This program is no longer offered. View more programs from WorldTeach.
WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Colombia - (past program)
88% Rating
(18 Reviews)

WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Colombia - (past program)

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from WorldTeach.

WorldTeach is currently accepting applications for our Colombia Year TEFL and Volunteer Teaching program departing in January 2017. This is a great opportunity for those interested in international development and education to get their feet wet in the field.

WorldTeach volunteers in Colombia teach English as a Foreign Language at a variety of placements, including elementary schools, high schools, universities and adult education centers. This is done in coordination with the Colombian Ministry of Education and the Colombian NGO, Volunteers Colombia. Volunteers are placed in both cities and rural towns. The volunteer commitment is $1,750.

With our year-long program, you can also become TEFL certified to earn credibility and give you an edge in the ESL teaching job market. While certification usually costs about $1,899, with WorldTeach you can become certified for only $350 while also gaining priceless in-country teaching experience.

Volunteer commitment:
  • $1,750.00
  • Costs include: Visa sponsorship, orientation including teacher training, language and cultural training, mid-service and end-of-service conferences, in-country transportation between training sites and placement site, housing, monthly stipend, full-time field staff, teacher quality coordinator in US office to provide professional teaching development.
Requirements:
  • Fluent English speaker
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Have a bachelor’s degree by time of program’s departure
Locations
South America » Colombia
Teaching Practicum
No
Training Type
Classroom
Job Placement
No
Accommodation
Host Family
Starting Price
$1,500.00
Currency
USD
Other Locations
Throughout Colombia

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    86%
  • Support
    93%
  • Fun
    89%
  • Facilities
    91%
  • Safety
    84%

Program Reviews (18)

Default avatar
Rebecca
Female
30 years old
Three Rivers, CA
San Francisco State University

Unforgettable year in Colombia

10/10

WorldTeach Colombia was an amazing experience. From the minute I applied and to this day as a part of the Alumni Community they have been nothing short of incredible. Once I completed my interview and was accepted they provided a ton of literature/guides about what to expect, what to pack and in general program logistics. WorldTeach provides in country support for the entire duration of your placement. We had 2 field staff due to the size of our group (32 volunteers). Our staff were previous volunteers and could relate exactly. They met us at the airport in Bogota' and provided all the transportation to our training site on a little farm outside of the city. They walked us through our Visa process, establishing our Bank Accounts, getting cell phones, our meeting with the Colombian President and with the US Embassy. They also provided 3 weeks of training for Colombia specific schools. Training included everything from developing lesson plans, dealing with co-teachers, classroom behavior issues, and keeping students engaged, to living with a host family, Colombian cultural differences, how to catch a bus and even daily Spanish lessons. For the first 3 weeks, everything was provided by the program. Once we completed trainings they provided transportation to our sites via plane and private busses. The Field Directors were with us while we met our families and when we visited our school sites. I cannot rave enough about our in country support. In our schools we had the freedom and independence to develop lessons and teach our classes. Our field directors were always there if we needed advice, recommendations, to vent or help resolving issues with schools or hosts.

Colombia is a beautiful country with the most hospitable, welcoming and festive people. My students and hosts were great and the culture was so much fun. I loved living with a host family because I really got to see and experience authentic Colombian culture. We lived in safe neighborhoods, but not fancy rich areas. We were able to integrate into the daily lives of our families and schools. We also had many opportunities to travel and see other parts of the country and visit other volunteers in other placements.

I cannot recommend WorldTeach enough. I taught for a few months on my own in Argentina the following year and had to complete all my bank account, Visa paperwork on my own and it was a nightmare. I now understand how hard all the staff at WorldTeach work to provide us with an incredible experience.

Default avatar
Laura
Female
32 years old
Bogota, Colombia
Earlham College

Teaching English in Colombia: Que Chévere!

8/10

My Colombia WT year was a challenge, yet enriching and informative as well. Don't do this program if you want to have fun and relax. Do it to learn to surpass your limits, give everything you have and excel when things don't go as planned. As I came to Colombia with very little Spanish and teaching experience, I spent a grand majority of my time learning the mechanics of Spanish to better understand the mistakes my students would make in English as well as planning detailed and creative lesson plans. Of course, it is hard! Especially because the schools that you will be working with here aren’t organized or well-resourced, but you learn as the year goes by. Plus, WorldTeach staff are incredibly supportive and know the ins and outs of teaching English abroad.
Make sure to have some savings before embarking on your adventure as you really won’t be earning much. The stipend is to keep you afloat.
Also, WT is a great program to do if you are interested in living and teaching abroad, but a bit scared to make the jump alone. You will have a group of teachers in the same boat as you to support you while you immerse yourself in the local culture at the same time (because that is also why you are doing this program, right?). I was able to stay in Colombia after I finished and find teaching jobs because of my experience with WorldTeach.
Good luck!

How can this program be improved?

Some volunteers had problems with their housing situations. Perhaps a more uniform survey should be given to potential housing candidates to make sure no details are missed when assigning volunteers to housing placements.

Default avatar
Erin
Female
32 years old
Washington D.C.
Marquette University

Colombia 2013

9/10

Having no experience teaching, I chose this program for the challenge, both personally and professionally. I definitely found those challenges. This program is not for someone wanting an easy experience abroad to beef up their resume or delay the working world. Work was a challenge and life in Colombia is not easy. That is why both were so incredibly rewarding for me. The students were a little rebellious and un-focused, but they were the most loving children I could imagine. I taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades full-time (around 300 students/ week). I shed a lot of tears that year, both in frustration and awe. I lived in Bogota. The country as a whole can be frustrating, and crime (mainly petty theft/ pick-pocketing) is a real issue. However, the people are insanely accepting and kind. People will shamelessly stare at you for being different, but strangers will stop and hold your hand to help you get off the bus.

How can this program be improved?

Spanish fluency is not required, but I wish I'd known more before the program. Learning was one of my motivations in choosing Colombia, but once you are at your school, you are somewhat alone. You have support from WT, but the day-to-day responsibilities are on you. There is a very low level of English proficiency in the country. So, if you are a Spanish beginner, you will have a very difficult time figuring out things at work. I would have liked some more focus on this from WT. Maybe they could provide more resources, formally or informally for Spanish study.

Default avatar
Jeffrey
Male
24 years old
Bogota!
University of California- Irvine

WorldTeach Colombia

10/10

My time in Colombia has been life-changing. WorldTeach helped me set everything up and it's been amazing. I'm learning Spanish and making a difference in youth's lives. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The fee pays for your airfare, in country support, your housing, a living stipend, and they find you a place to live with a Colombian family and the place you work at.

How can this program be improved?

The living stipend is what it says-a living stipend. So I'd save a little bit before coming.

Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this review. WorldTeach has recently changed the airfare process because volunteers were requesting to book their own travel. Therefore, the cost of the airfare was taken out of the volunteer commitment fee, and volunteers now book their own travel. For example, the volunteer commitment fee for Colombia was originally $2,500 including international airfare, but it is now $1,250 and volunteers are responsible for their own flights. Thank you again for your time.

Default avatar
Ryan
Male
32 years old
Ma
Villanova University

Incredible experience

10/10

I taught english at a public school in the coffee region of Colombia. Worldteach provided three weeks of orientation at the beginning of the service contract and then placed me with an absolutely perfect host family situation once I arrived in my city. For me the first six months were a bit difficult as I was often lonely feeling like I could not connect with people with my lowish level of Spanish. However, I stuck with it, I proved my Spanish, got involved taking dance lessons at a local dance school, and rededicated myself to the kids. The last few months were the best and most rewarding months of my life. They say that a year of volunteering changes you and for me I feel like its absolutely true. The experience has definitely changed what I value in life and what I believe is worth working for. I can't thank worldteach enough for providing me the opportunity to work at the school I worked at and for the opportunity to work with an incredible group or students and teachers. While you can expect bumps along the way, I absolutely recommend the Worldteach Colombia program. Everyone at Wt that I dealt with along the way including the in country field staff were just wonderful.

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked to have known my placement before getting to colombia as opposed to the general region.
Although I'm sure difficult, I would love to see school specific transportation costs factored into the monthly stipend.

Default avatar
Hillary
Female
32 years old
Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Great experience!

9/10

I taught in Cartagena de Indias for most all of 2010. I taught at a private university. I had my own classes - no co-teacher - and I taught beginning to advanced English.

WorldTeach provided useful training during orientation. However, I felt I was very lucky to have nearly finished a teaching degree stateside before leaving to teach in Colombia. For that very reason I didn't want a co-teacher; I wanted to give myself a taste of what it would be like to teacher once I had my license.

I found my field directors (we had two different ones over the course of the year) to be very helpful and professional. Whenever I had questions or needed assistance, they were there. They also acted as intermediaries between us teachers and our school - very useful since the school didn't have much experience with foreign volunteers.

I loved Cartagena, I loved my students. As with any overseas program, a good sense of humor, patience and flexibility (and a positive attitude, of course!) are essential.

How can this program be improved?

Any issues I had arose from the partner school's side, not WorldTeach's. It was the first year the university had WorldTeach volunteers, and from what I understand, they are no longer a partner school. I believe WorldTeach does the best they can to screen schools before partnering up with them, so I don't know how that process could be any better. I imagine it takes several years for a program to truly get established in any country.

Default avatar
Andrea
Female
32 years old
Barranquilla, Colombia
University of Tennessee- Chattanooga

Colombia

8/10

I enjoy living in Colombia. I don´t always feel safe in Barranquilla, but I enjoy my school and my students. My host family is now my real family. They are all very welcoming and will give you the shirt off their back. The only thing that is nearly unbearable is the heat. It dampens not only your clothes, but your spirit after a while.

Default avatar
Juliana
Female
32 years old
New York City, NY
Colorado State University

World Teach Colombia

10/10

To this day, my experience in Colombia with World Teach has been one of the highlights of my life. It was a challenging but incredible and unforgettable experience! I often think about my students, the island life, and the friendships that I made.

Default avatar
Frank
Male
24 years old
Tuscaloosa, AL
University of the South

Barranquilla, Colombia

9/10

I work in Barranquilla, Colombia. More or less, I work as a teacher's assistant, but my role varies from class to class. I teach mostly 6th, 8th, and 9th grade. In one class I am the main teacher, in another class I help out where needed, and in another class I trade off on lessons with my co-teacher. Coastal Colombia has been very kind to me, but it can take some getting used to. Generally, the culture isn't a very progressive one, but the people are very friendly. It's also very hot here.

How can this program be improved?

I would have more get-togethers with all the volunteers and field director.

Default avatar
Stacy
Female
32 years old
Seattle, WA
University of Washington

Great, but...

6/10

This is a great program, but it's best suited for those who don't need much support once they arrive in country, in my opinion.
Not only do you pay for the opportunity (and receive that amount in monthly stipends), but so do the schools that you are placed with, leaving the volunteer in an awkward position where the schools request more and more of your time not understanding why you aren't willing to work full-time.

As for the WorldTeach office itself, they do their best, but having one or two people that are in charge of supporting 20-40 in-country volunteers is taxing and (if you require more "hand-holding") can leave the volunteer feeling forgotten and frustrated.

Overall, you get what you put in, just make sure you don't overtax yourself with all of the requirements (from the office and/or from the school).

Default avatar
Allison
Female
42 years old
Barranquilla, Colombia
George Washington University

One volunteer's opinion

7/10

Ideologically, I believe in education for everyone. In my heart, I know every human is entitled to meaningful, useful, quality education. But ideals need to be tempered with reality. The reality of this programme, in my opinion, is that it tries very hard, but does not produce quantifiable changes. I do not feel that with the wee bit of English most of the students knew/know, their future will be impacted.
If you want to feel good about trying, & you want a more global perspective of education, politics, econonomics, & their interplay, WorldTeach Colombia is a great experience. But if you want to know that after your year, students will accomplish more than had you not come, you may be disappointed.

How can this program be improved?

Yes, but with many many many qualifications depending on the applicant....
I think my local field director was very out of touch w the reality of her volunteers. The title of assistant/field director assumes that the person will be 'in the field' but this was not the case for me or my fellow volunteers. Apparently she had a lot of paperwork.
Additionally, as a country wide programme, many volunteers knew of problems that the staff either ignored or didn't know (again, not knowing is a reflection of not being in the field..)... I am aware of a person who banked thousands of dollars distributing cocaine, another who shortly after returning had a suicide attempt, another who was clearly an alcoholic & had inappropriate lessons with students, & yet another who hated her students & told them they could do as they pleased as long as they didn't bother her... This is in addition to 7 volunteers who terminated early, volunteers who were mugged &/or assaulted, the ongoing problems many faced pertaining to host families, & disturbingly low living stipends.
The effort, energy, & expectations are admirable, but in the end, if what you want is more than that, you may want another programme.

Default avatar
Shannon
Female
24 years old
Colombia
University of Central Missouri

WorldTeach - Colombia

9/10

Right before my senior year of college, I made the decision that I wanted to teach overseas. I researched organizations and programs for several month before selecting and applying for WorldTeach, and I couldn't be happier with my decision. WT provided a ton of information and support before I got to Colombia, and continued to do so after I had arrived. The field staff was incredibly helpful during my transition into teaching, and was always available for questions and feedback. This is a top-notch organization if you're looking for one that is both truly committed to what they do, and transparent about administration and finances.

How can this program be improved?

In-country communication is sometimes undependable/infrequent.

Default avatar
P.
Female
57 years old
Now, in Ecuador.
Carleton University

Toughest and most rewarding year of my life.

7/10

The TEFL orientation was extremely well done. It was held in Bogota, where I suffered from sever altitude sickness. I would highly recommend that volunteers arrive a couple of days early to rest and get ready for an intensive study program. The recruiter that I had in Boston was very helpful to me. This person had originally accepted me for the year in Tanzania, and let me change to Colombia when I learned about bucket showers!
Somehow, I missed the part about doing the full training and orientation. I wanted the orientation, but was already certified in TESL. I was not happy at first that I had to do it 'again', but am very glad that I did! It had a completely different orientation than my first TESL program.
The study program throughout the year was amazing for me. It was a truly supportive continuing education program.
I had been assured that not speaking Spanish would be no problem for me when I signed up. So, I went speaking no Spanish, and this created many difficulties and misunderstandings for me. Added to a new work culture, this was a very painful time for me. I learned Spanish in a hurry, as it was for survival! I think that no Spanish would be fine if you are posted in a touristy spot, as some locals would have some basic English.
I reminded myself repeatedly that I was living in Latin America, which I have done a lot in my life. The disorganization at school at first drove me crazy! I had to reach deep into myself to organize things away from the happy chaos of the school. I ended the year feeling on top of everything, but have taken a lot away from this very loving culture. I loved my students, once I could talk with them, and know more about their lives. It was very hard to say good-bye.
I will also share that I turned 60 over this year. I was the only older person in a group of 20 year-olds. It could have been very hard, but I never once felt excluded or discriminated against by my fellow volunteers. I am truly impressed by this.
I will end by reminding people about the rule: peel it, cook it, or don't eat it. I got very sick from the food at my home stay. I am well now.

How can this program be improved?

I would have wished for a little more on the ground support, but this has been taken care of. The company has hired another full-time staff member for this very reason.
Some volunteers said that they were 'just' volunteers. I would recommend that you think of this as a professional job, which is what teaching is. Then, you will give your students the very best support that you can!

Default avatar
Annie
Female
24 years old
Bogota, Colombia
Western Washington University

Why WorldTeach Colombia is great!

10/10

I chose WorldTeach because I wanted the opportunity to volunteer in a Spanish-speaking country. There are a lot of options out there for teaching English anywhere in the world, but I chose WorldTeach because of their commitment to creating sustainable education programs for low-income students who have the most to gain from learning English. WorldTeach also has an excellent in-country support system as well as top notch professionals overseeing the program from Boston.

I chose WorldTeach's program in Colombia because Colombia is at a critical and fascinating point in their history right now: they are rebuilding themselves after years of guerrilla warfare and drug trafficking violence. Despite their recent past, Colombians are very friendly and optimistic, and so eager to change their country's image. Colombia has a little of everything, from cool bustling cities to pristine tropical beaches to the Amazon rainforest and beautiful Andes mountains.

How can this program be improved?

The selection process may be a little too open-ended, allowing participants who are not fully committed to the idea of volunteerism or living abroad for an entire year.

Response from WorldTeach

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this helpful review, and for bringing this topic to attention.

During the WorldTeach application process, and throughout our communication with applicants, we stress that WorldTeach is a program of service that can at times be difficult and is only for those dedicated to teaching, service, and challenging themselves. Volunteers join WorldTeach for many personal reasons, but ultimately must share these priorities of teaching and service, otherwise their chances for success are not as high.

Default avatar
Jon
Male
24 years old
United States
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Great program if you can afford it!

9/10

Teaching with WorldTeach Colombia was a great experience. I was one of 43 volunteers who did it during the 2013 calendar year (they now have July departures as well as January). 20 of us are remaining in Colombia the following year which shows how much people enjoyed the experience.

Each placement brings a totally unique and different challenge--some teachers worked with pre-K students in a disorganized public school, others taught in a hard-working university setting. You're kind of agreeing to roll the dice because there's no guarantee you'll be placed in the exact teaching situation or city you want to. But generally WT places volunteers in good spots (most placements were in Baranquilla, Bogota, Medellin, Pereira/Manizales and Isla de Baru).

The best reasons for choosing WT over a different opportunity or program in Colombia, in no order, are: 1. You're connected to a very reputable org. which provides good professional development throughout the program and strong recommendations after it. 2. The three-week intensive orientation gives lots of useful teaching ideas and you actually get to practice teaching a week in a bogota school. 3. You'll be connected to a great group of volunteers in addition to the colombian people you'll meet. 4. WT staff was extremely professional and timely with answering volunteers' questions, helping volunteers fundraise for the program, and organizing the three service conferences. 5. The placements in some public/rural schools may be very difficult in terms of student discipline, etc. but are extremely great opportunities for kids who would never have the chance to learn from a native speaker without this program, and were generally very rewarding to work with as volunteers.

How can this program be improved?

You'll need to come in with a decent amount of savings if you want to do a lot of traveling or going out--stipends are barely enough to make ends meet if you're in a city. But if you're teaching in Colombia to begin with you're probably not going to save much money, and WT provides a lot of great support, especially helpful if you are new to teaching english or living in South America that can make it worth the financial problems. Also, it provides a great TEFL certification program (I think it only cost 50 for our group) that is comparable with much, much more expensive courses.

VolunteersColombia, the organization with which WT partners in Colombia, has started a new program that only teaches in the national public colleges which is much more financially viable but has many kinks to be worked out yet. This program can be found via Atlas Corps. or Cultural Embrace.

Default avatar
laurendoll
Female
32 years old
Barcelona, Spain
College of William and Mary

Just do it

9/10

WorldTeach Colombia was exactly what I was looking for when I volunteered in 2010. It began in January, giving me time to make some money after graduating college; It provided teacher and language training; and placed me in a country where not a lot of foreigners care to go. Very few people spoke English, so it was a great country to learn Spanish in.

I was placed in Barranquilla, Colombia, perhaps my favorite city of all time. While it is not beautiful by any means, it has an energy that you can't find anywhere else. Plus it has the biggest Carnaval in the world, outside of Rio.

Teaching was amazing. I co-taught at a local elementary school in a very poor neighborhood, teaching with local teachers. I can easily say that I felt I made a huge difference. The local teachers had a lot of heart, but could barely speak English and had no idea how to structure a class (like assigning homework that relates to what you do in class). So I had the opportunity to influence 200 students, but also improve the skills of the local teachers.

I loved my WorldTeach experience so much that I stayed in Barranquilla 2 more years and kept in touch with all my students and my school. If you want to help people, experience a new culture, practice your Spanish, and find adventure, this is definitely the program for you.

How can this program be improved?

I agree, clarity in contracts and a wider base of living situations to place people (making it easier to tailor living situations to people's personal preferences)

Default avatar
VanessaChalan
Female
32 years old
Denver, Colorado
University of Colorado- Boulder

Experience of a lifetime

9/10

Although my experience in Colombia was not perfect, it was still a life changing experience. The staff of WorldTeach and Volunteers Colombia were amazing, helpful and supportive every step of the way. I had no idea what to expect from the program or the country. We started out with a 3 week orientation with the whole group and that was an experience I will never forget. We learned a lot about the program, the other volunteers and ourselves. I felt very prepared for the adventure I was about to embark on.

WorldTeach does an amazing job of choosing diverse but similiar volunteers with the same goals. Helping the citizens of Colombia to learn English and succeed in their lives.

The memories and friendships with both the volunteers, the program field directors, the students and the other teachers at my school will last a lifetime.

How can this program be improved?

I would never take back any part of my experience. My only regret is not staying longer when times got tough at my school. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who asked and would do it again in a heart beat.

My school was a different situation because they lost government funding and had no way to support our group halfway through the year. In this case it was very frustrating and sad. WorldTeach Colombia and Volunteers Colombia gave us options to transfer to other cities or even to Panama to continue volunteering at no cost to us. After a long time of thinking, I decided to come back to the States. I still often wonder what would've been if I went to a new program but no matter what happened, the 6 months I had in Colombia were amazing.

I even went back down for 2.5 weeks after to visit other volunteers and friends. I would go back to visit anytime I have the opportunity and this had led to me to other opportunities abroad. I am moving to Belgium in April and credit WorldTeach Colombia for this opportunity. This program inspired me and I will eventually be going to Graduate school to become an ESL Teacher and hopefully someday a porgram director.

Default avatar
brighidtc
Female
24 years old
Stamford, CT
France

WT Colombia 2012

10/10

I had no idea what to expect coming to Colombia...and looking back, it's no wonder. I was a full-time English teacher to about 125 high school students for an entire academic year. I never once felt like I was volunteering - teaching was certainly the hardest job I've ever had. That being said, it was also incredibly rewarding from a personal and professional standpoint. I developed very strong bonds with students, fellow teachers, community members and friends that I will carry with me forever.
WorldTeach was extremely supportive and professional, keeping things as structured and smooth as possible in the Colombian context. Staff in the home and Colombia offices were exceptional. Entering a totally new profession in a foreign environment is just plain difficult, but was worth every moment.

How can this program be improved?

Clearer contracts with the partner schools

About The Provider

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WorldTeach was founded in 1986 by a group of Harvard students who were motivated by the desire to promote local education initiatives in places where teachers and resources were lacking. Today, we continue to provide opportunities for individuals to serve as volunteer teachers around the

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