Situated uniquely as the gateway between North and South America, Colombia is an increasingly important country on the international stage. Rich with a distinct Latin American culture, fascinating global history, and tremendous ecological biodiversity, the country offers a wealth of vibrant experiences to be discovered by travelers from all across the world. Whether placed in the urban highlands of the Andes mountains or the rural lowlands of the Amazon Rainforest, teaching abroad in Colombia will benefit local communities, by helping them to build a brighter future through education.
With over 50 million inhabitants, Colombia is the second largest country in South America by population. Most metropolitan areas of Colombia are situated in the highlands of the Andes mountains, while the eastern lowlands, which constitute over half of the country’s land area, are very sparsely populated (only about three percent of the population lives there). It is possible to find English teaching jobs in Colombia in both urban and rural areas, depending on your preferred placement.
Bogota is Colombia’s capital and largest city by far, and it is also a centrally important economic, educational, and cultural center of all Latin America. While just two decades ago Bogota was considered one of the most violent cities in the world, due to the plague of drug trade, it has since greatly cleaned up its act and become a safe and very popular tourist destination for travelers around the world. Renowned for its beautiful colonial architecture and abundance of cultural attractions, including museums, libraries, historical monuments, and theaters, teachers are sure to have a fun and vastly enriching experience teaching in Bogota.
Colombia’s other major cities include Medellin, Cali, and Barranquilla. Medellin and Cali each are situated pristinely in the Andes mountains and boast their own distinctive resumes of architectural beauty, cultural opportunity, and historical intrigue to rival Bogota. Barranquilla is a thriving port city located in the Northern Caribbean region, offering a different sort of appeal for those teaching in Colombia who may not be so inclined to the towering heights of Colombia’s other great cities.
Wherever you end up you are bound to have a unique immersive experience teaching English abroad in Colombia.
Teaching Jobs in Colombia
There are many different positions to teach English in Colombia for ESL teachers, as the country takes pride in its education system and because of its location at the crossroads between North and South America. Educational spending in the country has nearly doubled over the last two decades, and foreign teachers are now welcome with open arms to teach in Colombia in classrooms of all levels, from kindergarten classrooms to high schools.
Teaching English as a foreign language is the most popular option for teaching abroad in Colombia. There are many TEFL institutes and language schools throughout the country that are constantly training teachers to teach English in Colombia, to meet the growing demand for ESL teachers in the region. TEFL certificates are not always required for English teaching jobs in Colombia, but are highly recommended if pursuing more long-term positions.
Other teaching jobs in Colombia are available at bilingual and international schools throughout the country. These academic institutions afford English speaking teachers the opportunity to branch out and teach other subjects, such as Math, History, and Science. It is typically not necessary to know Spanish in order to teach in one of these schools, but you will find that speaking the native language at least conversationally will be a great help in your academic and extracurricular lives.
Classroom etiquette is generally laid back in Colombia, with tardiness not strictly enforced and students often interacting with teachers on a first-name basis. To meet enrollment demands, most primary and middle schools will offer morning and afternoon sessions, providing individuals who choose to teach in Colombia with some flexibility in determining their own scheduling preference. Different types of schools have different calendars, but generally the winter months are peak hiring time for teaching jobs in Colombia.
Salaries & Costs
As an affordable country to live in and travel throughout, it is likely that you will have the opportunity to save up a decent amount of money while teaching abroad in Colombia. International teachers can generally expect to earn between $800 and $3,000 a month in paid teaching jobs in Colombia, depending on type of placement and prior qualifications. The cost of daily necessities, such as food and transport, tend to be quite cheap in Colombia. Eating at sit-down restaurants and buying imported items, such as brand name clothing, are the easiest ways to let your expenses run away from you, so be mindful to eat and shop as the locals do. Urban areas are much more expensive than rural areas too, so also keep this in mind when searching for a English teaching job in Colombia.
Accommodations & Visas
Many teach abroad programs in Colombia, or host schools, will help teachers to organize housing, either independently or living with other foreign teachers. Apartment or flat setups are the most common, though some programs lasting for shorter durations will also offer the opportunity for teachers to live in a homestay. If you are planning on finding your own housing, then it is important to speak to your employer early on about available options and strategies for locating appropriate accommodations. Real estate prices can be quite high in the cities, so keep this in mind when considering whether or not to live with roommates.
To teach in Colombia you will likely need to obtain a temporary employment visa as well. Teaching programs or local schools will typically sponsor foreign teachers and help guide them through the fairly simple visa process though.
Benefits & Challenges
Colombia offers a fun, laid back, and hospitable culture for international teachers. Those who teach English abroad in Colombia will come home with great professional and personal experiences which will benefit their future endeavors.
Colombia is also one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet, a magnificent land where nature lovers and adventurous individuals alike could spend a lifetime exploring without doing the country justice.
As one of the largest and most important players in Latin America, Colombia has made tremendous strides in development over the last few decades and only continues to grow.
By teaching in Colombia, teachers will be joining an educational movement that may have an enormous impact on the future of the nation.