Teaching Abroad in Venezuela and Colombia: Guest Post from Allison

Hello everyone! I’m Allison and I’m currently a teacher in Colombia. My adventures abroad began immediately after I graduated Bucknell University with my degree in elementary education and ESL in 2012. I first moved to Venezuela to live and teach there. Two years later, in 2014 I moved to Colombia. The past four years I’ve taught abroad have been a wonderful adventure!

My Classroom in Venezuela

My Classroom in Colombia (at the end of the year)
Both countries have their positives and negatives to teaching there. I will focus more on Colombia since that is where I am now, but just a quick word on Venezuela. I moved there in August 2012 and lived there until June 2014. In that time the political and economic systems of the country fell apart. Hugo Chavez died, Maduro took over, food shortages increased, and prices rose higher and higher. It was normal to have students come in with stories of family members being kidnapped or their stores robbed. We had to be extra careful at dismissal because many of our students were from wealthy oil families and they were kidnapping targets themselves. In order to get food and basic necessities locals and expats alike had to resort to buying basic items like flour, sugar, and toilet paper on the black market. Since I have left the country, the situation continues to worsen and life there gets more dangerous. Despite all of this, the people there are some of the nicest I’ve met anywhere in the world and are really fantastic at staying positive in adverse situations. It is also an incredibly beautiful country.

Now, I’m teaching in Pereira, Colombia. It is a much more stable country. I teach at Fundacion Liceo Ingles. The school has students aged 2 – 12th grade. Most Colombian schools only go until 11th grade, but because our kids have the opportunity to obtain an American diploma, we go through 12th.

Classes are small. There are usually between 18-23 students per class and only 2 classes per grade in elementary school. Students get an introduction to English every year until 1st grade. In 1st grade they get bilingual, local, teachers so their classes are a mix of Spanish and English and starting in 2nd grade they get their first foreign teacher. With a foreign teacher they have English, math, science, and social studies all in English. They have Spanish and Colombian history classes in Spanish, as well as all of their specials (art, P.E., music, computers, religion, etc.).

100th Day of School
Academically, students tend to be lower than in the United States. We’ve started using the common core as a guide, but in English, we use the standards for the grade below what we teach. For example, I teach 2nd grade, but I use the 1st grade common core standards for ELA. In math we try to use our grade level, but even this is hard. As a 2nd grade teacher and the first native English speaker that my students have, it takes the first few months of school to get them feeling comfortable speaking English and understanding everything I say.

Students working on a class science fair project.
The school itself is very different than what we are used to in the United States. It is extremely open. My classroom only has 3 full walls so it is common for various animals and insects to wander in at all times. We’ve had everything from kittens being born in the classroom, to tarantulas, to baby birds, to insects that I don’t even recognize. It’s always an adventure.

Mystery insect found in the classroom
The whole school is open, which makes it beautiful. The hallways are all outside and the kids have plenty of space to roam around. We have a large coliseum that is used as a gym and for assemblies or school wide events. It is all open. It never gets cold where we live so we never have to worry about students being cold, though if it dips below 75 the kids act like it’s about to snow and come in with hats and scarves complaining about how cold it is. We are blessed with beautiful spring weather every day, though sometimes we get some pretty big thunderstorms. It really is a beautiful place to live and teach.

Outside where the kids play
What the hallways and paths between classrooms look like

The Coliseum
Though there are definitely struggles to living in South America, like things moving VERY slowly and nothing being done efficiently, it is a beautiful place. Colombia has many wonderful places to travel that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to visit! I live in the Andes in the coffee region, but there are also many jungles, beaches, mountains, and grasslands throughout this diverse country.

Thank you Lindsay for letting me do this feature! I hope myself and all the other bloggers have inspired some of you to consider teaching internationally or to at least travel to some of the incredible places worldwide that everyone has talked about! 

Allison is an American trained teacher with a specialization in Elementary Education and ESL. 

You can click Allison's "Engaging Elementary" Button below to check out her awesome Teachers Pay Teachers resources or click the TpT logo below. You can also find out what she's up to by following her Facebook page!


Thanks for joining us this week! Come back for next weeks #WorldwideWednesdays when Emily takes us to the Dominican Republic!

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