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Guide to which qualifications to obtain to start teaching English in Colombia

Mar 2, 2017Advice, Teach English in Bogota



When it comes to finding a qualification to teach English as a Foreign Language, there are many to choose from; it can be a daunting task to choose when there are so many anagrams and different companies offering slightly different courses. Don’t let that deter you from teaching English in Colombia, there are many courses you can take before you arrive or when you get to Colombia.

The most common teaching qualifications for teaching English as a foreign language are CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language), TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and TESL. Each course varies slightly in the number of hours coursework and practical teaching. Here is break down of each qualification to help you find the one most suitable for you to be able to starting teaching English in Colombia.


A CELTA or Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults is the most recognised and highly regarded qualification for teaching English due to its accreditation by the University of Cambridge and Cambridge English. The course is standardised throughout the world and it’s the best qualification to achieve if you want to have a lifelong career as an English language teacher. A CELTA builds a foundation for good professional teaching by providing hands on teaching experience, language awareness and skills, planning and resources information, and also enables you to teach students teaching skills and professionalism. The CELTA can be done as a full time 4 week course or a part time course which can last up to 12 weeks. CELTA courses take place all over the world and two institutions who run monthly CELTA courses in Bogota are the British Council and International House, with the completion of this course you can begin teaching English in Colombia.


A TEFL or Teach English as a Foreign Language certificate is the most common and usually the minimum qualification required for travellers wanting to teaching English abroad. The course can be done in an institution or online, but the course isn’t standardised and each course varies in the number of hours and materials available. A TEFL can be done as an intensive four week full time course (with between 6 – 20hours of practical and 100 hours of coursework), a part time course ranging from 11 to 13 weeks or a completely online course ranging between 100 – 200 hours. This course aims to provide useful skills and tools for individuals to become successful teachers and provide good quality English teaching anywhere in the world. There are a large number of institutions offering TEFL and the courses have accreditation from a recognised body. A TEFL certificate will allow start teaching English in Colombia, within the majority of institutions, while some may require a CELTA, the majority will employ individuals with a TEFL qualification.


A TESOL or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages certificate is similar to a TEFL certificate but with a practical learner centred methodology. Full time courses can range from one to two weeks and 140 hours to 180 hours in length, with at least 20 hours classroom experience. A TESOL certificate isn’t just for teaching overseas, you can teach English to speakers of other languages in some institutions in the USA, England and Europe as well. TESOL qualifications help to equip you with the fundamentals of teaching and offer classroom effective methods of teaching. A TESOL certificate will allow start teaching English in Colombia, within the majority of institutions, while some may require a CELTA, the majority will employ individuals with a TESOL qualification.

Beware of Unaccredited establishments:

With all certificates and qualifications make sure you check the accreditation of the qualification before paying and enrolling. There are a large number of companies offering certificates without formal accreditation, so you need to research the company and ensure it’s an accredited establishment and certificate, otherwise some companies or countries may not accept the qualification. There are a number of things you can research to check the accreditation of your course, some of the things to check are:

1. The length of the training or course – A typical TEFL or TESOL certificate should have no less than 100 hours (20 days or four weeks full time), and the typical hours for these two courses are 120 hours including 6-20 hours practical time; online courses should take between two and three months to complete at a part time rate. A typical CELTA certificate is a 4 week intensive course with 120 contact hours and 120 hours of coursework.

2. The Accreditation – Beware of institutions making up their own accreditation boards or subscribing to a fake one (a quick Google search will identify any unestablished sites quickly, if their website looks unprofessional and uninformative that’s a good clue). TQUK, IATQuO, College of Teachers, ACCET or any university establishments are well known international accreditations for TEFL/TESOL courses. SIT, Cambridge English, Trinity College or Trinity Certificate, University establishments, the British Council or International House are professional accredited CELTA bodies.

3. Instructors – Check the teaching or supervising staff’s qualifications. Do they have a teaching degree MA, PhD or Degree in TESOL? If the answer is no, then maybe the courses isn’t accredited.

4. Talk to Someone – Talk to someone within the institution and ask them questions to establish its creditability.

5. Price – A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA are real qualifications and certificates, if a institute is offering a course for under $1,000 then maybe it isn’t accredited. Think university course fees- you would question a university course costing only $500. With these qualifications you get what you pay for.

Written by: Anny Wooldridge





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