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Teaching English in Colombia as a native English speaker is a much desired occupation. It is a country waiting for tourism to arise and one thing holding it back is the lack of English speaking throughout most of the country. Medellin used to be known for drug lords and violence and Bogota was one of the most violent cities, both are now a popular tourist escapes. The people are welcoming to everyone and it is easy to get sucked into the casual laid back life, wherever you are, and whether it is because you choose to teach abroad, or just visiting.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a great option for teaching in Colombia. You can also consider working at a bilingual school where you can teach other subjects in English. Your options are:
Elementary through high school levels have either morning or afternoon schedules. For example, a morning schedule could start at 6am and end at around 12pm and an afternoon schedule could start at 12pm and end around 6pm. University levels or institutes can be anytime and, as a typical Colombian work day, consists of a work week of Monday through Saturday.
Just like you would expect anywhere in the world, finding a job can be difficult if you don't know where to look. Colombo and EAFIT are two popular places to work as a TEFL instructors. The Colombo is a private English institute located throughout Colombia. EAFIT is a university that has three locations with a language institute within it. Both of these are great options and would hire a qualified native English speaker. Private lessons are also a promising career move and the going rate can be anywhere from 12 USD - 27 USD an hour.
The most popular places to find jobs are in cities such as; Medellin, Bogota and Barranquilla. Medellin is a booming small city in the interior of the country and they lead the country in fashion and architecture. The Paisa people, those living in and around Medellin, have distinct qualities. They are known for their friendliness and over all love for life. They are very welcoming people and it is easy to find friends wherever you wonder. Bogota is the capital city and has all the diversity of New York with distinct districts. Barranquilla is the least popular for tourism but there are still many opportunities in this coastal city. Throughout the country, it is not easy to find jobs online, although it can be accomplished. Arriving in country to find a job is risky but is also the best way to find a job that you are certain will suit you. Remember to arrive in November, December or January for your best chances in finding work for the new semester.
Teachers interested in working in Colombia at a private language institute may only need a college degree. Working at a more prestigious school or university requires at least a TEFL certificate and previous experience.
A foreign teacher can expect to earn from 1,000.00 USD to 3,200.00 USD a month depending on your qualifications and location. The Colombo offers to pay for housing and airline tickets depending on the location you apply to and your contract with them. If housing isn't included just ask the school faculty whom you are applying with, everyone is friendly and happy to help make you feel comfortable in your new home.
The cost of living varies widely dependent on where in the country you reside. In Medellin public transit is extremely inexpensive as well as very convenient. The metro runs from one end of the city to the other costing only .75 cents a trip. However taxis are more expensive then neighboring cities like Bogota but are hardly needed as the Metro is more convenient most of the time.
Monthly rent can cost up to $1200 a month for a furnished apartment or as low as $400 a month for an unfurnished. The shopping malls in the cities are lovely but don't expect low costs for clothing. In fact everything that is imported is going to cost a pretty penny. Luckily you can generally find a Colombian version of most things that you would need.
In general, Colombian teachers are not strict and the education system can seem very lax. Expect meetings to start late and students to disregard the clock as they stroll in tardy. Student teacher relationships are close and are usually on a first name basis. Dress code is directly related to your school and can be anywhere from shorts and t-shirts to professional attire. Greetings are important to such a welcoming culture and it is custom for women to kiss on the check and men to shake hands.
Jessica Brink taught English as a foreign language in Medellin, Colombia in 2012. She volunteered in Colombia with WorldTeach at Minuto De Dios Sectional Bello and got to explore all over this beautiful country. Find her at On the Brink of Colombia.
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