Five lessons working as an English Teacher in Colombia has taught me
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Teaching English abroad is becoming popular around the world with large numbers of individuals embarking on life-changing trips to become English teachers in Colombia and around the world. After working as an English teacher in Colombia for nearly a year, it’s time to reflect on what I have learnt and what you could learn if you take the plunge and become an English teacher in Colombia.
Working as an English teacher in Colombia can be a challenging, fun, life-changing and rewarding experience. Here are five things being an English teacher in Colombia has taught me.
Being patient will help you as a teacher:
Patience is one of the most important things to consider when working as an English teacher in Colombia and this goes for any type of teaching. With students ranging in ability from beginner to advanced, you have to make the students feel comfortable, confident and willing to speak in English in your classes.
Saying yes will let you see beautiful things and have great experiences:
Colombia is a beautiful and unique country with a large number of biodiverse landscapes and beautiful places to visit. Often I have been asked whether I would like to go on a trip to another city or the countryside on a long weekend. While working as an English teacher in Colombia, you will have the opportunity to interact and make lots of friends from all over the world many of whom will enjoy getting out of the cities with you and travelling to discover new places and have unique experiences. Whilst working as an English teacher in Colombia, I have learnt to say yes to most things: weekend trips away, evening meals or games of tejo. The biggest gift the country has given me is the opportunity to discover new sights and have new experiences; so far I have been white water rafting, climbing, abseiling, hiking, water skiing and wakeboarding. I have also seen a number of unique landscapes such as the Caribbean coast, Caribbean islands, the Amazon rainforest, countryside towns, cities, paramos, and savannahs. I’ve even driven from one climate to another, but I still haven’t discovered half of the things that are out there.
Experiencing a new culture will influence your opinions:
Colombian culture is unique, and family and friend orientated – the people are so welcoming and friendly. You will often find people saying hi to you in the street, helping you off the bus or offering to help you carry items (many of these things felt strange especially as I come from the UK). While working as an English teacher in Colombia I balance spending my free time with Colombians and foreigners; this has given me the chance to get to know Colombians and experience and understand their customs and cultures.
Learning Spanish will give you a new and valuable skill:
Colombian Spanish is said to be one of the clearest and easiest Spanish accents to understand (this is especially true of the accent from Bogota). Working as an English teacher in Colombia has given me the opportunity to learn and improve my Spanish in a practical environment. There are many Spanish schools all around Colombia that offer classes for a wide range of abilities and standards. Spanish classes are also a good way to make friends and meet new people.
Being a native English speaker doesn’t always make you a good English teacher:
Teaching English is difficult: just being able to speak English doesn’t make you a good teacher. Working as an English teacher in Colombia can be challenging because you are constantly trying to find new ways to help people understand you and thinking about your own language in a different way. Just being able to speak English isn’t enough to make you a good teacher: you need patience, understanding and a deep knowledge of the language and its rules.
Written by: Anny Wooldridge