Teaching English in Colombia

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Colombia Overview

The level of demand for native speakers in Colombia is reasonably high. Unfortunately, TEFL salaries are relatively low and despite reasonably low living costs you certainly won’t be able to save much, if at all. As in most Latin American countries the students are lively and sociable and therefore a pleasure to teach. Colombia has a poor reputation but there have been considerable improvements in recent years with regard to the reduction of crime and the nightlife in Bogota is excellent. There is a high turnover of staff at many language centres across Latin America which says a great deal about the pros and cons. Employers can be unreliable and have unreasonable demands such as the common one that you are effectively ‘on call’ from 8am to 8pm or similar. You are rarely paid for travelling from one location or class to another and this can take up a significant chunk of your daily schedule. There are lots of other native speakers looking for short-term employment but many leave after just a few months due to the poor pay and the fact that many private students cancel at short notice (and therefore don’t pay you). If you are experienced, persistent and hard-working then you may be lucky to find one of the few well-paid positions, such as those at bilingual schools. For the majority, however, TEFL in Colombia is a fun experience for a short period of time but certainly not a serious career option. For more information of TEFL in Colombia, see the Colombian Association of Teachers of English (ASOCOPI) website.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres 700 – 1,000 Various split shifts and evenings and weekends 2 weeks plus national holidays
International schools and universities 2,500 upwards 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work 10 weeks plus national holidays

Main places for jobs

Bogota.

Typical requirements

Degree, TEFL certificate preferred, local interview preferred.

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Tips

1. A CELTA or TEFL certificate is not strictly necessary, but you will find that if you have one you are eligible for better jobs and better pay. You’ll also be a more confident teacher.

2. Given the low salaries, you may need to supplement your income with extra, private one-to-one tuition. Contacts are essential and found via word of mouth and through local adverts and websites.

3. American and Canadian teachers may be at a slight advantage.

Red tape

Your employer is responsible for obtaining your work permit. However, in reality, many work illegally. Despite the flexibility this allows, this is not recommended for obvious reasons.

Cost of living

Public transport is cheap but taxis are expensive. Food is moderately-priced. Accommodation can be expensive in Bogota and you will probably have to share with another teacher to begin with.

Tax and salary information

You should expect to be paid on a monthly basis. Make sure you actually have a contract or else you may have problems when it comes to payday.

Summary

High demand for English tuition Generally low pay and many employers are reluctant to offer proper, full-time contracts
Fantastic, sociable students Teachers are usually expected to work split shifts and spend a lot of time travelling (which is unpaid)
There are plenty of other teachers in Colombia so you should have a good social network with both foreigners and locals alike It is very difficult to find work unless you are already in the country

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1 Comment

  1. Bartonshaw says:

    I would also add that Medellin offers substantial work. This is the second largest city in Colombia and there is a high demand for native speakers there as well.
    thank

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