English Opens Doors
86% Rating
(39 Reviews)

English Opens Doors

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.

Most Recent Program Reviews

Default avatar
Jack
Male
26 years old
Lake Bluff

EODP Thoughts: Brief Overview and Advice

9/10

I flew to Chile in pursuit of both a professional and cultural experience. Professionally, I wanted to further develop my management, presentation, and organization skills. Culturally, I wanted to become absorbed in another perspective of the world than what I had been previously exposed to.

I had taken a TEFL class before the going to Chile, but most of the others in my EODP training in Santiago had not done so. I could not speak Spanish when I arrived. Some others in my training program could speak Spanish, but a large majority could not. The program asks that you only use English in the classroom.

I worked in Chillan, 5 hours south of Santiago, in the Bio Bio Region (8), teaching both elementary and high school level students (which was rare, normally an EODP teacher would have either one age group or the other). My school and host family received me warmly. The program meets with all of the host families before sending a volunteer to make sure the house is acceptable. I know that some volunteers had better home situations than others, but if there is a serious issue you can reach out to EODP and they will change your living situation. Small issues should be dealt with by the volunteer communicating with the family.

The EODP team is responsive to volunteers' problems. For example, I had a problem with the extension of my visa and EODP jumped on it that day--calling the office who had turned down my application, following up with me the next day and the next week to ensure all was sorted.

EODP has their main staff team in Santiago, but each region has a representative who is also available to help if needed. Personally, my regional representative was great--observing my class and providing constructive feedback, welcoming me upon my arrival to the region, and more generally providing another source of support should I have had an issue.

Because EODP volunteers only know their region when traveling to Santiago for training there are a lot of variables which one cannot control. You do not know what specific town you will be in, who your host family is, or what grade your students will be in. That said, you will know your region so you can anticipate the weather and pack accordingly, you will know that you have your own bedroom, and you will know that you will be working with students in elementary or high school (I think high school age was more prevalent amongst the volunteers when I was teaching, but that is no more than anecdotal).

So, with many variables to be determined, you must come to Chile with an open mind as to what your experience will be. Chileans value spending time with one another greatly, so putting in time with your host family, the teachers at your school, or whoever you interact with in your town is vital to develop the bonds that will improve your experience.

I found Chileans, in general, to be extremely friendly and happy to help me with my Spanish or whatever I needed help with. If you can pick up a few Chilean slang words and use them that will be a real crowd pleaser.

In short, you have to create your own success and happiness in this program, but EODP provides you with the framework to do so. There are many variables, and most likely not all will be ideal. But, you have the resources (host family, school, EODP, regional representative, other volunteers) to ask for help or advice when navigating a new or tough situation.

Tip: Bring down a little portable speaker (not wireless) for your class, as well as loads of newspaper clippings for your classroom wall or activities.

How can this program be improved?

Knowing one's town, family, and school before departure would allow one to be more prepared for their situation.

Default avatar
Sakshi
Female
28 years old
Bangalore

Teaching in a municipal basico school in Copiapo

9/10

I reached Santiago having little expectation about what was coming up. To start with, I found the orientation in Santiago to be very thorough. We were well prepared and equipped to start teaching. As far as the teaching experience in Copiapo is concerned, it all proved to be a great one as well. There are issues that arise while teaching, but in my opinion it all turns out well if one is flexible enough and clear about the idea that we are volunteering to do good to somebody - the volunteering is much more for the students and their happiness than ours. In the starting, for 1-2 weeks, I did not have a white-board to teach and for a month too little a room to fit in 18 students - such situations come and they pass by as well. My head teacher and regional representative were a very good support. The school was very welcoming and kids enthusiastic about being with me (if not always enthusiastic about learning English). At the end of the day, a few students started speaking more English and showed more interest and that I considered as a good enough reward!

I came into the program with my husband and we chose to live independently - so I don't have a host family experience to share. There were other ways by which we met and interacted with the local Chilean people like our school teachers and host families of other volunteers - Chilean people are usually warm and welcoming. I did not ever find the teaching & lesson planning hectic and we had enough time to go travelling every weekend, cook food at home and invite people over.

Last 2 weeks of the service went in English Winter Camps - here elder students (from medio) who are interested in learning English come. There is a lot of time volunteers and kids spend together doing various activities. There is such a great connection one can form in just a week's time! I felt the camps were very encouraging for the students. And so the 4 months of volunteering ended well.

How can this program be improved?

For some volunteers, the instability in schools turns out tough at times. There was a strike in a co-volunteer's school for weeks and she was not doing much, becoming frustrated. I feel volunteers should be better prepared for such times (may be during the training or before).

Default avatar
Christine
Female
31 years old
Boston, MA

EOD and two services

9/10

I did my first service in the Northern Chilean city, Iquique. I worked at a semi-private school, and there were three other volunteers in my city, one teaching at an all boys school, the other teaching in a semi-private school and the other teaching in a private school. I had fantastic students, and the staff at the school were friendly. The two English teachers I worked with were really kind, and both had their own style of teaching their classes.

My transition from orientation in Santiago, to Iquique and later to Concepción was really smooth.

My second service with EODP was about 7 hours South of Santiago, in a small town outside of Concepción, called Chiguayante. I loved it here because it had all the benefits of living in a big city such as Santiago, but with lots more open green space. I worked with one of the two English teachers at my school, which was a public school. There were not many material resources in this school. The English books were not sufficient, and very difficult to follow. In this case, the teacher and I worked together to make sure students were being challenged, and that they were learning the mile stone content needed to move into the next level of English. I would say my experience working at this particular school was a lot more challenging than the first school I was in, maybe, partially due to lack of resources, but I learned a lot from the students and I had a good time while I was there. I was left out of work for over a month while the public schools, including the one I volunteered at, went on strike.

My experience with the English Opens Doors Program was more than positive. Everything was not perfect, but all in all, the program is set up in a way to really help the volunteer succeed.

Each volunteer will have a different experience, no doubt, but my perspective and my goal of doing what I could to intrigue students to learn English, I found were important when things did not go as planned.

During my stay, I had time to travel and see Chile, and met wonderful people along the way who have made a lasting impact on me. I made great friends with the English teachers and their families and I keep in touch with them even today.

How can this program be improved?

The program could improve by doing regular checks with host families and whether they are following food restriction suggestions for the volunteer. I had a bit of a hard time with the food I couldn't eat and what the host family would serve, so my recommendation would be at least a one time home visit from the Regional Representative during the volunteer term as additional support regarding food and other host family issues.

The program does do a mid-service host family survey at which time volunteers can voice concerns, but I think a home visit would be helpful.

Default avatar
Akiko
Female
36 years old
New York, NY

Opportunity to Grow

10/10

My volunteer service was between April 2015 and November 2015, and I arrived to Chile speaking almost no Spanish.

The program was very supportive throughout, and addressed any concerns I had. Although I already had teaching experiences, the one-week orientation prepared me well to teach in another country.

I could not have asked for more for my host family, who I continued to live with after my service ended. They were considerate and respectful, and treated me as part of their family.

The school was great too, with a lot of support not only from the English teachers, but also from other colleagues. I was honored to plant the seed of interest in English amongst the students.

How can this program be improved?

I have never worked with an organization as efficient as English Opens Doors Program.

Default avatar
Holly
Female
27 years old
Chile
Bradley University

Life in la novena región

10/10

I studied to become a Spanish teacher in the US, but as graduation neared, I realized I was not ready to take a “traditional” path into my career. I had always wanted to teach English in a Spanish-speaking country and when I found EODP, I knew it was the perfect program for me.

I was a year long volunteer in a small city in La Araucanía region in 2013. I lived in Chile’s poorest region in one of the country’s poorest cities, but the people there were some of the most generous I know. I fell in love with my school and community, despite the lack of resources and the vulnerability I so often witnessed. I felt as though I truly made a difference and I had become a real part of the community. My biggest challenge was making friends with people my age, since most were either students at the university (living an hour away) or already had families to take care of. My host family was so accepting of me, especially my host mom who I lived with. She was a teacher at the school as well, so we always had in-depth conversations about education and life in general. She truly became a second mother to me and has helped me in so many ways. I know that she would defend me like a lioness protects her cubs, even today, after almost three years!

After my volunteer service in 2013, I returned to the United States to work and pay student loans, but I knew that I needed to return to Chile. There’s something about this country that just pulls you back! haha…So I decided to return as a volunteer for the second semester of 2015. I returned to the ninth region, but instead chose to be placed in a larger city. My experience, although in the same region, was completely different! I worked in one of the largest public schools in the city, one with resources and a strong political presence in the city. The teachers I worked with had very contrasting personalities and teaching perspectives, which made my work very interesting. Since the school was so large, the teachers were very divided and communication was often an issue. I didn’t feel the same sense of community that I had in my first placement, but the English department and school principal made great efforts to support me and to show me how much they appreciated my services to the school. Honestly, though, it was the students who made my experience worthwhile (just like the first time). I learned that in the city, a very classist environment, the students were just as vulnerable as my students from the campo, they just found methods to disguise it…It was difficult to leave my students. A semester definitely was not enough time!

Throughout both of my volunteer experiences, I found the orientation week to be extremely beneficial, even as someone with formal teacher training and experience. The program definitely puts you to work during the training sessions, but I can say from personal experience and from the majority of other volunteers I know, the people who fully take advantage of it as an opportunity to learn as much as possible and ask a lot of questions before starting in their placements, are the ones most prepared and have a better experience in their schools.

I was impressed with how organized the program was, but I can say that I feel a sense of pride after participating a second time and seeing how many things have improved and how well they have taken into consideration the recommendations of former volunteers. During my second service, even prior to applying, I felt that the support staff responded to my questions in a very timely manner. Thinking about how minor I felt that my problems were and the fact that I was one volunteer out of more than 100 in the country, I couldn’t believe how they addressed my concerns as though they were just as much of a priority as the other issues.

If you are looking for a place to travel and party and learn Spanish, you will experience those things here, but I wouldn’t recommend the program to you…This is a program for people wanting to experience first hand the culture and public education system of Chile. It is a program that you can be proud to be a part of. It is a truly life-changing experience, but just like anything, it is not all sunshine all the time. If you give your all, it will steal your heart.

How can this program be improved?

No program is perfect, but I believe that English Opens Doors is a very well-run and effective program over-all. The only details worth complaining about are all things that come as a result of relying on a federal government for funding (this means that sometimes there are last minute changes in activities or structures and that sometimes you simply cannot get a clear answer right away to a certain concern you may have). That being said, I think that it is extremely important to be adaptable and proactive.

Another note I have is that although the volunteer surveys they ask you to complete are long and in-depth, the program staff takes very seriously all of the feedback they receive in order to constantly make improvements in the program, so definitely be honest with them. I have seen a lot of great changes over the years and I know that in part it is from the feedback and suggestions they received from former volunteers.

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English Opens Doors
Are you interested in volunteering to teach English in Chile? Please consider the English Opens Doors Program. Participation...