There’s no denying there’s something about Rio – the people, the colours, the sounds and the flavours of the city are charismatic, to say the least. The opportunity to teach English here offers more than your average tourist could ever bargain for – it’s a chance to help the local adults and children in the favelas learn English and work towards building opportunities outside of their poor neighbourhoods. While the GFC hit the Western world hard, over recent years the Brazilian economy has been steadily on the rise, and with this comes the demand for English teachers.

If you like a challenge and enjoy teaching and helping people, Brazil is the overseas teaching opportunity for you. Brazilian English students have a reputation for enthusiasm so you’ll have a lot of positive encounters and no doubt make plenty of friendships along the way.

The lifestyle of an English teacher in Brazil is really what you make of it – if you put in the effort you’ll be able to pick up a little Portuguese. The cost of living in Brazil is significantly higher other cities in South America, but the salary that you can make as an English teacher is more than enough to cover your expenses.

If earning money is key, São Paulo is an international city with lots of opportunities. If you want work in the favelas by day and party with a lot of foreigners by night, most likely broke but happy, Rio is the place to be - especially during Carnival. If you want to live by the beach and not spend too much on living expenses, Salvador is the place for you.

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Top 3 tips for teaching English in Brazil

  1. Bring your first-world essentials: This is the one country you shouldn’t pack light for. Brazil is expensive and having to replace your face wash or buy a razor, batteries or electronic goods can be exorbitant.
  2. Don’t come empty-handed: Bring some English teaching books with you, because not all schools will provide you with a curriculum. Also, bring some fun stuff to give away: those clip-on koalas go down a treat, as well as Australian money and photos of your family to show and tell.
  3. Sports: If you’re English class isn’t going so well, maybe change the topic to sports – Brazilians love their sports, especially their football (soccer). If you know who Ronaldinho is, you’ll be able to open up the conversation and help them learn some new English language around sports. Win. Win. 


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Before you go – checklist:

The travel stuff

  • Visa appropriate for Brazil;

  • Passport with at least six months' validity;

  • Travel insurance.

The teaching stuff

  • Complete TEFL course – online or classroom course options (if applicable);

  • You’ll need to be a native English speaker;

  • Make sure your CV is updated and ready to go for the application process;

  • Ensure you have appropriate TEFL Teaching Resources such as lesson activities, lesson plans, classroom and teacher resources, theory and research, and additional resources;

  • Purchase an English dictionary, a grammar book and supplies in case these items are not readily available.

Personal admin

  • Let AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) know you’re leaving the country so you don’t get wacked with fines for not voting if there’s a local or national election on the horizon;

  • Make sure your drivers licence is valid for a while or apply for an international drivers licence;

  • Make copies of your documentation (i.e., passport, visas, birth certificate, etc.);

  • Photocopy all documents including insurance particulars, record the numbers of your credit cards, passport, and airline tickets and give to a responsible family member or friend at home;

  • Bring additional passport photos to ease the process of replacing a lost or stolen passport, or if other official documents are required once you are in Brazil.


  • Medical – do you have you have all the drug prescriptions you need, including your glasses/ contact lens prescription if you wear them?

  • Pack a spare pair of glasses and contact lenses (if you wear them);

  • Have you had all the relevant shots/immunisations for Brazil? And pack a list of the injections you’ve had just in case;

  • Visit your dentist to have a clean and checkup before you jet.


  • Tax – let the ATO know you’re leaving the country;

  • Apply for any credit and debit cards for travel;

  • Notify your bank and close any accounts that might charge you fees while you’re away;

  • Money – take approximately $AU200 with you as universal currency;

  • Pay off any debts you have with friends, family or financial intuitions;

  • Cancel any automatic withdrawals you have from your bank account.


  • Pack your camera, batteries and chargers - a pic from the Christ Redeemer statue is a must;

  • Buy an international power adaptor suitable for Brazil;

  • Invest in a good backpack;

  • Don't forget all your electronic chargers;

  • Note all your insurance and emergency numbers in a safe place;

  • Pack an extra memory card for your camera;

  • Know the address of the Australian embassy in Brazil (the Australian Embassy is in Brasilia with Consulate-Generals in other major cities).

The not-so obvious

  • Foam earplugs (to block out noisy travel buddies or offer to others if you’re the noisy one!);

  • A good book – or a novel based in Brazil - it adds an interesting perspective when you explore these destinations (try Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm);

  • If you have more than one credit card, separate them. Perhaps store one in your wallet and the other in your luggage. That way if you lose one or the other you’ll still have access to cash;

  • Collect Australian souvenirs (those little clip-on koalas go down a treat) to give out to your students;

  • Purchase a few educational games or children’s word association games;

  • Collect glossy catalogues and magazines with lots of pictures; these are hard to find in most developing countries and students love them!

  • Find out what is considered to be proper attire in your classroom, including shoes, as well as weather-appropriate clothing for Brazil.

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