Joined: 26 Jun 2014
|Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:30 am Post subject: 3 weeks in Bogotá - thoughts
Compared to people who have been here years, this may not be very informative. My three weeks are effectively 2 weeks, because the week of March 22 was Semana Santa, so everything was closed most of the time.
There's a lot of them, and I still haven't discovered them all. They all (irritatingly) insist on giving you an English placement test to test your knowledge. It gets old after a few times, and one school made me do a TOIEC practice test (more on this later).
To avoid naming the schools, I'll just give them numbers. School 1, I agreed on joining before I came to Colombia. They seemed very eager to have me, had the initial interview, and then invited me to training (a watered down 2 day TESOL course). Whatever, I went to the training but it seemed like I already had the job. Apparently, they didn't think it was important to say that the demo lesson would determine whether or not I would be hired. Ok, no biggie, they didn't like my lesson and didn't invite me back--They were supposed to be my backup school, but oh well. Their schedule was 90 minute lessons 5 days a week, at about 27,000 COP per hour. Not bad, but not enough on its own.
Second school -- I got lost the first time I went there. The area around the mall with the school had prostitutes walking around at noon, so I wasn't too hot about living there. I didn't bother with calling the director and apologizing because 1) I had a hunch it wouldnt be a good job, and 2) I was already an hour late searching for the school. The director called me a few days later and we met at branch of the school that was closer to where I live. Still took an hour of Bogota traffic to get there. I probably could have gotten there in around the same time if I walked. Anyway, this school was very interesting but mostly in a bad way. I don't like making snap judgements of people...but the director seems like (sorry) a maniac. She was nice to me, and desperately wanted me to come in the evening of that day (I said no). Her interview questions were somewhat offensive, but I gave her the answers she wanted to hear. One of them was "If the students aren't learning who is to blame"....Yeah. She tried to get me to meet with everybody at the school. Even though the director seems probably not-so-stable, it doesn't seem like an absolutely terrible place to work. It's a little school that works with the university next door and also have their own students. I would work there if I had no other choice, I guess. But they are the opposite of on top of their shit. I'm not even sure they knew they had to sponsor me a visa, and she didn't mention the pay or look at my resume. Might be an interesting experience to work there...but I wouldn't invest anything into them that I wouldn't be willing to walk away. Did I mention the TOIEC exam? It took about 1.5hrs, and I'm a pretty fast test taker. I probably should just run away from this as far as I can but I'm curious, and their online reviews aren't that bad.
School 3 was pretty great, they knew their stuff, payed peanuts (as is tradition here, it seems), and have a pretty extensive hiring process which I'm still at the beginning of. Not much more to say. I think the pay was like 1,600COP for 24 hours of teaching.
The last two schools I haven't interviewed at so I'm OK with sharing their names. American school way: from other posts here, I hear they pay a little more than 2mil pesos a month for a lot of work. I was there today, but they wanted me to take their English exam and I was pooped from the Toiec test I did earlier so I took a rain check. Also require 3 days "training" before working. Might be a decent place to work, but I don't think I want to work that many hours. The other institute I visited, Centro Colombo Americano, had me in tears from laughter when they told me that to work there I needed to have an education degree and a cedulla....but they were serious, so I promptly thanked them and asked for the exit.
I've also visited a lot of universities, but they just ask for my resume and them I'm on my way, or possibly meeting the co-ordinator if they're available. The ones I've visited don't sponsor visas, although I have met some teachers here who work at a university and are sponsored there. Also, the universities have various branches, so good luck finding the one with the language department.
The Colegios, I haven't been able to get near. The ones I went to told me to apply online and of course, they don't reply. Maybe it's just because the school year started, but I suspect online doesn't work too well in this country because all of my interviews (except school 1), have been through in-person applications.
Also, Bogota is pretty darn expensive. My plan was to stay here 1 year, but I've since realized that this is not the place to spend one year and leave. It's a great place to live long term (the only issue is traffic, if you don't live near your work), and it's a great place to visit short term but for in-between periods (1-2 years), I sense a lot of frustration. I think living here would be great, but every Colombian I talk to says that it takes a LONG time to find a good job. I sense that a lot of people here would rather be unemployed for a long time than work for a company that doesn't pay much, and I completely understand that view, it's hard to make a living here.