Teaching English Volunteer Program in Colombia - Cartagena
Interested in Teaching English in Colombia - Cartagena? International Volunteer HQ’s teaching project empowers volunteers to help with English lessons in a variety of community placements including daycares and foster homes. Volunteers gain teaching experience in a cross-cultural setting while helping increase the number of people who have access to English language learning, improving the quality of education they receive and enhancing their employability.
- Programs start on the first and third Monday of each month
- Affordable fees from $470 for 2 weeks
- Includes accommodation, meals (monday to friday), airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Teach students who would otherwise not have the chance to learn English
Try Colombia’s world-famous coffee
Stay with other volunteers in a popular area of Cartagena
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
While many students in Colombia receive English lessons at school, a significant proportion do not. English is increasingly seen as a valuable language to know, so by contributing your time you can provide lessons for those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.
As a volunteer English teacher you’ll be in demand to help with classes in schools, daycares, foster homes and community centers. Students can range in ability and age from schoolchildren to the elderly. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to give further lessons in mathematics, science, humanities, music, sports, dance and art.
English teaching volunteer duties can vary but usually include:
- Teaching classes and lessons
- Assisting local teachers
- Tutoring students
- Running educational games and activities
- Helping with pronunciation and language skills
Why do Teaching English volunteering in Cartagena with IVHQ?
While volunteering on the teaching project in Colombia - Cartagena you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Giving students extra opportunities to learn English
- Practicing your Spanish
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining teaching experience
- Learning about life in Colombia
- Exploring Cartagena’s ancient streets
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
- Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Colombia - Cartagena Volunteer Program, please keep in mind you will be in a Spanish speaking country and translation is not readily available. We recommend volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our program staff in Cartagena. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons can help you immensely with your day to day volunteer work and communication. Volunteers interested in taking classes can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Cartagena.
Colombia photo gallery
Recommended online TEFL course
We encourage volunteers on IVHQ’s Teaching and Childcare projects to come prepared by completing some relevant training, such as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course. Although formal teaching qualifications are not required on these projects as volunteers are supported by local staff, taking a TEFL course enables you to gain more from the experience. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.Get TEFL certified online
”This trip was amazing, it was very humbling and eye opening. I bonded with the kids way more than I expected and made a few great friends along the way. I got to discover the beautiful city of Cartagena and bring home great memories and letters from all the kids.”
Read reviews from Teaching English volunteers in CartagenaSee more reviews
IVHQ has projects throughout Cartagena on the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia. It’s a city where castles and skyscrapers coexist, where beaches beckon and you can discover hundreds of years of history by walking the cobblestone streets. It’s said to be the safest city in Colombia so you can feel secure getting out and discovering Cartagena’s arts and events scene or its vibrant nightlife.
Arrival and orientation
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers need to arrive in Cartagena the day before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in Cartagena. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Cartagena prior to your volunteer program, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation and details can be arranged closer to your arrival.
Orientation begins on Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Colombia – an introduction to Colombia, Colombian customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Colombia, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Volunteer schedule example
On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with. Volunteers typically work in morning and afternoon shifts that last around 3 to 5 hours each.
Please note, this is an example schedule as work hours are dependent on the project and placement. Volunteers on the Cartagena program can easily take part in a range of the projects if they would like to. A typical volunteer day is as follows:
|7:15 AM||Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.|
|8:40 AM||Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.|
|9:00 - 11:00 AM||Volunteer work at projects.|
|12:30 PM||Lunch at the volunteer house.|
|1:50 PM||Volunteers leave to travel to afternoon projects.|
|2:00 - 4:00 PM||Volunteer work at projects.|
|6:30 PM||Dinner at the volunteer house.|
To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer apartment, a curfew of 11:00 PM has been put in place from Sunday to Thursday and a 2:00 AM curfew for Friday and Saturday. This will be strictly enforced.
Volunteers have weekends off and can use the time to explore the fantastically interesting streets of Cartagena. You can discover the Walled City of Old Cartagena - a UNESCO World Heritage site with fascinating stories of piracy and war, gorgeously preserved colonial architecture and street vendors selling everything from fruit to shoes; or find a wide selection of cultural icons, music, art, cafes, restaurants, shopping and beautiful views in every part of the city.
Outside of Cartagena, Colombia offers many other places where you’ll find unforgettable experiences. Hop on a boat to nearby islands where you can relax on the white, sandy beaches of your dreams, or take a day trip to bathe in the natural mud of the El Totumo Volcano. You can also travel further afield to the mountainous Andes region where you can visit Bogota - Colombia’s thronging and thriving capital, see the famous cities of Medellin and Cali or get adventurous and go paragliding and trekking through coffee plantations.
Accommodation and WiFi
You’ll stay in a volunteer apartment in the safe and convenient neighborhood of Crespo. Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to be sharing a room with three to seven volunteers of the same gender. Living is comfortable and the volunteer apartment has electricity, running water and western bathrooms, generally with hot water.
Sheets and pillows are provided, and you will just need to bring your own towel and toiletries. All volunteers help with cooking and clean up on a roster system, so be prepared to help out.
For couples or those wanting more privacy, private rooms in the volunteer apartment are available for an additional $25 per night, subject to availability.
WiFi is available for volunteers to use at the volunteer apartment in Cartagena. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to keep connected.
Volunteers in Cartagena are served breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays at the volunteer apartment. Breakfast is varied and can include pancakes, fruit, eggs and arepas (corn bread). Lunch and dinner include a balanced range of traditional Colombian and western dishes. Food will be available for you to cook on the weekends, or you can try the mouth-watering local cuisine in the restaurants and cafes around Cartagena.
Tea, coffee, juice and toast are available in the volunteer house throughout the day. Tap water is fine to drink in Cartagena but it’s a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle to fill at the volunteer house and take with you to your placement. Alternatively, bottled water can be purchased for around $1.
If you have any special dietary requirements, please include these when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. Please note volunteers are not provided with meals on public holidays.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|2 weeks||$470 Equivalent to $34/day|
|3 weeks||$650 Equivalent to $31/day|
|4 weeks||$790 Equivalent to $29/day|
|5 weeks||$960 Equivalent to $28/day|
|6 weeks||$1,125 Equivalent to $27/day|
|8 weeks||$1,500 Equivalent to $27/day|
|10 weeks||$1,875 Equivalent to $27/day|
|12 weeks||$2,250 Equivalent to $27/day|
- Meals (Monday to Friday)
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Cartagena generally find US$100 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses.
Spanish language lessons
Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ recommends these lessons for all volunteers unless they are fluent in Spanish. Volunteers with a basic level of Spanish should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons are organized upon your arrival in Cartagena during your program orientation. The language course is tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers at $15 per hour. There is also ample opportunity to participate in conversation exchanges if your Spanish is at a more advanced level.
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Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Currency||Colombian Peso (KES)|
Weather and climate
Cartagena is in the Tierra Caliente, or ‘hot land’, at sea level on the Caribbean coast. The climate is hot, windy and humid, averaging at 90 per cent humidity throughout the year. Daytime highs remain consistent throughout the year around 32°C (90°F) and night time lows around 24°C (75°F). The rainy season is from May to November, with the most common form of precipitation being thunderstorms. We recommend volunteers bring plenty of lightweight clothing and electrolyte replacement supplements to help avoid the negative effects of the heat.