How To Find Volunteer TEFL Jobs

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If you are a newly-qualified TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) teacher, it can sometimes be difficult to find a job. Usually employers want someone with experience. But how can you get experience if no one is willing to give you a job? Finding volunteer TEFL jobs is a great way to get around this Catch-22.

Volunteer agencies understand that you are volunteering and so often do not require experience and, in fact, often offer on-the-job training. At the same time, volunteering opportunities are usually in communities where there is a need for English teachers but also a shortage. This may be because the school is in a remote area or the students cannot afford to pay for the lessons, so the positions are not as attractive to experienced TEFL teachers who are looking to make a living, or live in a thriving metropolis.

But they’re great if you’re looking to gain some valuable experience as you’ll be given lots of responsibility. Even better, research has shown that volunteering makes us happy!

TEFL teachers with their students in a volunteer teaching job

What is a TEFL Volunteer?

A TEFL volunteer is a TEFL teacher who works in a volunteer TEFL job.

In other words, they teach English language learners, but their positions are unpaid. Most of the time, TEFL volunteers are given a stipend to cover living costs, or they are provided with board and lodging.

So while TEFL volunteers are not paid for their work, their living costs should be covered while they are volunteer teaching.

How can I become a TEFL volunteer?

The question is, then, how do you find out about these volunteer TEFL jobs?

The first place to look is in your community. No matter where you live there are bound to be volunteer teaching opportunities near you, but you just need to find ones related to teaching. Perhaps in your community there is a large number of immigrants or refugees who come from non-English-speaking countries and need to learn English to improve their circumstances in the country. Try find a centre that gives help and advice and find out if they offer language lessons. Chances are they will be free to the students and so they will need volunteer teachers. Adult education centres are usually a good place to look as well, as they could be in a similar situation.

Read more: Teaching English To Refugees

A classroom in a volunteer TEFL job.

Local universities may enrol a number of foreign students and you could offer your services as a private tutor to these students. If you make it clear that you need to gain experience and so you are able to offer free lessons or lessons for a very low rate, most students will be more than happy to take you up on the offer.

Even though it may not be a classroom teaching situation, it will still be practical teaching experience. If possible, you could even offer free lessons to a group of students in a public place like the local library (always a good place to find students), in order to gain group teaching experience.

Volunteer TEFL jobs abroad

If you wish to go further afield, you will find volunteer teaching opportunities are advertised through the same channels as paying jobs. Many agencies or organisations that need volunteers will put adverts on the regular job sites in the hopes of finding teachers.

If you can’t find a job through those, there are loads of agencies that will place you in a position. This is definitely the easiest route because you simply specify what you are looking for and the agency will do all the work involved in getting you there, but it comes at a price.

People find it odd to be paying to volunteer but you are usually paying for flights, accommodation and possibly even a living allowance. Essentially, too, you are paying for the agency to organise the whole experience for you.

Having a volunteer TEFL job is a great opportunity to get some valuable experience and give back to a community as well. Even though it may be difficult to spend time working for no salary, we think you’ll find it worth your while in other ways.

The TEFL Academy gradaute volunteer story

Andy is from the Lake District in England. For his first teaching position he signed up for a volunteer TEFL job in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is what he had to say about his experience:

The school was like no school I had ever seen. The playground was made from orange/red dusty sand. The school was simple but had certain beauty at the same time. It had no walls, more like a nicely engineered wooden shed with a whiteboard at the front and no walls.  Next to the school was a pagoda where the local monks lived and a tall ancient temple. He asked me if I wanted to see where I would be living? We took about a 5-minute walk, through a couple of rice fields along a dirt track until we reached what was the village.

I wasn’t sure what to expect about teaching Cambodian children but my classes ranged through 4 classes from age 8 to age 18. We would begin class at 8am and finish teaching at 6pm with a 3-hour siesta/lunch break in the middle of the day.

The children were adorable and so hilarious. They would laugh at everything I did, even if it wasn’t supposed to be funny. The older students would ask to take selfies with me, probably to show their mates what a cool teacher they have (I hope!)

I found the Cambodian life fairly easy to withstand. I’ll admit sometimes it can be hard to ensure eating noodles for breakfast followed by rice for lunch and rice for dinner every day, but at the end of the day, that is the way it goes. Overall the food which was cooked by the wife of the family I was living with, was delicious. Apart from the time I found a chicken’s foot in my soup but again, that’s the way it goes.

I feel that volunteering in a developing country like Cambodia, will not only be much needed help for these sorts of countries but also the perfect, no-pressure environment to practice your new teaching skills. Win/Win basically.

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Andy and his students at his volunteer TEFL job in Cambodia

Interested in changing your life (and others’ too) and signing up for a volunteer TEFL job? Head to the website to find out more information about the volunteer TEFL jobs we have on offer.

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