Top 10 Reasons to Teach Abroad in Colombia

by Kerianne Baylor

Teaching abroad is for those who crave newness, seek adventure, and want to be inspired. You’re taking the risk to boldly move to a foreign country, to wholeheartedly devote yourself toward being a teacher, and to enthusiastically soak up another culture. Colombia gives you just that – the experience. You will undoubtedly experience Colombian hospitality, diversity, and joy if you choose to go for it and teach in Colombia.

Here are the top ten reasons to teach abroad in Colombia

1.    Learn to cógela suave

Colombian friendliness oversteps punctuality and timeliness because maintaining social relationships is valued very highly. You’ll learn to take it easy, which might even be the first words of advice from your program coordinator. You’ll be open to flexibility and everything happening the Colombian way – spending extra time to help others, having substantial conversations, and appreciating the fluidity of time. 

2. Be inspired by teachers from around the world

Teaching abroad means delving into the realm of pedagogy. People from all around the world have begun to cross borders to teach English, and while teaching in Colombia you will have the opportunity to cross paths with them. You’ll learn from their unique experiences, viewpoints and advice.

International Teachers in Colombia

SENA Teachers - Photo Courtesy of Kerianne Baylor

3.    Understand magical realism

“Colombia is magical realism” has become the country’s tourism slogan, but it means much, much more. Influenced by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Márquez, you’ll find a blend of reality and fantasy throughout the entire country.

To understand magical realism is to understand the extraordinary places that coexist in Colombia. 

4.    Taste Colombian food

From the exotic, tropical fruits to the traditional bandeja paisa, from arepas con queso to sancocho and mondongo, Colombian cuisine offers good, simple meals that are made well with local ingredients. And, of course, we can’t forget Colombian coffee. That’s necessary!

Colombian Lunch

Colombian Lunch - Photo Courtesy of Kerianne Baylor

5.    Impact eager students

Colombian students are full of energy. There will never be a dull moment in class when teaching in Colombia. They’re ready and willing to improve their English language skills while still having a great time.

6.    Visit unforgettable destinations

The regional differences are endless. The fact that one country can house so many is absolutely mind boggling: the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, San Andrés Island, the Tatacoa Desert, Tayrona National Park, the Guajira desert, the Coffee Region, Cartagena’s Walled City, the Salt Cathedral, Tequendama Falls, Guatape, and the Cocora Valley...and the list continues to grow!

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia - Photo Courtesy of Kerianne Baylor

7.    Move with the rhythm

Colombia’s diverse, multiethnic population has produced a blend of musical styles and dances. You’ll hear upbeat sounds on the coast listening to vallenato and cumbia, and feel sexier rhythms dancing salsa in Cali, the Colombian salsa capital. The people in Colombia thrive on dancing and partying — it’s up to you to jump in and move with them. 

8.    Truly enjoy life

There’s a certain energy that thrives within a country rich in generous people, exotic landscapes, salsa and cumbia music, diverse cuisines, and natural beauty. Everything clashes and combines to create something magical. You can feel it when you step into a buzzing restaurant, when you catch a bus blasting music, and when you enter a busy classroom. Colombia feels very alive!

Bus in Colombia

Riding a local bus in Colombia - Photo Courtesy of Kerianne Baylor

9.    Practice Spanish

Colombian Spanish is considered the most neutral Spanish in Latin America, it’s easy to understand, though some regions, like the Caribbean coast, have tougher accents. You’ll be met with enthusiastic Colombians who fervently believe your Spanish will improve just by teaching in Colombia for a few months. When you put in the effort to improve, you will. 

10. Appreciate the value of education

For the most part, Colombian students are there because they want to be, and not only are they grateful, but they’re optimistic. They value the opportunity to receive face-to-face classes with a native English speaker, and they really, really want to improve.

Student completing an English exercise in Colombia

SENA student completing an exercise - Photo Courtesy of Kerianne Baylor

In Colombia you can experience something new every single day. Let yourself be continuously inspired by teachers from all corners of the globe, by the students you are teaching every day, and by the new Colombian friends you’ll make! Generosity in Colombia abounds, from strangers wanting to accompany you to the correct bus to invitations to church and Sunday lunches, and this will help you develop an instant sense of familiarity in a new place.

Yes, teaching abroad in Colombia is challenging, it’s new, it’s terrifying, it’s exciting. But most of all, teaching abroad is meant to be a learning experience, and Colombia is a great place to learn!