Can You Really Teach English as a Foreign Language in Colombia? I get e-mails on a regular basis inquiring about opportunities for teaching English as a foreign language in one of the world’s most beautiful, dangerous and notorious countries. Opportunities for native English-speaking teachers abound in Colombia. Salaries are good to excellent with good benefits, interesting work and plenty of time, up to nearly four months per year, to travel, see and enjoy the country. Just be careful, for goodness sake, and keep the following points in mind.
The principal problem for most new wannabe English teachers is lack of TESOL certification. It’s becoming an ongoing requirement for Colombian EFL teachers too, but as a foreigner, none of the dozens of places I could recommend would take you without at least a TEFL or CELTA certificate.
Without a teaching or education degree or TESOL certification, not only in Colombia, but literally scores of other desirable countries and locations simply will not offer you a position.
CELTA / TEFL in Colombia
The British Council in Colombia has a CELTA course. It’s given only once per year though, during the summer and only in Bogotá. You’d likely not be able to work until the Fall but you must leave the country to apply for a work visa and things might get even more complicated from there. ISSO also runs a TEFL cert course several times a year, but it may lack the worldwide acceptance and appeal of an England or USA-based course.
Certify Before You Go
If you can arrange to get your TEFL certification in the USA before summer, you’d be able to work as soon as you get here since the schools would be contacted by you or your certifying institution when you successfully complete your CELTA or TEFL certificate course. The certifying institution will also provide you with letters of reference and an invaluable list of referrals to further smooth your way into your first EFL teaching position.
Because of this I recommend doing the course, if possible, in the USA, Canada or the UK. An intensive 5-week course can be taken almost any month of the year in schools in San Francisco, Boston or numerous other locations. Check locally too for something that might be available in or near your area. Don’t do an online TEFL certificate program if you can possibly avoid it. Also, doing the course in the US, Canada or UK will allow you to assemble a good package of English-language materials to take with you when you leave the country. More will be said about this aspect in the article, “Creating an English as a Foreign Language Teaching CARE Package”.
Information is available for the British Council CELTA in Bogota online at: http://www.cactustefl.com/tefl/course.php?course_id=1664
Particulars can be found online for ISSO TEFL courses at:
http://www.estudiosexterior.com/ or http://www.estudiosexterior.com/destinos/colombia.htm
I hope this helps those of you who are considering teaching English as a foreign language in Colombia. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you.