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Teaching in Colombia

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Franchute, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Franchute

    Franchute New commenter

    Dear all,

    I have read most of the threads regarding teaching in Colombia on the old forum but I still have a few questions and would be extremely grateful if anyone could come to the rescue!

    First of all, I think it would help if I give you some background information on my career and why I am moving to Colombia. I am a French national in my 30's, I have done my teachers training in England (PGCE in MFL) and I have been teaching mainly Spanish for 6 years now. I have been head of department for 3 years and am now starting my 2nd year as a Literacy coordinator at a whole school level. My husband is a Colombian national and may have a job opportunity back in Colombia : we are not sure which city yet but he's from Cali so ideally we'd go there.

    My questions are the following:
    * Do school generally offer "packages" for expat teachers like they do in the middle east for example? If so, what do they normally include?
    * What are the requirements to work in a private national school (or "bilingual" school)?
    * What would be the average salary I can expect to receive based on my experience?

    Then I'd be extremely grateful if you could share any details of your personal experience with me (relationship with the kids, the parents, the administration). Any comments would help!

    I've been travelling to Colombia for many years and find the people generally very nice and children in particular seem quite well educated and I was curious to hear if it translated in a school situation.

    Many thanks in advance!
  2. rachel_g41

    rachel_g41 Established commenter

    I've worked in S America but not Colombia and don't know any of the schools there so my comments are very general

    Yes, schools do offer packages to expat teachers but it will depend on the school. Mine didn't include housing or annual flights, but a decent salary and annual bonus, plus flight and shipping at start and end of contract.
    Requirements, I don't know for Colombia but would imagine a degree and recognised teaching certificate which may or may not have to be translated and convalidated.
    Salary will vary from school to school; some have their own scales which reward experience.

    BUT bear in mind that if you go to settle in Colombia with a Colombian husband the school may see you as a 'local' rather than an expat and offer you the local package. I worked with expats on local contracts because they were already living there when appointed.

    Hope this helps and hopefully someone with knowledge of Colombia might be able to give you more specific pointers.
  3. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    It looks like peace is coming to Colombia. So congratulations, you are moving at a good time.

    I was the Head of two schools in Bogotá and also served on the Board of two Associations of Educators.

    If you are hired locally, and not recruited abroad, you will receive a local salary.

    I do not know of any private national or bilingual school that has ever had a Literacy Coordinator. I do not think you could find this position. Perhaps, you could market yourself for another Administrative position.

    In a decent private national or bilingual school, the requirements would be a BA degree. Although, teachers do work without degrees. I had a long time teacher who learned her English as a hairdresser in Chicago (this was in a well known and respected school!)

    I doubt if they would pay you as much as you would want to teach Spanish, but French and English teachers are in higher demand.

    Regarding salaries. I just called up a former colleague. For one of the better schools in Bogotá, a language teacher would make between US$ 1200 to $1700 per month. The cost of living in Bogotá is higher than in Cali, for example, so salaries might be lower outside the capital. They just devalued, so I am quoting in $$. Also, you might try the IB schools. They are more international and offer higher salaries. There is a good, British one in Cali (be careful, there is a lesser British School with a similar name).

    Parents, students, and administrations can be very trying (students the least). Please do a search and read some posts on the subject (I have quite a few).

    Please ask around and check schools out thoroughly.
  4. amariB

    amariB New commenter

    I have worked at an IB school in Colombia, and am happy to offer any advice I can! i am not sure of the requirements for private national schools though. I know of some friends who worked in bilingual schools there with just a degree (non-education specific) so I imagine it may be similar. There are definitely several international-ish/IB schools in Bogota at least that offer decent packages for expat teachers, but you do have to be hired from overseas to qualify for these I believe. If possible try to find one that pays in £- the exchange rate changed so much when I was there that I ended up losing a lot of money when had to send it home. PM me if you want any more specific info!
  5. Franchute

    Franchute New commenter

    Dear all,
    Thanks for your replies, it has been immensely helpful!

    Rachel > Great advice thanks! It's interesting to know that expats are also being offered packages in South America. The current job ads on the TES do not mention such a thing so I was wondering. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

    Arepa > Your threads were mostly the ones I read before posting here...unfortunately they might have been deleted during the forum migration or I don't know how to look properly (could be either way).

    Yes! Hopefully peace will be coming soon to Colombia. Even though the country's security has improved a lot, this would be even more reassuring for us before moving there.

    I am absolutely not looking for a Literacy coordinator role in Colombia; don't get me wrong I enjoy it a lot but I'd frankly be very happy to start off "simply" teaching any foreign language upon my arrival. The reason I mentioned my current role was simply to highlight the fact that I have experience beyond my area of expertise and at a whole school level.

    I'm surprised to hear that French is popular in Colombia, I would have expected English and perhaps Chinese to be the strongest. Or were you talking about British/IB schools? My English level is good but I have a strong not to say thick accent...would that prevent me from teaching English as a foreign language according to your experience?

    Thanks for checking on salaries, it's great to have a rough idea of what to expect. It might sound a bit idealistic or foolish but I'm not after a big salary. The reason why I'm even considering going to Colombia is for the quality of life so ideally I'd like to avoid "teaching factories" even if it means having to settle for a lower salary. My goal is to work with Colombian children as opposed to expats but I'll see what I can achieve from abroad.

    I will definitely do my homework once we know for sure which city we'd be going to.

    Thanks again for your lengthy and detailed reply!

    AmariB> I will certainly take on your offer and PM you to ask for additional details! Thanks for sharing your experience and I'll definitely keep your wise words in mind regarding the exchange rate!

    Thanks again to the three of you for your advice, I feel a lot more clearer and well informed.

    Have a great Sunday!
  6. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    I think you have a positive attitude and should do well. French is indeed, popular among those schools that aspire to attract the higher social classes (with all that entails). In addition, there is a school, sponsored by the French govt., in Bogota. It is very elite and well paying. If you wish to return to the French educational system, you might give it a try.

    Your accent might not keep you from teaching English as standards in some schools are quite low. However, if you have sufficient background, you could try for an Administrative position as Foreign Language Coordinator.

    Many Colombian schools are “teaching factories” whose only goal is to have large numbers of their students pass the national standardized school leaving exam the ICFES. I was at a school (very briefly) that did this well by having students do almost nothing but practice taking standardized practice exams for five years. There was very little teaching involved: students would take a practice test and then the teacher would go over the answers (Ugh!) You need to do your research. If worst comes to worst and you do not find an acceptable school, you can always give private lessons. Good luck.
  7. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Yes, the ICFES is just about the only thing I remember about Colombia with unqualified loathing. Good luck Franchute, if you get to Colombia there are at least two of us here who will feel a pang of envy.
  8. Joemks

    Joemks New commenter

    I would like to know about the salaries to expect in Colombia. Am an IB MYP science teacher and I have an Interview with a school in Cali. Also let me know the security situation in Cali.
  9. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

  10. mikemcdonald25

    mikemcdonald25 Occasional commenter

    Is that my old friend 'El Chapo', que onda che!
  11. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    If you haven't seen 'Narcos', definitely recommended

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