60 English Teaching Assistant Award
Accepted Degree Levels
Grant PeriodAugust Start
Grant Length10 Months
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program (ETA), in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and ICETEX, will offer up to 60 Fulbright ETA awards for the 2023-2024 academic year in Colombia. The Fulbright ETA Program aims to strengthen English language instruction at Colombian Post-Secondary and/or Tertiary education Institutions by establishing the presence of native speakers. At the same time, U.S. participants benefit from the intensive cross-cultural interaction and international educational and/or research opportunities provided at the host institution.
The grantee will be assigned to a specific academic institution based on the candidate's academic profile and the specific needs of the host institution. ETAs will be assigned as language-teaching assistants for up to 30 hours per week (20 hours for lessons and class activities and 10 hours for planning). Responsibilities may include giving presentations on different topics related to the United States, preparing classroom activities, and/or encouraging Colombian students to communicate in English.
Grantees are required to engage in a social/volunteer project related to their personal, career, and/or educational interests (approximately 10 to 15 hours per week are to be spent on this project). They should keep in mind that these activities should be flexible with respect to geographic location.
Grant benefits include round trip international airfare, monthly stipend, Accident and Sickness Health Benefit Plan for Exchanges (ASPE), assistance in the visa application process, Orientation Seminar at the beginning of the grant period, and monitoring and advising by the Fulbright Commission during the period of stay in the country.
Grant dates correspond to the academic year, August 2023 to May 2024. Changes to or deferrals of the grant period are not allowed. Fulbright Colombia offers grantees the opportunity to extend their grants in Colombia for a second academic year through the "Senior ETA Program". Senior ETAs receive the same benefits as they did in their first year, including round-trip airfare. Senior ETAs are assigned to a different host institution, based on the experience gained during their first year and their academic profile. Instead of the Supplementary Project, Senior ETAs act as mentors for new grantees.
Before arrival, the Fulbright Commission offers a series of informative webinars in which relevant information is shared regarding the grantees’ preparation, visa application process, grant document processing, among other key aspects for a successful grant start. The grant period begins with an Orientation Seminar organized by the Fulbright Colombia Commission in late July. Attendance of the Orientation Seminar is mandatory for all ETA grantees.
Candidates with strong teaching experience or those who have worked with young adults, are preferred. Also, candidates with undergraduate degrees in Education, English, Spanish, or Applied Linguistics are preferred, especially, those with TESOL, TSL or TEFL degrees. Educational Institutions in Colombia want ETAs to be native English speakers to improve both the English level and proficiency of the students, teachers, administrative staff, and the Language Teaching capabilities of its English teachers and instructors. A successful experience for ETAs is deeply related to strong intercultural abilities, adaptation skills, flexibility and a willingness to teach others.
U.S. citizens holding dual U.S.-Colombian citizenship are eligible.
Residency in host country permitted in year prior to the grant.
Grantees with dual U.S. and Colombian nationality are required by Colombian law to enter the country on a Colombian passport.
Accepted Degree Levels
Foreign Language Proficiency
Spanish language proficiency is required, not only for the development of the proposed grant activities, but also in order to more easily settle in and communicate on a daily basis. Applicants should discuss plans for language study between the time of their application and the commencement of the grant with the Language Self-Evaluation. A Foreign Language Evaluation by a college-level Spanish language instructor is also required.
- University/Post-Secondary Institution
- Other Educational/Community Institution
Post-Secondary and/or Tertiary education Institutions: Teacher Training Schools (Escuelas Normales Superiores), Universities (Universidades), University Institutions (Instituciones Universitarias), Technological Institutions (Instituciones Tecnológicas), Professional Technical Institutions, (Instituciones Técnicas Profesionales).
Placement locations vary and will not be limited to specific host institutions. Host institutions include both public and private Post-Secondary and/or Tertiary education Institutions throughout the country, many of which offer teaching-training degree programs in foreign language. Other grantees will work with beginner-level English young and adult learners. Placement is done based on host institution availability, the institution's needs, the grantee's background and skills, the grantee’s interests (to the extent possible) and the parameters of the program sponsor.
- Capital City
- Regional City
All placements are security cleared by the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. For some specific placements the U.S. Embassy may provide additional security recommendations. All ground travel in Colombia must be approved by the Fulbright Colombia Commission and the U.S. Embassy prior to making travel arrangements.
Grantees are expected to engage in a social or community project related to their academic and personal interests. Applicants should keep in mind that these activities should take place in the region where they are located.
Fulbright Colombia provides information to grantees about housing options but does not make any arrangements. It is the grantee’s responsibility to secure housing in Colombia, during the grant period, according to their preferences and needs. It is highly encouraged that grantees contact the International Relations Office at their host institution whom are accustomed to receiving foreign students and may be able to share resources for housing in different cities.
Life as a U.S. Fulbrighter in Colombia
Located in the northwest corner of South America, Colombia has rich and complex geography that is shaped by three exuberant branches of the Andes mountain range system and lined by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. With more than 50 million citizens, Colombia has the second largest population in South America and is Latin America’s oldest and most stable democracy. Colombia is a free market economy with major commercial and investment ties to countries around the world, including the United States.
In the last five years, Colombia has established itself as one of the most rapidly growing and innovative economies in Latin America. The country’s natural diversity is comparable to its rich cultural heritage reflecting the indigenous, Spanish, and African origins of its people. This makes Colombian food, music, dance, and art greatly diverse and unique.
Colombia is a paradigmatic example of a middle-income economy, and although highly dependent on fossil fuels for national income, it is poised to transition towards a carbon-neutral and circular economy which could become a replicable example for other developing countries. Colombia's diversity –ecosystemic, economic, social, and cultural– offers an engaging setting for research projects that seek to find solutions to the largest global challenges of our times
A remarkable location for biodiversity, sustainable development, and peace studies:
Colombia has always been a preferred destination for students and scholars from around the world conducting research or interested in biodiversity and sustainable development. As the second most biodiverse country in the world, Colombia opens numerous possibilities for academic visitors to engage and expand their knowledge. Colombia houses an unparalleled diversity of natural environments ranging from plains and deserts to high mountains, snowy peaks, Amazonian jungle, and Pacific and Caribbean coastlines— each with its own set of unique fauna and flora. Thus, providing the perfect context for adventurous researchers aiming to engage in research in distinct ecologies and establish networks with local communities.
As one of the largest economies in Latin America, Colombia has the potential to influence the region as a whole, and in particular, exemplify a pathway towards sustainable development despite challenging sociopolitical contexts. The country’s deep connection with the Pacific Alliance and its strategic geographic location, as well as its historic drive-in international contexts, position Colombia to lead efforts that can be transformative at the regional and global levels.
Due to its location and geographical situation, Colombia has been identified as being among the most vulnerable countries in the face of climate change. Along these lines, education at all levels plays a key role in the adoption of change towards sustainability, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
In recent years, the country has also become a primary destination for researchers interested in peacemaking, rural development, and social transformation. After the ratification of the peace agreement in 2016 between the 50-year-old FARC guerrilla group and President Santos’ administration, Colombia became a literal living laboratory for the implementation of innovative peace agreements, especially in the country’s rural areas that are home to many demobilized members of the former FARC insurgency. The “new” Colombia, has opened its doors to foreign scholars and students for research in regions that were not possible to access in the past. While there have been major improvements in terms of security in Colombia, important challenges remain present as the peace agreements are implemented.
Another recent challenge in Colombia is the increasing inflow of migrants from Venezuela in the past years. As of January 2021, approximately 1.7 million Venezuelans have arrived in Colombia, according to Colombian official statistics. Colombia has taken a leading role in adopting an open borders policy and implementing humanistic practices in the provision of services such as education, healthcare, employment services, and humanitarian aid to Venezuelan migrants and repatriated Colombians.
Fulbright ETAs in Colombia:
Since 2008, more than 500 English teaching assistants have visited our country, as part of the Fulbright ETA Program, with the aim of strengthening international mobility programs between Colombia and the United States, as well as academic networks between both nations, in which approximately 80 Educational Institutions in Colombia have benefited, among which the Universidad Nacional Colombia, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Fundación Universitaria del Área Andina, Universidad de Boyacá, Universidad EAN and Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia, stand out. Based on their feedback and comments, the following recommendations can facilitate future ETAs’ adaptation process and overall experience in the country.
Each host institution can be of great help for U.S. grantees to better prepare for their experience and cultural adaptation. Selected grantees are encouraged to discuss issues related to the local context, lifestyle, and culture with their hosts in the months prior to their arrival in order to better manage their expectations and gain a deeper understanding of everyday life in their cities of placement. Along these lines, U.S. grantees are also encouraged to reach out to the International Office of their Host Institution, which can provide insightful specific orientation and additional resources.
Maintaining close communication with the assigned Program Officer and mentors will allow the Fulbright Commission to provide orientation or assistance in a timely manner, and identify specific issues or situations in which the grantees may require additional accompaniment and help.
Plan any in-country trips in advance. Please note that all domestic and international travel during the grant period in Colombia, including fieldwork trips, must be approved by the Fulbright Colombia Commission. Potential candidates can find additional information and recommendations about safety and security, health, housing, and how to prepare for living in Colombia in the Orientation Handbook for U.S. grantees available at: https://fulbright.edu.co/comunidad-estadounidense-alumni/.
Fulbright in Colombia:
The Fulbright Commission in Colombia has made determined efforts aimed to enhance diversity, decentralization, and access to the opportunities Fulbright offers for graduate study, research, teaching, and English acquisition. Broadening the geographical presence of U.S. grantees in the country has been critical to achieving these objectives.
The extended coverage of Fulbright Programs for U.S. participants in the country has been possible thanks to the significant contributions from Colombian partners such as the Ministry of National Education, ICETEX, SENA, and usually Tertiary Education Institutions, among others.
To learn more about Colombia as a travel destination, visit http://www.colombia.co/. For questions related to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program in Colombia, please email Program Officer, Juan Suárez.
Educational System Overview
In recent years, Colombia has made education a top priority in the country’s economic and social development and has invested more resources in this sector than in any other area. Colombia is a country that has made great efforts to offer inclusive and quality education for all by implementing policies that have increased the number of hours that children attend school, ensured access to education to children of younger ages, and strengthened the bridge into higher education settings. The country has also focused on increasing access to higher education for vulnerable and marginalized populations and investing in improving teacher training and development.
Colombia has invested in education as a main driver of transformation in the middle of what is perhaps the greatest socio-economic challenge of its recent history: the beginning of the post-conflict and the opening of the country after more than 50 years of war. Despite the challenges, the country has many advantages: abundant natural resources, an open economy that has had significant growth in recent years, and, especially, a population of around 50.8 million inhabitants, full of hope and ideas to transform their country.
Education in Colombia is a right and is mandatory for citizens between 5 and 15 years of age. The education system is structured as follows:
1. Initial Education and Comprehensive Care for Early Childhood starts at birth and continues until the child is 6 years old. Very recently (in 2016), the country created a federal policy called: “De Cero a Siempre” (From Zero to Always) that promotes regulatory and technical innovations in early childhood education. There are around 2 million children and pregnant or lactating mothers in the Initial Education System, which addresses well-being, education, health, nutrition, recreation, and socialization of children.
2. Basic Education includes grades from 1st to 9th (children from 6 to 14 years old). Approximately 7.5 million students are enrolled in Basic Education, in more than 50,000 school campuses (sedes escolares). Many state-run schools in Colombia have an estimated school day of 5 to 6 hours, although the government's effort has focused on increasing the school day to 7 hours in order to achieve equity. Such efforts are in response to the fact that around 19% of basic education students and 23% of middle school students attend private education institutions, where students receive around 8 hours of instruction.
3. Middle Education lasts for two years, from 10th to 11th grade (15 to 16 years old). Approximately 1.4 million young people are enrolled in Middle Education. Students can study in general academic training programs (academic baccalaureate), vocational training and education programs (technical baccalaureate), or in one of the 137 Teacher Training Schools (Escuelas Normales Superiores), which train future preschool and elementary teachers.
Students in Teacher Training Schools (Escuelas Normales Superiores) complete grade 11 and receive a high school diploma. If they wish to become preschool and elementary teachers, they can continue their teacher training education at the same institution, where they proceed with more advanced studies in pedagogy and teaching subjects for two more years (complementary cycle).
Upon successful completion of Middle Education, students receive a bachelor's degree and take the national test (SABER 11) in order to enter higher education.
4. Higher Education System: there are approximately 316 Higher Education Institutions (HEI), which offer academic and vocational programs. The HEI are divided as follows:
Universities (Universidades) offer both undergraduate academic programs and graduate programs (Specialization, Master's and Doctoral degrees), and participate in scientific and technological research. 28% of HEIs are universities.
University Institutions (Instituciones Universitarias) offer professional undergraduate and specialization programs only. 44% of HIEs correspond to this category.
Technological Institutions (Instituciones Tecnológicas) offer technical programs. 17% of HEIs are technological institutions.
Professional Technical Institutions (Instituciones Técnicas Profesionales) offers professional training programs for specific jobs and represent 11% of HEIs. The National Training Service (SENA) offers the majority (58%) of technical and technological higher education programs.
Due to the extent of marginalized populations, Colombia has a great variety of flexible and non-formal educational models, such as Escuela Nueva. Given its multi-ethnic and multicultural nature, Colombia also has ethno-educational centers, which are schools with majority indigenous populations, and which follow an ethnic education program that is developed in collaboration with the local community.
Finally, it is important to highlight the efforts made by the Colombian government to lead energy transition and strategies to tackle the climate crisis in Latin America. In this sense, the country has gained recognition for setting in place the first regional policy on circular economy and its progress making headway in the discussion of a Climate Action Law in Congress aiming at drawing together and enforcing COP26 commitments.
A diversified and connected system of higher education:
Colombia has a growing and diverse higher education system, composed of over 316 higher education institutions, offering more than 2,723 master’s programs, and 438 doctoral programs. Colombian higher education institutions have been innovating their programs and procedures in order to attract more foreign scholars and students. The National Ministry of Education and its allies, MinCiencias and ICETEX, have invested heavily in advancing the installed capacities of Colombia's higher education system in order to improve the research and teaching on their campuses.
Furthermore, the nation-wide initiative “Colombia Challenge your Knowledge” (CCYK), which is led by the top universities in the country, has been analyzing and implementing the best internationalization practices in order to attract more international visitors.
The Fulbright Commission in Colombia highly encourages U.S. participants to follow all government guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some links where U.S. participants can find updated and official information about travel to Colombia, recent pandemic developments, and biosecurity guidelines among other useful information.