4 Typical ESL Students You’ll Find in South America

One of the best things about teaching English is the variety of people you’ll get to meet as your students. Whether you teach English in bustling Buenos Aires, sleek Santiago, or beautiful Brazil, you can expect to run into a great variety of ESL students from different industries and walks of life. Here are the top 4 types of ESL students you’ll find down south:

1. Executives and upwardly mobile professionals

These students are often sent to English classes on their employer’s dime, meaning that there is probably an HR department behind them that wants measurable results. You’ll find these students if you teach at a private language institute in a more formal setting. They expect fast results, so plan your lessons accordingly and be sure to evaluate their progress frequently with tests and quizzes.

2. Entrepreneurs

These students make up South America’s “informal” economy. Many entrepreneurs who are interested in learning English work in the tourism industry, either as guides, hotel or restaurant owners, or travel agents. These students are motivated and eager to learn and will likely demand real-world, conversational skills in an informal setting. Entrepreneurs are often cost-sensitive and will demand a flexible class schedule.

3. Young students

You may land a job in a school teaching high school or grade school students. These students are typically full of energy and may or may not yet recognize the importance of learning English. Your best strategy with younger students is to trick them into learning with fun and dynamic games and group activities.

4. Tech nerds

The tech industry is booming in South America and you will find many web developers and designers who need to learn English. It is not uncommon for tech entrepreneurs and employees to serve English-speaking clients or stakeholders overseas. Expect these students to demand a specific vocabulary set and a focus on reading and writing skills so that they can communicate effectively via email and understand online forums, instructions, and code.

No matter who you end up teaching in South America, you are guaranteed to meet some interesting people who will provide you with a unique window into the local culture. So enjoy your students, listen to them, and don’t forget to tailor your classes to their specific needs!

Interested in hearing about a teacher's first-hand experience in South America? Read this post by Selina in Colombia