Teaching English in Colombia

By | January 15, 2014

From the Andes mountain range to the Amazon rainforest region Colombia is bordered by Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. Stretching between the warm seas of the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful blue Caribbean sea, Colombia is indeed a spectacular part of the Americas.

For all its beauty and variety, Colombia has suffered in the near past from bad publicity because of violence due to the activities of the drug barons within the country. At one time the capital, Bogotá, was one of the world’s most violent cities.

As a consequence of the tourism industry has been slow to grow. However, with government intervention, that is now changing with many people visiting Medellin and Bogotá in reasonable safety. The people of Colombia are genuinely welcoming and have a laid back lifestyle.

Read more about Colombia on Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Colombia

Santa Marta

Santa Marta Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

With the largest number of species per square kilometre in the world, Colombia boasts an incredible 10% of all the species on the planet including: 10% of the world’s mammal species, 14% of the world’s amphibian species and a huge 18% of all the bird species known to man. This huge bio-diversity makes Colombia a must for teachers that have a need for adventure and discovery.

For lovers of cuisine Colombia would be described as heaven on earth! Each region in Colombia boasts its own special foods and dishes with, of course, amazing sea food offerings in the coastal areas.

Don’t be put off by the bad reputation Colombia once had. If you act in a normal way and don’t get involved in any illegal activities your stay and work in Colombia can be rewarding both mentally and, in the case of teaching, financially.

There is a real need for native English speaking teachers in Colombia and the government are putting a real emphasis on the learning of English as a second language.

Where to Teach English in Colombia

As is the same with most countries, you’ll find the most opportunities in the bigger cities in Colombia; these cities include Barranquilla, Bogota and Medellin.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Colombia

Private Language Schools

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Bogota

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, Bogota

There are many private language schools in Colombia and they vary in quality. The better ones will have many benefits such as accommodation allowance, return airfare, medical insurance, paid vacation and contract completion bonuses. They will also have the highest standards for their teachers and require at least a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA, a bachelor’s degree and some experience.

Bilingual Schools

There are also many bilingual schools in Colombia and if you can teach other subjects like math or science, you might find a job in one of these schools. They will usually have strict requirements when it comes to employing teachers, but if you have the relevant experience and qualifications jobs in a bilingual or international school can come with very high salaries.

In-Company Classes

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Another growing industry is teaching English to employees of companies. Colombia businesses often have very close ties with businesses in the United States and as a result employees are often required to speak English. Companies are always looking for well qualified and experience English teachers to fill these positions. If you have experience or qualifications in business, management or marketing, it would be a huge benefit.

Universities

A number of universities in the country also offer English courses for their students and look for native English speaking teachers to teach them.

Private Lessons

Private lessons can be a great way to supplement your income. Although you will be earning more than enough by working at a school, you can earn a little extra by taking a few private lessons.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

One of the most commonly asked questions is “Can I teach English in Colombia without a degree?” and the answer that for the moment, yes it is possible. Some private language schools will accept applications from teachers with no qualifications whereas others will require that you have at least a degree or a teaching certificate or both.

Obviously, the schools with the higher standards will be the ones that pay the most.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

Visa Requirements

Iglesia La Merced

Iglesia La Merced

To work legally as a teacher in Colombia, you will need a working permit. However, some schools will employ teachers on a tourist visa, but you will need to leave the country after 6 months.

To obtain a working visa for Colombia, you will have to have a degree and an internationally recognised teaching certificate such as a CELTA, TESOL or TEFL.

If you are not yet already in Colombia you will need to apply at the nearest Colombian consulate in the country where you are at, but as most schools only employ teachers after a face-to-face interview, it’s likely that you will already be in the country. As a result, you will need to leave the country to start the working visa process.

For more information about obtaining a working visa and the necessary documents that you will need, take a look at the official Colombian government website.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Colombia

Atardecer sobre la Iglesia de San Pedro Claver

Atardecer sobre la Iglesia de San Pedro Claver

The peak times for English teachers to be hired are during the months of November, December and January, but you will find that there are opportunities all year round.

You will often find vacant teaching positions advertised online on jobs boards and other websites. However, it is unusual to be offered a job without a face-to-face interview in person.

Most teachers will find work when they are already in the country. You can try looking in local newspapers, jobs boards and contacting the schools directly. Get a list of schools and contact them by telephone, email or even in person for the best chances of finding a job.

Teach English in Colombia

There is a real and growing demand for native English speaking TEFL teachers in Colombia and you it is possible earn a fairly decent salary that will enable you to save money each month. Although all schools are different and they all offer various salaries, it is quite possible to earn enough money to cover your living costs with a reasonably high standard of living.

Unfortunately, Colombia has a bad history of civil war, drugs and violence, but this is no longer the case and the country are making huge steps in eradicating some of the decades old problems that has given the country a bad reputation.

Today, you will find that the country has a growing tourism and business sector that drives the demand for English teachers. There is some competition for jobs, but well qualified and experienced English teachers will have no problems finding work in Colombia.

Disclaimer

Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Colombia, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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