Volunteer TeachingThere are many reasons to begin a career teaching english as a second or foreign language. As with any job, many individuals go into the field for the purpose of sustaining a lifestyle or securing a paycheck. However, over the past years a new trend has been emerging and growing worldwide: the practice of volunteer teaching.
While it may seem absurd to spend time and effort teaching for free, there are a variety of reasons people choose try the non-profitable route. One of the most common reasons is experience. As it can be tricky to find a well-paying tefl job
without previous teaching experience, volunteer stints allow new teachers to gain applicable work experience to improve their resumes (Boyer, 2012).
Others are interested in making a difference through volunteering. Projects like “Friendship Africa” offer volunteer placements in schools
for HIV positive children
. Teachers are encouraged not only to teach english but to act as mentors and role models for their students (Friendship Africa, 2012). They may focus lessons around positive social world issues and educate their students about global events.
Governments are beginning to reach out worldwide to call for international teachers to integrate their local schools. While many programs ask for volunteers to pay to participate in their programs, others offer hefty benefits and bonuses to teachers willing to devote their efforts. “Reach to Teach,” a global ESL society is currently recruiting teachers in Georgia with the offer of paying for their round-trip flight, living accommodations, vacations, intercultural training, medical insurance and the payment of a monthly stipend (Reach to Teach, 2012). A spokesperson from Teach and Learn Georgia, another company that recruits english teachers for Georgia spoke out about the success of ESL programs, stating “As a post-Soviet country, Georgia is at a turning point in its history. For centuries, while other countries and cultures were globalizing, Georgia’s borders were closed to the outside world. Now, as a sovereign state, Georgia has the opportunity to integrate with the rest of the world—linguistically and culturally… Bringing english speakers into classrooms increases english language proficiency throughout the country, which is essential to Georgia’s ability to assimilate into the modern world.” (Boyer, 2012).
A final perk of volunteering abroad involves the opportunity for international travel. Companies such as “Go Eco” offer “Volunteer Vacations” where a foreign EFL teacher volunteers in an african
school in exchange for cultural immersion, adventure activities and complementary surf lessons (Go Eco, 2012)! Young travelers may latch onto volunteer projects as a means of subsidizing living and exploring costs
while traveling abroad.
While paid teaching placements are a definite perk of acquiring a TEFL certificate, volunteer teaching certainly poses advantages worldwide. Young enthusiasts looking to travel internationally, immerse themselves in meaningful service projects and get a feel for a foreign lifestyle may choose volunteer placements as a means of getting involved with a global community of teachers and learners. Benefits and travel opportunities are making international teaching placements more accessible for almost anyone. Not only will teachers finish the opportunity with a significant experience to add to their resume, they will most likely have crossed international barriers and provided themselves with rich life experience in the meantime!
Boyer, Katie. "Government Teaching Programs Abroad." Go Overseas. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.
"Friendship Africa." Go Abroad. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.
"Volunteer in South Africa." Go Eco. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.
“Volunteer to Teach english in Georgia." Reach to Teach. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.