A few questions

PennStateForever

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Hello, all! I am a student at Penn State University, and I am currently earning a BA in English. I study difficult literature and writing techniques in depth. I am considering going to Buenos Aires after college to teach English there. The reasons for me to do this are quite simple: I would like to become fluent in Spanish, it would boost my resume when I come back to the States, and I want to experience a culture much different than my own. Here are my questions:

1. How much savings should I bring with me if I do choose to go?

2. Is Buenos Aires overall a safe place to live?

3. How easy is it to get private students to teach after a while? I have heard that the money made from the language institutes is quite rough, but it seems to be the only place to start for people with no experience.

4. Do I have to get a TEFL certificate?

5. Will my degree help me out at all?

Thanks all!
 

HeyBA

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1. The prices in BA are about the same as the middle of the US. Twice as much for manufactured items like electronics and clothes.

2. BA is getting less and less safe. There's a general consensus that there is more street crime. It shouldn't dissuade you from coming though.

3. & 4. 5. I don't teach English or know about the market for it.

In general, foreigners here are kind of souring on BA due to the rising prices and changing political climate. I'm not even sure if you'd notice if you came for a standard study Spanish/teach English extended stay. The rising prices make actually make it better for teaching now. If you've read anything about BA being a bargain it is completely inaccurate, be forewarned.
 

jimdepalermo

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Sorry to tell you this, but there are lots and lots of people trying to teach English here, and very few make a living from it.

A good friend is retired from teaching languages here at the University level. She speaks 5 or 6 languages fluently, does commercial translations, leads the occasional advanced English class in a commercial language institute, and teaches privately when she can find students. Her income supplements her pension so she can live a little more comfortably, but without the pension, she would be hungry.

A year ago, some Americans I knew who had been studying here tried to extend their stay by offering English classes. They even put posters on lamp poles but found few clients. And they couldn't charge enough to make it worthwhile.

I'm told a TEFL certificate may be helpful if you want to teach in a major institute, but I don't think it's essential.
 

djalexander76

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You'll get a range of answers for #1 since your biggest expense will be rent which varies greatly depending on what barrio you live in and how much space you have. I'm currently paying $900 USD a month for a furnished studio in Palermo Soho. My monthly expenses are about 2k but I could certainly get by on less.
 

PennStateForever

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Thank you very much for giving me honest answers.

I come from a very poor home by US stdnards, so I am used to only spending money on bills and food. I am very good at stretching money for all that it is worth. I have no illusions of living high on the hog in BA, and I am not disappointed.

It is slightly concerning to me that it seems so tough to get by, though. I don't need a fancy palce all to myself, however. I could be totally fine with a roommate, and I wouldn't have to be in the best neighborhood. Palermo is one of the most expensive places to live in BA, right?

It's not out of the question for me to be able to take $8,000-$10,000 USD with me to BA. I'm a very likeable guy and a hard worker, too. I have heard mixed reviews on teaching English in BA. Some of the things I have read say it is very difficult to make a living, while others say it is very possible if you prove to be good at it and make some connections. I'm counting on being good at it and making those connections. ;)

So, what do you say? Should I go for it?
 

TheBigDaddy

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YES. do it. This is a massive and incredible city despite what u might read, i came here with little money and no contacts but with a good attitude like u claim to have and it was great for me

The thing is u MUST learn spanish... at least conversational level. All the great people ive met and opportunities that have been presented to me have been because i have an intermediate, conversational level of spanish.

The basic test is, can you make friends and talk casually with someone who speaks no english at all '¿ if not you will struggle
 

PennStateForever

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Thanks for the reply, TheBigDaddy. I took University Spanish I last semester. This semester I am taking Spanish II and next semester, I will be taking Spanish III. My instructor says that after Spanish III, I will have enough of a base to get by in a total immersion situation. The only thing is I will have to keep it fresh because it will be more than a year after I am done taking Spanish when I finally make it to BA.
 

HeyBA

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You might want to get an Argentine conversation partner. You might be able to find one at a big university, or I think there are language exchanges that people have over skype, but you'd have to google around and find them.

The Spanish taught in schools in the US doesn't seem to serve people very well here, at least at first. The accent and cadence is different here, as well as lots of the every day words. That's also something to consider if you're looking to have operational Spanish for credential or employment purposes; you'll be speaking a very particular Spanish here.

Also, if you want the TEFL, I think there are programs where you come to Argentina to get the TEFL. I don't know if they are good or bad or expensive or cheap.

And yeah, if you want to do it, you should do it.
 

TheBigDaddy

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Just remember you dont need perfect spansh or even like 80 %, just enough to build relationships with ppl who dont speak english since they will be the best and most interesting girls you meet here.

Also if you have a good base expect your spanish to increase double in a short time, like when i first came here i think i was only about level 2 but within a week of only talking spanish i improved massively
 

djalexander76

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Based on your response, I'd say absolutely give it a shot. I wouldn't say being conversational in Spanish upon arrival is a must but it would certainly make the first few weeks easier. I took Spanish in high school and college but learned far more in 6 weeks here with tutoring and immersion.

Regarding living expenses, the areas that are the most expensive also happen to be the safest & most convenient. If you're willing to sacrifice safety and convenience you can save money (this rule actually applies to any large city I suppose).
 
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