By Joe Lopes
Here is the fifth part of Joe’s article about teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant link at the end of the article.

Riding to Work
I go to the corner bus stop, which is about two blocks from my apartment in Zona Norte, and wait for the bus. I don’t have long to wait, for there are dozens of buses roaring down the avenue, one after the other, all of them spewing forth thick, black smoke as they screech to a halt in front of me.

I hop onto a bus that’s marked Praa da Repblica.” Thank goodness it’s not as crowded as some of the other buses arriving, all of which appear overstuffed with passengers hanging on for dear life by their fingertips and toes, and from all sorts of precarious perches and makeshift openings.

There are several points to ponder before you take on an outside teaching assignment: first, the travel time it will take you to get from one class to another; second, the form of conveyance, whether by foot, car, bus, subway or private van, that will get you there; and third, which part of the city you intend to teach in vis–vis where you live, or where you need to be for your next class.

This last point may be the most significant, for it directly impacts on the number of teaching jobs you are able to handle at any one time, and will tend to hold true regardless of where you live.

You can’t conceivably teach a class in Morumbi, for example, if you reside in Guarulhos; similarly, you can’t effortlessly go from a late afternoon engagement in Vila Leopoldina to an early evening lesson in Santo Andr, as the distances (and traffic congestion) will be too great for you to reach your destination within a reasonable length of time, particularly during rush hours.

What’s considered a reasonable length of time? That’s a good question, and not always an easy one to answer. I’ve known teachers to travel upwards of two or more hours to get to a class or teaching assignment, and very haphazardly at that. You, however, must decide for yourself what is the easiest, most comfortable, and most convenient travel time for you-and for how long you would be willing to commit to such a schedule.

Keep in mind that the daily commute, especially in the big cities, can grind you down before you know it, and, in the long run, may affect the physical state of your health and your emotional well being.

In my own case, if the potential students were more than an hour or so away by bus and/or subway, I would invariably decline the teaching assignment. It wasn’t worth the added stress of confronting traffic trauma or road rage for a few infrequent lessons a week, no matter how much the student or language school was willing to pay me.

Remember: if you are offered much more than the going rate for a particular teaching assignment, then something is not quite right. I would question it strongly.

Teaching in one’s own home or apartment can be a more viable option for the English language instructor whereby you forego having to face the many rigors of public transportation-but your earnings potential will be severely limited, as will your teaching opportunities.

If this restriction appeals to you, then by all means go for it. However, most teachers juggle numerous job assignments at once, both inside and outside their homes, partly due to the additional income these can bring you, partly because of the inherent job diversity, but mostly out of financial and economic necessity.

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

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

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?

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