Leon, Nicaragua Teaching English Q&A With Melanie Weinstein
Learn all about Melanie, an 18 year old from Boulder, Colorado who after graduating from her TEFL course here in Leon, Nicaragua went on to online teaching, and was able to save $1500/month. One of the major benefits to Nicaragua is how cheap it is to live here, and in addition to being one of the safest countries in Latin America! What are you waiting for?!
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
United States of America
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
18 years old
High School Diploma and TEFL certification
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
No, Nicaragua was my first experience abroad!
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
I have only visited a few states in the US
International TEFL Academy school in Nicaragua is my first experience studying abroad
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I have wanted to be a teacher for numerous years. I didn’t want to start college right away after graduating high school, so I thought it would be a great idea to start teaching abroad; and it was the best decision that I have ever made! I started doing some research and found numerous options available and at an affordable price. I saw the endless possibilities and places to go which made me excited and ready to travel!
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
I had a few concerns before teaching abroad. One concern was about job availability and how easy it would be to obtain a job. Surprisingly, there are lots of options online and in person almost anywhere you go. I was also concerned about recourses to use while teaching, but the TEFL class helps prepare you to teach no matter the circumstances.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
All of my friends and family were thrilled when they heard I was moving abroad. They were always supportive and motivators for me. I did have people ask me about the civil war and the politics here. Most people didn’t actually know the political situation down here and that it isn’t as bad anymore. Other than that, people didn’t stop cheering me on through the process of moving!
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
I took the 190 hour in person TEFL class in Leon, Nicaragua
I decided to get TEFL certified because I have always had a passion of teaching since I was a young girl. I have also never gotten the opportunity to travel abroad and knew that I wanted to do that. TEFL certifications open up countless options to travel and make money – everything I wanted! Nicaragua was a great option for me since I just graduated high school. It’s cheap, easy to navigate, and I knew a bit of Spanish. The adventures are cheap, easily accessible, and extremely fun.
How did you like the course?
I loved the course and would’ve taken it for a second month if that was possible. It was a huge challenge, but completely worth it. There was lots of ups and downs; adapting to the new culture also adds a challenge. Since I have a passion for teaching the class was interesting and right up my alley. Incredible experience and worth the money.
Not only do you get a ton of job offers having a TEFL certification, but you are prepared when you step into a classroom. I do a mix of teaching online and in person – the training has helped both. It gives you unlimited activities and games to use especially if there’s extra time in a class. Before I got training, I honestly didn’t know any grammar rules and specifics about the English language – I just knew how to speak it. The course gave me tons of knowledge about the English language and now I can confidently teach anyone.
TEACHING ABROAD IN NICARAGUA
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
Currently, I am teaching online. I teach Saudi Arabian businessmen, Chinese children, Brazilians, and other various students. I decided to teach online because it’s more convenient, easy to do while traveling, and better pay than any job in Nicaragua. All you need is a smart phone, a computer, and internet.
I have been in this country for 10 months. Sadly, I will be heading home for a few months but have plans to come back. I love Nicaragua and consider it a second home for me. There’s lots to do, amazing people to meet, and so many new cultural customs to explore!
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I am working for a multitude of companies. Currently I teach online for Cambly, Boxfish, Italki, Popon, and Ustalk. All of those are online companies that hire TEFL certified teachers. Between the three part time jobs, I was making $2000 a month!
How did you get your work visa? If you didn’t get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
I do not have a work visa, instead I am on a tourist visa. Every 3 months I have to get my visa renewed. Every other time I go to the capital, Managua, and spend a few hours showing that I am just a tourist exploring the country and taking Spanish lessons. The other times I will go down to Costa Rica and cross the border.
My main English teaching job is online for Saudi Arabian businessmen. I teach 5 times a week in the middle of the night. Sometimes I will also sign onto morning contracts. I have all of my curriculum provided, with listening, reading, writing, and speaking activities included. I have anywhere from 1-6 students and teach them for a month before switching to new ones. I love this job because I get flexibility with the content in the classes, adding my own material or just using theirs. I also get to choose which hours and contracts I teach. Online teaching is a great way to earn and save money because I can travel back and forth between countries with freedom while still being able to teach and make money.
My morning classes are with Chinese children. It is an app that you download on your phone. The classes are 25 minutes and you go through about 15 slides per class with questions and activities. This one is by far the easiest – because you only need to talk with the student and use the prompts given. I have taught on my phone while backpacking around countries and during trips – all you need is a cafe.
All in all, I work an average of 25 – 35 hours per week teaching online.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I went through a realty company to find the current house I live in. It’s a 4 bedroom house with a beautiful backyard. My boyfriend and I rented this house with 2 other English teachers. It’s incredibly cheap ($125/month!), especially for how huge and elegant the house is. The best part is that it’s an open house, so it’s outside. I wake up in the morning and step out of my door into the garden where my hammock is set up. Leon, Nicaragua is a perfect place to live because you can walk everywhere and easily access all parts of the town.
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:
The culture can be described in one word: tranquilo or calm. Everybody is laid back and not rushing around. They love their fireworks, especially from November to January. Parties and parades are common in the streets, which includes playing music all around the neighborhoods.
Their public transportation is incredible – it’s super cheap and easy to get anywhere. When I first arrived, I traveled to all the main cities due to the easy system they have in place. Chicken busses are a great option to get anywhere and taxis are cheap. The travel opportunities are endless and you can also visit other countries without a problem.
The nightlife is definitely big in Leon, especially Thursday night salsa. You can always find a club or bar full of people, karaoke, or dancing. Social activities seem to happen more towards the night time. During the day, the main thing to do is go to the beach. It’s only 20 minutes away and breathtaking.
Nicaraguans love their Gallo pinto (rice and beans), and meat. You can find cheap street vendors that always have a large supply of that. Plus, there are numerous restaurants of other ethnicities to shake it up.
One reason I love living in Leon, is because of the expat community. There aren’t too many and not too little. I know most of the long term expats and got a good group of friends here. I noticed foreigners will often date Nicaraguan more than anybody else, but traveling relationships are bound to happen!
What are your monthly expenses?
In total I usually pay $500 a month for expenses. Broken down it’s:
$125 for rent, $150 for food, $150 for fun, and $75 for random things.
If I am traveling I tend to spend a lot more, but once you are settled it’s easy to live extremely cheap.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I live really well here and feel thankful for all that I have. My house is definitely on the nicer end, which is easier to afford for foreigners. My standard of living is high and I am happy with what I have. There’s not a ton of things that I miss.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Personally, I would say $500 – $700 a month is plenty if I want to live comfortably. I have received less and still been completely fine. It also depends on savings, since I spent mine on school I didn’t have any – so I liked even more cushion room compared to most people.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN NICARAGUA
What advice would you give someone planning on considering teaching abroad?
I would have some type of job set up before you go to the country – either online or in person. It can get extremely stressful if no one is hiring or the online jobs take forever to respond. I also want to say that I HIGHLY recommend teaching abroad. It was the best decision I had ever made and plan to continue this path for a long time. Drop everything you are doing, quit your job, and teach abroad. You won’t regret it!
Would you recommend teaching in your country?
I absolutely recommend teaching online and in person here. That way you can save money and still get the experience. All the students I’ve had are incredible and it was such a fond memory when I taught in classrooms down here.