For aspiring educators from the world over, deciding to volunteer abroad in English teaching can be the humble beginnings of something great. Even if you do not aspire toward a career in the education the experience will be a tremendously rewarding one; it is the unique opportunity to interact across cultures through a fun medium, while knowing you are providing your students with an invaluable toolset for future success.
Why Volunteer Abroad
As we push forward into the 21st century, learning English as a second language is an undeniably essential skill for anyone trying to succeed in the context of an increasingly globalized world. Yet in many countries the language goes perennially undeveloped because of a lack of access to valuable educational resources among large sectors of the population. Volunteering abroad in English teaching is just one great way to help level the playing field for those less privileged citizens who are looking to improve their economic outlook.
You can volunteer abroad in English teaching pretty much anywhere in the world, as there will be a demographic amidst almost every population that is eager to learn the second language. However within this scope, volunteers are typically in much greater demand in the developing world where there are not adequate resources to pay teachers for their services.
In Southeast Asia for example, you might choose to volunteer in English teaching in countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, or Thailand. All of these nations have rising economic prospects, but large portions of the population continue to go underserved and undereducated. Learning English can be a huge boost to the job prospects for local citizens.
Likewise in Central America, countries such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Guatemala struggle with similar obstacles to development. Volunteering to teach English in any of these nations could further double as a great opportunity to improve your Spanish comprehension while living abroad as well.
Sub-Saharan Africa is another developing region of the world where many choose to volunteer in English teaching. Countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda are all examples of destinations in this region where you can experience a drastically different culture and way of life while positively impacting the lives of locals.
Projects & Placements
You can find volunteer opportunities to teach English as a second language that are either paid or unpaid in most countries. The major difference is that with unpaid volunteer positions, you are almost always working with a demographic of the population that would otherwise completely lack access to such a valuable resource as you would be providing. Thus volunteering abroad, while less financially fruitful, can leave behind an extremely positive impact.
It is possible to find volunteer placements in English teaching to all different types and levels of learners, from children at orphanages to adult learners who are refugees. Because you generally do not have to be TEFL certified to become an English teaching volunteer abroad, you will almost always be working with a classroom aide or assistant who is familiar in the local language (don’t worry, volunteers still undergo training to prepare them with the adequate skills and lesson plans to succeed).
You can choose to volunteer abroad in teaching English for as long as you like; some educators volunteer for just a few weeks while others stay for up to several months or a whole year. While you will not be paid for your services as a volunteer English teacher abroad, many organizations will help compensate you by other means such as providing housing and meals while you live abroad.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteer Impact. By opting to volunteer abroad in English teaching instead of seeking out a paid position, you will be providing an essential service to underprivileged sectors of the population that might otherwise be overlooked.
Learn Teaching. You will be helping provide locals with an extremely valuable skill-set by teaching them English, and you will be amazed at how much you learn from them in return about language, culture, and life at large.
Global Outlook. Volunteering to teach English abroad is your ticket to live for an extended period of time anywhere in the world that most intrigues you, while further dedicating your time to a worth cause. Where on our planet will you choose?