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WorldTeach

About

Thank you for your interest in our organization.

Recognizing that the world of global volunteerism has shifted considerably, our Board of Directors has decided to take a pause in order to think strategically about the future of the organization and to re-calibrate as necessary and feasible.

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. We have provided 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 have sent 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.

Founded
1986
Headquarters

1 Brattle Sq
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Ryker
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Most Americans, when thinking about the country of India, picture smoggy cities and overpopulation.  This is regrettably true for most of India. However, I spent my summer in the Ladakh region of northern India, and Ladakh is nothing like the rest of India.  On my flight into Leh, as the sun rose softly over the staggering and white Himalayas, I knew that my two-month journey ahead would be unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I was on the flight with the two other WorldTeach volunteers, Ellie and Bindi.  We quickly became close as we bonded over the struggles of altitude adjustment and the wonders of prayer flags snapping in the wind above every home, shop, street, and monastery.  We spent our first week in orientation training, beginning in Leh (Ladakh’s biggest city) and finishing in Sumur, a small village in Nubra Valley five hours away over one of the highest passes in the world.  During orientation, we learned to speak some Ladakhi, adapt to the Ladakhi culture, hand wash clothes, and, most importantly, use a pit toilet. At the end of orientation, I was told that I had been placed at a government school in the nearby village of Tegar.  I became nervous but excited for the opportunity I had anticipated for months.
I moved in with my new host family the day before the first day of school, and they were very welcoming.  I had a host aba and ama (father and mother), an abi (grandmother), and a nomo (little sister) in kindergarten.  We established a routine quickly: After waking up, my host father and I would make the hour-long walk down to the forest with our cow so she could eat for the day.  On a school day, I would then walk to school with my host mom and sister, which only took about five minutes. After school, or if there was no school, I would often help my host father or the community with various work and service projects (like building religious structures).  The first school days, despite my excitement for teaching, were very frustrating for me. Only half of the school’s teachers would even bother to show up, and most school days were canceled due to an absurd number of holidays. I was expecting an untrained but dedicated school staff with a lack of resources; what I encountered instead was a trained but lazy school staff, still with a lack of resources.  My expectations were shattered, and I had challenges ahead of me, but I figured that these were positive challenges and real reasons to need volunteers.
After two slow and rather unsuccessful weeks at this school (there were only four actual school days, and I was never given a schedule), we received heartbreaking news that volunteers were no longer welcome in Nubra Valley.  Although safe, the area is near a contentious border zone with Pakistan and China. So, for reasons unknown to us, we were told to by the military to leave. We didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to our host families, which was sad (although at the end of my journey we reconnected), and for a couple of days, we had no idea what we were going to do for the rest of our experience.  We all felt discouraged that we had come so far to have accomplished nothing. Our staff made some phone calls, though, and arranged for us to continue teaching in a different, far more remote, district called Zanskar. Now, the three of us volunteers would be at the same school. From my journal: “I felt broken. We were going to another area to teach, but we had already wasted so much time in Nubra Valley that I knew it would be completely useless and unimpactful.”
It wasn’t until I arrived at my new school that I began to feel more hopeful about my experience.  The teachers we met initially seemed to be on top of everything and passionate about making the most of our three weeks left.  We began the day after we arrived, and the teachers put us right to work, having us teach classes every period. We had our schedules after only a couple days, and mine included English for preschool, fourth grade, and seventh grade, and computer literacy for a couple of combined classes: second to fourth grades and fifth to seventh grades.  In addition, the school allowed us to tweak the schedule so that we could hold teacher workshops. We worked full hours, ten to four, Monday through Saturday. They even canceled holidays for us to maximize our time! Most days, after school, the other volunteers and I worked on lesson plans for both regular classes and teacher workshops. It was exhausting work, but it was rewarding, and we centered ourselves in the free time we had by engaging with the village members (our new friends!) and exploring the area.  This included activities such as talking with the oldest person in our village, milking a cow, attending a wedding, seeing the water mill, taking pictures in traditional Ladakhi clothing, having tea at neighbors’ houses, visiting monasteries, and, of course, climbing Himalayan mountains.
When our three weeks of service came to a close, we held a meeting at the school with the parents and grandparents of all the villages in the area.  We squeezed into a little room, and the three of us volunteers had the opportunity to speak to them. With the help of a translator, we talked to them about ways they could continue improving their education system after we left, and we thanked them gratuitously for their hospitality.  In response, they took turns expressing their gratitude and explaining what our efforts meant to them. It was the first time in their history ever receiving volunteers for education, in addition to teacher training. There were many tears as they showered us with gifts, served us tea, and sang us songs.  This response made me feel like my experience was totally successful and completely worthwhile.
Reflecting on the experience with the other volunteers, we talked about how proud we were of the teachers and of our students.  In our teacher workshop, we taught English skills (and how these skills could be applied in classroom instruction), general teaching skills, writing skills, and computer skills.  They were so engaged, and we could see their improvement, especially in the essays we assigned them!
I was especially proud of my seventh graders, four girls, whom I had twice a day for English.  The first couple of weeks with them were incredibly awkward and difficult. They really didn't seem to understand as much English as I expected.  Plus, they were very shy and didn't want to answer any of my questions. Sometimes, we would spend long periods of time in silence while I waited for them to utter an answer in English even remotely close to the actual answer.  So, I decided that it was important that I try to make a point of encouraging and developing their confidence. By the last week, they would speak confidently in English, even if their answer was incorrect, and this made me very happy.  We were even able to study paragraph structure and use this for a full on debate on the last day of school. Which animals are better, cows or yaks?
Despite the brevity of what our main teaching experience turned out to be, we truly felt like we had made a difference.  Even if the young students learned next to nothing from us, we felt that our teacher workshops served as useful training, and that we had inspired a community of parents, teachers, and students to believe that they have the power to “be the change they wish to see in the world.”
WorldTeach operates under the goal that, over many years in any given location, consistent volunteers can drastically improve education in the places that need it most.  The organization also emphasizes that students will have an experience that will significantly motivate and contribute to their future careers in service. The vision of WorldTeach could not have possibly aligned more with my experience; I felt like a small but integral piece of the solution to education challenges worldwide, and my experience majorly shaped my worldview and ambitions.  I learned that I care about climate change much more than I had previously thought, specifically about how it adversely affects vulnerable populations in developing regions. In addition, this experience reinvigorated my passions for bringing quality education, technology, and internet access to developing areas. This summer, I lived through so many indescribable moments and recurrences that contributed to my growth in how I view issues regarding development.  And now, I feel like I truly understand the Ladakhi culture on a level that is difficult for most to attain. Especially as my first longer international stay, this experience greatly influenced my career ambitions and my views on international issues.
My final week in Ladakh was spent on a reflective camping outing.  It was refreshing to talk through many of the experiences we had and the emotions we felt, since a journey like this is, for anyone, difficult to process.  I knew I would miss the pure and imposing mountains that had become my home, but I learned that this home wasn’t defined by the beauty of its landscape. Rather, it was uniquely defined by the love and happiness expressed by every single member of the community, always.  I will miss this land of prayer flags; those mystic rainbow squares of fabric have sent prayers to the heavens for all living beings for thousands of years. I anticipate returning here, to my home village, to my school, to my friends and family, and to the land lost in an eternal time where the birds and the clouds may come and go, but where love and truth transcend.

What would you improve about this program?
Brief training for teachers during orientation
Default avatar
Bindi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I flew to Ladakh with Voygr, through an organization called WorldTeach. I did not know what to expect, but the moment I met the staff - Caitlin, Behzad, Rashid and our guide Rigzin, all the puzzle pieces came together. They are an extremely caring and intelligent group. They made our experience extremely beneficial and planned everything thoroughly. Because they are locals of Ladakh and India, they knew all the best places, and where to go to find them. Seeing the grand Himalayan mountains and learning the history behind many of the glaciers opened my eyes to the world. We were able to experience Yak irrigation, cow milking, the ladakhi culture, their food, a ladakhi wedding, and wear traditional outfits. Ladakh, is a must-see area with breathtaking views and a vastness in culture.

Default avatar
Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What a year. When I first got to the Marshall Islands, I was unsure of what I was getting myself into. There were unique aspects of the Marshallese culture that I had to adjust to, and teaching was especially hard. However, after a few months, I got into the swing of things and life became more natural. By the end of the year, I did not want to leave.

WorldTeach provides you with the necessities. You get a small stipend which is enough to survive on (but I would recommend bringing some savings). There is a three week orientation at the beginning of the year where they cover the basics life safety in the culture, some language, basic teaching principles. Once they send you into the your community, the field director will check on you throughout the year and is available in the case of an emergency. However, for the most part you are on your own. The best support comes from your fellow volunteers and within your own community.

During the course of this year, I felt like I had become part of such a special community and learned about these people far beyond what any traveler could see. Life in the Marshall Islands is slow and difficult. However, if you are up for the challenge, willing to step outside of your comfort zone and have an open mind, then the satisfaction you will feel from the impact you make and relationships you build, far exceed the obstacles.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be nice to receive some more support from the staff. I lived on the same island as the field director, yet never really developed a relationship with her. \
Default avatar
Lori
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My year spend teaching English in a Chinese middle school was full of so many amazing challenges and experiences. It was such a unique experience in such a beautiful country. The students I taught were kind and so fun to get to know. The food and culture was a great experience. The travelling I did while I was in China was definitely a highlight to my year. One of my favorite memories was spending a Lantern festival with several of my Senior students and getting to know them better outside of school! The kids work so hard in school, it was great to get to know them better and have fun with them!

What would you improve about this program?
This program has an excellent orientation service program, however I feel like it needed to include more hands on instruction on teaching high school students with very limited English speaking skills.
Default avatar
Camilla
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience was excellent. The things that made it a little harder were the lack of teaching resources and training, which made settling into the new job a little harder. Otherwise, everything that comes with moving to a new country and living within a different language were to be expected.
Future participants should know that even though this is a tropical location that it will not be like a holiday. this is a working job where you should really put all your effort into doing to the best of you ability - even if you are finding the transition tough. Even though you will leave afterwards it doesn't mean that you can or should give up when things get a little tougher. Stick it out and you will be rewarded!

What would you improve about this program?
A more rigorous teaching and Marshallese language training given either throughout orientation or even throughout the year.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Ryker McIntyre

Ryker is a Computer Science student at Notre Dame. Through his travels, he has found that Climate Change isn't cool.

A guy posing at a tourist spot.

Why did you choose this program?

I knew I wanted to do a WorldTeach summer program from the start, so all that was left to do was choose a specific program. The first thing that grabbed my attention about the WorldTeach India program was the intense beauty of the pictures (shoutout to Behzad!). After living in Ladakh for two months, I can attest that it is truly the most beautiful place you will ever visit.

After digging deeper into the content of all the programs, I found that the India program best suited my interests and needs. I am passionate about Climate Change, and teaching and learning about it is an integral part of volunteering in Ladakh. In addition, as a Computer Scientist, the component of Computer Literacy education was relevant to my work.

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

My university sponsored the funding needed to do the program, and they also gave a few orientations to prepare everybody they funded for summer travel. WorldTeach was very organized in everything that they did, and I really only had to organize my own plane tickets. All of the travel, accommodations, and support was provided by WorldTeach's partner organization in India. I only had to plan my personal travel at the end.

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

Try to do some Science education – scientific method for the older kids, fun little experiments for the younger ones, especially on Climate Change since it has such a big effect here (even though they are already super renewable).

Bring slides! (The slip-on flip flop things)

Check out the Tulip Series books, and ask your middle school teachers for some techniques on teaching.

Bring plenty of gifts that reflect your home! The homestay people will love it.

Set up a teacher work shop. Take legitimate initiative from the start, make sure teachers (especially the Principal, for your sake, or time table) show up. Teachers in government schools often skip classes since their job is more secure.

Always make sure you get what you paid for, especially when exchanging money. Also, always bargain down the price of whatever you’re buying, and go shopping with one of the WT staff.

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

On an average school day, I would wake up early and eat breakfast with my host family before walking to school. At school (preschool to eighth grade), I had a class every single period, and the subjects taught were mostly English and Computer Literacy. We would all eat lunch at school, and after that, the other volunteers and I ran teacher workshops for English, Computer, Writing, and Teaching Skills.

After school, I would either plan for lessons for the days to come, or go on other adventures with community members and the other volunteers (village life offers SO much to do, actually). On the weekends, we would often go on hikes in the beautiful Himalayas or visit other villages and monasteries.

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

I was mostly afraid of being away from the comforts of home for so long. In the villages we would stay at in Ladakh, there weren't facilities like the ones we have in the Western world (flushing toilets, hot showers, etc.). However, after being there for only a short amount of time, I became accustomed to the changes, and so did the other volunteers!

The way the Ladakhis live is more simple, and it was refreshing to live in this culture for so long. In the end, it was really tough to leave this lifestyle, and re-entering the US was much more difficult than adjusting to life in rural Ladakh.

What were your most memorable experiences during the trip?

One of my most memorable experiences occurred on the final day of our volunteer service. We, and the other teachers, held a meeting with all the parents and grandparents of the village. The three of us, volunteers, had the opportunity to leave them with some final words of gratitude and encouragement for how they could continue developing their education system after we go. Many of them expressed their gratitude for our service, and there were many tears, gifts, and songs for us. It was shocking to see how much our service meant to these people, since we believed that the weight of our service was minimal due to the brevity of the summer experience.

Another one of my most memorable experiences involved teaching the seventh graders. I had them, four girls, twice a day for English, and once a day for a combined fifth, sixth, and seventh grade Computer Literacy class. The first couple of weeks were incredibly awkward and difficult. They really didn't seem to understand as much as I expected them to understand, being seventh graders. Plus, they were very shy and didn't want to answer any of my questions. Sometimes, we would spend long periods of time in silence while I waited for them to utter an answer in English even remotely close to the actual answer.

I decided that it was important that I try to make a point of encouraging confidence. By the last week, they would speak confidently in English, even if their answer was incorrect, and this made me very happy. We even were able to study paragraph structure and use this for a full-on debate on the last day of school. Which animals are better, cows or yaks?

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

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

What involvement in TEFL and sending native English speakers to foreign countries does World Teach have?

WorldTeach: WorldTeach sends native English speakers to developing countries to teach mainly English, as well as math, science, information technology, and other subjects. The countries in which WorldTeach primarily focuses on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) are China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Thailand and Tanzania. We also teach TEFL courses in Namibia and the Marshall Islands.

What countries get the most TEFL teachers?

WorldTeach: Our largest TEFL programs are Ecuador, China, and Colombia, with over 35 volunteers in each program.

What trends have you noticed in the TEFL industry?

WorldTeach: The demand for TEFL-certified instructors is increasing, especially in countries that are growing (or have grown) economically. These countries want their students and civil servants to speak English to better compete in the global market. This is especially the case for countries in the Middle East and Asia, such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, South Korea, China, Thailand and Japan.

What are some reasons you have seen for the growth of the TEFL industry?

WorldTeach: English is the global language, and the language of international business. For people, and countries, to be able to compete globally, they need to have a strong command of the English language.

WorldTeach

What are the benefits/downfalls of governments recruiting foreigners to teach English?

WorldTeach: One of the benefits of governments recruiting foreigners to teach English is that the students not only receive English language instruction from native English speakers, they are also exposed to the culture of that native English speaker. In turn, the increased demand for English teachers has created more opportunities for English speakers to take the leap and immerse themselves in another culture. Intercultural exchange between locals and the teacher is a huge benefit to the promotion of global citizenship and to the WorldTeach mission. One downfall is that most foreigners teaching English abroad are working directly with students, but not with native teachers. In order to truly improve the quality of language instruction of a country, foreigners need to train the local teachers in both the English language and teaching methodologies, so that those native teachers can use what they learn and teach their own population.

What are some outcomes (positive and/or negative) of an increase in recruiting English teachers abroad?

WorldTeach: The increase in recruiting English teachers abroad has created a greater global understanding for both the teachers and the students. It has opened doors for native English speakers to travel internationally while learning about and helping a country. In some ways, the increase in recruiting English teachers abroad helps to improve the quality of ESL instruction in the U.S. and the U.K., as these teachers do return home eventually, and can use their skills (both teaching and cross-cultural) to work with the increasing immigrant population in their own country.

Do you have any statistics (at least just for World Teach) about how many people go abroad to teach English, where they go, why the go, etc.?

WorldTeach: The number of volunteers we send abroad has been increasing in the last decade. In the early 2000s, we sent about 100 volunteers annually. Currently, we send about 500 volunteers each year. WorldTeach is currently in seventeen different countries, but we believe that the demand for English teachers has risen in all corners of the globe. This is apparent through the frequent request for partnership that we receive daily from ministries of education and local organizations all over the world.