Volunteering to teach English overseas is big business and there are lots of organizations involved in placing teachers around the world. And lots of organizations are getting rich doing this.
However, there are also lots of problems. If you’re thinking of volunteering to teach overseas then you need to make sure you go with a reliable and worthwhile Volunteer Organization.
This page looks at the only organizations which we can recommend for this type of adventure.
Note that you should not pay to volunteer to teach overseas. Some gap-year and other volunteer organizations have been heavily criticized for poor planning and offering their volunteers inadequate training and resources. This often only comes to light when there is an emergency or other problem so before taking any volunteer position you should thoroughly investigate the organization providing the service to make sure they are professionally organized and have the experience and backing to be able to help you adequately in the case of an emergency.
The following organizations are the only ones we recommend which send teachers overseas to teach in developing countries.
- The Peace Corps (USA)
- 27 months service
- basic living allowance
- all ages over 18 (average age 27) can apply
- US citizens only
- Central & South America, Africa, Asia
With the Peace Corps you won’t necessarily know where you are going till the last moment and even what you will be doing even though you may have put down your preferences.
- VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas (UK)
- usually 1 – 2 years service
- 18 – 75 age group (average age 38)
- basic living allowance
- volunteers of all nationalities can apply but must be resident of EU, USA/Canada and a few other countries
- English teachers need a degree, PGCE or TEFL Certificate and 2 years’ experience
- mainly Africa and Asia
There are issues with many volunteer organizations, not the least of which is training. The Peace Corps, for example, assumes that if you can speak English then you can teach it which is patently absurd (along the lines of, I can drive a car so I will open a garage).
Often you will be better off if you have trained as a teacher and have some kind of background here. A TEFL Course at minimum is required.
Volunteering to Teach English Abroad – a look at the volunteer system for TEFL; what (and who) you should avoid to keep out of trouble
Essential Qualifications to Teach English – a look at what you need to teach English