The old main stay for native speakers wanting to survive in a foreign country was to teach English. This may still be the case in many areas of the world but in João Pessoas case, you will have to have a few extra feathers in your cap before walking through the door of an English school.
Feedback indicates that many of the teachers already working in the schools have done so for many, many years and more so, they are very well qualified.
Further, a lot of the schools have their own methods and training programmes that you must take part in. Working conditions may be very good with holiday pay, 13th salary and in some cases a health plan however be prepared for long, unsociable hours, lesson planning and training days every week.More often than not the pay isn’t brilliant and for this reason, there are lots of teachers who hold more than one job including teaching privately. On the other hand, there is the intellectual reward of learning about your own language and the spiritual reward of seeing students move towards the mastering of your mother tongue.
An area where a budding teacher might succeed is to have a special skill or knowledge in a certain area, the “edge” as we used to say. There is one thing that is certain, being a native speaker is not going to have them falling at your feet and leading you up the red carpet to the door!
You could, of course, teach privately at your place of residence or alternatively in a small rented office. Other schools will be very interested in the legality of your situation so you should make sure you have all the right documentation before taking this route. Don’t expect students to come flocking to your door either.
The old established schools have very large advertising budgets. Not only that, some families have been learning English at the same school for generations. In the end what appeared to be very lucrative, turns out to be a damp squib. Evidence of this can be seen in the number of schools that have set up and then gone the way of many others (Skill,Cultura Inglesa Torre, Manchester School of English and Real Time). A third option is to visit other people’s homes enabling you to find out more about the transport system and the neighbourhoods. You will be at the mercy of both unless you have your own transport. Without a doubt, trying to make a living teaching English will leave you analysing your options more thoroughly as you starve.
The prefeitura also provides language courses for as little as R$50 a month so teaching English is only for the enlightened and the determined.
You read, you came, you want to stay, what next? The language, you don’t speak it so where to start? Well most people will say just dive in at the deep end but that has its limitations. You should at least learn a few phrases to get you through the day and investing in a phrase book at the airport will be a good start. The Pessoense is a patient person, knowing full well the difficulties of his language and will appreciate you trying to make yourself understood.
You will reach a point though where you want to make yourself more than understood, to indulge in a little light banter, to get involved that little bit more. The cheapest option is to do exchange lessons English for Portuguese and vice versa. Those who have tried it end up getting married earlier than they anticipated or find they end up speaking more English than Portuguese.
Most schools charge an initial entry or registration fee (which is equal to one monthly payment) and then a monthly fee for the term of approximately five months. The fee is dependent on the level and there isn’t much difference between the schools. Lower levels are R$150 a month up to R$300.
The big chains all charge the same within the same group, so Cultura Inglesa schools all charge the same, all CCAA etc, same with CNA, FISK and YAZIGI. All offer incentives for all in one payment, early payment, registering early etc.
All the schools have their own methods and training schemes. For example, Cultura Inglesa deals purely with the Cambridge Examinations Board.
Which school is the best is down to your own needs; if climbing the highest academic mountain to attain greater fluency is your aim rather than being able to get through your next holiday without straining your relationship then you need to look carefully at each school. Normally they will let you have a free lesson; even lending you a book so you get the feel of things. Once you have enrolled you will need to buy the course material such as a course book and work book.