By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 13 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.
The Video Follies
I was definitely not looking forward to this additional drain on my free time – and on my wallet – but my friend was in a bind. She had to deliver the finished product by Wednesday morning in order to meet HBO’s strict deadline, but she was too laden down with other work to do it herself, so she was counting on my assistance.
That was the problem with transcribing, in general, and HBO programs in specific: they were always on such a fixed and immutable airing schedule that simply had to be worked around.
I calculate the approximate time it will take me to complete Flora’s film; she told me over the telephone it was an hour-long documentary, so the chances of it being wordy are fairly high.
I surmise, then, that it’s going to take roughly six hours of solid work to transcribe the lengthy dialogue in its entirety.
If my noontime student cancels his class that will give me the six hours I needed to complete this task before my next set of lessons later this evening. With a little luck, maybe my evening students will cancel out on me (it’s happened before). That will free up even more time, just in case it takes longer than expected to finish the job.
Since I was now under the gun, I had to make the best use of my available time and resources. This is another all-too-common occurrence for teachers who are on a tight teaching schedule. Interruptions, extra workloads, spur-of-the-moment job requests, and due-yesterday translations of important documents are all part-and-parcel of the teaching profession.
There were days when I hardly even taught a class, much less stepped outside my apartment, because of the additional assignments I had taken on.
Why do teachers do this to themselves and take on so many more job functions than just plain old teaching? For the fundamentally sound reason that teaching by itself does not, and cannot, pay all the bills all of the time.
Although a busy private teacher can expect to earn anywhere from R$2,000 to R$3,000 reais a month – more or less – that’s only when the Brazilian economy is booming. If you are a young, single, and upwardly-mobile English language instructor, this can sound like an incredible amount of money.
But consider that most salaried employees in the country only earn about three or four times the minimum wage, and you will have a much better appreciation for the pitiful salary conditions most Brazilian workers find themselves trapped in.
If, like many wage earners, you have your own family to feed, extra school expenses to face, insurance and medical costs to meet, and a home or apartment to pay for, you will need to supplement your teaching income by tackling a wider array of English-related tasks or work assignments.
When cash gets tight, as it inevitably does in balmy Brazil, and your students find they can no longer afford your private language classes, you must look elsewhere for work opportunities to be able to weather the economic storms.
Part 14 next week…
Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes
A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to JosmarLopes@msn.com.
To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?“