WorldTeach - Volunteer Teaching in Colombia - (past program)

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

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About

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

Questions & Answers

Reviews

88%
based on 22 reviews
  • Benefits 8.6
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.9
  • Facilities 9.1
  • Safety 8.4
  • Instruction 7.3
  • Support 7.8
  • Value 8.5
  • Difficulty 7
  • Job Assistance 7.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 22
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Kenny
8/10

Barranquilla, Colombia

We worked at Fundacion Pies Descalzos, the school started by Shakira in her home town. The school was just in its 2nd year of existence when we started there, so everything was still new and exciting, but also disorganized and being created on the fly. This included our English as a Second Language program, for which we were provided no curricular materials and little adminstrative support from the school. WorldTeach was great in their support and so was the host organization, Volunteers Colombia. We had some significant problems with our living situation, which compounded the challenges we faced in classrooms of 40 or more students living in poverty each day. However, this was the experience we signed up for and it was extremely rewarding because it was challenging. And living and working in Colombia was a dream fulfilled for me. I loved the country, the people and the opportunity to get to know both.

How can this program be improved?
Curricular materials and behavioral support in the classroom.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kate
8/10

A Great Path into Teaching and Living Abroad

The application process for WorldTeach is well-organized and moves swiftly from the first contact to program placement. Having the option to choose a destination country and specify the city (and climate!) you prefer makes this program appealing. The training is intense but fun and focused on success for both the volunteer teachers and their future students. Personally, my homestay (family) placement was tragic, but I managed to find a safe option in the same city and WT supported the change. The camaraderie of the volunteers in my Colombia 2014 year was sporadic; it seemed best to be capable of being alone as much as with others. The time allotted is perfect (one year) as it allows for travel, cultural immersion, and building valuable career skills as a result of the experience.

How can this program be improved?
WT is a great program if you are self-sufficient and willing to take on the challenge of living abroad with an open mind and lots of self-confidence. Having mature, experienced field directors would immensely benefit volunteers, who are immersed in a new culture, experiencing personal interactions, learning a language, and adjusting to everyday routines. It would be helpful to have patient, focused, field directors who make volunteers a priority.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Harold
8/10

World Teach Colombia

The training and support we received from our in-country coordinators was superb. They really do their best to make you feel comfortable and I made many great friends within my cohort of volunteers. The teaching experience was all over the place, but given the nature of the assignment, that was partly to be expected. The best part was just being able to travel and to immerse myself in a new culture and language.

Overall, it was a good program.

How can this program be improved?
Including the option to opt out of their expensive health care program and the ability to find your own housing for the first 6 months of the program.
Response from WorldTeach

Hello Harold,

Thank you very much for leaving this review. It's wonderful to hear that you found the staff to be so supportive and that you had such a positive relationship with your cohort. Thank you as well for those suggestions - we appreciate your feedback regarding health care and housing, and have recently made some changes to host family placements in Ecuador as a response to similar feedback.

Thanks again Harold!

Best,

Caitlin

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Martina
10/10

A life-changing year-long program!

I participated in the WorldTeach Colombia program two years ago, and it was a marvelous experience. If you are looking for professional and personal growth, and are looking for an opportunity in which you get to be independent, but which also offers more support to those who want/need it, this is the organization for you! The 11-month program starts with a 2-week orientation in country, so by the time you finish orientation you feel confident in understanding expectations and have a better understanding of the culture, school system, and you get a crash course in teaching (because most participants do not have prior teaching experience). The program is well organized, with a coordinator in every city with placements and an overall in-country director, whom you meet with regularly. I loved living with a host family - it was the perfect way to be further immersed in Colombian culture. However, I'd recommend having at least a solid level of conversational Spanish before coming to a program like this, because it's necessary in daily life and English is not spoken by the general population. The transition to life in Colombia was rockier for those who arrived with zero Spanish. Unfortunately the Colombia program isn't offered anymore, but this was due to no fault of the program! I have friends who participated in other WorldTeach programs and had similarly great experiences. Also, getting a TEFL certificate through a program like this is totally worth the extra work. It helped me significantly in getting a similar teaching job after the program ended. WorldTeach is a great way to shift careers, or test the waters living in a new country or teaching internationally, if that is what you're interested in. If you just want a change of pace for a year, it's perfect for that, too. But don't think that it won't change you (for the better), because it absolutely will!

How can this program be improved?
This program was excellent, I cannot think of a way to improve it! I would, however, make sure that participants are clear on what to expect beforehand. This program is first and foremost about teaching and intercultural sharing! And you will experience culture shock. You will be lesson planning and writing monthly reports. It isn't a yearlong "study abroad."
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
10/10

Unforgettable year in Colombia

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Laura
8/10

Teaching English in Colombia: Que Chévere!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Erin
9/10

Colombia 2013

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jeffrey
10/10

WorldTeach Colombia

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Ryan
10/10

Incredible experience

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Hillary
9/10

Great experience!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Andrea
8/10

Colombia

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Juliana
10/10

World Teach Colombia

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Frank
9/10

Barranquilla, Colombia

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Stacy
6/10

Great, but...

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).

Yes, I recommend this program
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Allison
7/10

One volunteer's opinion

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.
Yes, I recommend this program

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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...