Colombia used to be branded as a no-go area for TEFL teachers due to the dangers involved with travelling and living there. However, since a peace agreement in 2016, Colombia has started to shake off its previous reputation, and those wanting to teach English have been flocking there in ever greater numbers. The fact that the locals are friendly, welcoming, and encourage the arrival of expats makes it all the more attractive. Colombia is an exciting destination with much to see and do, making it popular with adventurous TEFL teachers. Top tourist attractions that you can enjoy in Colombia include visiting the walled city of Cartagena, going to the Gold Museum, conquering Mount Monserrate, chilling out in the beautiful Parque Arqueológico, and marvelling at the Piedra del Peñol.
New teaching opportunities are easy to find in Colombia, where many jobs focus on business English, but there are also drives to promote bilingualism in the school system. There are opportunities for well-qualified and experienced teachers as well as entry-level positions for newly qualified TEFL teachers, and you can find volunteering gigs as well as paid jobs. Pay generally isn’t high, particularly for work in the local language schools, but with a low cost of living its easy to get by, even on a smaller salary. If you’re looking to explore somewhere new where adventure waits at every corner, Colombia could be the teaching destination for you.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Bogota, Medellin, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, and Cali
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 1.5 million to 2 million pesos (£300 – £400/ $400 – $520) per month. Jobs for experienced teachers at IB schools can pay up to around 5 million (£1,000 / $1,300) pesos per month.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions
- Prerequisite university degree: Most positions require a BA degree
- Term times: Public school years start in January/February and end November with holidays in April, June and October. Private schools start in August/September and end in June
- Currency: Peso (COP)
- Language: Spanish
- Teaching programmes: Private Language Schools, Public Schools, Voluntary, Government Program, Freelance
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: Beneficial but not always required
You’ll find that TEFL jobs in Colombia are predominantly Business English roles or immersion classes for adults. However, there has been a drive in recent years to provide language lessons for children in Colombia, as well as free programs for poor students. From voluntary and poorly paid work and roles for more experienced teachers, there are a variety of roles on offer in Colombia. Most jobs are happy to hire you in country and actually prefer for candidates to already be in Bogota, or at least in Colombia, but if you’re applying for a government program such as TEC you should certainly look into it in advance. 1 year is standard for teaching contracts, but you can also find positions looking for as little as a month. Volunteer positions are usually for a minimum of 2 weeks, up to about 12 weeks.
Colombian students are friendly, laid-back, and often have a relaxed attitude to arriving to class on time. Expect students to call you by your first name, and you’re unlikely to be required to wear a uniform or follow a strict dress code.
Requirements for teaching English in Colombia
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Argentina||£500 - £950
($600 - $1,200)
|Bolivia||£400 - £550
($500 - $700)
|Brazil||£650 - £900
($800 - $1,100)
|Chile||£550 - £800
($700 - $1,000)
|Colombia||£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
|Ecuador||£400 - £650
($500 - $800)
|Guatemala||£400 - £550
($500 - $700)
|Mexico||£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
|Peru||£325 - £650
($400 - $800)
|Uruguay||£325 - £800
($400 - $1000)
Colombia is the second cheapest country in Latin America and cheaper than in 91% of countries in the World. While TEFL salaries aren’t high, the cost of living means that you can get by on even the most modest wage. Voluntary teaching positions are common in Colombia and teachers still manage to have a nice time on their trip without earning a wage. Volunteer positions usually offer free accommodation and/or a monthly stipend, as well as domestic travel from Bogota.
Some expats can find life in Colombia a little rough and ready – don’t expect things to run on time or be too efficient, but the locals are warm and welcoming, something that foreigners are quickly endeared to. You’ll enjoy a wide variety of weather patterns (so pack appropriate clothing!) as well as sampling a mix of local delicacies when it comes to eating out.
While Colombia is shaking off its reputation as a dangerous place, you still need to take care when out and about. It’s advised to call ahead and book a taxi rather than hailing one from the street, and always keep your belongings close by when on public transport or in crowded areas.
- Accommodation: £303 – £508 / $391 – $656
- Utilities: £45 / $58
- Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £16 / $20
- Monthly transport pass: £25 / $33
- Basic dinner out for two: £7 / $9
- Cappuccino in expat area: £1.44 / $1.85
- A beer in a pub: £0.76 / $0.98
- 1 litre of milk: £0.55 / $0.70
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £0.82 / $1.06
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)