Colombia is not always the first destination which comes to mind when people think of places to teach English around the world, but it should be. Colombia is a country which has grown dramatically over the last 20 years from a dangerous location to must-visit travel destination and metropolitan hub.
While teaching English in Colombia isn’t going to make you rich or save as much money as you would in Asia, it is totally worth it for the unique experiences. Colombia has four main cities for teaching English – Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Cartagena. Each city is unique and offers a wonderful one of a kind experiences.
Teaching In Bogota
I decided to teach English in Bogota, which is the capital city and hub for a number of multinational companies. The options for teaching in Bogota are International schools, public schools, English institutions or Universities. I do not hold a professional teaching degree such as a PGCE, which limited my options for working in a school or University, so I began teaching in an English Institution.
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English Institutions In Bogota
The institution I worked for had a large number of contracts with multinational companies, such as AON, Ernest Young, Makro, and GM. This type of English was business English and I typically went into the offices of one of these companies at least once each week. Classes were between 4 and 12 students who all worked within the company but in different roles.
A Typical Day Teaching in Bogota
My typical day would include classes between 7am to 9am, so before the employees began work for the day, I would wake up around 5am depending on where I had to travel around the city to get to my class. Then I could have a class 12pm to 2pm or another one 5pm to 7pm. Typically I would just have classes 7am to 9am and then 5pm to 7pm.
The classroom material would all be provided to me in a folder and the students would have a similar folder so we could work through the materials each class. Occasionally we would be having conversations or playing games as we went.
My experience teaching in Bogota was overall a good experience, but as with any job, there were pros and cons.
Pros of Teaching English In Colombia
- Colombia is a country like no other, the people are friendly the landscape is beautiful and there are lots to do and explore. Colombia has 18 public holidays throughout the year and many of these fall on Mondays. This means that there is a large number of long weekends where no one works, which gives plenty of time to travel around the country, or just explore the city.
- The students are very fortunate and appreciative to be studying English so they are typically willing to learn, take interest in what’s being taught and complete homework. Many people in Colombia do not know English and those who do typically have an advantage with promotions and better-paid jobs.
- Colombian Spanish is easier to understand than other dialects or types such as Chilean or Argentinian. This means Colombia is a good place to study and learn Spanish as they typically talk in less slang than other countries, and pronounce full words and syllables. You can take Spanish classes in the city or at universities and institutions and it is not expensive to take these classes.
- Colombia is a cheaper place to live than many other countries. You can typically find accommodation in a nice area of Bogota or other cities in Colombia for less than $400 a month. Food, eating out and alcohol (depending on where you purchase it) is reasonable. A typical average meal out for one would cost around $5, a beer could cost as little as $1 and a weekly shopping trip around $20.
- Colombians love to learn about different cultures and your students will be very interested in learning more about you, talking to you and asking you questions. Many of your students will have lived in the country their whole lives and know the best places to visit, holiday destinations, best bars, and restaurants that you may not have known about otherwise.
Cons of Teaching English in Colombia
- Public transport in Bogota is terrible, they have a bus system called the Transmilenio, which runs through the major road networks throughout the city. However, the buses are often overcrowded with way too many people utilizing the same network, especially at peak hours. Medellin has a better transportation system with a monorail, bus and tram system. When teaching you can often have classes in the complete opposite end of the city to where you live, which means a large amount of travel time to and from classes.
- Classes are often early in the morning and transportation times means you could end up leaving as early as 5am for a 7am class. and in the evening classes could finish around 7pm and it is not advised to walk around after dark in some parts of the city.
- Colombians typically have a laid back lifestyle and atmosphere, for example, you could have a class at 7am but none of your 15 students could arrive until 7:45am. A two-hour class is typically just over an hour long after every student has finally arrived.
Overall teaching English was a good experience and if you have professional teaching qualifications you can work in a University or school and earn a high wage, with occasional subsidies for accommodation and transportation. English institutions are good for first-time teachers and to gain experience while having time between classes to explore or relax.
I would recommend teaching English in Colombia as the country is beautiful, you get plenty of days off to explore it, and you can easily learn Spanish by meeting great people and having the time of your life.
Anny Wooldridge grew up in Norfolk, England. She is a passionate traveler and has visited over 28 countries as well as living and working in Greece, France, USA, and Colombia. She started a travel blog inspiring others to travel and has pursued her passion for writing ever since as a freelance travel writer and editor.
You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and her blog.