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Crucial Things To Do Before We Go

 
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SnB



Joined: 10 May 2009
Posts: 7
Location: Tampa, FL

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject: Crucial Things To Do Before We Go Reply with quote

Hi All,

My husband and I are planning on moving to Columbia in October 09 to do a 120+ hr TEFL course (IALC) over a 7-week period in either Medellin or Cali. We're currently in professional positions, in our mid-20's, both with BA's (English Lit and Marketing respectively), but we've definitely decided that teaching English is something we think will temporarily and possibly permanently change our lives, partly in thanks to reading many of the posts on this site. We're looking at teaching for at least a year, maybe two, and then seeing where things go from that point. After finishing the cert (which includes practical teaching experience) we want to start applying for teaching posts in hopes of finding something when school starts up again in mid-Jan/ Feb. We're aware that everything shuts down through the holidays, but have heard that some of that time is the best to arrange a teaching position. We've also heard that recently the foreign visa regulations have increased to allow 30% foreign teachers at schools, which sounds like it'll help to overcome an initial hurdle. (Any truth to that?)

So with all that long-winded background (sorry!) I'm just wondering where we go from here? We've decided on the school, on what our overall plan is to a point, but what else should we be doing now to prepare? We're planning on coming down to CO for 4-5 days this summer to scope things out, so what should we have ready before then? Would it be too premature to get our CV's ready as much as possible and talk to schools at that point? What should definitely be on our checklist to have sorted out before we come down? Are we crazy to be doing this right now? It feels like the right time for us, but how are things looking for two people with education and not much experience yet in teaching? (I know people ask about employment opportunities all the time and that we really won't find out too much until we hit the pavement, but I can't help it!)

We're go-with-the-flow people who also don't want to go into a situation blind, so anything you've got in the way of suggestions/ examples/ encouragement is truly appreciated!

SB
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travelNick



Joined: 22 Feb 2009
Posts: 51
Location: Bogota, Colombia

PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi!

I say do it! I came with NOTHING! Only a place to stay (which I had to pay for), and that was it. No Spanish. A couple of friends who couldn't actually help me with job hunting. And for the first week I had no money because I lost my Visa debit card Sad

Nearly 4 weeks in and I'm earning good money, have a nice place to stay in, seeing a lot of Bogota and experiencing the culture. That said, I'm also able to still enjoy the relatively relaxed lifestyle being a language teacher provides Smile

Don't know a whole lot about Cali or Medellin, but good luck!
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure if the 30% figure is exactly correct or not, but you're right...recent laws have made it easier for English teachers to get proper working visas in Colombia. Many schools are also desperate for native teachers, because the government wants to boost the percentage of bilingual high school graduates to some ridiculously high number and many of the better universities require students to pass IELTS or TOEFL exams IN ORDER TO GRADUATE, so it is comparatively easy to get jobs in Colombia as opposed to other Latin American countries.

I'd say it's definitely good to do your cert course in Colombia if this is where you want to work...you'll make good contacts while doing the course and that'll put you in a better position for finding a job when the course ends. Probably also best to do the course in the city you plan on working in, for the same reasons.

Don't know anything about the cert course you've mentioned and it's probably fine...I know people that've landed jobs here with no certs or not well known certs and no experience. However, if you're here over the summer anyways, it might be good to ask schools what the require in terms of certification, just to make sure you're not spending money a certification that will later be rejected by all the schools you want to work at.

Can't tell from your post what type of teaching job you're looking for but be aware that speaking Spanish is not a problem for jobs at language institutes, but extremely helpful for high schools/universities because the people hiring you there usually don't speak English (a CV for a school like this for example, should definitely be in Spanish).
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SnB



Joined: 10 May 2009
Posts: 7
Location: Tampa, FL

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Last edited by SnB on Tue May 26, 2009 3:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SnB



Joined: 10 May 2009
Posts: 7
Location: Tampa, FL

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to both of you for the encouragement! We're definitely planning to stop by some of the schools in Medellin while visiting in July. We're leaning more toward that city as we learn more about both.

Neither of us are very particular at this point as to which kind of school to work at, but we are trying to learn as much Spanish as possible before we go so that we'll at least be able to get by when we get there. So when we visit, should we just drop in on the schools on our list or call first and make an appointment? And if we get our CV's translated into Spanish, is that all that we need to get in for an interview with the high schools/uni's?
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

your first question is a bit tough...most people here would look for openings in newspapers or other job postings instead of just dropping in to hand off a resume. you said you're doing your cert course here, right? maybe during your visit you can talk to the people you're doing your cert course with and see if they can give you advice on schools to look at and how to handle the applications. If not, it certainly wouldn't be looked down upon to call in advance, explain your situation, and ask if it's okay if you drop off a resume.

for your second question, each school is different, so saying a resume in Spanish is all you need to land an interview wouldn't be exactly accurate...but again, for submitting a resume to a high school or university, make sure you at least have a copy of your resume in Spanish because the odds are the school administration won't speak English well, or won't speak English at all. from there the school will obviously make the decision on giving you an interview based on your qualifications and their requirements. Requirements may range from having a teaching license in your home country, to having a TEFL certification or experience, having a friend in common with a school administrator, already having legal working status in Colombia, or no requirements at all. Having any of the above will certainly help your chances though.
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SnB



Joined: 10 May 2009
Posts: 7
Location: Tampa, FL

PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're flying to Medellin this week to visit and plan to meet with the TEFL course school administrator while we're there. The points you've brought up will definitely help us out, thank you.

If there's anything else that you think we ought to know or ask, I'm all ears. We want to make sure that we get a lot out of this trip so that we have a good idea of what we're getting into.
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