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Adventures of ESL Teacher in Venezuela

Venezuela has become very popular these recent years. The country’s situation is no big secret: scarcity, no human rights, and dictatorship. Among all these beautiful lands, beaches, mountains, jungles, savannas and people, they have paid the price of choosing a very bad President (back in 1999), but they are also paying the price of being a country that does not produce enough goods to live on, only petroleum.

That means that Venezuela has to import a lot of things, including food, medicines, clothes, car accessories, computers, cell phones, toys, furniture, and a lot more. So when the oil price came down in 2014 and they didn’t have the money to import enough goods for everybody, people started waiting in long lines to buy basic food, medicines and even gas.

But as if that wasn’t enough, reality got worse when the government started to control the flow of US dollars. These controls lead to a big inflation rate, as a consequence of the “black market” that offers US dollars that the government can’t offer, but for a really high price. The result? 1kg of rice, which costs $1, is equivalent to 15% of the salary of a daily Venezuelan worker.

So, what is it like being an ESL Teacher in a country with an inflation rate over 600% (2016 est.) and where it is difficult to find soap, toilet paper, bread or milk to only mention a few products?

Georgia is a woman who started studying English by herself when she was really young because she had always loved it. Her childhood was full of Backstreet Boys music, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, a few rock bands and of course, Eminem. She had to study English in high school (everyone has to do it) but she says that in typically students do not learn anything other than “hello”, “good morning”, “thank you” and the names of the colors. So, if people want to speak English in Venezuela, they have to pay for a course, and many of them are really expensive. Checking all the scenarios, and even though Georgia doesn’t consider herself a rich person, she had to do her best to pay for different options to study English.

She started to really learn English in university, and then she continued studying here and studying there. It was not easy, as she was young and only a student without enough money to pay for an expensive course for too long. But after some effort, she managed to get certified in “Wall Street English”, and she even got the opportunity to start working there as a Personal Tutor.

She got a lot of her teaching experience by working there. Later, she had the opportunity to start working in a Middle School in Caracas, but even though she was doubling her income, she couldn’t certify herself as an ESL Teacher. Paying for a TESOL, CELTA or a TKT course was (and still is) something too expensive to pay for if you compare the prices with the personal income levels. An ESL Teacher is paid too low in Venezuela, as every teacher is. Even if you are a teacher who is paid with the best salary of the country among all the teachers, you will not earn enough, so every good teacher ends up leaving Venezuela, looking for better opportunities outside the country’s frontiers.

Being an ESL Teacher is a very good asset, and is well valued around the world. If this skill is not valued in Venezuela, more teachers will continue leaving the country and it would be more difficult to find ESL Teachers.

Georgia is not certified yet because she hasn’t found the way of paying her bills for a TESOL certification or a TKT course at the same time. And let’s not talk about “savings” because only a few (very few) people know what it feels like to have savings in Venezuela. A good solution to improve their incomes is to work online. There are lots of English teaching jobs where you can even be paid in dollars, but as the thieves and the assaults have increased a lot in Venezuela, people with the possibility of working online and earning dollars always decide to move to another place with better social securities.

So even though Georgia loves her Caribbean beaches, her Andean Mountains, her Amazonian Jungles, her warm savannas and her joyful people, she already had to make plans to leave her place of birth, because the income is not enough to live there. She is adding herself to the group of Venezuelan professionals and Venezuelan hard workers who are taking their skills and dreams to live in another economy, instead of giving its efforts to their natal town, because in their country they don’t have adventures. They only have large lines to beg for a piece of bread.

The world has to know it.1

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