A large and charming country, Colombia is varied. There is the rough Pacific coast that surfers crave, and then there is the old-school Caribbean tale. As you travel towards the center, you will come across mighty peaks, majestic reservoirs, and rivers to discover. Finally, deep south, you will find the Amazonian jungle and wilderness.
Getting your TEFL is the ideal solution to get you started on your teaching adventure in Colombia. Not only will the climate help you fill your days as a teacher with a lot of enthusiasm, but you will discover the warmth and kindness in the communities you work, while you get to enjoy and afford a very serene lifestyle, with the benefit/cost ratio balancing out in your favor.
Completing a TEFL course in Colombia will not only provide you with the chance of teaching all across this country, but will open up avenues to pursue in the future throughout Latin America.
TEFL courses can be found in all big cities around Colombia. They mainly consist of around 100 hours of coursework and 6-20 hours of practice. The training is provided by a qualified instructor and there are also institutions offering comprehensive job search guidance.
CELTA courses are full-time, over 4 weeks. 120 hours of extra assignments and tasks are added to the existing 120 hours of coursework. Assessments are conducted in writing, but the emphasis is mainly on the teaching ability and potential of the trainees.
Finding a CELTA course will be a bit challenging, but you will surely come across venues to hold them in the largest Colombian cities of Bogota and Medellin.
When to Take Your TEFL in Colombia
With the new academic year starting either at the end of January to beginning of February for public institutions or at the end of August to beginning of September for private ones, you should allow between two and four months to complete your TEFL and make the arrangements to move to Colombia.
In the end, it depends very much on your learning style and on your abilities to make changes and plans in your life.
What to Look for in a TEFL Course in Colombia
Do your homework in advance and a bit of research. Read and compare reviews on courses. You will find them especially in the big Colombian cities, namely Bogota, Medellin, and Barranquilla. It depends on where your first destination is and can be linked to your wish to continue and teach in the area of your first choice.
Go for accredited courses, providing internationally recognized certification. As most intensive TEFL courses have a duration spanning around 4 weeks, research some more if you find some that are shorter. We all know that practice makes perfect, so supervised teaching time should also be included in your curriculum.
While many programs come with a work visa included, some schools still work on a 90-day tourist visa, renewed by exiting and re-entering Colombia. Embracing local practices is what you should do in this case.
For a fully legal stay, an application should be filed in a Colombian consulate beforehand, providing all requested documents for a visa/permit to be issued. These generally include certificates of vaccination, travel insurance or health care, recent passport-size pictures, and photocopies of your passport, insurance, and academic papers.
Health & Safety
The only mandatory vaccination in various countries all around the Globe and in Colombia, too, is for yellow fever. The departments classified as high risk are Amazonas, Magdalena, Norte de Santander, Chocó, and Antioquia. The yellow fever vaccine should be taken at least 10 days prior to your departure to the above-specified areas.
For visits to nature parks or wilderness areas, tetanus and hepatitis A and B are also recommended vaccines.
As far as illnesses in Colombia are concerned, the most common are acute altitude sickness, stomach problems, as well as malaria and yellow fever in jungle areas.
Remember to buy bottled water outside of Bogota, the only place in Colombia where water is safe to drink and be used for cooking.
In terms of safety, Colombia has improved significantly and is one of the South American countries with economy and tourism on the rise.
Living Costs & Housing
The Colombian minimum salary is roughly over $300 a month. Consequently, prices are rather low especially for food, starting at even $1.75 per meal for low-end dining.
As far as accommodation goes, it depends on the area and on the space rented. You can pay from $250 for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre to $300 in the city centre, while 3-bedroom apartments range around $430-500 a month.
When to Apply for English Teaching Jobs in Colombia
Arrive at the beginning of January or August or preferably 1-2 months ahead to find work for the future semester.
Average Salary for Teaching Jobs in Colombia
At $700-1000 per month and considering the low living costs, teaching in Colombia would support a good lifestyle.
There will be schools offering the option of paid overtime and private institutions will throw in bonuses – airfare, health insurance, even housing stipends.
If you have private tutoring on your mind, then the hourly rate would be $12-27, depending on the location and on your experience as a teacher.
Tips for Finding a Job in Colombia
The national Colombian government listed bilingualism as one of the major driving forces in its Development Plan; consequently, each year there are recruitments of thousands of native-English speaking teachers from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and other English-speaking countries to teach in public schools all across Colombia.
There are also numerous private language institutes and international schools looking for teachers.
A good opportunity to start would be the TEC [Teach English in Colombia] program; funded by government agency SENA, this program recruits native English speakers and assigns them to teach in centers around the country.