School Snapshot: Teaching EFL in Argentina (Part 2)

In this School Snapshot, English as a Foreign Language teacher Pamela Arrarás finishes describing 4 public schools in her native Argentina.

What follows is Part 2. You can read Part 1 here.

photo by schoolofeverything

Daily Schedule

Students go to school either in the morning or in the afternoon. The morning shift is from 8am to 12.30 pm. The afternoon shift is from 1pm to 5.30 or 6.15pm. Students at technical schools have to attend both shifts.

A very big difference between classes in Argentina and classes in the US is that the students stay in the same classroom all day, and it is the teachers the one who move from classroom to classroom.

Because of this, and also because students do not spend the whole day in school, we do not have lockers in the hallways. Students keep their book bags with them in the classroom.

Before going to the classroom in the morning, the students meet in the commons and say the pledge to the flag while the flag is raised in the school yard. At the end of the school day, students do the same while the flag is lowered.

photo by Pamela Arrarás

Generally two or three students are in charge of the flag, and it is a great honor to “pasar a la bandera” (go to the flag). Teachers choose which students get to go according to their behavior and academic performance.

Here’s a short clip of students getting ready to raise the flag:

Twice a day, students have a short break between classes; generally it’s one 5 minute and one 10 minute break. These breaks take place when students change classes, and their purpose is to help students clear their minds in order to learn better.

School Year

photo by Pamela Arrarás

Our school year starts in March and finishes in December. Generally, the last week of classes is dedicated to helping students who have not passed their classes, and those students who have passed do not attend.

Those students who do not make up their work and raise their grades will have to sit for an oral and written exam in December after school finishes.

If they do not pass at that instance, they get a second chance in February, before school starts again. Those students who do not pass most of the subjects by that time will repeat the year.

Students can only fail 3 subjects, that they will need to study for and re-take the exams in July, which is when we have our winter break for two weeks.

So as you can see, those students who do not study during the school year have to spend a lot of extra time studying while everybody else is enjoying their vacations!

School Uniforms

Students and teachers in Argentina’s public schools have to wear a special uniform. Here are photos of the different uniforms we wear.

In Kindergarden, the girls wear pink and the boys wear blue:

photo by Pamela Arrarás


Everybody wears white in elementary school:

photo by Pamela Arrarás

Middle school students generally wear the same white uniform; most times only girls have to wear it, although it’s generally the school’s decision. In the case of high school students, it is also the school’s decision, and girls generally continue wearing the uniform.

Boys generally don’t have a specific uniform but they cannot wear shorts or flip-flops to school. They have to look neat and clean, and tie their hair if it’s long.

Teachers, as you have seen already, have to wear a uniform if they work in Kindergarden or elementary school. Middle and high school teachers can choose whether they wear one or not.

I prefer wearing it because I don’t need to worry about clothes and I don’t ruin my clothes with chalk. Besides, my uniform has big pockets in the front that I use to put pens and other stationery I use all the time!


photo by Pamela Arrarás

In Argentina, parents generally participate through the “cooperadora” which is our version of the parent and teachers association. Each school has one, and they generally work very hard to try to raise funds for school supplies and needs that are many times not covered by the state.

Depending on the school, schools where parents are not very involved sometimes have more needs than those which have actively involved parents.

Teachers and school administrators communicate with parents through the “cuaderno de comunicados”, which is a small notebook students have to carry with them all the time, and where all notes are written.

We do this because not everybody has a phone in Argentina (although cell phones are becoming very popular very fast), and also calling each parent is very expensive since our phone companies charge all local calls by the minute.

However, all schools do have phones and each family has to provide an emergency contact number in case the student needs to go home sick.

We do not have volunteers working at our schools; the main reason for this is that if something (such as an accident) happens, only the people who are employed by the school system are covered by the school’s insurance, therefore it is a big liability for schools to have uninsured people.

The only people who can be at school are PTA members who work at kiosks and cafeterias, which are sources of income for the school. Sometimes high schools even have “outsourced” these services and the owners pay the schools a fixed amount to be able to have the right to sell their products at the school.

What surprised you most about schools in Argentina?


Pamela Arrarás has been working in the field of EFL/ESL for over 11 years. Originally from Argentina, she is currently living in Greensboro, North Carolina as a cultural exchange teacher with the Visiting International Faculty Program (VIF). In addition to teaching EFL/ESL at the middle and high school level, she is currently pursuing an M.A. in English and Spanish as Foreign Languages from the Spanish Universities of Jaén and León.

Click here to read more School Snapshots!

About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is a re-entry/repatriation coach, consultant, and author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 36 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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