5 good reasons to volunteer to teach abroad

You may have heard of the eco-tourist who leaves only footprints in the sand, but there is a new breed of tourist who looks to make much more of an impression on the places they visit.

A voluntourist is someone who travels around the world by undertaking voluntary work that benefits the communities or places that they visit. It’s a growing phenomenon, and one of the most popular projects for the voluntourist is teaching.

Here are five reasons people choose to volunteer to teach abroad.

1. It’s open to everyone, everywhere

You don’t have to be a teacher to volunteer to teach. Most voluntary organisations simply require someone who has a good standard of English and a willingness to learn on their feet. There is no need to have a TEFL or TESOL qualification to gain work and life experience as a teacher and you don’t even need to speak the local language where you are going.

It’s an option that is open to all volunteers whether they are on a gap year, at university, retired or on a career break. Organisations like Projects Abroad UK offer teaching in more than 30 destinations around the globe and provide detailed additional information on what is available in each destination.

2. Get under the skin of the country you travel to

The volunteer teacher will live with a local family, work with local teachers and children and eat where they eat. They will make friends with locals and have lasting contact with them, rather than just passing through like tourists.

There can be no better way to really understand and appreciate a culture and a location than to volunteer to teach there. You get closer, get deeper and get real when you get involved. You get under the skin where most tourists, at best, get lost.

3. Sharpen your skills in exotic locales

You don’t need to be thinking of entering education as a career to volunteer to teach overseas but, if you are, it’s a great way to prove your dedication, hone your skills and make your CV stand out from the pile.

Teaching offers plenty of transferrable skills for others looking to combine helping others with having a break and boosting their own vocational skills. You will learn to think on your feet, develop presentation skills and gain confidence. You will also feel the warm rewarding glow of having a sea of smiling faces beaming at you when it all goes well.

4. Give and take

Many volunteer teachers are motivated by a sense of wanting to give to the community that they work with. Maybe they have been touched on a previous visit or maybe they have read of a community’s plight. However, most volunteer stories relate that they feel they actually take home much more than they could ever give.

Whether this is new skills, new friends, a sense of worth, an understanding of a culture or simply the buzz of achievement, teaching abroad lets you take home much more than cheap souvenirs and out-of-focus holiday snaps.

5. Teach to learn

In a similar spirit of give and take, many volunteer teachers actually do so to learn the language of the place they teach in ─ it’s not as crazy as it sounds. As a volunteer, you are immersed in the local culture and there is no better way to learn a language than to be surrounded by it night and day.

Many teachers organise exchanges where they offer extra conversational English in exchange for, say, the chance to practice their Portuguese. Todo mundo é um vencedor! (Everyone’s a winner!).

Recommended Articles