching, what positive aspects are there for living in Contagem, Brazil?
I love how social people are here. They are friendly and talkative.

Other than teaching, what negative aspects are there for living in Contagem, Brazil?
Crime rate, low funds for education and health. Corruption at all levels.

What advice would you give to someone considering coming to Contagem, Brazil?
Learn to appreciate the differences as just that: being different. Don’t think of things as necessarily right or wrong but try to adapt to the culture. I am not speaking of moral issues but of things like people showing up without calling just to chat or having to have rice and beans for lunch or they just didn’t eat and so on.

What things do you miss most (other than family and friends) from your home country?
Order in traffic, schools, shopping malls, just in about everything.

What do you think you will miss most when (or if) you leave Contagem, Brazil?
Friendship and variety in fruits and vegetables at low cost (as compared to U.S.)

What things would you recommend to new teachers in your area to bring with them from their home country?
I’ve lived here so long that there is little I miss. I do have my family bring canned cherries because I love to make cheese cake and my kids love syrup so I ask for maple flavoring. Sometimes I ask for peanut butter too. I can’t think of anything other than food, but I have adapted well and we can get just about anything online.


About Me and My Work:

My Name: Karen

Nationality: American/Brazilian (double nationality)

Students I’ve taught in Brazil: Pre-school / kindergarten (4-6 years), elementary (6-12 years), junior high school (12-15 years), university.

In the past I have taught mostly adults and privately but this year I opened Hands On English at the request of neighbors. My slogan is “English at the Right Age” because teaching English to kids you get to help them develop an ear for the language. Also teaching kids is my passion. I have taught preschool in the U.S. and at Bible School so since my neighbors were wanting English for their kids it was only natural for me to choose this age group. I love the ESL lesson plans at ESL KidStuff ( They are a guide and easy to adapt to each class situation.

Where I teach: Hands On English in Contagem. Working here for 3 years.

How I found my current jobs: Off and on through the years people who know I am American come knocking and request my services. I have been mostly engaged in raising my own children but we have been so tight for money that I decided to give it a try. I remodelled the offices we have downstairs and set up a classroom facility with drinking fountain and bathroom. It is really nice. I have started with just twelve students but I would like to have as many as twenty.

My school facilities: Good – I don’t have chairs that are appropriate for my preschoolers. I ran out of funds. But their table is good and they enjoy class. We have cushions and a rug where we spend over half our time. Compared to public schools I would give my school an excellent. Unfortunately the schools around me lack resourced.  But I just opened just two days ago.  I have been remodeling and buying things since December. I will continue to work until I get to very good!  By my standards…

Teacher support at my school: None.


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