Were you one of those students who hated it when other students would complain about being required to learn a foreign language? Did you enjoy how your Spanish teachers in high school interacted with the students differently from how the other teachers did? Imagine if you could recreate that friendly and supportive teacher-student dynamic now that you’ve graduated from college – except with you as a teacher this time! Teaching abroad is a great opportunity for recent grads who have graduated from universities in the U.S, Canada, UK and other Western English speaking countries. The only qualifications you need for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in another country are native fluency in English, a degree from an accredited university that resides in an English speaking country and a willingness to learn, teach, and travel. These are ten reasons why teaching English is a great way to spend your first year after college graduation, and why Colombia should be on your ‘short list’ of teaching abroad destinations.
1) Your Students Will Appreciate You
Remember how much you appreciated your Spanish teachers in high school in college? There was something special about them. Just from taking their classes, you learned so much about the cultures of their countries, which in turn taught you how much cultural diversity there is among the world’s Spanish speakers. When you teach and travel in Colombia, you will get to be that special teacher. You might be the first westerner your students have met, or interacting with you may add another dimension to what they know about westerners.
2) Natural Beauty
Colombia might not get much press as a tourist destination, but it’s a gorgeous place with countless exotic landscapes. When you teach and travel in Colombia, you’ll see many beautiful places that you will not even want to blink, from the beaches that overlook the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest. Fun fact: Colombia’s crocodilian species, the Orinoco crocodile and the black caiman are much less dangerous to humans than the alligators you canoed right past in Florida.
The foods that you will discover and love while teaching abroad are so numerous that you will probably devote half of your blog about your TEFL experience to food. If you post pictures of your arepas, empanadas, and aborrajados on social media, soon all your friends from back home will want in on your teaching English in Colombia gig. And that doesn’t even cover the sweets and the tropical fruits. Did we forget something? Oh ya, coffee! If you’re a coffee lover then Columbia has you covered as the world’s top producer of high grade coffee. If you’re not a coffee lover then you likely will be by the time you leave!
You will have some free time each day after teaching English, and you will find that there are all kinds of sports you can play to work up an appetite for some more Colombian food. Football, roller skating, cycling, baseball, and martial arts are all popular in Colombia, but the national sport is tejo, which involves throwing a metal disc (the tejo) at a target.
5) Music and Dance
Music and dance are an important part of big social gatherings in Colombia, and you will get plenty of opportunities to sharpen your dancing skills. Even if you had two left feet before you started teaching abroad in Colombia, you will be an expert at dancing bambuco, cumbia, and salsa by the time your TEFL year is finished.
6) Your Teaching Colleagues
You will not be the only foreigner teaching in Colombia; your teaching colleagues will likely be from other western English speaking countries, whether they are doing TEFL or teaching other subjects.
7) Improve Your Spanish
When you arrive, your students and your neighbors will probably understand you when you speak Spanish, but they’ll surely tell you that you don’t sound like Colombian. Throughout your stay, though, you will catch onto the local idiom, and it will be weird when you go home to the U.S. and find people who have never heard your favorite Colombian expressions.
8) Unlearn Cultural Habits
Living in Colombia, or any other country, will show you another side of things you take for granted. Colombia, for example, is known for its relaxed attitude toward time; you will learn to let engaging conversations continue, even if it means you will be late to your next appointment. Perfect for those of you who are always running late.
9) Financial Incentives
You won’t get rich teaching in Columbia but you will make enough to live comfortably – the cost of living in Colombia is very affordable.
10) A Gateway to the Americas
There are many countries (all of South America and some of Central America and the Caribbean) that are closer to Colombia than to the United States. It’s easy and affordable to travel to them during your year of teaching in Colombia.