My very first blog post on TEFL in Colombia is called Everybody wants to live in Medellín. Its main aim was to motivate teachers, especially newly-qualified ones, to look beyond this amazing city and consider working in other parts of Colombia. In addition, I mentioned some disadvantages of working as an English teacher in the capital of Antioquia. And now I’m sure you can guess where this is heading: A year and a half after writing the blog post, I moved to Medellín.
To be precise, I decided to move to Envigado, which means that technically I live outside the city of Medellín. It’s just two metro stops away from Aguacatala, though, so it feels very close. I chose this location because I wanted to avoid the noise of the city centre and the high prices of El Poblado. My experience in Envigado has been very positive so far.
Does this mean that the original blog post was just a load of nonsense? I don’t think so. I still recommend exploring the country and looking for opportunities away from major cities. After deciding to leave Medellín in 2017, my work took me to three different regions of Colombia, so I had a chance to visit some really cool places. I’ll never forget living in a town in Boyacá during my first teaching role, which was a brilliant experience. My two years in Manizales allowed me to explore the beautiful coffee region. The stint in Bucaramanga was affected by the pandemic, but there were still some positives.
The main reason for moving back to Antioquia is that I feel ready for it. While I was away, I managed to get a Delta and became a Colombian resident, which makes language institutes see me in a completely different light than four and a half years ago. Back then I was just a random tourist with no teaching experience. I’m sure that I can avoid the pitfalls of working in ELT in the second biggest city in Colombia.
Moving to a new place also gave me an impetus to make changes in my professional life, and I’m not an employee anymore. The process of registering as a freelancer caused me a bit of a headache in terms of dealing with local institutions, but I believe that I’m going to benefit from it in the long term. In addition to being more flexible when it comes to my work schedule, I hope that this will give me an opportunity to gain experience in a variety of areas related to ELT.
Since I moved to Envigado, I’ve done some interesting work as an independent contractor with International House, which has offices in Bogotá and Medellín. One of my main reasons for collaborating with this institute is that it takes professional development seriously. In fact, I did my Delta Module Two with IH Mexico and took the Train the Trainer course with IH Lima, and I hope to get a chance to develop professionally here in Colombia. I’ve already received Delta-style feedback on a lesson, which is exactly what I need in order to improve as a teacher.
It seems my 2022 is going be about learning useful skills and using them in new teaching contexts. For example, I currently teach one-to-one classes, which is something I’d had very little experience with. Creating personalised lessons from scratch and designing my own materials is a lot of fun! Even though it could mean that I won’t have much time for updating this blog in the next few months, I feel that I need to focus on making the most of this new opportunity. Leaving the comfort of employment is a little risky, but the only way to find out if this is the right step for me is to give it a go and see what happens.