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Lets Move to Colombia to Teach English!

Lets Move to Colombia to Teach English! - Tattered Passports
Lets Move to Colombia to Teach English!
  • Fat wallet to fund travels? Definitely not


  • Well then at least you have Spanish skills? Nope


  • Or Previous teaching experience? Not really


I had been home from Southeast Asia for a few months and the Midwest winter had taken a toll on me. Kon and I had taken trips to Atlanta, Miami, and New Orleans but we were both ready for a bigger adventure. Kon brings up an idea he had awhile back- to work abroad teaching English.


Students at a rural school outside Monteria, Colombia


Why Colombia?

In 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace accord with the FARC rebels, ending a 50 year conflict that ravaged the country. Between communist extremists, government corruption, rebels, and narcotic trafficking, Colombia became one of the most dangerous countries in the world. In the past 15 years, Colombia has worked towards stabilization allowing tourists to begin making their way back into the country. We wanted to see Colombia before it became altered by tourism.


Also, I had just spent time in Asia and I was looking for an entirely different cultural experience. After surfing the web, Kon found Greenheart Travel.


How did you make it happen?

While researching teaching abroad, we came across a few stories of companies giving their volunteers raw deals, which made us realize the importance of a trustworthy placement company. And we found it.


Greenheart Travel is an organization that offers volunteer positions around the world. They offer paid (in the form of a monthly stipend) teaching positions in 7 countries, with almost a dozen volunteer experiences. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive and it didn’t hurt that I had met a couple, teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that taught with Greenheart Travel. Also, Greenheart offered a 5 month teaching contract which was perfect as we were not prepared to commit to a year long venture. Learn more here.





How long did the application process take?

We originally applied in April 2016 for the program beginning in July 2016. By the time we were accepted, the summer program spots were filled so we were placed in the January 2017 program. By the time our program actually started, February 2017, it had been almost a year since our initial application.


The program is an extension of the Ministry of Education in Colombia. Which means you will need a strong dose of patience and flexibility. We didn’t know our placement city and start date until about a month or two before departure. But it is all worth it!!

Fresh batch of Heart for Change English teachers.


Do I need a TEFL certificate?

Nope! All you need is to be a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree. This was another advantage to the Colombia program–no TEFL certificate is required. Greenheart offers TEFL courses but we didn’t have ample time or the funds to participate. The Ministry of Education hosts a one week orientation in Bogota at the beginning of the program that gives you useful teaching training. For us, this proved to be beyond adequate for what you need in the classroom. It is also a fantastic opportunity to network with fellow volunteers.


Our first glimpse of Colombia!

Kon and I set off for Bogota in February of 2017 with just our packs, feeling uncertain, and excited, for the adventure ahead.


Making teachers out of us at orientation.


Flying into Bogota, We were picked up from the airport and shuttled to the program hotel for the week. We were lucky enough to be set up in the swanky Hotel Estelar- La Fontana. Fancy hotel, yes, but you will be sharing a room with 3 or 4 other people which is okay because orientation week is ALL about bonding.


  • What happens at orientation? A LOT!!! The first two days is all paperwork, visa and cedula applications, getting your bank account and insurance sorted, and safety/culture seminars. The remaining 5 days of orientation consists of unofficial TEFL training from 8am to 5 or 6pm. These days are LONG but beneficial, you’ll take away some great skills and you’ll leave feeling classroom prepared. Also, you will meet your Regional Coordinator and the other fellows in the same placement city. Make sure you chat with returning fellows as they have great advice that will ease your nerves.


  • Will I have time to explore Bogota? Not really as the schedule is packed tight. However, we were let out early enough one day to allow for a bit of exploring around the city. Most nights, fellows would meet for a couple of beers at the local pubs.


  • When will I get information about housing and my school? On the last day of the program you will meet with your Regional Coordinator who will give you a presentation of your placement city, your school placement, and answer all your questions.


  • How do I get to my placement city? The program will pay for transportation to your placement city. Bear in mind, you may be responsible for extra baggage fees. We were flown on Avianca airlines which has a generous baggage allowance. With two packs and a rolling suitcase, we had no problem!


  • Will I need housing immediately in my placement city? No, and its best to wait until you have a few days to explore your city before committing to a home. We stayed at a hotel with the other fellows our first 5 days and our Regional Coordinator, Camila, helped us find a great apartment!

The first few weeks of the program can be overwhelming but Heart for Change works very hard to support fellows during their adjustment period. You will find a place to live, you’ll find easy transportation to school, and you will learn to enjoy your new life. It takes time and the payoff is so incredibly worth it!

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1 Comment
  • saras says:

     I appreciate language learning experiences. The fact that i read so much, and so profoundly, demonstrates the high level of your English. 

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