What’s teaching English in Colombia like – Eric’s Story

eric in colombia

TEFLers meet Eric Tabone! Eric’s adventure started with a backpacking trip travelling to Colombia to teach English abroad back in 2008, since then he’s taught and even set up his own business! Want to find out more about his journey? Read on!

What Were You Doing Before You Started Teaching English in Colombia? Before TEFLing, I was managing an upscale restaurant. Although it was a great experience, I’m glad to be out of the restaurant industry now!

Why Did You Decide to Look at Teaching English? I had always wanted to work abroad, and teaching English seemed like the best way to get started. I did the 20 hour Classroom course, which was great to help me get the necessary experience for a job.

Where Are You Now? Bogota, Colombia

Why did you choose to teach in Colombia? I was first in Colombia in 2008. After I graduated from University, I backpacked down, starting in Guatemala finishing in Bogota. For me, Colombia was the highlight of my trip, especially Bogota. I love everything about it here. We’re at nearly nine thousand feet so I love the mountain air and the fact that I wake up looking at the mountains. The culture is amazing as well. All Colombians truly want to help you and are some of the nicest people I have ever met. In 2010 I returned only expecting to stay for a few months. I have now been here for nearly three and a half years!

I got my first job with an institute by applying online. When I first got here in 2010, the demand for English was huge, yet there were no teachers. Thus, it was quite easy to get a job. Now, Colombia has become one of the top destinations for people who want to teach English. If I had arrived today, there is no way I would have got a job with the qualifications I have.

Now, most programs (top programs that is) require a minimum of TEFL (120 hour), CELTA, or TESOL, plus a University degree. Of course, there are many schools here that have no requirements, but they tend to be very low paying and the working conditions aren’t so great. (Find your dream TEFL job on our Jobs Board!)

What Has Your TEFL Journey Been Since Arriving to Colombia? When I first arrived I started teaching for one of many institutes here. Although I studied finance I fell in love with Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It has been one of the most rewarding jobs I could have asked for. English, especially in Bogota, is in high demand and knowing that my work was helping develop the professional future of my students was fantastic.

After nearly a year of working with institutes I was frustrated with a lack of organization. I decided to start a program that emphasized customer service and academic quality. With this, my company Bogotá Business English was born.

What Age Students Are You Teaching? We focus on executives who want to learn business and or professional English. Because of this, the majority of our students are adults.

How Are You Finding the Experience of Teaching? For me, it’s been the most rewarding experience in the world. English truly opens doors for people, especially in Colombia. Currently, I mostly do office work, but my first years of teaching are some of the fondest years of my life.

What Is the Best Thing You’ve Discovered About Living In Colombia? Without a doubt, the people. Colombians are some of the most welcoming people in the world, and always want to help out anyway they can. Since Colombia is still an “adventure” destination, it’s been great to travel around and go to places without any tourists at all. For me, that’s the best part, having a raw sense of the place you are visiting.

How Would You Rate the Experience Out of 10 So Far? Easily a 10. For the past three years, I feel like I haven’t worked a single day. For me, it’s truly a pleasure working with Colombian students as well as working and training professors who share the same passion I do.

If You Had One Piece of Advice to Give to Someone Thinking of Embarking On a TEFL Adventure, What Would It Be? Just do it. I remember that I was very skeptical, wondering whether or not I should take a break in my career to have an international experience. Thankfully I did, and a new career has since developed.

What Are Your Plans For the Future? My company, Bogota Business English, continues to grow quite rapidly, and I’m thankful to have such a great team who share my vision. We are currently located only in Bogota, but have plans of expansion in and around Bogota, as well as to other cities in Colombia such as Medellin, Baranquilla, and Cali.

Random Question Time

If You Could Only Eat One Type of Food for the Rest of Your Life, What Would You Choose?

Bananas. I seem to never get sick of them.

Would You Rather Do a Bungee Jump or Swim With Sharks?

For me, bungee jumping has never had an appeal. I’ve swam with sharks, but I would love to have the opportunity to do it again.

Are you currently teaching English in Central or South America? We want to hear from you!

Photo’s Sourced – www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/

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  1. Tom

    What an inspirational story! I’d love to get invest with this. Tom

  2. Kamran

    Hi Eric! It was fun reading about your adventures! I am planing to move to Colombia (Medellin) in May 2015 with my fiancee. I am going to start my TEFL course soon and will be ready around that time. Do let me know if there is something we can work on together … would be a pleasure!

  3. Bob

    I am interested in learning more

  4. Charles (Chuck) L

    I am interested in learning more about teaching Business English there and was curious about your school and employment traing/requirements you would have. Please contact me and let me know more if you can. Regards

  5. Elle Pollicott

    Hi Chuck, we have a 10 hour Business English module, which would definitely be of use if you want to teach Business English! You can request a call back from our advisers here http://www.onlinetefl.com/contact-tefl-team/call-me-back.html, and they will be happy to provide you with more information on the course, and answer any questions you may have.

  6. Lorna

    Hi, an inspirational adventure. I’m in my second year of teaching TEFL and I’m interested in setting up my own business. Could you give me any advice please on how you got started? I’m thinking about any legal issues, any insurance it’s good to have? Thanks!

    • Elle Pollicott

      Hi Lorna, it’s nice to hear you’re enjoying TEFLing so much! Unfortunately, we’re unable to offer you advice regarding this – it would be better to speak with someone who has experience in opening a TEFL school up themselves. I’d suggest you start by having a Google – this article I found is a great starting point, and there are some contact details at the bottom should you wish to ask any further questions: http://ihjournal.com/so-you-want-to-open-a-language-school-by-david-will. Good luck with opening your own school!

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