English Teacher in Belo Horizonte Interview: Chad Fishwick

Hey there dear reader. I’ve got a special treat for you today. My friend Chad agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions about teaching English in Brazil. Chad has been teaching English in Belo Horizonte for 6 years now, so he’s a great source of knowledge about English teaching.

Chad FishwickSo Chad, why did you decide to teach English in Brazil?

I got bit with the travel bug when I was a teenager, and ever since then I dreamed of living somewhere outside of Australia. I first got interested in Brazil when I started training Brazilian Capoeira. I was introduced to the culture and the music, but what really sold me on Brazil was the Brazilians that I met. They were very cool, laid back and open people and I really enjoyed their vibe.

Did you have any prior experience or qualifications?

I did a 6 week TESOL course in Australia which taught me about teaching methodology and gave me my first experience with teaching English to foreigners. I had to teach some group classes to Koreans as part of that course.

How useful has your TESOL certification been in helping you become an English teacher in Brazil?

It hasn’t been very useful in helping me find work. Sometimes they ask me if I have a certification, but no one has ever asked to see it. Having a professional appearance seems to count more when going in for a job.

What has your experience been like so far?

My experience teaching English has been pretty cruisey. It was difficult at the start because I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t know a lot about grammar, but its gotten a lot better. As far as getting paid, I haven’t had any bad experiences where I was cheated out of money. Brazilians are often late to pay sometimes, but they always pay you in the end.

Chad Fishwick doing capoeiraWas it easy to find work?

I came right after New Years in 2007, so I was hanging out for a couple of weeks while I was looking for jobs. Once I started passing out my CV (resume) I had a job within a week. The better time of the year is either in January or July, so you’re between semesters.

What is your cost of living like?

I pay around 600 Reais a month for rent in an a house with a few other guys. I have managed to buy a motorcycle which uses about 20 Reais for gas a week so I don’t rely on public transport. When I go out at night on the weekend I spend between 20 and 50 Reais. If I go to somewhere fancier I might pay up to 100 Reais to have a good night, but that’s the most I spend.

[media url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4VY1wWFzm-A" width="600" height="400"]

*Chad comes in at :48*

What is your visa situation like?

I was granted amnesty by the president himself in 2009. I was actually illegal for just over a year, and I was in the right place at the right time, and every illegal immigrant in Brazil at that time was granted amnesty and given permanent residency.

What other things have you done to make money?

I’ve done a handful of small translation jobs for pocket money, but I’ve never done any big translation jobs. I’ve never had to rely on anything else other than English teaching to get by.

I’m developing an exchange program for the startup I work on called Real Life English.

BH on MapWhat is your favourite thing about living in your city?

My favourite thing about Belo Horizonte is the openness of the people. I also like the nightlife which is pretty laid back and more focused on hanging out and having a good time with your friends. BH is famous for its bars; most corners will have a bar on it. The bars are called “dirty cups” which are simple bars where the beer is always cheap and people are always smiling. I also like how there are a lot less foreigners here than in Rio and São Paulo.

What did you find most difficult about adjusting to life in Brazil?

When I first came here it was really hard for me to get around on public transport. The bus system can be a little difficult to get around. The language was also a big problem here. Not a lot of people speak here speak English, so like at restaurants and shops and in taxis and public transport it can be hard if you don’t speak Portuguese.

belo_horizonte_panormicaWhat are your top three suggestions for someone looking to become an ESL teacher in your city?

  1. Make sure you know your shit and learn something about how to teach before you get here. Have some kind of methodology so you can speak with confidence to employers and students about what your classes are like. Learn English grammar.
  2. If you come by yourself stay in a hostel for a few weeks while you figure out where you’re going to work, then get an apartment close to there. You don’t want to live too far from where you work or else you’ll be spending a lot of time in transit. Try to rent a place where you can teach from home as well. Students don’t mind coming to your house.
  3. Don’t work for just one school and keep your options open. Schools are a good place to get started, but you make more money teaching privately. Get some business cards made, present yourself professionally, start making contacts and eventually you can start teaching privately.

Thanks for doing this interview Chad. Make sure you come back next Thursday when we have another interview with an English teacher in Brazil.

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