While being fluent in Spanish is not always necessary in order to gain a job in Colombia, especially when you are an English teacher , it can help make the process of living and working in Colombia easier.
When Teaching Beginners English
While it is possible to teach English without having a good knowledge of Spanish, knowing some words can help if there’s any confusion, especially in lower level classes. Intermediate level English classes should not use any Spanish, but in beginner classes Spanish can be used to help explain tasks and ensure students know exactly what is being asked of them.
Daily Life In Colombia
Colombia is striving over the next 5 years to enhance the nation’s level of English in all aspects, especially tourism. However this is still a work in progress as a very large number of Colombians still have a very low level of English, which can make everyday tasks in the country challenging for non-Spanish speakers. Having a small grasp of Spanish can make everyday activities less challenging: anything from ordering food to finding the correct bus can become less daunting even with a low level of Spanish.
Learning Spanish in Colombia
Colombia and especially Bogota is a great place to learn Spanish: Bogota is known for having a neutral accent which is predominately free from slang and words are generally pronounced as they sound. Colombia has a lot of good places where an English teacher can gain a grasp of the language and improve their language skills, in order to get around and make the most of their experience in the country. Some good institutions to learn Spanish in Bogota while working as an English teacher in Bogota are the following;
– Nueva Lengua – This language school offers a wide range of Spanish courses, along with other activities such as; dance, volunteering, music and tourist activities. The school is located in Calle 69 #11a.
– International House – This language school offers group intensive courses from 9am -1pm Monday to Friday, with between 4 and 8 students in a class. The school is located on Calle 10 #4 in La Candelaria. Courses start from $220 and run from 4 to 12 weeks.
– Universidad Nacional – This well respected University offers 2 month 80 hours courses for 2 hours a day Monday to Friday or Intensive 4 week course, 80 hours for 5 hours a day Monday to Friday.
– Universidad Javeriana – This high accredited University located in Chapinero, runs an intensive 80 hour month long course, run every month with a variety of levels, they have small class sizes and classes run from 9am – 1pm Monday to Friday.
Making Friends in Colombia
When moving to Colombia not speaking Spanish can make it difficult to interact with the locals and make friends. Many people don’t speak English and meeting new people can become difficult if you don’t speak the same language. Not speaking Spanish in Colombia can limit friendship groups to other foreigners and a small number of Colombians who can speak English.
Listening to People’s Stories
Colombian’s all have a story: whether it’s from Colombia’s troublesome past to a traveling story, everyone has an interesting story to tell. Listening and learning about how Colombians live offers a great insight into the country’s history and culture directly from the locals. This is especially true in the countryside where English is relatively unknown and where the local farmers and workers have great insights into the country’s history.
Learning and having a grasp on a basic level of Spanish can increase job prospects within multinational and Colombian companies for an English teacher. The majority of jobs in Colombia require at least some knowledge of Spanish in order to conduct the job and communicate effectively in the working environment.
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Written by: Anny Wooldridge
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