WorldTeach
89% Rating
(204 Reviews)

WorldTeach

WorldTeach was founded in 1986 by a group of Harvard students who were motivated by the desire to promote local education initiatives in places where teachers and resources were lacking. Today, we continue to provide opportunities for individuals to serve as volunteer teachers around the world, working to educate under-served students in countries that would otherwise be unable to afford or locate qualified teachers. Each year, we send about 500 volunteers, impassioned by that same desires as our founders, to local schools and host communities in countries around the world that have specifically requested our support. WorldTeach is a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit and Charity Navigator 4-star charity.

Most Recent Program Reviews

Default avatar
Jon
Male
53 years old
Uruguay
University of Cambridge

A year in Portoviejo

9/10

The Worldteach Ecuador program gave me a great stepping stone to transition from the corporate world (the dark side of the force) to a new life of independent education-related work. The support, program structure and homestay all ensured that the experience would be a valuable one - and one that I would never forget. Learning Spanish on the hoof and travelling around as much of the country as I could added to the learning of a new culture and alternative perspectives on life.

Default avatar
Griffin
Male
23 years old
USA
Temple University

We were mislead and poorly supported

3/10

When I first became interested in sacrificing a year to work in underserved communities overseas I heard great things about WorldTeach and decided to apply. The staff in Boston were incredibly polite and assisted me greatly in preparing the necessary paperwork to travel and teach ESL in Hunan, China. Upon arrival though it quickly became apparent that further supports were limited and the schools we were told we were helping appeared to be given a raw deal. We were supplied no teacher-made lesson plans throughout our year of service, severely under-compensated when it comes to a stipend, and expected to hand over all of our intellectual property while receiving no feedback whatsoever.

The issue that I and other "volunteers" had the most difficulty with was the fact that it appeared that none of our schools knew that we had volunteered our time and were being so poorly compensated. This made sense once I discovered that all of the schools were paying a premium fee to have us as teachers (more money than they would pay a non-volunteer teacher from an agency) and were told that our travel expenses among others were covered by said fee in their contract even though that was not the case. I believe the program cost for the schools was the same regardless of whether the school was urban or rural. Furthermore, many of the schools were not in the least bit "underserved" as the pre-departure and online WorldTeach literature had us believe, and in fact some "volunteers" were working alongside fellow foreign teachers hired by the school who were paid double what our stipend was for less work and limited oversight. This last fact made rationalizing our service and sacrifice nearly impossible. A majority of WT volunteers needed to find extra jobs after work or on the weekends just to make ends meet because we received the lowest stipend allowed by US law so that WT could maintain its nonprofit status.

The program has now changed (along with the WT website and online descriptions 3 times in the last 2 years) to be a "China Fellowship". We were not told of the change in the programs name or new focus while we were serving as volunteers. I believe the new "China Fellows" will be doing essentially the same thing past volunteers had been doing.

Essentially, in my opinion WT is acting as a regular ESL teacher agency with stricter rules for its ESL teachers and not an altruistic entity connecting decent people with underserved communities in China. If it is your desire to work in impoverished or needy schools in China I encourage you to find a legitimate agency to work with or find a school and negotiate your own contract.

I can not speak to the other locations that WT works with/in. I do know that China is awfully unique in its ESL programs and schools so I don't extend my poor experience unto the other programs. But after a year of dealing with WorldTeach I would not feel comfortable suggesting this opportunity to others because it simply is not worth your time and sacrifice, nor the time and money of the school you hope to support. There are better options for you if you want to teach English in China.

P.S. Teaching in China was fantastic and I loved my school, students, and community. I would recommend the job to any decent, hardworking, and caring individual. I was just upset to discover the volunteers' altruism was taken advantage of.

How can this program be improved?

There is a huge need for greater transparency, communication, and teaching support between the home office in Boston and the teachers in China. Program information needs to be updated (although the program has now changed in name and purpose). We need to be supplied with tried and true lesson plans considering volunteer teachers have been forced to submit theirs for the last few years under penalty of withholding pay only to have the plans never seen again. Our first month of "training" focused almost exclusively on the theory behind teaching ESL, and there was very little emphasis on the practice. Also, the underserved schools we are working in are paying far too much money to employ a "volunteer" and they should better understand the nature and intentions of the WT program for the benefit of themselves as well as to the benefit of the volunteer/s they receive.

Response from WorldTeach

Dear Griffin,

Thank you for your feedback. As you are aware, we offer many opportunities for feedback throughout the program and we appreciate your concerns. This opportunity to provide feedback extends to the Executive Director, whom you spoke with personally. We thoughtfully and directly responded to your misconceptions and concerns back in June 2017, at which time you expressed gratitude for our transparency and support. There are many different considerations that must be taken into account when planning and executing an international program, including but not limited to cultural context, volunteer experience, and governmental and policy limitations. We pride ourselves on running quality programs that successfully navigate all of these factors. We wish you all the best in the future, and please contact us directly with further questions.

Default avatar
Nada
Female
25 years old
alabama

China was an experience!

10/10

China was an experience like no other!! It really brought to light a lot about who I am as a person and helped to clarify more about my career goals. So in that way, it really helped me "find out more about myself". I also grew in independence and resilience. The World Teach staff and support were stellar! They provided us with 3 weeks of teaching training and a practicum. We were also taught about culture & food. The other volunteers in the program were also a great part of the experience. Seeing them during the mid and end of year trainings was like going home to see family in a way. I really feel like the year went by too fast! Oh, and my students were ADORABLE! At the same time, keep in mind that Chinese winters are depressing. There is very little sun light and it gets really cold. Also, the pollution goes up, so please invest in a face mask and air filter for your home. Its not a two week study abroad in Rome, its difficult and challenging, but extremely rewarding!! Good luck!!

How can this program be improved?

No need.

Caitlin
Female
24 years old
Indianapolis
Anderson University

Teaching in Poland- Life Changing Experience

9/10

My time in Poland is something I will cherish forever. As an education major, I was looking forward to working with children and teaching them English. Upon arrival in Warsaw, I was greeted by the field coordinator as well as the other volunteers. Our first week of orientation was great and we were able to explore some of the country. We took some pedagogy classes as well as a Polish language class. I spent the next six weeks in a small town outside of Krakow. Living with a host family is a vital part of the experience and I learned so much about myself and the country.

Overall, I would recommend this program. The only issues I had were with the organization of the field director. I did not know my placement until a few days after my initial arrival and there was lots of confusion for most of the other volunteers. It was a little disorganized but that comes with working in a different country. When the field coordinator was not helpful, the home office in Boston was.

How can this program be improved?

Improve organization, communication

Default avatar
Rebecca
Female
30 years old
Three Rivers, CA
San Francisco State University

Unforgettable year in Colombia

10/10

WorldTeach Colombia was an amazing experience. From the minute I applied and to this day as a part of the Alumni Community they have been nothing short of incredible. Once I completed my interview and was accepted they provided a ton of literature/guides about what to expect, what to pack and in general program logistics. WorldTeach provides in country support for the entire duration of your placement. We had 2 field staff due to the size of our group (32 volunteers). Our staff were previous volunteers and could relate exactly. They met us at the airport in Bogota' and provided all the transportation to our training site on a little farm outside of the city. They walked us through our Visa process, establishing our Bank Accounts, getting cell phones, our meeting with the Colombian President and with the US Embassy. They also provided 3 weeks of training for Colombia specific schools. Training included everything from developing lesson plans, dealing with co-teachers, classroom behavior issues, and keeping students engaged, to living with a host family, Colombian cultural differences, how to catch a bus and even daily Spanish lessons. For the first 3 weeks, everything was provided by the program. Once we completed trainings they provided transportation to our sites via plane and private busses. The Field Directors were with us while we met our families and when we visited our school sites. I cannot rave enough about our in country support. In our schools we had the freedom and independence to develop lessons and teach our classes. Our field directors were always there if we needed advice, recommendations, to vent or help resolving issues with schools or hosts.

Colombia is a beautiful country with the most hospitable, welcoming and festive people. My students and hosts were great and the culture was so much fun. I loved living with a host family because I really got to see and experience authentic Colombian culture. We lived in safe neighborhoods, but not fancy rich areas. We were able to integrate into the daily lives of our families and schools. We also had many opportunities to travel and see other parts of the country and visit other volunteers in other placements.

I cannot recommend WorldTeach enough. I taught for a few months on my own in Argentina the following year and had to complete all my bank account, Visa paperwork on my own and it was a nightmare. I now understand how hard all the staff at WorldTeach work to provide us with an incredible experience.

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