If you’ve been wanting to teach English abroad and are looking for a meaningful travel experience in a beautiful location, look no further than Colombia, Latin America. With colonial charm, friendly locals, vibrant cities — including the world’s third highest capital of Bogota — and diverse landscapes, Colombia is an up and coming traveler’s paradise. Having shed it’s reputation of the past and become one of the safer countries in Latin America, Colombia tries hard to attract travelers and teachers. But once you’re there, they don’t have to convince you to stay. That’s the easy part.
Here are 10 utterly convincing reasons to teach English in Colombia:
Whether you seek a tropical paradise or cool mountains, you can have it all in Colombia. With borders on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, you’re sure to find a beach town you can love (read our weekend getaway trip to Santa Marta here). And when the Andes Range enters Colombia from Ecuador, it splits into three, covering a large part of the country and offering views from everywhere.
In order to integrate the Colombian government’s bilingual initiative — in which their goal is to implement English education for all by 2020 — several public institutions have sponsored programs to pay for, support and encourage ESL teachers to come teach English in Colombia. These programs are aimed at the underprivileged population (who couldn’t otherwise afford English education) so you’ll be making a positive impact on your students, your community, and yourself.
Whether you work with primary, secondary, college or adult students, you’ll be graced with eager learners, which is every teacher’s dream. They are just as eager to learn English from you as they are to learn about your culture, family, traditions, lifestyle, etc. and to share with you some of theirs. Cultural exchange starts in the classroom.
If you’re looking to learn or practice your Spanish, Colombia is the perfect place to do so. Not only will you be immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture and therefore forced to use it on a daily basis, but Colombian Spanish is one of the purest (they fully pronounce things in the traditional sense) and easiest to understand (they speak slowly). The reality? Even if you’re not trying, you’ll definitely learn some Spanish while teaching English in Colombia!
Colombian people are fabulous. They are amongst the most friendly I’ve met, always greeting with a smile and a conversation. They’re also patient, caring and amazing hosts. While teaching English in Colombia, you’ll have the opportunity to co-teach with a Colombian counterpart, as well as a mentor, so you’ll get a first-hand experience into their inviting ways.
Colombia produces some of the highest quality beans in the world (though surpassed in quantity by Brazil), and there is a region called the “Coffee Triangle” which is mostly rural areas made up of regions surrounding the following popular cities: Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia. Unfortunately for Colombians, all but 30% of the best beans are exported to the U.S. and other countries, while the ones deemed “bad” are left for the locals to consume at fair prices. The remaining 30% of the quality beans are sold expensively, but you can purchase a bag of delicious beans for about $5 USD.
From zip lining, motorcycling, paragliding, horseback riding, dirt biking, dune buggies, mountain biking and rapelling down waterfalls, Colombia has just about any adventure sport you can imagine. If you’re an adventure junkie, you’ll have no problem finding a tour or outing to fit your desire. If you’d rather go find the adventure on your own (which is much more adventurous anyway), you’ll have no problem finding something to suit your fancy.
It seems every city or small town is surrounded by the mountains mentioned above. The cities often began in the low valleys but many, like Medellin, have expanded into the mountainsides creating a large bowl-shaped city of 4 million people. One of the coolest parts about this design, though, is that even the houses built of metal scraps and brick have a million dollar view.
Colombia’s location is perfect for exploring Central America to the north and the Southern countries below. It’s almost smack dab in the center of Latin America, making it easy to explore other countries and cultures as well.
The Cost of Living
The cost of living in Colombia is 53.55% lower than in the United States, according to numbeo.com. On average, a meal costs less than $4 USD, and renting an apartment is less than $300 USD per month. Taking this into consideration, and though you’ll likely be earning a lower salary/stipend than you’re used to, your standard of living will not depreciate.
Enrich your life. Come be part of the change. Come teach English in Colombia!