Where are the best places to teach English as a volunteer?

Teaching English in a voluntary role is a very popular choice with TESOL course graduates. There are a wide variety of different options available, located across many countries worldwide. Below we take a closer look at some of the main questions you might have about volunteer teaching, in order to help you decide where the best places to teach English as a volunteer might be.

Why should you teach English as a volunteer?

There are plenty of great reasons to volunteer as an ESL teacher and everyone who does it has their own motivations. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • To learn more about an individual country: The best way to discover more about a country and its people is to actually spend time there.
  • To explore the culture: Once again, if you want to understand a culture you need to be immersed in it for a length of time.
  • To try out teaching: A stint as a volunteer teacher is an excellent way to find out whether teaching is for you.
  • No long-term contract: You get to enjoy all the benefits of teaching overseas without having to sign up to a long-term deal.
  • To experience living with a host family: Volunteer positions often include the opportunity to live with a local family within the immediate community.
  • To bump up your CV/resume: The experience gained from volunteering will greatly enhance your portfolio and demonstrate to future employers that you are happy to step outside your comfort zone.
  • To provide a valuable service: Volunteer teaching will help other people immensely and help you to grow as a person.
  • To learn a new language: Many teachers take the opportunity to learn the language of the host country they are volunteering in.

Where can you volunteer?

The bottom line is that volunteer teaching programs are available on almost every continent and within dozens of individual countries. As there are too many different options to mention, the best advice is to do an online search of the countries that interest you to see what options are currently on offer.

What do we mean by….best?

When it comes to picking the best destination for volunteer teaching there is obviously no clear answer as it very much depends on the personal preferences of each individual teacher. The first thing you need to do is decide what exactly you want to get out of the experience and then find the programs that are most likely to make that happen. If you are looking to brush up on your Arabic, for example, then look for a country where that is possible. However, just bear in mind that if the program requires you to teach for 50 hours a week, you are unlikely to have the time or energy to do much else.

Are you willing to put up with discomfort?

Volunteering in any form typically takes place in regions of the world where schools cannot afford to pay teachers a salary and are therefore looking to bring in unpaid workers. As a consequence, many of the countries that you might end up living and working in will lack the infrastructure and facilities that you are probably used to back home. Before you make any firm plans it is a good idea to do plenty of research in order to avoid being overwhelmed by things when you arrive at your chosen destination.

Volunteering variations

Free volunteering

Across the world there are several well known programs that offer volunteer positions without having to pay a fee. The most popular of these include:

1. VSO

Take a look at the VSO website


Take a look at the WWOOF website

3. Peace Corps

Take a look at the Peace Corps website

Affordable volunteer program (starting from $180)

International Volunteer HQ

Take a look at the International Volunteer HQ website

Volunteer program with pay

UN volunteers

UN Volunteers can receive a monthly Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA)

Take a look at the UN Volunteers website

Paid volunteer programs

The truth is that there are more volunteer programs that require you to pay a fee than there are free options. There are far too many programs around the world to list here, so we recommend you use all the information already provided and conduct your own research to find out about the schemes that interest you. When paying for a place on a program it is vital that you are fully aware of what to expect once you arrive on site.

It is also worth checking out organizations such as the International Forum for Volunteering in Development as they can provide plenty of useful information and insight into various programs around the world.

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