Teaching abroad and volunteering abroad?

Question Details

I really want to teach abroad for a career, but I would also love to volunteer abroad in countries I wouldn't be able to go to teaching wise. Has anyone gone through alternating between teaching and volunteering abroad?


Hi Amanda,

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I sort of did this, actually. My first position teaching English was as a volunteer in Costa Rica. I had housing and food provided, but no income. I was there for 6 months. The experience then helped me get a paid teaching job back in the States and eventually a position teaching English in the Peace Corps.

There are so many destinations that need ESL teachers as volunteers (even in the U.S.!) that yes, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to do that! After all, that would mean that you're a highly qualified volunteer, and could have more of an impact on the volunteer projects you get involved in.

One idea might be to teach during the academic year, but spend your summers volunteering?

I don't know if this will give you quite the answer you're looking for, but it may help a little. I taught in Thailand as a paid teacher, but I was asked multiple times to volunteer at smaller schools that couldn't afford a full time native teacher. There are tons of volunteer opportunities in Thailand and I believe in other Southeastern Asian countries. Additionally, traveling between those countries is relatively cheap so I believe you'd be able to travel to multiple countries and volunteer there as well. Another nice thing is that if you do decide to become a paid teacher, you can usually contract with the school how long you want to teach there. Your placement is easier if you are willing to say at a school longer, but really it depends on the school. I know my experience pertains mostly to staying within the same country, but I believe it wouldn't be hard to travel to other countries to volunteer as well. I hope that helps a little!

Hi Amanda!

I taught abroad in Spain and wanted to add in my two cents. I'd say you should consider what you are looking to gain more -- teaching experience or time abroad in a specific country. If you are leaning towards teaching for your career, then teaching abroad can be an invaluable way to get real world experience and see if the profession is the right fit for you. However, if there is a country you are just dying to live in and can't find a teaching position there, volunteering can help you secure that experience. I hope that helps and best of luck!