There is something about Volunteer Teaching that is very appealing. I have always been interested in it. Now I have undertaken the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, it is actually a possibility, not just a thought. You can get invaluable experience using TEFL in schools from Monterrey to Mombassa. There are also some amazing volunteer projects available and opportunities for TEFL graduates to pursue.
If you have the time and the desire, there is no better way to experience a country?s culture than to live and work with their people. In many circumstances, you are helping some of the world?s most underprivileged people to learn language skills that could make a real difference to their lives, not to mention the future prosperity of their communities.
A TEFL organisation (www.teflcourses.com.au) has compiled a list of countries which are ideal for getting the most out of your volunteer teaching experience. Some of these include: Rio de Janeiro; Guatemala; Mexico; Tanzania; Vietnam and China. Many of these places have become popular tourist destinations attracting English speaking travelers. Take Tanzania for example, it is world famous for the spice island of Zanzibar and Africa?s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately tourist development has not brought prosperity and the respective countries haven?t been able to fund education. If residents have the opportunity to learn English, employment prospects are so much better. This is why volunteers are desperately needed.
I have been interested in pursuing a volunteer project in Nepal or Africa. After researching the Volunteer options it seems that many of these projects sound fantastic, but they are also very costly. There are many different organisations that conduct these types of projects. It is definitely worth doing some research prior to booking a volunteer project to ensure that you check the duration of the project as well as the cost. Keep in mind that there can be similar projects available that cost very little and other benefits such as the provision of accommodation. Use as many connections and resources that you have to explore all options. One project listed by TEFL courses (www.i-to-i.com) offers a unique opportunity to teach English in Nepal to Buddhist monks in the serene surroundings of a monastery. This kind of project could interest those wanting to combine a trekking adventure with a unique teaching experience. Although this appears as a Volunteer project, there is a price to pay.
Some classes have 30 pupils (all boys) aged from 10 to 21. Other Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhist monasteries have approximately 400 resident monks. They follow a strict government curriculum and teaching methods are very old fashioned. As in many countries, Volunteer projects are needed in schools in Nepal as they lack the funds to provide English language courses. Career prospects for children of Nepal often rely on their knowledge of English, and by teaching English, you would become an important part of the community. Similar projects are organized by Teaching and Projects Abroad, but are also costly (www.teaching- abroad.co.uk/projects).
In Cambodia, Gap Year offers volunteer teaching placements for people eager to travel in South East Asia (www.gapyear.com). There is a real need for native or near native English speakers to lend their skills and time to local schools eager to give their pupils the best possible start in life. Such a project can cost up to 1195 pounds for just one month. Costs include insurance, accommodation, food and pickup from the airport.
Teaching English/Work in Orphanage
This project looks great and initially I thought there was no cost involved. However, there is a cost of $1438 US for four weeks. However, if you are willing to pay the money, it looks like you would have an amazing experience. Below is an outline of the project.
The Tibet project involves teaching English to poor, destitute, and disabled children. Most of the time, volunteers in teaching projects work as instructors or assistant English teachers. However, our volunteer in Tibet program welcomes your participation and help in the school´s extra- curricular activities, such as sports, games and other activities, or sanitation programs. Volunteers usually teach two to three hours a day for five days a week, working with children 6 to 13 years old. English teaching in Tibet is truly a challenging and rewarding job which can make a difference in the lives of both students and teachers (www.globalcrossroad.com).
True Volunteer Projects
There are actually Volunteer projects available that do not cost you money to undertake, especially if you are a TEFL graduate. This is where it is important to take advantage of as many contacts as you have, and to use all your resources.
Quite often they are not advertised on the web. You are more likely to come across them through your own personal travels or using your TEFL resources. Currently there is Volunteer work available in India. They have contacted the school here as they know that there are many TEFL graduates who may be keen to gain some teaching experience. This organisation wants native English speaking volunteers to teach English in their schools and colleges. In India, they have many Engineering graduates that could have much better employment opportunities if they could speak English (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Another Volunteer project previously offered to TEFL graduates was based in rural Thailand. Thai students are now use to foreigners and enjoy meeting them, so the school was keen to get TEFL students to teach in their school. They even provided an unhosted apartment for the students in exchange for their English lessons. If you want to experience the Thai culture and get some teaching practice, an offer such as this is ideal (www.fotolog.net/schoolvolunteer).
There are endless Volunteer Teaching opportunities in the world. Many of the Volunteer teaching projects advertised by organizations are fantastic, but come at a cost. However there are Volunteer projects available that do not have a price attached, especially if you are a TEFL graduate. Keep in mind that English is in demand world wide and the ability to learn the language opens many opportunities for people worldwide. They want to speak English well so that they can get into good universities, get better jobs and have a better life. Ensure that you explore all of your contacts and resources before undertaking a project. Which ever one you undertake, it will be an amazing experience!
Author: Georgina Allen
Date of post: 2007-01-08