The English Opens Doors Program is part of the Chilean Ministry of Education and supported by the United Nations Development Programme-Chile. As a government-run program, the contributions that volunteers make are part of a historic education reform occuring in the coutnry right now.
Ideal applicants are between 21 and 35 years old, and have their bachelor's degree or equivalent. Applicants should be native or near-native English speakers who are motivated by the opportunity to teach English in Chilean public schools.
Participants in the program receive invaluable professional experience teaching and leading extracurricular activities. Participants also have the opportunity to live with a host family, which are fantastic cultural and language opportunities for learning.
Gain experience teaching in a Chilean classroom, under the direction of a Chilean head teacher.
Have a Spanish immersion by living with a host family and a free online course.
Live and work in cities and towns in Chile where it would be impossible to simply move and find a job.
Get to know the reality of Chilean life, and are not trapped in a "Gringo bubble."
Collaborate with and experience working within a governmental and UNDP program.
I joined EODP based on another friend's experience in the program and it went so well the first semester, that I extended for a second semester. All in all, I taught in two different schools and cities within Chile and lived with two different host families. It was a very positive experience for me. Arguably, the best decision I've ever made as far as "life experiences" and "personal growth," are concerned.
The program is very well organized and they provide excellent training and prep. Chileans were mainly warm and friendly. As a female, you may encounter some "machismo" and it can depend on the city you live in but I experienced that throughout South America. It's not specific to Chile but just a forewarning. With that said, I would do it over again in a heartbeat. The connections you make with your students are the most rewarding aspect along with your host family. I'd highly recommend this program.
I lived in a town called Coquimbo for the duration of the 2014 school year... and looking back, it really could not have gone better. I worked with the best head teachers, amazing students, and had great support from my host family, fellow volunteers, and of course EODP. If you really want to immerse yourself, learn Spanish, and impact some kiddos in a super positive way, this is your program.
I was in a school called Colegio Gabriela Mistral. My head teachers, Karina and Magaly, were so supportive, both in their own ways. I had difficulty with lesson planning at first since I had no previous experience, but within a month or so, it became a breeze, and they both were so awesome about it. My students, specifically the students I worked with in debates and public speaking, became like my "children". I established these amazing relationships with these youth who are just finding out who they are and it's pretty spectacular to watch them grow, even now when I'm not in Chile. I think of them constantly and how much I had the pleasure of teaching them during my year. One of my debates students won a speaking (in English of course!) competition for a trip to NYC. It's exciting to see the impact that I believe I had on the students and that they had on me. I would give my left thumb to be teaching in that school again.
The living situation with the host family is also a great experience. While it also had its ups and downs, you really get the feel for Chilean culture, food, and Spanish. My host family was like my second family... they really love you like their own child and they will always hold a special place in my heart. Of course, a host family is the best way to learn Spanish. I can hold conversations now considering I didn't speak a word before. What's so awesome about EODP is the network of other volunteers as well as the program staff. Every staff member has been through the volunteer experience of teaching in the program, so they get it. Your fellow volunteers are your best friends… for developing lesson plans and for crying when the frustration of living in Chile gets to you.
Chile is my second home (I’ll be returning for a visit later this year). The students, teachers, volunteers, family members, and locals all etched a special place in my heart for this beautiful culture. Of course there are frustrating things and things that will make you wish you were back in your native country but it makes it all a part of the amazing experience. And honestly, what living abroad experience is all peaches and cream? If you want an all around rich experience, you can’t miss this program.
After eight years of working as an software developer and project manager for a large company I decided I wanted to pursue other passions. After researching several different work/volunteer abroad programs I found the English Opens Doors Program in Chile. This program seemed to combine my passion for teaching, traveling and hispanic culture while being located in a safe country with a rich culture and sites. Now that I have returned from my volunteer semester (~4 months) I can say without a doubt that volunteering with English Opens Doors was the right decision. I was placed in Cunco, Chile (a small town just outside of the regional capital Temuco) and taught English in a public school ranging from 5th to 12th grade. I arrived in late July of 2014 and would end up spending 4 months living in this community. I lived with a host family (husband and wife) along with their daughter who was also a teacher at my school. The family was great and included me in their daily activities and introduced me to all their neighbors. Since I did't really know that much Spanish when I arrived (knowing Spanish is NOT a requirement for this program) I was honestly very frustrated because just getting through a typical day was challenging. My family was very patient and helped me a lot with learning Spanish throughout my time in Cunco. My school was very welcoming as well and I had so much fun teaching English to my students. I could see a difference in my students speaking abilities in just a few weeks which was fun. Some of my high schoolers would come into my class and speak English with me as an alternative to hanging out with their friends between classes. I was very excited about that. After the program I traveled the south of Chile for a month and then returned home to the states to spend Christmas with my family. Overall I would say the best thing about my journey was the connection I made with my students, teachers, host family, and friends in Cunco. Of course I would also rank exploring Chile and learning Spanish at the top of that list but nothing is better than the friendships I made and the impact I left on the community. I would also say that the most challenging aspect of the trip was using Spanish to connect with my community outside of the classroom and at the beginning of my journey the cold climate. I basically just need to sleep with a hat and long-johns so that I didn't get too cold at night. I was so sad to leave in December during Chile's spring because the weather was incredible and every day I wasn't in the school I would spend with students or my friends hanging out in the town plaza. I am currently attending Spanish classes at a local college and plan on returning to Chile in January of 2016 so I can see my host family and friends again.
For two years, starting in the spring of 2013 and ending in winter of 2014, I participated in English Opens Doors in Chile, and I can safely say that it was a life changing experience that put me on the career path of where I am today. If you are a college graduate that is interested in living abroad, working with young people, and teaching English in a country where learning the language is highly valued, then this is the program for you.
With a bachelors degree and a TEFL certificate, it is not hard to find a job teaching English in a foreign country yet very few jobs will provide you with the amazing cultural experience that this program offers. Working with EDOP completely immerses volunteers within Chilean culture. You will be living with a Chilean family, making Chilean friends, working with Chilean teachers, and most importantly, you will be teaching Chilean students. If you are someone who is not interested in learning about other cultures and may not be flexible in adjusting to different lifestyles, then this program is not for you. If you are the type of person who is open to experiencing life abroad, learning new languages, and you have a flexible, outgoing personality, then English Opens Doors could be the best decision you will ever make.
One of the greatest things about this program is that no two people will have the same experience. The length and varying geography of Chile make it a very diverse country. I was lucky enough to experience life in a small town in the south of the country for my first year and then had a more urban experience during my second year living in Santiago. It should be mentioned, by the way, that I loved the first year with the program so much that I re-applied for another year. Both host families that I lived with could not have been more welcoming and many of my favorite experiences with them involved day-long barbeques or 'asados' during the warmer months.
The most rewarding part of the program, however, was working with the students. Your job as a native speaking volunteer is to get the students to practice speaking and listening. So while you're Chilean head teacher will be focusing his or her lessons on English grammar, you will be focusing more on speaking and listening activities. This gives you the freedom to plan entertaining lessons and try to get students to speak more on their interests. In other words, you make English relevant for them. Just your presence as a native English speaker in the school will have an impact on your students and your school community. You may even find yourself being treated like a celebrity in certain instances. This is not say, however, that you won't have challenges. Classroom management was certainly an issue for me and just as you may not have been interested in learning a foreign language when you were 12 or 13, not all of your students will be enthusiastic about learning English.
One of the best opportunities that this program offers is the chance to work week long English camps where the most motivated high school students sacrifice a week of their winter or summer break to spend in English immersion camps. These take place across the country and the idea is for students to improve their English through activities and competitions with several Chilean and native English volunteers. I cannot tell you how rewarding this experience was for me and how you will meet students that'll you'll never forget and how hard it will be to leave them after a just a week of getting to know them. I can say that these camps have provided me with my favorite memories of Chile (which may be why I ended up working 5 of them.)
All in all, if you choose to participate in this program, then it will really become what you make of it. If you go into to it for the right reasons, and with the right attitude and motivation, then you can leave the program as a whole new person and find a new home in a very special country. Just as importantly, its an opportunity to change the lives of young people, help them with their English, and give them the confidence to keep at it. If all this sounds good to you, the best advice I can give you, is to go for it.
I spent 4 months in Chile in 2013 and had an amazing time! I felt like I had tons of support during my induction week, I really found it helpful since I had never taught before and had lots of support from the other volunteers. It really put me at ease, since I suddenly realised when I arrived that I didn't know much Chilean, and I hadn't taught before! I had a great host family who really welcomed me in at made me feel like I was at home, I still speak to them now! Whilst I was with my host family, I really enjoyed learning about Chile's cultures and traditions, and really enjoyed getting to have brothers! I also bonded really well with the other volunteers in my town, we met up frequently and got ourselves immersed in the towns activities, such as zumba, and papas and pollo and also discussed teaching ideas. EODP really made my 4 months feel like it was worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to teach English in Chile.
I volunteered on the 8 month program with the EOD in 2013 and was placed in La Serena in an all girls, semi-private catholic school. Though it wasn't always easy, adapting to the culture and the language, I had a wonderful 8 months and stayed on in the country for a year and 4 months in total.
My host family (a single mother and 2 older sons) was a great fit, very welcoming and took me in as part of the family immediately. My host teacher was very happy to have another volunteer and went above and beyond to make sure I was happy and adjusting to life in Chile and I didn't experience any problems with teachers at my school.
The students (aged 13-16) were much kinder than I had expected teenage girls to be; even those who hated English, had problems at home and didn't want to learn never took it out on me as a teacher as I find English teenager can be more prone to do. You had to be creative in engaging the students in the lesson, as some really didn't want to learn, but this was all part of the challenge and was especially rewarding when you caught their attention.
I found that because of the great support from my school and host family I didn't need to ask for a great deal of help from the EOD. However, during orientation they did a great job of getting us prepared, helped us to sort out getting the carnet (chilean id card) and I knew they were there if I had any questions or problems. The few times I did need their advice or assistance they were very efficient in providing it. My regional rep María Cecilia was absolutely on it and very approachable too so I in no way felt alone or unsupported.
In regards to social life it really became the best experience a month or 2 in when I joined the university circus (the secretary's nephew trained there and she established the connection). There I made a lot of friends who shared the same passion for circus arts as me and invited me and the other volunteers to a lot of parties and events. Having Chilean friends was also responsible for accelerating my Spanish level from a few words and phrases to conversationally bilingual in the time I lived there.
Overall I would say that this is a fantastic opportunity for people who have an open mind, want to get to know another country and culture very well and are looking for a challenge. This is an unpaid volunteer opportunity, not a job, so the important thing is that you are engaging with the students and doing your best to get them motivated and interested in learning English. Aside from school there is plenty of time over long weekends and all the national holidays to explore Chile and have fun. The best attitude you can take with you to Chile is 'just go with it' as plans and structure are not its strong points but there are a lot of awesome surprises that come out of that. Don't take yourself too seriously and enjoy the amazing things that Chile has to offer.