Here’s another chapter in the series of articles dedicated to some of the most impactful language teachers around the world. From Mexico we move to Colombia!
This list offers a unique selection of Colombia’s most impactful language teachers, who are committed to promoting social change through language teaching and positively impacting their communities.
With this Impactful Language Teachers Lists, Sanako wants to celebrate the hard work of these teachers because we believe they deserve to be put in the spotlight.
Impactful Language Teachers: Who are they?
The language teachers on this list have a number of outstanding qualities, but first and foremost they share passion and commitment toward their students and profession. In addition, they all have in common:
- A dedication to improve the educational and/or professional opportunities of their students via language teaching
- The will to support the language teacher community by sharing resources and knowledge
- The use of innovative teaching styles and techniques
- The ability to actively use social media channels to support language acquisition
- The capacity to create free, high quality resources to support language acquisition
Carolina R. Buitrago
Ms. Buitrago graduated from Universidad Pedagógica Nacional in Colombia where she obtained a B.A. in English Language Teaching (ELT).
Ms. Buitrago has developed an international academic training, by acquiring a certificate in English from Mount Holyoke College in the United States and a Master’s degree in Educational Technolgy, as well as a TESOL from the University of Manchester in the UK.
Ms. Buitrago is a full time professor at Institución Universitaria Colombo Americana and a lecturer for the Master’s program in English Language Teaching for Autonomous Learning Environments at Universidad de La Sabana in Chía, Colombia.
She has participated in several national and international conferences and cooperated with the Ministry of Education in Colombia. Her research work addresses a variety of topics, from flipped learning approaches to junior online English tutors’ training needs.
She is motivated to teach languages by the desire “to be able to give [her] students the opportunity to make a difference in the world, by not only understanding the perspective of others but also by being able to provide theirs”.
One of the greatest achievements that Ms. Buitrago has gained, has been to “honestly care about students as people, not only as numbers on my list. I have seen them flourish as people, and there’s no bigger impact than that!”
She graduated from the Universidad Pedagogica Nacional (Bogotá, Colombia) where she obtained a Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Bilingualism and Technology. Ms. Ramirez has been working in the field of English Language Teaching since 2004 and she has been teaching English at all levels.
These sixteen years-long experiences have allowed Ms. Ramirez to acquire extensive knowledge and skills, which she applied in educational activities, language communication projects and extensive research works.
As a language teacher she aims at making a positive impact both on the growth of students and the professional development of the language teachers’ community.
In particular, Ms. Ramirez organizes workshops for educators in the Colombian public sector so as to promote a growth mindset in the classroom. An important objective of these workshops is to improve the way teachers communicate with students. According to Ms. Ramirez:
You need to tell students what they’re doing well and how to acquire strategies to become better.
She has made relevant contribution to the language field with her work on flipped learning. In addition to it, her research focuses on the use of ICT’s in ELT and pronunciation pedagogy. She believes in the power of language teachers collaboration, and shares her ideas and findings on her blog.
Jeime Karina Camaron Bautista
She graduated from the University of Pamplona in 2012. Ms. Camaron Bautista specializes in English teaching for different levels. She has been an English teacher for kids from 2 to 11 years old, teenagers and adults.
Ms. Camaron Bautista has gained professional experience both in big and small groups. As a consequence she has mastered to differentiate her teaching techniques by dealing with students coming from different social backgrounds. About her job, Ms. Bautista says:
I love teaching, and this is why I love using different kinds of materials and resources that help my learners to be satisfied and happy.
Interviewed by Sanako about what motivates her into teaching English, she replied “the possibility of communicating with others and understanding their culture, ideas and taste”.
The constant professional updating and the experimentation of different teaching methods are the main instruments through which Ms. Camaron Bautista works to improve her teaching techniques.
She graduated from the Politécnico Grancolombiano in social communication and communication of organizations. In the course of her career, Ms. Cabrejo has gained experience in Innovation Management Systems, Corporate Communication and Marketing.
Ms. Cabrejo is the author of the bilingual podcast Cliiar Talks that teaches English in a funny way. The podcast is part of a wider educational framework, the Cliiar learning community project. The Cliiar learning project intends to design a “practical and dynamic methodology based on motivating the student to enjoy their learning process”.
Interviewed by Sanako about what drives her in teaching languages, Ms. Cabrejo said:
In Colombia and Latin America, low English levels can be a barrier to competitiveness and development. I want to teach English because I know that this means more and better opportunities for my country and for the region. Many people live with the frustration of not knowing a second language, so my main goal is to turn that frustration into motivation.
Elaborating on the obstacles that in Colombia affects language learning opportunities, Ms. Cabrejo explained that “learning English in Colombia requires making a significant economic investment that many people do not have. Language education by public institutions is of low quality, and even the language teachers are not trained. Some private institutions have ineffective teaching methods because they are more interested in profit than results”.
Jhonatan Vásquez Guarnizo
He has obtained a B.A. in English Language Teaching from the Universidad de la Amazonia. He then specialized by pursuing a M.A. in Languages Teaching from the Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia (UPTC).
Mr. Vásquez-Guarnizo is a full-time English teacher in the school of Modern and Foreign Languages at the same University, where he is part of the research group “TONGUE”. By promoting summer camps as cultural exchanges in the USA to language students in Colombia, Mr. Vásquez-Guarnizo help the advancement of international students exchanges.
Asked about what drives him in teaching languages, Mr. Vásquez-Guarnizo replied:
I think it is the fact I know I will impact someone’s life with my teaching. That is exactly what motivates me to get up and teach every day.
His teaching methodology is based on recognizing and adjusting to the students’ needs. For this reason he believes that teaching means to understand students and making a change in their lives.
This empathetic approach is at the base of Mr. Vásquez-Guarnizo efforts to actively engage his students. As he says:
Changing their minds and making them see a different reality is something complicated but not impossible.
Mr. Vásquez-Guarnizo shares his passion for studying and learning languages on Twitter. You can follow him here!
She graduated from the Universidad Industrial de Santander, where she obtained a B.A. in ELT. She pursued a In Service Certificate in English Language Teaching (ICELT) from Cambridge University and a Master’s degree in English Language Teaching – Autonomous Learning Environment from Universidad de la Sabana.
Currently, she is continuing with the academic activity by working as a level coordinator and researcher in the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures at Universidad de la Sabana.
Interviewed by Sanako about her motivations into becoming an English teacher, Ms. Diaz replied:
I always felt the need to teach and become a leader and guide to everybody so become a teacher will take a relevant role to do so.
Technology plays an important role in Ms. Diaz’s teaching methodology, even more so in this time of social distancing:
Digital tools implementation, flipped learning methodology, considering 21st-century skills, and ISTE standards for teachers have changed my classes for the best.
Ms. Diaz main research interests are flipped learning methodology, writing process and learner autonomy. She is passionate about sharing the result of her teaching work. For this reason, Ms. Diaz has created a blog with interesting resources for those who want to know more about the Flipped Learning methodology.
Equally interesting is her Twitter account in which she shares updates regarding the language teaching world.
Jorge Mario Escobar Mindiola
Jorge Mario Escobar Midional is an English teacher with six years of experience. In 2014 he joined the National Learning Service (SENA), an institution which provides vocational training. He works in the area of pedagogical curriculum development at SENA.
Mr. Escobar Midional began with teaching children but today he mainly teaches adults, especially those who are training in business and administration.
He is a very passion-driven teacher and it is thanks to this motivation that Mr. Escobar Midional has committed himself to improving the remote teaching services offered by SENA.
Working to improve online education has not been easy. As Mr. Escobar-Mindiola recalls:
Teaching in Colombia can be difficult. Like many countries in South America, there are social, economic and political issues that the country must face. Working conditions could be better.
These difficulties have a direct impact on the work of school institution. Distance teaching, for example, is complicated by shortcomings in the Internet connection across the country.
Mr. Escobar Mindiola has learned to be flexible and to find solutions to facilitate the learning of all his students. He has worked to advance the institution’s use of Google suite to the benefit of both the teachers and the students. The use of online tools has helped the students to quickly complete their tasks and track their progress.
As he told Sanako, Mr. Escobar Midional was very nervous on the day of his first English lesson as a teacher. But from that moment on he overcame his fears and through hard work he became a committed and dedicated teacher.
Matthew Cleary is an English teacher at Gimnasio La Salada, Segovia. His work aims to strengthen the bilingual skills of students.
In this regard Mr. Cleary has implemented a language teaching program based on the use of literature. According to Mr. Cleary there is still progress to be made in Colombia to promote language teaching.
According to Mr. Cleary in Colombia there isn’t a bilingual push in the same way there is in Asian countries.
Roshan Ashraf Rozack
Mr. Rozack is an English teacher at a private institution, PP Languages, located in Bogota. Teaching languages is his dream job.
As he told Sanako “teaching is my passion and I wanted to have a career as an ESL teacher. I have been working in different schools and institutes in different countries for over 3 years”.
Mr. Rozack bases its teaching activity on a constant updating of the teaching material used. Having joined the Language Ambassador program of Sanako, he will be able to count on additional support to expand his teaching tools.
Asked what would Colombian schools need to improve language teaching, he answered “better schools and good curriculum“.
In Colombia, textbooks used for English language teaching have only grammar, without literature. So students hate studying the language because they find it boring. They should also have the opportunity to study literature which is interesting and would motivate them to learn.
Mrs. Acosta teaches Spanish as a second language at Georgetown University, in Guaduas.
Being responsible and involved in the growth of Colombia’s future citizens, adults that will be responsible for the future of their country, is what motivates Mrs. Acosta into teaching languages.
For Mrs. Acosta it is necessary to involve the students in the learning process, to make them “responsible and conscious about their reality“. Therefore, the purpose of teaching, for Mrs. Acosta, is to fully empower students.
I do not give them the answers of life, nor the knowledge they need, I teach them to think for themselves to catch those answers and to learn the knowledge by themselves. So the next time they do not know something, they will know how to research and find what they are looking for.
The language teachers’ work, however, still faces complex obstacles in Colombia. As Mrs. Acosta recalls, in fact, there are still barriers that prevent democratic access to education. In addition, there is a great need to invest in educational innovation for language learning.
Daniela Salazar Montaño
Mrs. Salazar Montaño is an English teacher at Top Brain e-learning, a private institution in Cali, Colombia. The possibility of helping people to overcome their fears and achieve greater results in life is what motivates her in to teaching languages.
In order to make his teaching methods more effective, she has been working on developing a specific methodology, called the Top Brain methodology based on Skills for XXI Century Professionals. Supporting her students’ growth is Mrs. Salazar Montaño main goal:
I help my students find their best versions of themselves, I help them develop their confidence in English to accomplish their goals in the professional environment. I help my students demonstrate their worth in a second language when they’re struggling with prejudices around second language use.
Mrs. Reyes is a freelance language teacher located in Santa Marta, Colombia. Teaching is her environment.
In fact, as she told Sanako: “I love to see people pursuing their goals, and teaching is an activity I really enjoy. I find it easy and fulfilling”.
A combination of study, training and attitude is what drives Mrs. Reyes’ teaching methodology.
I am continuously reading and getting up to date, but I believe it’s more about my personality and methodology, they both make this journey easier and they offer remarkable results to make students and myself.
However, things aren’t easy for language teachers in Colombia. According to Mrs. Reyes, “the payment is low. The system isn’t as effective as other countries“.
Mrs. Perdomo in an English teacher at the Colegio San Antonio de Pauda, located in Cali, Colombia. She believes that foreign languages are one of the most important way of communication, and this belief is what motivates her into teaching English.
Her goal is to support students in improving their English language level, thus contributing to the spread of bilingualism in Colombia.
In fact, one of the problems she has encountered in teaching is that the level of diffusion of the English language in Colombia is still very low.
Mrs. Hincapie is a Spanish teacher at a private institution in Colombia. To her, teaching is something next to a vocation.
This profession has changed her life, prompting her to pursue a teaching career in order to be able to help others discovering new opportunities in life.
Constant updating and analysis of the educational context are the tools through which she improves her lessons:
I give all my time, empathy and ideas to my students, I study their behavior, talk to them and implement the multiple intelligences in my classes, because in my opinion each person learns differently, and after meeting the student I adapt my methods to their personal style.
In this way, she is able to strengthen the confidence of her students as well as to transmit a positive attitude to them when studying Spanish.
Unfortunately, like several other language teachers interviewed by Sanako, Mrs. Hincapie points out that at present the social and educational context of Colombia does not facilitate the study of languages.
Speaking of Spanish as a foreign language, unfortunately the reputation of my country, Colombia has suffered the ravages of war and violence for years and foreigners still see that Colombia in the news. And in terms of English, social inequality still creates a social gap and young people do not receive a good bilingual education in schools.
Juan Esteban Sánchez Arroyave
Mr Juan teaches English at a private institution in Colombia. His main motivation is the following:
Inspiring people and being a part of their development.
Mr Juan keeps up-to-date with teaching methods by regularly taking different courses.
He admits that more support from the public sector in language teaching would be beneficial.
Mr Marco teaches English at a private institution in Colombia. What motivates him to teach are the opportunities a foreign language can provide. He adds: “I connect with my students in a deeper level. Get to know them, what drives them to learn and listen to what they have to say”.
Mr Marco says that at his institution and thanks to inspiring teachers, students have a chance to actually enjoy the language and learn it with purpose.
Concerning the obstacles he faces in his country, he says:
“Education is so tangled up with senseless rules, procedures and paperwork that we often drive educators away from what really matters, providing quality time and education to their students”.
Argel Tellez Pinto
Mr Argel teaches English at a private institution in Colombia. He is truly motivated to enrich his students’ lives with another language.
He uses a hands-on approach where students can use the new language to talk about their everyday life. He adds that:
“I would say that I am a good example of the things you can accomplish just by being able to talk to other people and learn as much as possible about the world outside your country”.
About the obstacles in his country, he mentions that students should be exposed to a foreign language at a young age and that teachers should be given the opportunity to get training.
This list is still a work in progress! If you know someone who deserves a spot on our list of Colombia’s most impactful language teachers, let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to celebrate these language teachers’ efforts by sharing their stories on social networks!