TEFL and Volunteering

There are many options available to you once you become TEFL qualified – you could teach adults or children in language schools, teach English online, tutor, work in summer camps, and more! Not all of our graduates have had the goal of finding paid work, however, and some have gained their qualification with the aim to improve the lives of others through voluntary work.

Volunteering can be a fantastic – and very rewarding! – way to gain experience and confidence as an EFL teacher. If you don’t have a degree it can offer an opportunity to teach in a country where you don’t meet the requirements for a work visa. It’s also ideal if you’re looking to gain teaching experience at a young age when it can be tough to find paid work as an English teacher.

If you’ve just gained your TEFL qualification you might feel that it would be beneficial to get some practical experience under your belt before applying for full-time positions. You could volunteer locally or find short-term opportunities abroad, giving you a taste of what it is to TEFL and some confidence in a classroom before you sign a full-time contract and make the move abroad.

Volunteer abroad

You can find voluntary EFL opportunities all over the world, particularly in developing countries in Africa and South America. Schemes can range from a few weeks to several months, so it can be an ideal option for students during the summer months or anyone looking for shorter contracts.

When it comes to volunteering, however, it’s important to have the necessary skills in place in order to positively impact the lives of those you want to help, which is why having a TEFL qualification is crucial. If you don’t know what you’re doing then how can you expect to benefit those you’re working with? “Voluntourism” – a form of travel where (typically) young people participate in voluntary work they often lack the skills or experience to undertake – is increasingly being criticised. TEFL Org MD, Jennifer MacKenzie, has this to say on it:

At TEFL Org we believe that ‘voluntourism’, where people pay to do voluntary work for a short period of time with a travel-type company, is intrinsically wrong and the benefits it brings to international communities can be very limited or in the case of TEFL teachers volunteering in orphanages actually damaging to the local children who the teachers come in touch with. ‘Voluntourism’ is not the same as doing voluntary work for charities and people should always check thoroughly any charity and voluntary work they sign up to do.

If you’re looking to make a positive impact then you should work with charities instead of profit-motivated travel companies. Sandblast is a registered human rights charity and aims to raise awareness about the struggle of the Saharawi and support and facilitate projects in refugee camps that develop ​creative and social-engagement skills. Sandblast are partners with “Stave House in the Sahara”, a project teaching music and English in primary schools in Saharawi refugee camps, which has trained local teachers and is currently looking for EFL teachers to volunteer for a minimum of 3 months in Southwest Algeria.

You can find out more information and apply here.

You can keep an eye on our TEFL Jobs Centre for both paid and volunteering opportunities.

Our 2018 Charity of the Year, Actionaid, runs volunteering schemes inRwanda and Mozambique – while these aren’t directly TEFL-related they are focused on widening access to education for local students.


Volunteer at home

If you’re not looking to move abroad at this point in time you can find volunteering opportunities closer to home. This is a great way to build up your TEFL experience around your current schedule. Get in touch with your local council and organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers to see if they’re looking for volunteer EFL teachers.

We’re proud to give back however we can and if you have a project – or an idea for a project – then you can get in touch with us to discuss how we might be able to help.

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