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Become a Volunteer English Teacher Abroad

As you may have read in JobMonkey's Asia teaching jobs and English teaching jobs in Eastern Europe sections, this path can be lucrative if you find a wealthy student, school or placement agency to find paid work. There is also still demand for volunteers to teach English to small children where it is helpful to have a TEFL or similar certification but not required.

In fact, programs like WorldTeach don't even require prior experience, and provide all the training. Even if you are not volunteering specifically as a teacher or teacher's assistant, in any situation where you are working with children, or young adults, you may find yourself becoming an impromptu tutor.

Working knowledge of English is a hot commodity in most (if not all) developing countries and most people see a native English speaker as just the person to help them learn this valuable skill.

For a teaching volunteer, countries like Nepal offer the opportunity to become a full-time teacher of many subjects. The country has very few educational resources, and many teachers are not qualified to teach their subjects and don't receive adequate support. There are openings for teachers at all levels, including placements for English teachers in Buddhist monasteries.

Types of Volunteer Teaching Jobs

There are many different types of volunteer teaching jobs, and some jobs that are tagged as “volunteer” might even have stipends or some sort of payment associated with them. This is especially true when teaching adults in a business setting. The following are the most popular types of volunteer abroad teaching jobs:

Community Schools

Elementary (grammar, primary...there are many different names for schools for young children around the world!) schools around the world do an excellent job of emphasizing learning a second language at a young age - and very often that language is English. Working with young children as a volunteer English teacher can be incredibly fun and rewarding, as you create lesson plans dealing with the basics of the English language.

Not all volunteer teaching opportunities involve teaching English. Some schools are simply under-resourced, and they bring in international volunteer teachers to assist with classroom management, cover lunch breaks, and maybe even teach a lesson or two! In the case of assistant teaching, little classroom experience is actually required. But a desire to work with children is obviously a pre-requisite.

After School Programs

Sometimes a volunteer teaching job takes on a more informal meaning. There are a great number of organizations devoted to taking care of children's needs outside of the classroom through after-school programs at community centers, churches and other local agencies with the space and desire to give kids a place to hang out!

Volunteer teaching at after school program tends to focus on after-school helping (checking math homework and helping with computer use), but can also include things like art programs, sports clubs, and other recreational activities.

Adult Learners

Many community-based organizations in developing countries try to offer English language classes for community members, often in an attempt to build skills that can help them start businesses or obtain employment in an increasingly global marketplace. These classes will vary greatly in size, anywhere from 2 to 20 people might be interested in learning from a native (or fluent) English speaker, especially if it is offered as a free service to the community. In these cases, a little bit of teaching experience can go along way, since you'll never be sure of the exact skill level of every participant in the class, you should be comfortable switching up techniques to best meet the needs of your students. Some organizations might be more organized, and have already developed a system to reach people with classes at various levels. These organizations will typically hire to fill a particular teaching position, or will look for someone with broad teaching experience and comfort level.

Finding Volunteer Teaching Jobs Abroad

There are quite a few great resources for finding volunteer teaching jobs abroad.

  • TeachAbroad is an off-shoot of GoAbroad, and lists both volunteer and paid teach abroad jobs around the world. Like the rest of the GoAbroad, opportunities are searchable by country.
  • WorldTeach is one of the premier teach abroad organizations, and volunteers are placed in schools (anywhere from young children to college students), primarily to Teach English. Volunteers receive a stipend, and have access to WorldTeach staff support in country.
  • Peace Corps comes up in most discussions about volunteer abroad, but many of the placements are actually teaching-specific. English teachers are called upon at all grade levels through the Peace Corps, and the organization believes that English-language learning is an essential part of mutual cultural understanding.

Did you know? 89% of respondents to a Teachers International Consultancy study said that they felt that teach abroad experience helped them in their career.

Quick Summary:

  • Volunteer teachers abroad work with students from 5 years old to 100 years old.
  • The Peace Corps places hundreds of volunteer teachers overseas each year.
  • Many volunteer teaching jobs abroad are also listed under paid jobs on jobs sites.
  • After-school programs are a great combination of teaching and community and youth development volunteer opportunities.

For more information about other volunteer overseas jobs in developing communities, please keep reading about community development jobs abroad.