Guest Post ~ Teaching English in Colombia
My name is Jessica and I am originally from England. I studied a Postgraduate Degree in Primary School teaching.
Why did you decide to move abroad?
Before moving abroad, I was working as a Primary School teacher in England. I had been doing this for 2 years in 2 different schools. I was extremely stressed with the pressure from the government as well as the amount of work I was expected to do. Even though I was working 60-hour weeks, my work was never good enough and I wasn’t appreciated. Towards the end of this year, I decided that I wanted to travel but also work at the same time. As I was already a teacher, it made sense for me to teach abroad. Teaching is my passion and I love to impart my knowledge to others, which is why I knew I wanted to be an English teacher abroad.
What kind of jobs have you had ovER THE YEARS?
Before moving abroad, I was a primary school teacher. Since moving abroad, I volunteered as a team leader in South Africa. After this, I have taught English as a foreign language in Thailand, Australia and Colombia.
What are you doing now?
I am currently a middle school English teacher in a bilingual, catholic, private, girls school in Medellin, Colombia.
What is the lifestyle and culture like in Colombia?
In Colombia, people are very relaxed, easy-going, friendly and love helping foreigners;
at work, on the streets or anywhere they can. They work on a last-minute schedule, so things always change or take longer than expected, and they love to have lots of meetings. They have very long hours at work, but I find that they are not always productive in these times compared to other countries. Generally, they are outgoing, love to party, dance and drink and very family-orientated. Events usually start late and finish late even if children are involved. It is a Catholic country so there are lots of holidays, celebration and events around Catholic beliefs. Colombians love to eat fried food and carbohydrate, so often I will have a meal with rice, potato, yuka, and beans. They also eat their main meal at lunchtime with huge portions. They obviously speak Spanish, and unless they live in the bigger cities, most people don’t speak English. Even if they are from these cities, you can’t guarantee that everyone speaks English. However, the majority of people want to learn as they are receiving more and more tourists every month.
What kinds of jobs are available in Colombia?
There are jobs available in private and public schools as well as universities
What kind of education and experience is required to apply as a teacher?
For my current job working in a public school, I needed to have degree level or above in teaching and preferable be native. If there is a choice between native and non-native, they will choose the native speaker.
In my first teaching ‘volunteer’ job in Colombia, I was working in a public school, so I didn’t need to have any qualifications, be TEFL certificated or a native. Basically, anyone could apply.
What kind of advice or suggestions do you have for teachers thinking about working in Colombia?
Be flexible as things change; immerse yourself into the culture, explore different cities and villages and learn basic Spanish.
Is there any additional information you think would be helpful for teachers that want to work in Colombia?
If you’re in the cities, you can buy everything you need. I have found that it is extremely difficult to find a place to print photos. It is also hard to find vegetarian food even in the cities.
For more information or to connect with Jessica, you can go to her website: Veggie Travelling Teacher
Her blog for information teaching tips and personal information about traveling and volunteering abroad Veggie Travelling Teacher – Blog
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