We asked Global English TESOL graduate Camelia Smith about her experiences teaching English in Colombia. We discovered a lot about rambunctious young learners and serious teenagers eager to improve their English. Read on to find out more about her experiences in Colombia.
Hi Camelia, what was your background before coming to TESOL and what made you want to take a TESOL course?
Before embarking on the 150 hour Global English TESOL course, the only experience I had of teaching English was when I volunteered at a school in the city of Barranquilla in Colombia.
So you were quite new to TESOL then. What are the essential things you learned on the course?
I particularly enjoyed creating the lesson plans, it enabled me to consolidate and apply the knowledge that I had gained from the modules, as well as use my imagination to put myself in the role of a teacher and the thought process and the methods involved in teaching English as a foreign language.
That's great! Tell us about how you got your first job teaching English in Colombia.
At the time I was studying Spanish, I wanted to go to travel to a Spanish speaking country to improve my Spanish and do some voluntary work. I found my volunteering opportunity on the internet. I contacted the volunteering officer for the school and was accepted.
Can you share more about your teaching experiences there?
At the school I taught a class which had children with a wide range of ages, from approximately 5-10 year olds. Initially I shadowed another volunteer teacher from the US, which helped me to gain an idea of methods that were being used to teach the younger students and also helped developed my confidence. I also taught English to an older group of students whose ages ranged between 15 and 16 year olds. I found knowing some Spanish helpful to give instructions and basic explanations.
The school I taught at did not have a lot of resources, it was located in a relatively poor neighbourhood. Despite the lack of resources, the teachers were motivated and were very welcoming. I found the younger school children to be very joyful, and rambunctious. The older students were keen to learn and took learning English very seriously.
That's really interesting in that the attitudes of the learners changed as they got older. What about living in Colombia?
I really enjoyed my time in Colombia, I found the people there very friendly, and contrary to perceptions of Colombia, it is safe. The cost of living in Colombia, if coming from the UK or perhaps other European countries is very reasonable. I stayed in a hotel not too far from school.
There is good public transport to get around town. The country is very diverse and if you want to travel to other cities, the most efficient way to get there is by plane.
It sounds like you enjoyed your time there. What are you doing now and what are your future plans?
My plans are to teach in Spain next year and then onto Central or South America, perhaps Colombia again, because I absolutely enjoyed my time there.
Thanks Camelia, it's great to hear your story. All the best for your future teaching.
* If you are interested in teaching English in Colombia, find out about the TESOL course that Camelia took with us.
* Read more from our TESOL course graduates teaching English in Colombia.
* Read what TESOL course we recommend for other destinations worldwide.
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