Volunteering and teaching abroad is a particularly rewarding way to travel. You get to expand the minds of the next generation and give them important knowledge to improve their outlook for the future, all while being immersed in a new country and culture.
At International Volunteer HQ, volunteer teachers make up a large proportion of the 18,000+ volunteers we help travel abroad each year. We have volunteer teaching programs available in more than 50 destinations, which means there’s a wide range of opportunities. However, with so many options, it can be hard to figure out exactly which one suits you best.
This is your guide to figuring which of IVHQ’s volunteer teaching programs abroad is best for you. Whether you’re interested in teaching English abroad, want to teach high school students, or even if you want to be volunteering by the beach, this guide will help you find the opportunity that’s best for you. We’ll go through some of the specific aspects that our teaching volunteer programs share so you can find one that’s based somewhere you want to travel to, AND has the kind of teaching volunteer work that suits you.
To get started, think about the following questions and consider what is ideal for you. A simple table at the end of this article will summarize all the important information about each project so you can compare the ones you like. If you still need more help in finding the right project, we’ve also listed a bunch of other factors, such as projects working specifically with women, or ones based rurally, in a city, near a beach or major tourist attraction. The opportunities are endless, and we’re here to help find the one that’s perfect for you!
- Are you comfortable teaching abroad by yourself?
- What age students do you want to teach abroad?
- Do you want to teach English abroad?
- If not English, do you want to teach something else?
- Your guide to comparing teaching programs
- Teaching women abroad
- Urban, rural, beachside and programs near major attractions
Are you comfortable teaching abroad by yourself?
The first factor to think about is if you are you happy to teach a classroom by yourself. Teaching abroad can be similar to teaching in your home country, although language barriers can be a hindrance in destinations where English is not the first language of your students. Trained teachers should not be put off if they don’t speak the local language, as teaching skills are applicable all over the world. Students will generally have a strong enough grasp of the English language to enable volunteer teachers to communicate with them.
Many IVHQ programs give volunteer teachers abroad the opportunity to teach in classrooms with the assistance of a local teacher. This can involve time taking classes alone, but in these instances the local teacher will be supervising and can assist if required.
Other programs give volunteer teachers more control over the class. Trained teachers who are volunteering abroad are well suited to these kinds of projects, which require a higher level of independent teaching. This may involve having some supervision earlier on to help you settle into your teaching work abroad, or it may involve getting straight into things on your own.
Beyond that, some teaching programs involve volunteers teaming up to teach in pairs. This means volunteers can split the responsibility for being the head teacher, plan classes together and share the workload between two. Volunteer teaching pairs can also be supervised by a local teacher on some programs.
Many volunteer teaching programs will let your experience and level of comfort dictate the supervision you receive. The end goal is helping to make the biggest impact in supporting the long-term goals of the schools and classrooms abroad with the resources available.
What age students do you want to teach abroad?
IVHQ’s teaching abroad programs involve students of all ages, from preschoolers to adults. For many, this may not be an influencing factor in figuring out where you should teach abroad, but if you have experience teaching children of a certain age, your expertise in that age group will be useful.
For lesser experienced teaching volunteers, younger students will bring an infectious energy to the classroom, and approach their learning with fewer inhibitions compared to older students or adults. Classes will tend to be more introductory and basic, and require plenty of creativity. The thrill of making good progress with enthusiastic learners is a particularly rewarding part of teaching younger students.
When teaching abroad with older students, classes will generally involve teaching the English language. Students will tend to bring a more mature approach to the classroom and be more driven to learn, especially when they are taking English classes voluntarily. Teaching English volunteers may find older students easier to relate to, and you’ll be able to introduce English phrases for more mature topics. It may also be that students are more advanced, so teaching English volunteers can find communication easier.
If you have a preferred age of student, feel free to say so in your application form when you apply to volunteer abroad with IVHQ. However, don’t consider this a guarantee that you will be matched with your first choice. Volunteer placements are allocated based on where the need is greatest at the time, and while we match volunteer desires as best we can, it may not always be possible.
If you’d prefer to teach preschool children abroad, that’s also possible. Check out IVHQ’s Childcare programs to find one that’s right for you.
Do you want to teach English abroad?
In a more connected world, the ability to communicate with each other is an ever more important skill. English is a commonly spoken language that can cross cultures and borders, and help those from different backgrounds to communicate with each other.
Of all the subjects volunteers can teach abroad, English is the most popular. It’s easy to underestimate just how much expertise a native English speaker has in the language, and how much knowledge they can impart as a result. It is perhaps for this reason that the English language is often the subject volunteers feel the most confident in teaching.
Being a volunteer English teacher abroad is an important role, as English language skills are particularly advantageous for people of all ages. Being able to speak English gives young people a better ability to travel and work in global industries such as tourism and hospitality. These industries are large employers in a number of countries where IVHQ volunteers can be based.
The impact you can make when you volunteer to teach English abroad can be much more significant if you come prepared. Qualified teachers are invaluable, but so too are lesser qualified teachers that have the right approach and attitude. When preparing to teach English abroad, we recommend volunteers complete a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course to best prepare you for what you’re about to experience. It’ll help to make you the best volunteer teacher you can be, and, in turn, your students will receive a better education as a result. IVHQ offers a discounted, 100-hour online TEFL course to all volunteers wanting to upskill before they head abroad. It can be completed at home, at your own pace.
Volunteers can teach English abroad to students of all ages, from very young and inexperienced English speakers to older students and those who are nearly fluent. Many IVHQ volunteer teaching opportunities are solely for English teachers abroad, while others will be heavily based around teaching English, and include some other lessons.
If not English, do you want to teach something else?
Aside from teaching English abroad, IVHQ offers teaching programs that focus on teaching a range of subjects. However, volunteer teachers abroad should expect at least some involvement with teaching English, even if it’s informally.
Many volunteer teaching roles with IVHQ involve general teaching, which can include a range of subjects, such as math, science, music, art, sports and more. Others can be focused on very specific subjects, such as computer literacy.
For volunteer teachers abroad wanting to take lessons in a particular subject, it’s important to note that those lessons may only take up part of your day. It’s likely that, along with teaching your specialist subject, you will also have the opportunity to teach other areas. This is to help maximise your impact while teaching abroad.
IVHQ also provides teaching projects in niche areas. Prior expertise will be helpful, though not always necessary, for these.
Finding your perfect teaching abroad opportunity
Taking into account your preferences, read through the table below to find the right mix of factors for you.
|Argentina - Buenos Aires||Teaching/Education||Lead teacher, supervised||All ages||Mostly English*|
|Argentina - Cordoba||Teaching/Education||Lead teacher, supervised||3-10||General**|
|Brazil||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All ages||English|
|Colombia - Bogotá||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All ages||English|
|Colombia - Cartagena||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||8-80||English|
|Costa Rica||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All ages||English|
|Costa Rica||Teaching English - Manuel Antonio||Assistant teacher||All ages||English|
|Ecuador - Quito||Teaching English||Assistant teacher||3-12||English|
|Ecuador - Quito||School Support||Tutor||6-14||General|
|Ecuador - Quito||Music||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||3-12||Music|
|Ecuador - Santa Elena||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All ages||English|
|Ecuador - Santa Elena||School Break||Assistant||5-18||General|
|Guatemala||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All ages||English|
|Jamaica||Teaching and School Support||Lead teacher or assistant||6-12||General|
|Mexico||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||6-12||English|
|Peru - Cusco||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All ages||English|
|Peru - Lima||Teaching English||Lead teacher||All ages||English|
|Bali - Lovina||Teaching||Lead or paired teacher||6-12||General**|
|Bali - Ubud||Teaching||Lead teacher or supervised pair||8-12||English, Health, Environment|
|Cambodia||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||5-16||English, IT, Math, Art|
|China||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||4-10||English|
|China||Summer Outreach Teaching||Assistant teacher||10-18||English|
|India - Delhi||Slum Teaching||Lead teacher||5-11||English|
|India - Delhi||Teaching English||Assisted teacher||5-11||English|
|India - Kerala||Teaching||Lead teacher, in pairs or supervised||6-12||Mostly English*|
|Laos||Teaching English||Teaching assistant||6-12||English|
|Nepal||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||4-18||Mostly English|
|Sri Lanka||Teaching||Supervised teacher||All ages||Mostly English*|
|Thailand||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||All Ages||English|
|Thailand - Hua Hin||Hill Tribe Support||Lead teacher or assistant||3-15||Mostly English*|
|Thailand - Hua Hin||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||3-18||English|
|Vietnam||Teaching English||Lead teacher or assistant||18-25||English|
|Croatia||Teaching||Lead teacher||All ages||English, other languages|
|Italy - Naples||Teaching English||Lead teacher or in pairs, supervised||6-18||English|
|Spain||Teaching||Assistant teacher||All ages||Mostly English*|
|Ghana||Teaching||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||6-16||Mostly English*|
|Ghana||Sports Teaching||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||6-16||Sport, PE|
|Kenya||Teaching||Lead teacher, supervised||4-15||General|
|Kenya||Teaching - Mombasa||Lead teacher or assistant||4-15||General|
|Kenya||Teaching - Maasai||Assistant teacher||4-15||General|
|Madagascar||Teaching||Assistant teacher||All ages||English|
|Morocco||Teaching English||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||All ages||English|
|Morocco||Teaching French||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||All ages||French|
|Morocco - Marrakech||Teaching English||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||All ages||English|
|Morocco - Marrakech||Teaching French||Lead teacher or with another volunteer||All ages||French|
|South Africa||Teaching||Assistant teacher||5-11||IT, Math, English and Life Skills|
|South Africa||Teaching||Assistant teacher||5-12||Mostly English*|
|Tanzania||Teaching||Lead teacher or assistant||3-25||General**|
|Uganda||Teaching||Lead teacher or assistant||3-20||General**|
|Zambia||Teaching||Lead teacher, assistant or with another volunteer||6-12||Mostly English*|
|Zambia||Rural Teaching||Lead teacher or assistant||4-18||General**|
|Fiji||Teaching and Sports Education||Lead teacher or assistant||6-16||General|
*Mostly English. As the name suggests, your main role will be teaching English, but you may also help with other subjects including math, science, geography, art, music, sport and more.
**General. Volunteers help with a range of different subjects as per a conventional school day.
Think you’ve found the right teaching volunteer program? Great! You can apply for your program and get your volunteer teaching journey underway right now!
Still not sure? That’s ok, maybe there are some other influences to help you find the right program for you.
Teaching women abroad
IVHQ also has a selection of volunteer teaching programs that involve teaching women only. These volunteer programs are focused on women’s empowerment: helping women to become self-sufficient by taking part in programs encouraging positive change.
These teaching abroad projects often involve working with women who have struggled with social equality issues, and aim to give them greater independence and business opportunities so they can thrive. Volunteer teachers on these programs may help with entrepreneurial aspects of the womens’ lives, doing things like helping them to make arts and crafts to sell. Projects work with both adult women and girls and aim to help educate and empower them towards a brighter future.
These kinds of teaching programs abroad are well suited to volunteers with an affinity for social equality and women’s rights. The following programs have a focus on teaching women abroad:
The setting of your volunteer teaching abroad project may be important to you. IVHQ has top-rated teaching abroad programs in six continents all over the world. In fact, just about all of IVHQ’s 50+ program destinations have at least one teaching abroad project. Some have many.
If you’re not too bothered about what kind of teaching you do, who you volunteer with or any of the other factors listed already, the best option for you might be to go to IVHQ’s volunteer abroad programs page and just find a destination that appeals to you - chances are it’ll have a teaching volunteer project. If it doesn’t, there will be a country nearby that does, and you can visit them both while you’re away!
However, asking you to find somewhere you want to go as a volunteer teacher is quite broad. It might help to look for specific factors - for example, do you want to volunteer near a beach? In the city? Near a world famous landmark? Here are a few locations to think about:
Teaching abroad programs in a big city:
Argentina - Buenos Aires - Teaching English
Brazil - Teaching English
China - Teaching English
India - Delhi - Slum Teaching
India - Delhi - Teaching English
Kenya - Teaching
Peru - Lima - Teaching English
South Africa - Teaching
Spain - Teaching
Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh - Teaching English
Rural teaching abroad programs:
Bali - Ubud - Teaching
Costa Rica - Teaching English - Manuel Antonio
Kenya - Teaching - Maasai
Kenya - Teaching - Mombasa
Madagascar - Teaching
Nepal - Teaching English
Peru - Cusco - Teaching English
Romania - Teaching
Zambia - Rural Teaching
Teaching abroad programs near a beach:
Bali - Lovina - Teaching
Brazil - Teaching English
Croatia - Teaching
Ecuador - Santa Elena - Teaching English
Fiji - Teaching and Sports Education
Greece - School Support
Jamaica - Teaching and School Support
Mexico - Teaching English
Philippines - Teaching
South Africa - Computer Training
South Africa - Teaching
Thailand - Hua Hin - Teaching English
Madagascar - Teaching
Teaching abroad programs near a major tourist attraction:
Brazil - Teaching English - Copacabana beach, Christ the Redeemer monument
China - Teaching English / Summer Outreach Teaching - The Great Wall of China
India - Delhi - Slum Teaching / Teaching English - The Taj Mahal
Italy - Naples - Teaching English - The Colosseum, Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel
Mexico - Teaching English - Chichen Itza
Nepal - Teaching English - the Himalayas
Peru - Cusco - Teaching English - Machu Picchu
Spain - Teaching - La Sagrada Familia
Volunteer teaching abroad couldn’t be easier with IVHQ, and with so many options, you can hardly go wrong.
If you think you’d like to teach English abroad still need a bit more help finding the right volunteer teaching English abroad project for you, why not take our quiz? You can also read more from one IVHQ volunteer about what it’s like to be a volunteer teacher abroad.
Teaching abroad truly is a rewarding and impactful way to volunteer. Empower the next generation, give the gift of education and see the world all at the same time. Your teaching abroad adventure can start right now if you want it to!