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.
The best part? English teaching jobs in Colombia are pretty easy to come by and readily available (and if you're TEFL certified, you'll have the cream of the crop when it comes to positions). While you won't make a killing teaching here, you can still live a relatively comfortable life. Savvy savers will come out on top, and if you're more concerned about having a wealth of experiences rather than some topped up bank account, you're going to fall head-over-heels in love with teaching jobs in Colombia.
If you still need a wee bit more convincing, hang around awhile. Here are the top ten reasons to teach in Colombia and make it rain pesos. You will...
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.
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!
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!
Teaching jobs are found all over the country, from Cartagena to Bogotá to Medellín. Each city has it's own vibe and is absolutely worth exploring, regardless of where your teaching placement plops you.
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!
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.
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!
Next steps to English teaching in Colombia
Don't pack your sunblock juuuust yet. There are a few items on your teach abroad to do list you should check off first.
How to teach in Colombia in 5 Easy Steps
- Decide where to go. Figuring out where you want to teach abroad in Colombia. The gorgeous highlands? Somewhere in the capital? Along the Caribbean coastline? Don't let the rolling R's hold you back—choose a place that's right for you.
- What type of classroom do you want to teach in? Think long and hard about the type of classroom environment you want to work in before you sign the dotted line for a program abroad. If kids get under your skin, you probably don't want to work in an elementary school. If adults make you nervous, opt for junior high gigs. Do you want to work in small groups, a business setting, at a university? Language school or public school? Dig deep into your inner preferences so you can find the program that best matches what you're looking for (because trust us—it's out there).
- Choose from the best teach abroad programs in Colombia. Pay attention to past participants’ reviews, program/job reputation, location, and your ease of getting settled. Some schools or providers may even provide contact info for past ESL teachers if you want the REAL dirt.
- Plan your finances. Sort out your on-going funding before you go to afford daily essentials and splurge in travel (in addition to program costs and airfare). Do your research to have an idea of how much your day-to-day life in Colombia will cost.
- Get TEFL certified. It'll do wonders to your comfort level in the classroom as well as better prepare you to be as effective of a leader as possible. TEFL certificates are gold in this country—get yours before you go (or while you're there!).
Hit your mark and teach in Colombia
Yup, there's never been a better time to say "Si!" to teaching in Colombia. Blow off the oft-chosen Korea or the not-quite-as-interesting Vietnam. Enjoy life in the southern hemisphere and all of the fun and funky benefits to teaching in Colombia that we outlined above. We'll see you there!