Teach English abroad and the best free activities in Mexico City

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Perhaps because it’s very close to the (predominantly English-speaking) US, Mexico is often overlooked by teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) when looking for a new destination abroad. However, the demand for EFL teachers is high in Mexico, which is a beautiful country to live in. With its incredible landscapes and a rich history and culture, you won’t be disappointed.

Why teach English in Mexico

Mexico’s economy is that of a developing market. It is based mainly on tourism and international trade. Therefore, English language skills are needed for doing business in many sectors. English is taught in schools and adults invest in learning the language to further their career and improve their living conditions. For this reason, there are plenty of TEFL jobs available.

This means that newly qualified teachers or those with little teaching experience have more chances of getting hired than in many other countries. Mexico is a great country to explore while gaining enough experience to move elsewhere, should you decide to leave this amazing country behind – but why would you?!?

Although salaries for English teachers may appear low, these are proportionate to the cost of living. Life can be inexpensive here, if you are sensible. In terms of accommodation, you could rent a beautiful house in Mexico City for around  €2,000 per month, but you could also share a stylish apartment for as little as €200.

As it is often the case in many countries, TEFL jobs are abundant in urban areas. However, Mexico offers plenty of teaching opportunities in rural settings. Leaving the city life behind is a great way to immerse yourself in Mexican culture and to experience what it means to live like a local. An important aspect you should remember is that remote/online applications and interviews aren’t very common in Mexico. By all means, do your job search before you set off, but be ready to apply in-person (with a hardcopy of your CV) and attend face-to-face interviews once you get there.

If you’re worried about not having suitable or sufficient qualifications for the job, rest assured that you don’t need  a degree to teach English in Mexico. Saying that, it is preferred and it might be required, depending on where you choose to teach. For example, universities and some private schools won’t hire teachers without a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. However, a degree is currently not required for visa purposes.

On this note, you’ll need a tourist visa to travel around Mexico, but you must obtain an FM3 visa to legally work in the country. In order to do so for the purpose of teaching English, you’ll need a TEFL certificate. Ideally a 120-hour TEFL qualification issued by a reputable provider. In addition, you must have already obtained an offer of employment to teach English in Mexico. This should be evidenced by a letter on official letterhead from the school.

Good news for non-native English speakers. As long as you are proficient in all skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening), you can find a TEFL job in Mexico even if English isn’t your first language. Despite this, competition might be a little tougher.

Living in Mexico City

As previously mentioned, there are plenty of teaching jobs in densely populated areas, like Mexico City. Here, you have the option to choose the type of environment you want to work in (teaching children or adults, General or Business English) and the kind of institution you prefer: private language schools, state or international schools, or universities. This can be influenced by a number of factors, such as the qualifications you hold and the experience you have. You should always research the schools you apply to. This will help you understand if you and your potential employer are a suitable match, which also depends on your teach English strategy, among other things.

Although Mexico City is quite safe to travel, even for a solo female traveller. However, you should always use your common sense – as you would when walking around in a large city. Just a few tips: don’t accept drinks from strangers, get an Uber in the evening/night, wear a cross-body bag to avoid pickpocketing, ignore catcalling and don’t wear anything too revealing – just to be on the safe side. If you want to avoid the ‘fish-out-of-water’ feeling, learn some Spanish. It’s surprising how few words/sentences to get by will make you feel more confident in a foreign country.

As a true metropolis, Ciudad de México is the largest, busiest and most important city in the country, and it’s also one of the oldest in the whole American continent. It’s a melting pot of cultures – such variety makes it a vibrant and exciting place to live in. There’s so much to do, see, and explore here to keep you busy for months! 

Here’s a taste of what Mexico City can offer.

Must do

  • Taste the local cuisine. For meat-lovers and veggies alike, you won’t go hungry in Mexico City. From tostadas to tacos, from sandwiches (here known as tortas) to tlocayos (similar to tortilla wraps), Mexican markets offer a true experience of the senses, when it comes to their unique gastronomy.
  • Explore the Juarez neighbourhood. Once neglected, this area has evolved and turned into one of the trendiest hotspots in the city, with parks, boutiques, bars and fusion restaurants.
  • Immerse yourself in pre-Hispanic history. Take a tour of the World Heritage Site of Xochimilco, where you’ll travel along the canals, through the lake, and to the artificial islands on a trajinera – a colourful boat that looks like a gondola from Venice.

Must see

  • The Mesoamerican pyramids of Teotihuacan. This was the largest city in the continent, before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s located an hour’s drive from Mexico City and it’s worth the trip!
  • Museo Frida Kahlo. Before being turned into a museum, this iconic building is where the artist Frida Kahlo was born and grew up in, and where she spent most of her life. The house, known as Casa Azul, takes its name after the bright cobalt  blue of its exterior.
  • Grand Hotel Ciudad de México. Even if you’re not staying at this hotel, stop  by to admire its breath-taking interior. The hotel opened in 1899 and has been kept in pristine conditions since then.

Final thoughts

Mexico might not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking about teaching English abroad. However, this vibrant country has so much to offer, whatever takes your fancy. Its capital, Mexico City, is the ideal spot to start your new Mexican life in. Like in any other large city, taking suitable precautions will make this metropolis a wonderful place to experience, explore and – why not? – live in.

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