Volunteer Teaching When people think of volunteer English

When people think of volunteer English teaching, many think that it requires a multi-year commitment and placement fees. For older volunteers who have already started their career, or those with families, going overseas for a couple of years isn’t an option. Yet, for those interested in volunteering as an English teacher, there are a range of opportunities, short and long term, in far flung destinations and in your own backyard.

For overseas opportunities, prospective volunteers should check out World Teach and Folges (Friends of La Gloria English School, Inc.). World Teach, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, was established in 1986 by a group of Harvard Students. It is a highly regarded program that facilitates teaching opportunities in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guyana, Chile, China, the Marshall Islands, and elsewhere. The programs range from summer-long to a year. Most of the programs require that prospective volunteers be native English speakers and have a Bachelor’s degree (in any subject). While there are modest costs for some of these programs, the year-long Marshall Islands program has fully funded positions, teaching English in primary, middle, and secondary schools. As volunteers typically live with host families, it is a rare opportunity that combines volunteer English teaching with cultural immersion on a South Pacific island. There is a deposit required, but the government of the Marshall Islands covers round-trip airfare, housing, food, and health insurance.


Also non-profit and non-governmental is La Gloria English School on Isla Mujeres, a small island South of Cancun. Founded by Wisconsin residents Maggie and Tom Washa, their mission is to give the residents of Isla Mujeres, in particular, the La Gloria neighborhood, the opportunity to learn English. If you have a week or more to donate, the school welcomes volunteer Teacher Aids. This type of experience is ideal for someone who wishes to enrich a two week (or longer) vacation with volunteer activity. It is also great for someone who wants to explore the field of TEFL/ESL before making a long-term commitment in a more formal program like World Teach or the Peace Corps.


Now what about someone who wants to volunteer to teach ESL but can’t possibly get away for two weeks let alone two years. Thanks to Volunteer Match, it’s easy to find volunteer opportunities in your own backyard. Their website allows you to enter your zip code and the type of opportunity your seeking (ESL), providing you with results in your area. There are opportunities to volunteer as an ESL tutor for just one hour a week. This is another excellent option for someone who wants to explore the field of ESL/TEFL or gain practical experience before applying to a long-term program. (3)

With a little bit of research, it’s possible to find a reputable volunteer teaching program that accommodates your schedule and goals. You don’t have to be recent college graduate, dot-com billionaire, or retiree in order to volunteer. Whether you wish to tutor for an hour a week in Des Moines, Iowa or teach in secondary school for several months in Majuro, the capital city of the Marshalls, there are plenty of possibilities.

Works Cited:

1. World Teach: www.worldteach.org

2. Friends of La Gloria School: www.folges.org

3. Volunteer Match: www.volunteermatch.org