Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Where to teach English as a foreign language in Ecuador

Ecuador is a great place to live abroad and teach English, but where should you go?

Here’s a brief guide on the top three places.

Quito

Overview

The capital of Ecuador is great place to live and teach English. Quito is less intimidating than other capitals in South America. With a population of only about 2 million, Quito has a town-like feel. If you fly direct to the capital then beware of two things: the flight between the mountains to land on the runway, and the altitude; Quito is the second highest administrative capital city in the world at 2,800 metres (9,200ft). La Paz, Bolivia, is the first. Quito is in north Ecuador, only 25km from the equator (Ecuador in Spanish), in the Pichincha province. (Photo by waldopics)

Teaching English in Quito

A capital city will always have jobs for English teachers; you just have to be patient and keep looking to find the best ones. There are a number of private academies scattered all round the capital, with quite a few near the tourist area known as La Mariscal, or Gringolandia. Quito is a cosmopolitan city so you’ll have a mix of students and fellow teachers. I worked with English teachers from Ghana, Nigeria, Holland, and Australia. The students were good fun and keen to learn, have a look here for a blog about what life was like in the classroom in Quito.

Things to do in Quito

In the capital there are plenty of things to see and do. The historical centre is the prettiest part and you can wander about the cobbled streets, go shopping in the markets, and chill out in the many squares. Quito has plenty of religious places to visit, including the Basilica del Voto Nacional, Metropolitan Cathedral, and Church of San Francisco.

El Panecillo (small piece of bread, but as the photo above shows it’s a monument on a hill) can be seen from most parts of the city. It's worth a visit to see just how extensive Quito is. Be careful though, get a cab or bus up to the top rather than walk because the route can be dangerous for tourists.

There are a few decent parks too. The main ones are Metropolitan, La Carolina, and El Ejido. Hiking is popular in the surrounding mountains, with the capital's volcano, Pichincha, a must see. 

From Quito the following places are all worth a visit: Otavalo (2 hours), La Mitad del Mundo (30 mins), Baños (3 hours), and Cotopaxi National Park (1 hour) where you can see Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world (5,897metres).

I have to mention the Galapagos Islands too, a place I regret I never visited. If you’re in Ecuador and have a few hundred quid spare then look into it. Click here for the official Quito website.   

Guayaquil

Overview

Guayaquil is the biggest and most populated city in Ecuador (3 million in the metropolitan area). It's located in the south-west corner about 40 miles up from the Gulf of Guayaquil. The port makes Guayaquil the main commercial and manufacturing hub of Ecuador so it can be a decent place for potential English teachers. The weather is hot which gives the city a Caribbean feel and recently Guayaquil has become much more foreign friendly with a wide range of things to see and do in and around the city. (Photo by YoTuT)

Teaching English in Guayaquil

Thanks to the abundance of industry in Guayaquil, classes can be found in businesses and various language academies. Demand for English is high because of communications with America. However, unemployment is soaring at the moment so be warned. As with Quito, you may need patience to find the right job and teaching hours can be spread out across the day with early morning starts, late finishes, and also weekend work.

Things to do in Guayaquil

There’s an old saying that the highlight of Guayaquil used to be the cemetery, but now there are plenty of things to do to keep you busy; if you get any free time away from teaching.

The city is set around the Guayas River and you can stroll round the Malecon Simon Bolivar, a long park, with shops, cinemas, a handicraft market, and a hill you can walk up with lovely views of the city and river. The Malecon del Salado is another place to explore, set near an estuary.

The most popular museums are all downtown; Museo Municipal, Museo Nahim Isaias, MAAC and Presley Northon Museum.

Stroll round Las Peñas, the place where Francisco de Orellana founded Guayaquil, to see the old style buildings.

Outside the centre you can visit the Historical Park, which has a zoo, go for a cruise along the River Guayas, or go the main beach area Salinas.

If you run out of things to do you could always go north of the centre to visit the cemetery.

Click here for a decent tourist site about Guayaquil. 

Cuenca

Overview

For a more relaxed atmosphere head to Cuenca, the capital of the Azuay province, hidden in the Andes. Compared to Quito and Guayaquil the population is a mere 500,000 so if you get flustered in large cities then Cuenca could be perfect for you. The elevation is high, 2,500 metres so beware of altitude sickness. The centre is bursting with history, which is why UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Trust Site. (Photo by jrubinic)

Teaching English in Cuenca

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out there will be less job opportunities in Cuenca. However, there are a number of language academies where you can find work. After reading a few blogs it seems as though the students are a bit more chilled in Cuenca with a relaxed attitude towards learning English. Click here for an article on someone who has taught in Cuenca.

Things to do in Cuenca

There’s an old and new cathedral to explore as well as shed loads of churches, monasteries, and parishes. The museums include the Municipal, Central Bank, and Aboriginal Cultures.

Cuenca is all about enjoying the fresh air in the surrounding areas though. If you’re up for swimming naked in cold rivers and hiking in wholly hats in the mountains then Cuenca is a great place to live and teach English. Four rivers pass through and are part of the Amazon River. 


The following areas are all of interest to avid hikers: Molleturo, Jima, El Cajas, Chordeleg, and Gualaceo. 


Guayaquil is only four hours east so you can always pop over for the weekend.

After researching about Ecuador these seem to be the three main places to find work. I hope this helps you decide where to go. As mentioned in other blogs, I lived and taught English in Quito and I had a great time, apart from the crime. Have a look at this article for contact details of schools in Ecuador. If you have any other questions then just drop me a comment. Good luck.


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