English Open Doors

English Opens Doors Program

About

The English Opens Doors Program is a English education initiative developed by the Chilean Ministry of Education, and is supported by the United Nations. It was established in 2003, and has since flourished. The Chilean Ministry seeks to advance the level of English education throughout Chilean public schools and provides students with many resources such as summer learning camps, competitions, and scholarships. We seek talented and ambitious teachers to come join our teaching program in Chile, and make a noticeable impact in Chilean English education throughout public schools. Avoid paying any fees to recruiters by applying directly with us.

Headquarters

Av. Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 1146 Sector B. Oficina 604
Santiago
Región Metropolitana
Chile

Reviews

Default avatar
Focho
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The was the core of my service. The kids were so excited to meet their new foreign English teacher. I was well received y the school. I spent 4months with these kids and at the end of my program I saw a face of satisfaction from them, their desire for English was established and this was thanks to the English Opens Doors program thought the National Volunteer Center (NVC). Their training never
ver went in vain. The school was so encouraging, providing every single thing I needed coupled with that from the ENGLISH OPENS DOORS PROGRAM. The students started mounted great desire for the language and it turned out to be fun. The school took me out with other teachers to a beautiful touristic side(sorry I can't recall the nae of that place), it was fun out there. Another aspect of the school was the caring nature of every single teacher in the school the fun here was everyone wanted to talk to me in English even those who didn't know a single vocabulary in English.

What was your funniest moment?
Oh the camps were were the striking moments I had in this service. The struggle by these children to talk English, them trying to dance and the lipdub were moments never to be forgotten
Default avatar
Sienna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In 2017, I decided I wanted to do something different that included traveling and community development. I happened upon the English Opens Doors Program (EODP) after searching through a long list of online options. I chose the EODP over other programs for several reasons. First of all, you don't have to pay to participate in the program. The only fee you cover is your flight. Second, the way they integrate volunteers into the local community ensures that you're not taking a job that could be fulfilled by someone who already lives in the community. You're not replacing a Chilean English teacher; rather, your native English skills are put to use to complement the classes taught by the local teacher. Finally, I wanted a program that seemed like it was well-run, and I wasn't going to just be dropped in a foreign country with limited teaching experience and be told to have at it.

The EODP ticked all of these boxes for me, so I said yes to the offer and headed down to teach for one semester (~4 months). I arrived along with a group of about 70 other volunteers with an average age range of 22-30. Some volunteers have teaching experience, but it's not a requirement because the first week of orientation gives you a crash course on how to teach ESL. Since then, I've taken a variety of other ESL crash courses (and a longer TEFL certification), and I have to say, the week of orientation provided by the EODP has yet to be beat. It's incredibly well-curated, it covers all the information you could need to know, and not only prepares you to teach, but also makes you aware of the extensive support network available to you. The support within the program is super accessible and includes the National Volunteer Center in Santiago, other volunteers, a Regional Representative in your region, and staff in the school in which you're placed.

I was placed in the center of Chile, in the Bernardo O'Higgins region. My host family consisted of a single mom and her daughter. She was really enthusiastic to help me improve my Spanish and do everything possible to make sure I had a great time. I worked in the same school that she taught in, so we would drive to school together in the morning. I actually taught in two schools (something that occasionally happens), so I saw one group of kids for two days a week and another group for the other two (I had Fridays free). I enjoyed working with my co-teacher and getting to know the other staff in the school, but by far the students were the best part of the whole experience. I taught middle school, so my kids were 5th-8th graders, and they just have an energy that can't be beat. Although there are some days when motivation to learn English is low, the kids are generally just so excited that you're there that it doesn't take long for them to come around to a lesson. The most rewarding part of the whole experience is when you hear students use English outside of class. I remember hearing a group of fifth graders yelling directions in English at each other during recess, and it made me so happy to see that I was having an impact.

Outside of school, I had plenty of time to travel around Chile. Chile is a beautiful country that offers a little something for everyone. I went hiking and rock climbing in a number of national parks in my region and in neighboring regions. I traveled to Santiago every once in a while on the weekend to explore restaurants and museums. And, I went on a couple of trips with other volunteers, including wine tastings at vineyards and a longer trip to the island of Chiloé. I've never had such a full social calendar as I did in Chile. And, I think that's because, in my experience, my host mom and Chilean friends were really excited to show me around Chile, so I was constantly invited to things. That, coupled with all the things other volunteers plan, and I always had something to do.

But, time flew between when I arrived in July and the end date of November, and when my return to the United States loomed, I just knew that I had to come back. So, I applied for a second semester and came back to teach again in 2018. I was again impressed by the organization of the program, and I had a similarly great experience the second time around, this time in the surf town of Pichilemu.

If you're looking for an opportunity to go abroad, get involved in a local community, and contribute in a meaningful way, then you should look no further.

What was your funniest moment?
I think whenever you're in a new country and you don't speak the language well, pretty much every day is either full of self-deprecating laughter or tears of frustration, and most days have a good mix of both. There were only a few times that I felt frustrated by my inability to communicate in Chile, and whenever that happened I usually took my frustration as both a sign that I really cared about the people to whom I was expressing myself, and a sign that I probably needed to spend some more time on Duolingo.
Most of the time, my inability to communicate for the first few months was pretty funny. I joined a climbing club in my town that had gym with a bouldering wall (i.e. no ropes, just free climbing) where I would train a few days a week. One of the first times I went to the gym, I struck up a conversation with one of the members with the intention of asking him about the different types of climbing and what they were called in Spanish. So, what I wanted to say in English was:
Is there a different name for the type of climbing we're doing here, climbing without a rope?
My Spanish version of that:
Como se llama el tipo de escalar que estamos haciendo aqui, escalar sin ropa?
The English translation of what I said:
What would you call the climbing that we're doing here, climbing without clothes?
Needless to say, he gave me a funny little side glance and then laughed. I quickly realized that I had said "ropa," which means clothes, when I meant to use the word "cuerda," which actually means rope. I laughed pretty hard at that mistake and he laughed along with me, and I assured him that we do climb with clothes on in the United States.
Things like that happened all the time. But, what made it not feel quite so soul-crushing was how the Chileans always just laughed it off with you. They didn't judge your inability to speak their language; they just liked that you were trying.
Default avatar
Lisette
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went for a 4-month service last year (VS4 2018) and it was such a special experience! It can be tough at times, but for those tough moments you will get back so many rewarding moments! Although the program is aimed at teaching English, I learnt Spanish on the way, from speaking with my host family, colleagues and friends I made. It was not only an unforgettable experience for me, but I could also see a change in the children, becoming more excited about English and foreign culture.
The coordinating staff in Santiago is super helpful whenever you need them and they are all really nice! As a non-native English speaker like me, it is still possible to apply for this program if you can prove your fluency. So if you are up for a fun and rewarding challenge then I would definitely recommend this!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was teaching a couple of different classes, but there was this one class that never really paid attention and there would always be children messing around. I thought they just did not like English and although I kept my enthusiasm and excitement up, at times this group was hard on me. Then, one week before the program ended, I told them I was going to leave and the most surprising thing happened. All of them were like 'noo miss, we like your classes, please don't go' and 'but we are learning English so well now'. I was just so surprised by their reaction, as their behavior throughout the semester did not show any of these sentiments. To me this proves that keeping a positive attitude is always good, even when you don't think it is doing much.
Default avatar
Charles
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

After a week-long orientation in Santiago where we learnt about the Chilean education system, TEFL theory, Chilean culture, lesson planning and classroom management, I was sent to Quillota, where I would spend the next eight months. Quillota is a small city located in central Chile's Valparaíso Region, and surrounded by huge plantations of avocado trees. There, thanks to Couchsurfing, I found an incredibly nice family that hosted me for free for a couple of weeks! They were so nice I ended up renting a room in their lovely house for the remaining of my stay.

The house was located in a rural area, outside of town. It had a swimming pool, a barbecue, a secondary house rented to six university students, hammocks, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and lots of animals (a dog, cats, chickens, turtles...). Needless to say it was quite a change from my Parisian life: exactly what I was looking for. The peaceful atmosphere that prevailed there left a strong impression on me.

Andrea and her son Luciano were incredible hosts. They took care of me, showed me around, cooked delicious meals for me, took me to football games, to the beach, to parties, introduced me to their friends, to their culture and their lifestyle. I will forever be grateful to them as they truly made me feel a part of the family.

The school I got assigned to was Colegio de Niñas Canadá. Like its name suggests, it is an all-girls school. There, I taught to grades 5th to 11th. I had my own classroom which also served as the music room. The various Chilean teachers I had the pleasure to work with divided their classes in 2 groups and would send half of their students to my classroom so I could teach them for 45 minutes, while they would teach the other half. Then, we would switch. This method allowed us to teach to smaller groups (15 to 25 students) which was a lot more efficient as students were less distracted and teachers could spend more time focusing on each girl.

Some classes were amazing, filled with students that were eager to learn a new language, while others were more chaotic. Indeed, as we were told to make our lessons fun and filled with games and entertaining activities, some of the students took my classes as the recreational part of their day. They often took advantage of the fact that I was a foreigner, didn’t speak perfect Spanish and was not allowed to punish them in any way. I almost wanted to quit at some point, after yet another tough class. Nevertheless, I remembered why I chose to apply to this program : I wanted to positively impact the lives of kids from underprivileged backgrounds. Therefore, I didn't give up and it was definitely the right choice as it ended up being a very enriching experience. I learnt a lot, definitely became a better teacher and hopefully managed to demonstrate the importance of speaking English to some of my students as well as the impact it could have on their life.

If you want to learn more about the program and my experience, check this blog post out : https://www.teachercharles.com/post/english-opens-doors

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have some extra money because you will need it if you want to travel and discover Chile !
Default avatar
Jordan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The English Opens Doors Program is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to gain TEFL experience in Latin America. If you’re more interested in traveling and/or are serious about learning Spanish, I’d look elsewhere as your vacation time is limited and you have to be dedicated to your classes. There are, however, ample opportunities to learn and improve your Spanish by living with a host family and through the option to take a basic or intermediate-level Spanish course, but keep in mind that – at least in my experience – teaching takes up most of your time.

The program doesn’t require any previous teaching experience and the week-long orientation provides you with basically everything you need to know about classroom management, preparing classes, working with Chilean students, Chilean culture, etc. The orientation is extremely thorough but informative, so pay attention. I had taught previously as a private ESL tutor before arriving in Chile and was pretty nervous since I had never taught multiple students in a classroom setting before. But after the orientation, I definitely felt much more confident to lead and teach in a classroom.

When you’re applying for the program, you get to select your location preferences based on Northern, Central or Southern Chile, as well as a large, medium or small-sized town. EODP tries to place you as well as they can according to your preferences, but ultimately be prepared to go anywhere. Before you decide, I recommend researching Chilean regions and cities, as both the weather and climate can vary significantly from region to region and city to city. In the South where I was, for example, winter was brutal (and I’m from Minnesota!) due to the cold temperature, constant rain and the fact that most people heat their homes through only a small, wood stove or oven. This isn’t meant to deter anyone, but just a fair warning for those of you that will be placed in the South!

I was pretty open in terms of my placement and ended up for two semesters at a high school in a small town called Lanco, in the Los Ríos region, located about 10 hours south of Santiago. The town itself had basically nothing to do, but at least the locals were very friendly.

Unlike some other volunteers, I happened to love the school where I was placed as the administration and teachers that worked with me were both outgoing and supportive throughout my entire experience. And my students – despite their low-level of English – were fun to work with and pretty well-behaved compared to those of some other volunteers in larger cities.

The orientation will go into more detail on Chilean students, but be prepared for the students’ low-level of English as well as the general lack of motivation and interest. When I arrived, most students at my school had little interest in learning English and at least those that I worked with, could not even respond to very basic questions, such as "How are you?" There are, of course, exceptions, but in general the level of English is quite low.

In terms of a host family – if you choose to live with one – it’s really a hit or miss. Many volunteers had wonderful experiences with their family, others did not. And while the norm is that most Chilean families are welcoming, outgoing and inclusive, this is not always the case. With my first host family, I didn't have a positive experience as the family barely interacted with me and we had pretty conflicting personalities. I was eventually able to switch to a new and much more suitable host family after I expressed my concerns to my regional representative and EODP staff, which definitely made the second half of my experience more enjoyable.

The staff at EODP is probably THE most dedicated group of people I have ever met in my life and they work hard to make sure you are well-supported throughout your time in Chile. Since they all are previous volunteers and have been living in Chile for many years now, they know what they’re talking about and can give some excellent advice if you’re encountering any issues whatsoever. I personally struggled with classroom management shortly after I had started and the staff gave me some awesome advice and recommended certain teaching techniques that helped significantly improve overall classroom behavior.

I agree with some of the other reviews on here that this program isn’t for everybody. Given all the uncertainties that you may face in terms of your family, school, etc., you have to be willing to participate in the program with a very open mind and be prepared to make the best of non-ideal situations.

Teaching through EODP is a definitely a challenging experience as you'll have to adapt to an entirely new culture and language (if you have no previous knowledge of Spanish), but overall, it is a great opportunity if you want to acquire international professional experience and improve your teaching skills, organizational skills as well as adaptability.

What would you improve about this program?
English Opens Doors is very well-run program. Nothing is perfect but EODP is always seeking opportunities to refine and make improvements where needed. They always send out surveys for you to fill out regarding your experience and they take them very seriously. Though this isn't exactly a suggestion for improvement, it's important for prospective applicants to know that one of the most difficult aspects of the program is the unpredictability. Depending on where you end up, schools can have little resources e.g., lack of technology, or there can be little to do in your town (such as in my case). Regardless of these issues, you have to be willing to make the best of your situation. And even in difficult situations such as these, the EODP team is always willing to help you out! So be sure to speak up if you encounter a problem, otherwise you're going to end up miserable.

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English Opens Doors Program

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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose to work with the English Opens Doors Program (EODP) because I spoke with a past volunteer who had a very positive experience with both the program and the country of Chile.

Additionally, the program appeared extremely reputable as it is an initiative supported by the Chilean Ministry of Education and the United Nations Development Program-Chile.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I was responsible for purchasing my transportation to (and eventually from) Santiago, Chile.

Once in Chile everything was taken care of for me by EODP. Transportation from the airport, lodging, and board were all covered in Santiago during the week-long training program. Transportation from Santiago to the town where I worked was covered as well.

My host family and place of work (school) were organized for me by EODP. The host family, with funding from EODP, provided me with 3 meals a day and I had my own bedroom in the house (a guarantee of the program).

EODP provides a small stipend to teachers to cover basic travel, school supplies, and other costs. Should an applicant to EODP want to travel frequently or long distances they should save the funds to do so before arriving to Chile.

EODP also helped guide me through the process of receiving my visa from the Chilean consulate before I departed for Chile.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone going on your program?

While it is fun to imagine what your experience will be like ahead of time, it is impossible to anticipate what will happen and who you will interact with upon your arrival to Chile. There are many variables when working with EODP, such as your assigned town, family, and school.

Most likely not all the variables that influence your experience will be ideal, but you can draw upon the components and people of your experience that are positive, as well as the EODP staff, to address any serious issues or concerns you may have.

In short, not everything will be perfect, but I can sincerely say that navigating the issues that arose during my experience resulted in some of the most memorable and personally developmental experiences I had.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

All teachers with EODP are responsible for 24 hours in the classroom each week. Additionally, 4 hours of leading an extracurricular activity and 7 hours of lesson planning are expected.

EODP teachers will meet with the Chilean English teacher of their assigned school to determine which classes and times the EODP teacher will be working. Each class will have about 15 students and last 45 minutes. What is normally a 90-minute class with 30 students is divided into two parts, with the EODP teacher taking half of the students, and the traditional Chilean English teacher taking the other half. The two groups switch after 45 minutes. EODP teachers focus on speaking and listening skills with the students, while the Chilean English teacher works on more technical, grammar oriented material with the students.

An EODP teacher’s 4 hours of extra-curricular activities could be in the classroom (an expansion of what you are teaching during the school day, or games in English), or could be outside the classroom in the form of sports or other activities.

I hosted a baseball club on a field near the school. We played with tennis balls and used cones as bases. The students enjoyed getting to learn a new sport they had only seen in the movies, and loved some of the phrases and words surrounding the game.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issues change?

My largest concern before departing for my work with EODP was the language barrier. I knew almost no Spanish when I left.

Professionally, this was not a large concern for me, as EODP asks teachers to use only English in the classroom (total immersion being the current leading theory in language learning).

Socially, I was concerned that the language barrier would be an issue. While learning a new language was of course difficult, I found both my host family and the other teachers at the school to be very patient and willing to help. The most difficult part was having patience with myself. Being stripped of the ability to speak was frustrating, but the progression I saw each week was exciting and fun.

Were you able to travel within the country during your time abroad?

I was able to travel frequently and found the bus system in Chile extremely efficient and affordable. Santiago, the capital and largest city, was a popular place for EODP teachers to meet and share their experiences.

Other places I enjoyed visiting in the middle portion of the country were Pichilemu and Valparaiso (both near Santiago), and Valdivia and the Island of Chiloe (further south).

But, if one has the time and resources to do so, the far north (San Pedro de Atacama) and the far south (Torres del Paine) are absolutely stunning. In San Pedro one can bike through the desert, tour the mountains, swim in salt lakes, sand board, and star gaze.

Torres del Paine serves up an epic hiking adventure—be sure to book campsites way in advance! If you are fit and an experienced hiker look into the big circuit, also known as the “O”. I travelled to the far north during my school’s winter break and to the far south after the school year was completed, as these trips necessitated more than 2 or 3 days.

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jeremy Patrick Gould

Job Title
Coordinator of the National Volunteer Center
Jeremy Patrick Gould

What is your favorite travel memory?

It's extremely difficult to identify one favorite memory from two years of volunteer work, however I would say that my fondest memories would have to be the inside jokes that I had with all of the different groups of students with whom I worked.

When I imagined what teaching would be like (before I started teaching), I never realized that each class would have such distinct "collective personalities," and that the bond that I would form with each class would be so unique. Each group that I worked with had their different stories, senses of humor, inside jokes, and relationships with me, which really made every hour of my day so unique.

In the end it’s all about the making a positive, exciting educational experience for your students and when you have moments where you feel like you’ve done so, you’re filled with a very warm and wholesome feeling of accomplishment.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Before volunteering with the EODP, I had a lot of passion and desire to live a meaningful life, but not a lot of structure or consistency. Working with adolescents teaches you a lot about the importance of planning and “follow through” when working towards goals, or generally approaching challenges.

That said, even after two years of volunteer service, I would still say that in 2012 when I started working for the English Opens Doors Program as an intern, I was still lacking a lot in organization and administrative capacities.

Over the years I’ve worked for the team in many different capacities, and in various areas of work, and I have come to feel like there is no problem or challenge that isn’t approachable and conquerable with a methodical, experience based approach.

I think over the course of the last 7 years, I’ve been lucky enough to find a lot of meaning and purpose in my life, and I owe that overwhelmingly to the experience of having both volunteered an worked for the English Opens Doors Program.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

After working on this side of the program for over five years now, having trained, supported, and overseen over a thousand volunteers of the English Opens Doors program, I think some of the funniest stories have to be the stories where there was a language-based misunderstanding that culminated in some embarrassing moment that ended up changing the trajectory of the volunteer’s service in a positive and unique way. Most volunteers have one!

That said, what I think my favorite thing to hear from volunteers at the end of their volunteer service is how meaningful and profound this experience was for them.

In some ways I think that perhaps the best part of this program is that it is quite challenging, and so when you’ve completed your volunteer service, you really come away from this a stronger, more confident, socially aware, and competent person.

Every year we have volunteers write to us a few months (or even years!) later after they’ve completed their volunteer service to tell us that this was the most meaningful experience that they’ve had in their lives, and to thank us for making it all possible and navigable. I think that’s one of the “best “stories” I hear from our volunteers.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I always joke with my colleagues that when I finally decide to leave the English Opens Doors Program, I’d like to go out with one final year of volunteer service. (I highly recommend year-long volunteer services over semester-long services when possible, in order feel a sense of community and belonging in your town/area, as well as a sense of normalcy and stride in your volunteer role.)

My dream is to train a group of volunteers, and instead of heading back to the office while they ride off into the sunset to start their new meaningful adventures, I’d jump on that bus/plane with them, and enjoy one more year of being a volunteer!

It would be so amazing to have one more year in which my main concern is getting students to believe in themselves by giving them the tools to communicate in another language, and making their experience as exciting and memorable as possible.

I think if I were to choose the location, I’d probably go with a very rural location in the Patagonia, like say, the Aysén Region. In any case, it’s not so much about the location, but rather the attitude with which you approach it that really determines just how much you get out of your volunteer service.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

In contrast with a lot of the different “international experiences” that are being marketed to prospective international volunteers, this program is really about students and public education in general, as opposed to some sort of “voluntourism” enterprise.

This program is 100% funded through Chile’s public funding, with the objective of providing underserved public school students the opportunity to develop their communicative abilities in a foreign language, thereby gaining contact with the international community, which I find to be so much more meaningful than a program that costs money and ultimately exists to serve “me.”

In terms of accomplishments, I really couldn’t be more proud of my team (my friends) for their positive energy, endless efforts, and flexibility as we work together to make this initiative stronger every year. I think that when 2015 rolled around and we made a very important move as a program, whereby we started working exclusively in public schools, there were a lot of adjustments to be made in so many different ways, and the team responded to the challenge so smoothly and successfully.

This initiative is doing incredible work in the schools that need it most. We’re constantly evolving, and I can honestly say that my team is my second family.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think that the biggest factor in being a successful organization is really having a worthy goal/purpose, and being constructive and holistic in the way that you work toward it.

In the case of this program, there really are no strings attached here. We are working to strengthen the public education system of an amazing country, constantly building off of previous experience, and deliberating over feedback to see how we can do it better to meet the needs of all parties involved.

Lastly, if you want to be successful, you really have to love what you do, and constantly inspire the same for all of those around you.

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