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Teach English in Cusco, Peru

Nestled high in the Andes Mountains, Cusco stands as a city that bridges the ancient and the modern. Once the heart of the Inca Empire, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a vibrant hub, echoing with stories from the past and aspirations for the future. Cobbled streets meet bustling markets, and intricate colonial churches coexist with Incan walls, making Cusco a mosaic of eras and cultures. For an English teacher, Cusco offers a backdrop unlike any other, surrounded by awe-inspiring landscapes, a rich tapestry of history, and an eager populace looking to connect with the wider world.

Reasons to Teach English in Cusco

  1. Historical Significance: Immersing oneself in Cusco means living in a city that once was the capital of the Inca Empire. Every corner of the city offers a lesson in history, providing an enriching experience outside of the classroom.

  2. Gateway to Machu Picchu: Cusco serves as the primary gateway to the world-famous Machu Picchu. Teachers can spend their weekends or holidays exploring this iconic wonder and the many other archaeological sites nearby.

  3. Cultural Immersion: From traditional festivals like Inti Raymi to the vibrant San Pedro market, Cusco is a city pulsating with cultural activities. Teachers have the opportunity to dive deep into Andean culture and traditions.

  4. Eager Students: As tourism flourishes and Cusco becomes an ever-more prominent destination, the demand for learning English grows. Students, from young learners to adults in the tourism industry, are keen to improve their English skills to better their opportunities.

  5. Affordable Living: Compared to many Western cities, the cost of living in Cusco is relatively low. This allows teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, savor local cuisine, and partake in various activities without breaking the bank.

  6. Natural Beauty: Beyond its cultural and historical allure, Cusco is surrounded by the stunning Andes. Opportunities for hiking, trekking, and exploring the Sacred Valley are abundant, making it a haven for nature lovers and adventurers.

  7. Community Engagement: The warm and welcoming nature of Cusquenians means that teachers often find themselves becoming an integral part of local communities, building lasting relationships and gaining a deeper understanding of Peruvian life.

Understanding Cusco's Education Landscape

Cusco's educational fabric is diverse, reflecting its rich historical and cultural milieu. From schools steeped in tradition to newer institutions aiming to meet the global demands of the 21st century, Cusco offers a myriad of opportunities for English teachers. Many of its schools and institutions have incorporated English into their curriculum, recognizing the language's significance in today's interconnected world.

Given the city's status as a tourist hotspot, language schools catering to both locals and visitors have sprouted throughout Cusco. These institutions often focus on conversational English to aid those in the tourism sector. Furthermore, the presence of many NGOs in the region means there are also opportunities for volunteer teaching, making Cusco's education landscape both vibrant and varied.

Eligibility and Requirements to Teach English in Cusco

The requirements to teach English in Cusco will be similar to the standard requirements for teaching English in Peru, however, here are the specific requirements for Cusco:

  1. Bachelor's Degree: Most schools and language institutions prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. The field of study is generally flexible, but degrees in education or English can be advantageous.

  2. TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification: Given the competitive market, a certification in teaching English as a foreign language is often essential. Courses with in-class components or those with 120+ hours are typically favored.

  3. Teaching Experience: While not always mandatory, prior teaching experience can give candidates an edge, especially for higher-paying positions.

  4. Native English Speaker: Schools often prioritize native English speakers, especially those from the USA, UK, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland.

  5. Clean Criminal Background Check: For formal teaching positions, a clean criminal record is a must.

  6. Adaptability: Living in the high altitudes of Cusco and navigating its unique cultural nuances requires adaptability and an open mind.

Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in Cusco

  1. Competitive Salary: While Cusco might not offer the highest teaching salaries in the world, when balanced against the cost of living, teachers can lead a comfortable life. Salaries typically range from $500 to $1,000 per month.

  2. Contract Duration: Most teaching contracts in Cusco are for 12 months, though shorter-term positions, especially for volunteer roles, are also available.

  3. Professional Development: Reputable institutions often offer opportunities for professional development, including workshops, training sessions, and resources.

  4. Work Hours: Typically, teachers can expect to work around 20-30 hours per week. However, this can vary based on the institution and any additional responsibilities.

  5. Holidays and Vacation: Teachers usually enjoy national holidays off and might also get paid vacations, depending on their contract's terms.

  6. Other Benefits: While not as common, some schools might offer additional benefits like health insurance, or end-of-contract bonuses.

Living in Cusco

Nestled in the Peruvian Andes, Cusco serves as the gateway to the world-famous ruins of Machu Picchu. Yet, the city is more than just a stopover for eager tourists. Steeped in history and culture, Cusco offers an experience like no other, blending the ancient Inca civilization's remnants with Spanish colonial architecture.

1. Historical Significance: Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire. The city's central area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, brimming with historic buildings, temples, and plazas. The famed Qoricancha or Temple of the Sun stands as a testament to the city's rich history.

2. Altitude: Located at an altitude of around 3,400 meters (11,200 ft), newcomers might need some time to acclimatize. Drinking coca tea and taking things slow for the first few days can help alleviate altitude sickness.

3. Cost of Living: Cusco is generally more affordable than many Western cities. While prices have risen due to its touristic appeal, teachers can still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank. Local markets like San Pedro offer fresh produce at reasonable prices.

4. Climate: Cusco has a subtropical highland climate. Days can be warm when sunny, but temperatures drop considerably at night. The rainy season spans from November to March, while the rest of the year remains relatively dry.

5. Local Cuisine: Cusco's culinary scene is a delightful blend of traditional Andean flavors and international influences. Don't miss out on trying dishes like "lomo saltado" (stir-fried beef), "cuy" (guinea pig), and "ceviche" (raw fish cured in citrus juices).

6. Transport: While the city center is easily navigable on foot, there are numerous buses and taxis for longer distances. Always agree on a taxi fare before starting your journey.

7. Language: Spanish is the dominant language. However, many locals, especially in the older generation, speak Quechua, the indigenous language of the Inca.

8. Safety: Like any other city, it's essential to remain vigilant, especially at night. However, Cusco is relatively safe, and violent crime is rare.

Teacher Stories

1. Sarah from the USA: "Arriving in Cusco was like stepping into another world. The city's mix of Inca and Spanish influences fascinated me. I taught English at a local language school, and in return, my students introduced me to the wonders of Peruvian cuisine. My weekends were often spent hiking the nearby Sacred Valley or exploring the cobblestone streets of Cusco. The experience was life-changing."

2. Liam from the UK: "Before coming to Cusco, I had only read about the Inca Empire in textbooks. Living here gave me a chance to see the historical marvels firsthand. Teaching English allowed me to connect with locals on a deeper level and understand their culture and traditions."

3. Thando from South Africa: "My journey in Cusco began with a challenge—the altitude. But once I acclimatized, I fell in love with the city. My students were eager to learn, and their enthusiasm was infectious. Outside the classroom, I indulged in local festivals, dances, and music."

4. Emily from Australia: "Teaching in Cusco was more than just a job. It was an adventure. From visiting Machu Picchu to sampling 'cuy' for the first time, every day was a new experience. My students became my friends, guiding me through the ins and outs of the city."

5. Aiden from Ireland: "Cusco's beauty is unparalleled. But what stood out to me was the warmth of its people. While teaching here, I was often invited to local homes, where I learned about their way of life and shared stories from Ireland. It was a cultural exchange in the truest sense."

Moving Towards Teaching English In Cusco

Choosing to teach English in Cusco is not merely about advancing one's teaching career—it's about embracing a unique cultural experience. Cusco offers a rare blend of ancient history, rich traditions, and modern aspirations. While the city's landmarks like Machu Picchu are undeniably alluring, it's the daily interactions with students and locals that create lasting memories.

As you consider making the move, remember that Cusco is more than a city; it's a living museum, a community eager to learn, and an opportunity to make a difference. Let the stories of these teachers inspire you and guide your path towards a fulfilling teaching experience in the heart of the Andes.