English Open Doors

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.


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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.

How can this program be improved?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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My experience with the English Opens Doors Program was incredible, hard work, and rewarding. I signed up for one semester, August 2016 to November 2016 and was placed in Maule, about 4 hours south of Santiago (spoiler alert: I loved it so much I extended my stay and did another full year in Santiago from April 2017 to December 2017! But more of that later).

I had no previous English teaching experience, and didn't speak any Spanish, so needless to say I was a little nervous about signing up... There's only so much a degree in Philosophy can prepare you for. However, the week long orientation did a lot to put me at ease. The team were super supportive, and packed a lot in to that first week, and by the end (whilst still obviously very nervous) I felt a lot more prepared and comfortable. Then it was off to Cauquenes, Maule.

I had an incredible host family - Pati and Pedro, a lovely couple in their 60s, who spoke very little English but still went out of their way to make me very welcome in their home. I still talk to them now, and feel like we made a real impact on each others lives. I know in this I was super lucky, and that some of my friends had problems with their host families, but from what they told me, the program always stepped in and helped whenever there was an issue.

My school was amazing, and very accommodating. I worked with high school, and the students messed around a bit but on the whole were great for me. I got into the routine of teaching, following the teaching model that the program taught us in orientation, and as I got more comfortable, my classes got better and better (at least I thought so!). The semester passed so quickly I wasn't ready to come back home, so I spoke to the team and extended for another year!

My second school was in Santiago, and was a million miles away from my first experience. This time, I was working in a much poorer area, and the students were a lot more badly behaved. For me, this was tough - coming off the back of my first experience, I thought it would be a walk in the park, and I quickly learned that it was not. Luckily, I reached out to the team, and one came to visit me in school (this is normal practice, they visit every volunteer at least once throughout the semester). The advice they gave me, and the continued support via email and telephone, made a world of difference to my lessons, and gave me the confidence to see it through. It also improved my classroom control no end!

In Santiago, I lived on my own rather than with a host family. I felt that it was the right thing for me at the time, and it was definitely a great experience. But I only felt like I got the most out of it because I lived with a host family first, and had immersed myself in Chile and built up contacts in the city before I made the decision. I would highly recommend staying with a host family, because its a part of the experience you just can't replicate on your own. For me, becoming part of someone else family, immersing myself in their culture, was a definite highlight. I even started following my host dad's football team (vamos Colo-Colo!). Also, whilst the stipend is pretty generous, I did have to dip into my savings. The program had given us a heads up that this was normally the case, and I don't see it as a negative or a criticism of the program - Santiago is an expensive city from any country's point of view, and if you're working as a volunteer for a government program, you're not doing it for the money!

I feel very privileged to have seen two such distinct parts of Chile, and to have been able to volunteer in twice. Every experience is unique, because Chile is such a diverse country, and every town and region has its differences, so you'll never know what you're in for until you're stepping off the bus/plane and being greeted by you local rep! Its not for the faint hearted, but if you love learning about other cultures, testing yourself to the limit, and making a difference in someone else's life, then this is the program for you.

How can this program be improved?
Its hard to improve the program when its a government program. Municipal schools in Chile don't have a lot in the way of resources, nor is English seen as a high priority - but that what makes the experience rewarding! Wouldn't be much point encouraging people to study English if everyone was already fluent! Whilst there are sometimes problems, in my experience the team always supported us as much as they could, and have been a huge help to me.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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).
Yes, I recommend this program
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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.
Yes, I recommend this program


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