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Finding a Job Teaching English in Colombia at a Private School

Teach English in Colombia

Ana Horseback riding with friends in Sanat Fe de Antioquia, Colombia.

Teaching Traveling: Considering teaching English abroad? Intrigued by Colombia?

Check out this inspiring story by Ana Karina. Ana, tell us about yourself.

Ana: Hi, I’m Ana, a 27 year old born and raised by Colombian parents in New Jersey. I’ve been teaching foreign languages (Spanish and English) since 2009 in both the USA and in Colombia. Originally, I went to school and got a Bachelors degree in Spanish and a K-12 teaching certificate.

After teaching Spanish for a few years in the states I started to lose my passion for teaching. My students didn’t value learning a second language and I wasn’t really valued as a teacher because I was a special area teacher. With all of the changes taking place on teacher evaluations and the focus being more than ever on standardized testing… I wanted out.

I’m currently living and teaching abroad in Medellin, Colombia where I work at a bilingual private school as a 1st grade English teacher.

English teacher Colombia

A co-worker and Ana celebrating their Colombian heritage.

TT: Interesting! Tell us what paved the way to teach in Colombia.

A: I got my passion for traveling from my mother at a very young age. Growing up, our yearly summer vacation was sacred and we would spend it either visiting family in Colombia or traveling to other Spanish speaking countries. In college I decided to take that love for travel and use it to further my education so I did a semester abroad in Spain.

Studying abroad opened up my eyes to the world of teaching while traveling because many of my professors where doing just that. That trip to Spain changed my life… in a sense it actually changed my perspective as to what type of life I wanted to live.

Teaching English in Colombia

The amazing mountain views of Colombia.

TT: How did you transition into teaching English in Colombia?

A: Like I mentioned above, I found out that teachers could travel the world while working through some of the amazing professors I had while studying abroad in Spain. As to how I landed my current position in Medellin, Colombia… well that was pretty much chance. In 2010 I decided to move to Medellin, Colombia… jobless.

I traveled around Colombia for a bit and then decided to start looking for work. I asked around for bilingual and international schools and then just sent out a few resumes. Within a week or so I got called in to interview for the position I have now.

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia.

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia.

TT: Wow! Tell us one moment from your time teaching in Colombia that was powerful.

A: I was once walking through the Santo Domingo barrio, one of the tougher more poverty stricken areas of Medellin. I was headed to see “La Biblioteca de España” (the Library of Spain), which was built as a part of the city’s education development program and also built to try to pull in some tourism. A group of children walked over to give me a quick background on the barrio and on the history behind the library.

They asked me about myself and I told them that I was an English teacher. Their eyes lit up and they started calling over some of their others friends in the area. All of a sudden I had a group of 25-30 kids walking me over to the library. They kept asking me how to say this and that… and then I heard a kid say, “I’m so happy I’m learning English!”

This was such a powerful moment for me as a teacher and as a human being. Let me explain a bit… children in these types of areas are raised in homes where education has little to no value. Children are taught at a young age that they have to work and hustle in order to get by in life.

So… to have these children jumping for joy at the chance to learn a few words in another language was a sight to see! It was amazing to witness how much value and excitement they were placing on this brief and spontaneous English lesson.

Strolling through the streets of Cartagena, Colombia.

Strolling through the streets of Cartagena, Colombia.

TT: Such a powerful story. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?

A: Traveling has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of learning foreign languages and about foreign cultures. It’s great to be able to share some experiences with my students… to explain to them how I’ve gotten through some situations because I am bilingual. Having some fun yet useful travel stories is just what a teacher needs in her bag of tricks!

Ana's first time scuba diving in San Andres, Colombia.

Ana’s first time scuba diving in San Andres, Colombia.

TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?

A: The best advice I can give traveling teacher hopefuls is… JUST DO IT! Don’t over think things… I did this and it almost ate me alive! I thought about how much I would miss my family and friends… then I realized I could Skype and Face time daily.

I thought about how my pay decrease would impact my lifestyle… then I realized that there were people all over the world living great with half of what I’d be making. I even considered how this decision would impact my someday future children… then I realized I was just jumping too far ahead!

My biggest and best realization was one that my mother helped me see… life is meant to be lived to the fullest and if someone is dreaming of teaching and traveling then they are the only ones that can make that dream come true.

Reach out to other teachers who are currently traveling… we are all usually willing to help someone in need! Feel free to contact me if you’re thinking of teaching abroad in Colombia or anywhere else in the world!

English teacher Colombia

Ana and her mom enjoying “la Feria de las Flores” (the Flower Festival).

TT: Thanks, Ana! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this English teacher in Colombia?

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Rowena Kelly

Saturday 29th of June 2019

Hi Ana,

Looks like I am starting a teaching job in Cartagena in a bilingual school in a few weeks. Was just wondering if it was ok to message you about day to day Q's on life in that part of Colombia. I have no Spanish, so am rapidly learning some. Also Q's on what I should being/suck up on that I may find difficult to get there?

I am bringing my 15 year old son who will attend the school also. Wondering what he needs to look into to for in with Colombian teenagers.

Kind regards, Rowena Kelly

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Bobby mccullum

Thursday 14th of December 2017

Hi I'm bobby I live in georgia in the United States and plan on moving to medellin in march would it be hard for me to find a job

Joe Q.

Saturday 7th of October 2017

Hello! My wife and I (and 2 kids) are certified teachers with 5 years experience teaching in the US. We are currently teaching in Qatar, but just can't seem to acclimate to the culture, weather, air pollution..... We both speak Spanish and would love to end up in Latin America somewhere. We've traveled and studied throughout Latin America (Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina). Having heard so many good things about Colombia, we'd love to explore the options there. Do you have any connections with schools in Medellin that may be hiring for January/February of this year. We have competitive CV's. I have MA Leadership, Special Education experience at the Middle School Level, Reading and Math Specialist, and lots of leadership experience with children. My wife has a BA in Spanish, MA in Education, Kindergarten, 3rd grade and Reading Specialist experience. Here in Qatar we are teaching at a Dual Language school. Although the money is good, it's just not the lifestyle we are looking for. Can you put us in touch with any schools or organizations in the area? Thank you!

Lillie

Saturday 7th of October 2017

Great questions! Hopefully Ana will be able to chime in with some guidance. Best of luck!

Lisa Shipley

Wednesday 16th of August 2017

My husband and I have been living in Medellin since Christmas, 2016. We are both certified teachers from the US and hoped to teach in Medellin. We quickly found out that we were too late for the new year start of schools. We still tried to contact schools. Then, we were stalled again with needing work visas, as most schools did not want to work on this with us. We started our own company and got the work visas and long-term stay visas we needed. Next, we we faced a block of only being able to work in private schools and not knowing anyone to get a foot in the door anywhere. We have become frustrated but are still looking for teaching work, in English, for classes on English or many other topics. Our emails are not being responded to, which I think is due to the large amount of other applicants, mostly without visas, experience, certification, appropriate education degrees and such because someone still has to look through all of the applicants to find out who qualifies and who doesn't. Do you have any advice or ideas that we are not using, as we want to find fulltime teaching work in a private school or university this year, anywhere in Medellin. We live in Bello but are willing to commute within Medellin for good teaching work. Thank you for your article, your comments to others, and hopefully for your time to comment to us! Thank you!!! Lisa

Ana Kari

Thursday 17th of August 2017

Hi Lisa,

I've observed over the years that Medellin has been flooded with foreigners looking for work as English teachers and it's becoming tougher and tougher to find a good position without having someone on the inside help out. Have you tried calling schools directly? From what I know schools get bombarded with emails and unless they are desperately in need of new staff they might not even look through the messages they receive. Try heading out to local meet ups that are hosted by foreigners or language exchange events. These are great places to meet English teachers that are already working in schools and create friendships which might help you get a recommendation.

Best of luck!

Lillie

Wednesday 16th of August 2017

That sounds so frustrating, Lisa! Hopefully Ana will have some insights. Best of luck!

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