Colombia is not what it used to be; it is so much more than its controversial past. From the awe-inspiring Caribbean coastline to the lush greenery (and mouthwatering smells) of the Coffee Region, it is a country bursting at the seams with landscapes that satisfy the senses. There’s an energy in Colombia that is indescribable. The people exude a hospitable happiness you’ve just got to experience for yourself. TEFL programs in Colombia will give you the chance to enjoy the feast of experiences firsthand. Afterward, your energetic, eager ESL students will surely invite you into their culture through food, music, and dance, both in and out of the classroom.
Bridging the gap between North and South America, Colombia is a country rich with biodiversity from the lowlands on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to the mountains in the Andes and urban valleys. Its 50 million inhabitants are spread throughout very different landscapes, populating four cities most greatly: Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and Barranquilla. As it turns out, these four cities have become the top places for TEFL programs in Colombia. Though highly populated all the same, each has its own culture and character.
Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, is a cosmopolitan city elevated at above 8,000 feet. The city’s La Zona Rosa neighborhood is home to exciting nightlife and posh shopping, while La Candelaria houses colonial architecture and cobblestoned streets. There’s always something to do in Bogota; TEFL students can visit the Gold Museum or the Botero Museum, enjoy a steak-and-entertainment night at the famous restaurant, Andrés Carne de Res, experience the underground Salt Cathedral, or climb even higher for a magnificent city view from Monserrate on their free time.
Cali and Medellín are cities located in mountain valleys of the Andes. A hot, steamy place that moves to a Caribbean beat, Cali has historical churches, a zoo, museums, parks, and lots and lots of salsa dancing. Medellín, the “City of Eternal Spring,” is innovative and modern, offering plenty of parks and public spaces, museums, and libraries. You can check out the prestigious El Poblado neighborhood, admire Botero’s sculptures in Plaza Botero, or take the Metrocable to Parque Arvi when you aren’t busy taking TEFL courses. In early August, visitors flock to Medellin for the Flower Festival, as the entire city becomes decked out in intricate floral arrangements.
Situated on the northern coast, where the Magdalena River meets the Caribbean Sea, Barranquilla is an industrial port city. The streets are buzzing with a lively, party spirit, even outside of the must-see Carnival celebration. Its location on the Caribbean coast places it right in the middle of Santa Marta and Cartagena, both of which draw in visitors to explore the unmatchable Tayrona National Nature Park and the charming historic Walled City, respectively.
TEFL Programs in Colombia
In 2014, President Juan Manuel Santos launched a program promoting bilingualism in both the private and public sectors of Colombia. More and more, being able to speak English increases Colombians’ employability, since communicating in English is believed to be essential for economic development on a global scale. The majority of Colombians studying English are doing so in public schools, as English is usually offered as a part of the standard curriculum. However, in general, Colombia currently has a relatively low level of bilingualism, even though Colombians consume English-speaking pop culture, from movies to music, which can likely be attributed to the rather new emphasis on bilingualism on a national scale.
This recent push toward bilingualism opens up more opportunities for TEFL certified teachers to teach English in Colombia at all levels upon course completion. English teaching jobs are available in private and public schools, universities, and in bilingual and international schools throughout Colombia.
While there are teaching jobs in Colombia that do not require TEFL certification, it is beneficial to pursue a solid foundation of English teaching if you wish to teach there in the future. Earning TEFL certification in Colombia will also set you apart as a competitive, qualified candidate. In order to participate in TEFL certification programs in Colombia, individuals must be fluent in English, and most programs also require participants to be 18 to 20 years of age at minimum. However, previous teaching experience and a university degree are not always required!
Although you can complete 120 hours of online TEFL courses anywhere in the world, an in-person TEFL certification programs most definitely has its benefits. Learning in a classroom environment among other ESL teachers in training is invaluable and practicing teaching in actual classrooms is a learning experience in and of itself. Also, applying and interviewing for English teaching jobs in-person after you finish your TEFL certification in Colombia will be beneficial. The weeks spent in-country completing your TEFL certification will serve as a good introduction to Colombian culture, too, while teaching you more about educational methods and local practices amidst a new employment landscape.
TEFL programs in Colombia emphasize teaching practice sessions with observations to gauge teacher’s potential, offering a proper amount of feedback to continue building upon what you’re learning in training. TEFL certification programs are usually a full-time, four-week commitment.
After earning your TEFL certificate in Colombia, many program providers will aid you in finding a job in the city you’ve trained in, other cities around Colombia, or even cities around the world.
Costs & Affordability
Luckily, Colombia is cost effective, and once you find a paid teaching job in Colombia, you’ll see how truly affordable it can be. On average, TEFL certification in Colombia can cost between $1,000 and $2,000, with most TEFL programs priced toward the higher end of this spectrum. Typically, TEFL programs in Colombia do not include accommodation, meals, or transportation, but you can definitely live comfortably without being paid the big bucks. On average, a traditional lunch can cost about 8.000 COP (roughly $2.60), a Coke costs 1.500 COP (roughly 48 cents ), and a t-shirt is about 20.000 COP (roughly $6.40). Clearly, the dollar goes very far in Colombia!
It is common nowadays to fundraise for international experiences on crowdfunding websites, like Fund My Travel. Share your purpose with your family, friends, and co-worker networks to gain momentum and reach your fundraising and teaching goals! It is also worth it to look into scholarships available for TEFL programs in Colombia on GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory. Once you are TEFL certified and start teaching English in Colombia, typical salaries start at around $1.500.000 COP (roughly $500).
Accommodations & Visas
Considering you’ll most likely be completing your TEFL certification in one of Colombia’s largest cities, you will be able to find several options for accommodation, including hostels, hotels, apartments, and host families. While some TEFL programs in Colombia will include accommodation, you’ll usually have to pay for your own housing out of pocket. Some TEFL certification programs, however, offer great housing options for the duration of your program, such as in fully furnished apartments or in a single room with a Colombian host family. Depending on which living situation you choose, it can cost between $20 to $30 per night.
In terms of visa requirements, U.S., Australian, and U.K. citizens are not required to obtain a visa when traveling to Colombia for 90 days or less. As you complete your TEFL certification and begin to search for ESL jobs in Colombia, it is best to inquire about visas necessary for the position. Most TEFL certification programs in Colombia will fall short of the 90 day tourist period; thus, if you decide to continue your English teaching endeavor in Colombia, you will need to find out visa information from your prospective employer. Check out GoAbroad’s Embassy directory to find out the latest information on securing visas to attend a TEFL program in Colombia.
Benefits & Challenges
Contribute to Bilingualism. Colombia’s educational policy is pushing for more widespread bilingualism, which means more ESL jobs are available in several different educational settings. This is a great time to join a nationwide initiative to improve English language skills, in big, urban Latin American cities as well as smaller cities and more rural locations, in hopes of propelling development.
Adapt to a Vibrant Culture. Colombians are exceptionally proud of their their country and they truly enjoy sharing it with others. By enrolling in a TEFL certification program in Colombia, you’ll be able to see just how hospitable and full of life Colombians are. Engaging with the culture, through food, music, dance, and soccer both inside and outside of the classroom, will surely be one of your favorite aspects of earning TEFL certification abroad in a country as lively and rhythmic as Colombia.
Live in a Diverse Country. Crossing the regional borders will show you Colombia’s different accents as well as landscapes. From Medellin’s innovative, bustling city center picturesquely set within the Andes Mountains to Salento’s high wax palms soaring above the Coffee Region to La Guajira’s desert-meets-sea beaches verging on Venezuela, Colombia is a one-of-a-kind country that will surely capture your heart.
TEFL your way to Colombia and see for yourself if it lives up to it’s nickname, Locombia, the land of the crazies!