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Teaching English in Bolivia

TESOL or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages is usually used to talk about teaching English to people who do not already speak English. It's more commonly used by American teachers.

For more, see TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

A TEFL Certificate is the basic qualification to teach English to non-native speakers. Good ones are usually 120hrs and cover teaching methodology, classroom management, lesson preparation and so on.

For more, see TEFL Certificates.

When a student learns English‏‎ in order to live and work in an English speaking country we say they are learning English as a Second Language. Compare this to someone who does not live in an English speaking country but learns the language to do business in another country; they learn English as a Foreign Language.

For more see Foreign Language‏‎ and Second Language.

Students learning English are often described as Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced. Roughly speaking this is their level, i.e. how much English they know, how well they can speak and understand and so on.

For more, see Learner Levels‏ in TEFL.

English Only is a simple technique whereby you allow your students ONLY to speak English in the classroom. This means even if they are gossiping they are doing it in English and thus learning & practicing.

For more, see English Only‏‎ in your TEFL Classroom.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Simply put, this is usually used to talk about teaching English to people who live in a non-English speaking country and who want to learn English for business or to take an exam, etc.

It is pretty much equivalent to TESOL and TESL.

For more, see TEFL‏‎ - Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Llamas in BoliviaTEFL/TESOL in Bolivia

Bolivia, often referred to as the “Tibet of the Americas”, is a very poor country where education is a luxury for many of the poorer children who earn their living on the streets from a very early age.

The highest concentration of Bolivians is to be found in the administrative capital city La Paz, home to over a million people. La Paz is renowned for its unique markets, traditional culture and very unusual topography. It is in fact built at such a high altitude that the air is so rarefied and low in oxygen that a small flame is found hard to burn!

The level of English in many areas in Bolivia is generally low. Aymara and Quechua are the two main indigenous languages spoken by the Campesinos and Spanish is the preferred second language. However, English is viewed as an increasingly important language to learn, particularly at University, where it is perceived as a gateway to learning and an opportunity for better employment opportunities.

The public educational system offers English only at very low levels, or not at all, yet those who can afford to pay for their textbooks and tuition fees will make the effort to learn it, if only to better themselves or their social status.

Private English schools can be found in La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, though limited in numbers. Sucre, the old capital, has even fewer English schools.

Although the initial hiring criteria of many language schools may be fairly demanding in terms of experience and qualifications, due to the shortage of English teachers, employers are often prepared to turn a blind eye to their initial requirements and consider less qualified and experienced applicants, as long as they hold at least TEFL Certification such as the ICAL TEFL Certificate.

For relatively well paid jobs try the Centro Boliviano Americano, there is one in every major city or the Universities, state funded and private.

Image © Señor Hans
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