English Opens Doors Program: Teach in Chile for Free!
86% Rating
(39 Reviews)

English Opens Doors Program: Teach in Chile for Free!

Are you interested in volunteering to teach English in Chile? Please consider the English Opens Doors Program. Participation is FREE and placements are available throughout Chile.

The English Opens Doors Program is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and the Chilean Ministry of Education. The English Opens Doors Program seeks highly motivated individuals to work as English teaching assistants in public schools throughout Chile. A typical week for a full-time volunteer includes 24 hours of English teaching and 11 hours of extra-curricular activities. Volunteers teach alongside a Chilean head teacher and work with students ranging from 5th grade (10-11 years old) to 12th grade (17-18 years old).

We are now accepting applications for our 2018 Volunteer Services!

March 19, 2018 - July 22, 2018
April 2, 2018 - November 24, 2018
July 23, 2018 - November 24, 2018

Locations
South America » Chile » Santiago
Length
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Salary / Benefits
Volunteers receive:
-TEFL training during week-long orientation.
-Online Spanish course.
-A volunteer allowance of CLP 70,000 per 30 days of service to reimburse local transportation or other costs related to teaching.
-Accommodations and meals with a host family.
-In-country health insurance.
-Pre-departure information and support.
-Airport transfers to designated accommodations upon arrival for volunteers who arrive on official Program start dates.
-Assistance obtaining a Chilean I.D. card and a basic bank account.
-Round-trip transportation from Santiago to the regional placement site.
Classroom Audience
Children
High School
Middle School
Accommodation
Host Family
Inclusions
Accommodation
Airport Transfers
Meals
Transportation
Visa
Age Min.
21
Currency
USD
Other Locations
Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, and many other cities and towns throughout Chile!

Questions & Answers

Thank you again for your question! In terms of what volunteers do once they complete their service, the answer varies. Many volunteers choose to stay in Chile/South America to travel and/or work after their volunteer service. 20% of our volunteers who participated with us for the 2016 academic year have applied to volunteer with us again in 2017. We also have volunteers who have returned to their...
Our Volunteer Service dates coincide with the academic semesters in Chile. In an effort to create a maximum positive impact, we cannot provide shortened services. For more information pertaining our volunteer services available, please check out the "prospective volunteers" section on our website. Thanks!
Thanks for asking! Our week long, comprehensive training utilizes and teaches TEFL methodology and strategies, hoewever, it is not a TEFL training program. Also, TEFL certification would be considered an asset for the volunteer but it is not required to participate in our Program.
It really depends on where you get placed. Some people had other volunteers in the same town, so they could communicate with them. I personally didn't have anyone around me, so I had to deal with life on my own. That being said, when you are having your interview and in the comments section of the application, you can stress that you would like to be placed near another volunteer. And keep your fi...

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    74%
  • Support
    79%
  • Fun
    81%
  • Facilities
    75%
  • Safety
    93%

Program Reviews (39)

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.

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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.

Default avatar
Jessica
Female
27 years old
Denver, Colorado
University of Colorado- Boulder

Great Experience- Need Right Mindset

10/10

I could not recommend the English Opens Doors Program enough!

I was so nervous going into the program as I had never taught English before. Having said that I knew that I would have the right energy and personality to relate with high schoolers due to past experiences. Personality is the huge difference between having a positive and negative experience. It is so important to be interactive and energetic and have well prepared classes because with out that your teaching may fall flat and neither you nor your students will enjoy the experience.

That being said, the week long orientation gave me a lot of confidence in how to manage my class and how to lesson plan. It is amazing everything that can be learned in one week but I really felt equipped to fulfill my role as a volunteer once the week was over. It is important to remember that your chilean counterpart is responsible for the more tedious aspects of teaching grammar and sentence structure and your class is meant to incorporate whatever is being taught in their regular class with an interactive lesson in English. The orientation does a great job of giving sample lessons that show you exactly how to create an interactive class. It is important to be honest with yourself when applying to this program as it does require a certain confidence to run a class.

My host family and location placement was so fantastic. I did have a hiccup with my host family and that story is slightly complicated as they are like a second family to me and they really accepted me as a daughter. That being said sometimes you have to be proactive about your situation and that makes all the difference in these types of situations that require a sense of flexibility. The program was extremely attentive to my particular situation however there is only so much they can do so you have to be ready to accept challenges as they come. Leaving my community was pretty heartbreaking as I had grown to really love my town. I did feel that had there every been an emergency of some sort I would have received the support I needed. The staff is extremely professional and efficient in their jobs.

In terms of placement, I had requested a rural placement and thus my experience was unlike most others as many had requested city or mid-sized city experiences. Because of this, I was placed in a community where I was the first and only volunteer. In terms of a rural placement it was absolutely the right fit for me. I was able to engage and be a part of a community in such an incredible way. My host family was amazing and related to half the town, my head teacher and I clicked extremely well, and I of course loved all my students. Most days I would run into my students outside of class which added to the community feel. Talking with other volunteers I know many enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with volunteers in their area so if that is something you think is important then I would not choose a rural placement. Although I did not have other volunteers to lean on, I think it enhanced my experience because it meant I had to be incredibly participatory in the community to make friends and because of that I had a very authentic cultural experience.

How can this program be improved?

Something I found quite frustrating was the transportation. Mainly leaving my location I wanted to stay longer in my town which meant I had to find my own way back to Santiago. When I talked to a staff member they said I could always accept the flight they arrange and change the date and pay the difference. Well we didn't get our flight info till very late and by then the flights not only went up in price but when I called in to change my flight the airline said I would have to go through the travel agency the program used and ask them to change the reservation. At this point I was worried that flights would just keep getting more expensive and also when I called the agency no one answered. This meant that both I and the program paid for the same flight which makes no sense because it was an additional cost for everyone involved.

I understand that the program can't worry about everyone's separate itinerary nor do I expect them to work around my wishes in terms of travel but as an alternative it might be nice if they offer some sort of travel reimbursment if you opt out of the return flight. For example 50,000 CLP (or whatever they deam appropriate) if you opt out of transportation. IT could end up saving them money and would be nice for volunteers who don't want to leave the day their program ends.

Default avatar
Andrew
Male
24 years old
Devon, UK
Newcastle University

Teaching in Temuco

9/10

To start with, the orientation in Santiago was really fantastic. I didn't expect to really learn a lot during a single week's orientation but it exceeded my expectations and did genuinely prepare me for my teaching experience in Chile. I'd done a 120-hour TEFL course in the past and this orientation left me feeling much more prepared for EFL teaching than the course did (maybe that's a bad sign about the course I took though!).

I was assigned to teach in a public school in Temuco in La Araucanía region for 3 months and lived with a warm and welcoming Chilean family. Since I didn't find a lot of information about living in Temuco before arriving and in case someone is heading that way, it's quite a useful place to live in (big enough for all the stores/cafes/bars you'll need) but not particularly exciting! The nice thing about living in the south though is that you're never far from a beautiful national park or the coast. As for the teaching, I found that I had all of the preparation and materials that I needed and I really enjoyed working with and getting to know my students. Sometimes it's frustrating working with Chilean schools since they can be very poorly organized and plans change at very short notice, but when I was actually in my classroom teaching I enjoyed it much more than I expected. Again with living with a host family, there are times when the adjustment is difficult/frustrating but that's also part of the fun and what you should expect from living with a family in another country. One of the great things about this program is that you're really immersed in Chilean culture and you have no choice but to really improve your Spanish (I had friends who went there with no Spanish and they did fine as well, don't worry).

Overall, there definitely are difficulties associated with living and working in Chile but the EDOP offered consistently good support and advice throughout the program. I was also placed in a school where I felt like I made a difference and I formed really strong relationships with my Chilean host-family and students.

How can this program be improved?

The information on where you're placed could arrive earlier; it's understandable since arranging host-families and schools for each volunteer is very difficult but as a volunteer I was keen to learn about where I'd be living and teaching and I didn't get that information until the middle of the orientation week in Santiago.

Default avatar
Katie
Female
32 years old
United States
Florida State University

Completed English Opens Doors fall service

9/10

I completed the fall 2014 volunteer service. I think like many of the reviews here, it is very particular to the school and family you are placed with in Chile. I was in a suburb of Santiago in a semi-private school. Overall, it was a very positive experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to do a volunteer program and/or learn Spanish. You receive an excellent training and orientation and leave with great tools for your semester in the schools. Also, from talking to other ex-pats and foreign travelers in Chile, I think it's one of the very few volunteer programs where you don't have to pay to volunteer.

I've taught in the past in the United States, and anyone considering needs to be aware that it is VERY different than teaching in the U.S.. Discipline and teaching styles are very different in Chile. The Chilean students weren't usually rude or disrespectful, but they are accustomed to talking and doing what they want during lectures. It was very frustrating sometimes and maybe even a little harder because I had expectations for how high school students in the U.S. usually acted in a classroom. However, the program is very open about the discipline differences in Chile and behavior and give you lots of good ideas and strategies in the orientation. It's overall very rewarding and I loved the teachers and students I met. Several staff members reached out to me and I was lucky enough to make friends this way.

I think it's also a great way to start your adventures in Chile and it offers a way for you to make a positive difference as well!

How can this program be improved?

I did not have a great home family experience, but honestly, I think some of that had to do with my age (26). They were nice people, we just didn't "gel" very well or have a great connection. It was hard trying to adjust to living back with a family after being independent for several years. I ended up changing my living situation and the program was very supportive and helpful. I'm still glad I lived with a family and had that experience. It's not even really a criticism or something they need to change, it was just the most challenging part of my stay.

Default avatar
Craig
Male
32 years old
Boulder, Colorado
Texas A&M University

Teaching and Living in Chile - A unique experience I will always remember

10/10

After eight years of working as a software developer and project manager for a large company I decided I wanted to pursue other passions. After researching several different work/volunteer abroad programs I discovered the English Opens Doors Program in Chile. This program seemed to combine my passion for teaching, traveling and hispanic culture while being located in a safe country with a rich culture and interesting sites. Now that I have returned from my volunteer semester (~4 months) I can say without a doubt that volunteering with English Opens Doors was the right decision for me. Overall I would say the best thing about my journey were the connections I made with my students, fellow teachers, host family, and friends in Cunco. Of course I would also rank exploring Chile and learning Spanish at the top of that list too but nothing is better than the friendships I made, the impact I left of the community and the impact they left on me.

How can this program be improved?

I think that volunteers could be provided with a larger and more comprehensive Lesson Library. This would cut down on planning and increase time that the teacher could spend with their students. The program was working on implementing a more robust lesson library before my session ended.

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Kristin
Female
24 years old
USA
College of William and Mary

July-Nov. 2014 in Temuco

9/10

During my time in Chile, I ended up working in a brand new school facility in a pretty large city in southern Chile. It wasn't the rural experience that a lot of volunteers have (there was more technology in the classrooms that I knew how to use, for example), but I did request to be placed in a medium-sized city, so I got exactly what I thought I wanted.

Through living with a wonderful host family and working alongside experienced English teachers, in my five months in Chile, I learned and developed professionally and personally. My biggest struggles were in adapting to the conservative expectations of some of my older colleagues and host parents (mostly in terms of the very prevalent gender roles that i witnessed), and in learning to work with two head teachers who had very different teaching styles and some interpersonal disagreements that predated my time with the program. Working through those issues, however, gave me the flexibility and appreciation to work in almost any work environment.

The best parts of the program were becoming comfortable with my students, enjoying the energy that I could bring to the classroom, realizing that lesson planning wasn't as hard as I had thought, and forming close friendships with my head teachers, my host mom and my host sister. Plus, Chile is a beautiful country and I loved getting to travel some with my host family, and on my own after the program ended.

Through EODP, volunteers get a first hand look at what it means to be a teacher in Chile. No system is perfect, and education, no matter where you go in the world, is always going to be a struggle. That being said, I got to see a very different side of Chile than I would have seen in any other context -- a side that is, in many ways, more real than other travel and work experiences for foreigners. The things that I learned with EODP are skills that will help me for the rest of my life, and the school and family that I was a part of will stay with me forever.

How can this program be improved?

Due to the large number of people involved in the program (host families, English teachers, other school personnel, Regional Representatives, the National Volunteer Center and the volunteers) and the large number of responsibilities each person involved had, sometimes different people would have different information. This was part of the reason why, during the interview and orientation process, the importance of being flexible and straightforward in your questions and concerns was so emphasized.

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Emily
Female
24 years old
Sheridan, WY
Birmingham-Southern College

Difficult but unforgettable experience.

9/10

I lived in a small rural town, which is exactly what I had wanted and requested. I almost didn't write this review because I am so nostalgic for that small town, for my amazing students, and for once every night with my host mom. I will be honest, I didn't expect the program to be this much work. I was up late planning lessons, trying to think of the best ways to engage them and have successful classes. However, that was the case because I fell in love with my students. They made me want to come to class prepared, they made me want to engage them and do the best possible job of teaching them as I could. They made me want to be there every day helping and pushing them, as they did for me. I would say that more than teaching them English, it was a cultual exchange. They taught me Spanish and all their slang; I taught them English and my slang. It was a hard and exhausting and amazing experience. Orientation stressed this, and this shouldn't be taken lightly. We were there to help students; it wasn't a vacation time to travel around Chile. However, in this process I learned so much more than I would have volunteering at a school for a few hours a week. It was a real job. It had ups and downs. The schools aren't perfect. There are school politics and hard situations. It was a real-life, Chilean experience. But I wouldn't change it. Chileans can be some of the most caring and welcoming and wonderful people. Their culture is welcoming and warm, and I think that the orientation staff has embraced this concept and truly made it part of the program. Will never forget my beloved region

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Lauren
Female
24 years old
Boston
University of Massachusetts- Amherst

Difficult Personal Experience, Good Program

7/10

My experience in Chile was hard. I got sent to a very difficult mining city in the North of Chile. I struggled with the the dry air, the intense pollution, the lack of young people, but mostly the grimy men and the lack of ability to feel comfortable at any point. I tried to learn to like the city I was in, I just found it impossible for so many reasons.

Having said that, I did stick it out and came out of the experience having learned a lot about the lives of others, especially about the lives of people less fortunate than I. I learned what it feels like to be a minority, what it feels like to be laughed at, what it feels like to be different. I learned about people live in a mining city, the wage disparities, and the ignorance or apathy of people happy to live in a place where it seems everyone is sick with some disease, and kids are raised in a mall instead of outdoors (as the whole town is filled with dust and cement).

Like I said, it was difficult, but I don't regret it. My kids, head teacher and school were awesome, and school was a sanctuary for me- as it was for the kids. I've never seen a group of kids so happy to be at school before in my life. They loved each other, loved their professors, loved me, and loved learning English. A lot of them came from hard family lives, but you never saw it on their face. Though teaching was sometimes a struggle for me (mostly just being exhausted at the end of the day), the level of dedication that my kids had to me and my class made me dedicate myself to them in return. I participated in absolutely everything and threw myself into the school portion of the program, as it was the most positive part of my experience (and luckily so, as I spent most of my time at the school anyways). I recommend that, by the way.

For a quick example of the awesome school experience I had, I'll share two things my school did for me (they treated me like a rock-star). On the Monday after my birthday ( I had mentioned to absolutely nobody that my birthday had been that Saturday) I got called into school early, and when I showed up the ENTIRE school was assembled with a banner that said "Happy Birthday Miss Lauren", and a gift from every course. I'm not kidding (imagine my suitcase for my flight back to Santiago....). A week before I left, they called another assembly to thank me for my service and gift me a beautiful glass plaque with my name engraved and a thank you note engraved on it. I almost cried.

Anyways, my family was highly unpleasant. Just bad people, not sure what their deal was. I didn't decide to move until the last 3 weeks of the program, but I wish I had done it sooner. The program was very supportive about my problems with the family and the town. They called often to check up on me, sent me emails, called again, and went out of their way to help me. They gave me suggestions when they could and they supported any decision I wanted to make. The support staff couldn't have improved their service to me in any way. I truly believe they did everything they could for me when they realized I was struggling. I was also very communicative with them about what was going on. If you are concerned about volunteering with a credible program who have excellent support staff and will never leave you hanging when you have a problem, English Opens Doors is a very good option for you.

So, while I may not have had the time of my life teaching in Chile, it is an experience I will never forget. Sometimes it requires a tough disposition and I'm sure it always requires perseverance. I can also tell you that out of almost all the other volunteers in my program that I've talked to, they loved just about everything and had the time of their life. I think I'm definitely in the minority with the problems I faced. It's just a matter of how everything plays out. In the end, if you have a hard time, it's just four months of your life and I guarantee you'll learn something!

How can this program be improved?

I think the main problems with the program come directly from the Chilean education system and the Ministry of Education in Chile. For example, my kids had a low level of English and needed A LOT more time in the English classroom, and with me. Unfortunately I didn't get as much time with them as I needed.

I think that people sent to more expensive cities should be given a higher stipend in order to afford the supplies they need. The city I lived in was expensive and money didn't go very far. I also think wages should be given at the beginning rather than the end of the program (you get paid in the last two months), as by that time the money has already been spent ( I ended up converting my paychecks into dollars on my way out of the country).

I also think it would be great if each volunteer would be personally prepped during orientation for the region/city they'll be going to, especially if it's a difficult one. For example, my city was heavily populated with men who just loved hitting on me, calling me profane names on the street, asking me out incessantly etc, etc. Preparation and techniques for dealing with this behavior beforehand would have helped me prepare myself and my reactions and defenses to this.

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Yanpei
Female
24 years old
London, UK
University of Pennsylvania

English Opens Doors Summer Camp - Jan 2015

10/10

Every moment of my English Summer Camp volunteer experience has taught me so much about commitment and determination. I had an amazing, eye-opening experience volunteering in Talca and Santiago and would greatly cherish the opportunity to return to Chile to work with the EODP in future.

The EODP has highlighted the importance of continuing to learn, explore, and grow. My time in Chile has given me the necessary confidence and skills to continue testing personal horizons by traveling and connecting with people all over the world. I hope my students learned as much from me as I did from them!

Working with children and teenagers is both humbling and empowering. It is an experience I will never forget. In education, opportunities are endless. The EODP has helped me take advantage of a privilege academic background to take initiative, leave behind any inhibitions, and stand up for what I believe is important: every child should benefit from an engaging, fun, and intellectually stimulating education.

I will always treasure my new relationships and friendships from my 2 weeks, whether with my summer camp monitor, fellow volunteers, or student. People mean everything and I can't thank my Chilean MINEDUC and National Volunteer Center friends for the good times and challenges during my volunteer experience.

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Volunteer
Male
24 years old
santiago, chile
Other

Great experience

10/10

EODP was definitely the right choice for me. As a recent college graduate who wanted to have an international volunteer experience in my ¨gap year¨ between going to graduate school, EODP offered me exactly what I was looking for. The program is well organized and my personal experience was very positive in nearly all aspects. The Chilean students, although much rowdier than students in my country, were also much more eager and vibrant.

How can this program be improved?

Although I understood the reasoning behind this, I would have preferred the monthly stipend to have been received in the first months of the program (you receive aggregate lump sums in the last two months). The program gives you fair warning that you may have to draw on your own resources (which is later reimbursed by the stipend). However, I found I never had to spend too much of my own money anyways as all food and housing is provided.

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VS3
Female
32 years old
Rosario, Argentina
Williams College

OK program, but horrible support staff

4/10

The support staff aren't really there for the volunteers as they claim at the start of the program. Quite regularly they would respond to my emails late with very vague, broad, useless answers like some customer service reps trying to avoid responsibility. The worst of it was when I had to be hospitalized because of a very acute form of tonsilitis which required IV treatment. I had a really hard time dealing with the insurance company and because of that my condition got progressively worse and worse before I was finally admitted into the hospital. The support team did not help me. The disease repeated itself for me about a week later with same symptoms but on a Sunday when the clinic where the insurance company has an agreement is closed. I searched for urgent help from the program coordinators. Was told that they couldn't do anything about it until the next day. I was also advised to pay out of pocket at any medical facility and reassured I'd be reimbursed for my expenses later. Thankfully, I did not do it because the out-of-pocket transportation expenses I did make were not reimbursed. The reaction of the support staff was that they never told me that I could take a taxi and get reimbursed (which they did) and even went as far as making a scene and slamming money out of their own pocket on my table in the dining room of the hostel in Santiago.

The task at hand of teaching English is very challenging being at public schools where kids don't care about English at all. What is more, the English teachers often don't actually speak English.

Furthermore, Chile is cold and the food is bad. Perhaps the reason why I spent over a month sick and was even hospitalized. We did not have any heating neither at the school nor at my host family so the only place to find some body warmth is in bed. For 4 months. 90% of what we ate was bread. I practically did not see vegetables other than the occasional tomato for my entire stay. The idea of my host family of a good meal on a weekend was hot dogs.

The social scene was definitely lacking in the town of Los Angeles, but I managed to find some friends outside of the school and program's circles. Main activity of young people seems to be to go to the "campos" and drink, eat BBQ and talk.

To do anything fun outside the program, plenty of money is necessary. Chile is expensive and even mountains are private, so you can't just go on a hike, you have to pay for a company to take you.

Response from English Opens Doors

Petya, thank you very much for your feedback.

We hope that interested applicants will read some of the other recent reviews for a more realistic and honest view of the program. This volunteer's review is disappointingly deceptive, and from our perspective we made a judgement error when we reversed our decision to dismiss her for her consistently negative behavior during orientation. One thing that we have tried to make clear in all of our recruitment efforts is that this is not a study abroad program, where the volunteer is the client. Rather, this is a government-run education initiative designed to benefit students. From her behavior during orientation and throughout her volunteer service, it was very clear that this volunteer's motivations did not align with the program's (as demonstrated by her review, in which she writes at length about her free insurance and then criticizes her students and many other things about Chile). If any interested applicants are concerned by her review, please email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to share our correspondence with her throughout the semester.

To address one specific point, this volunteer did not understand the terms of the insurance, nor did she acknowledge the coordination that we did with the insurance company to expedite her reimbursement to make sure she received it before leaving Chile. The mentioned taxi rides were the result of her refusing the treatment offered by the hospital, and as such the insurance company rejected the reimbursement claim. The total was 6 USD.

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Jessy
Female
32 years old
Bourges, France
Other

From application to end of service, great program

10/10

The EODP program was everything I was looking for in a volunteer experience. They gave a stipend, provided a host family, and even provided travel health insurance and the visa. I hoped to get some practice in on my Spanish skills and do what I love -- teaching EFL -- at the same time.

My host family situation was ideal. They didn't live far from the school, the host mom was a retired teacher from the school I was working in and she also happened to be an excellent cook. She had children my age, which was helpful for making acquaintances.

My (2) fellow English Teachers were welcoming and helpful. I plan on being in contact with them far into the future. With my head teacher, were both teachaholics and spent a lot of time planning activities and lessons for our classes. Both of the English Teachers were a big help in the beginning when I wasn't so confident in Spanish and we helped eachother with our language learning endeavors.

I was in a public school in a fairly urban environment. Many of my students came from vulnerable backgrounds. They had single parent homes, problems with abuse or neglect, alcoholism or drug addiction in their family, and I had many students who were either parents or who were expecting, many of them also got their main meal everyday from the school cafeteria. They had various behaviour problems because their home lives weren't the easiest. On top of this the Chilean classroom can best be described as...chaotic. Cellphones, tablets, headphones and side conversations are normal fare.

Even so, my students were my favorite people. I spent all day with them in the classroom. I saw them in the halls and sometimes saw them in town. They played tricks on me, they made me laugh, the majority of them gave English a try in my classroom and we had a good time. I had very few problems with behavior, the majority of the problems were in the beginning when students test their new teacher.

If you are interested in Teaching EFL, working with teenagers (particularly teens with difficult home lives), becoming part of a community and discovering a different culture, this program could be for you!

How can this program be improved?

The Independant teaching model (ie, splitting the class in two, taking one half for an hour and then switching with the head teacher) is not always practical. Sometimes a class is too small (less than 20 students total?). having so few at a time isn't fun or interesting. It also makes it hard for the head teacher and the volunteer to give eachother feedback and help eachother.

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Kevin
Male
24 years old
Rochester, New York
State University of New York- Geneseo

A professional teaching experience

10/10

After spending ample time searching for programs to live and teach abroad, I chose to go to Chile through Programa Inglés Abre Puertas. I have my BS in Childhood with Special Education and Spanish, so not only was I looking for a memorable experience, but I desired a program that would allow me the professionalism and responsibility of a teaching position, yet still give enough freedom to teach as I wanted to. After a year of service, this program exceeded my expectations.

The National Volunteer Center Team was caring, poised, and attentive to the diverse needs of all volunteers. Communication was always clear and I had clear ideas of what the expectations were for us as volunteers. For example, one month after arriving there was an strong earthquake in the north of the country. I promptly received a phone call from the team making sure I was safe and my family in the United States was notified that I was okay.

Another reason that this program impressed me is because of the training that volunteers receive. I have attended professional development programs in the United States and the material covered in the training is up-to-date and shows the latest research in education.

If you are looking for a means to travel, have a good time, and earn money, this is not the program for you. Being a teacher means being a positive role model for the entire community and it is important that you embody this as a volunteer and assume the responsibility. In addition, you are a volunteer, which means that you are not doing this for profit. You will have enough money, but it is important to bring extra, especially if you want to travel when there are breaks from school.

Being a teacher means that you will be responsible, flexible, and humorous. You need to step out of your comfort zone to be successful. With an open mind and the ability to clearly voice your opinions, you will love this program. It is unique for all volunteers and is an experience that you will never want to forget.

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Isaac
Male
24 years old
Boston, MA
Williams College

A great experience

10/10

I came to Chile with some tutoring and teaching experience. I wanted to get out of the United States, practice teaching, and learn more Spanish. This program helped me to do all these things. They provide a strong introduction to teaching methods and support throughout your stay. The program is a lot of work because you teaching many Chilean students (I worked with over 200 students per week). Because of what I wanted out of my experience this was perfect for me. The more effort I put into the work and community the more I got out. This is an amazing opportunity if you go into with the right motivations and a desire to be challenged.

How can this program be improved?

One challenge is that the model of teaching is often to work with many groups of students relatively little over the course of each week. This results in getting a lot more students to work in small groups with a native speaker, but it prevents students from getting a lot of practice to develop their listening and speaking abilities. I understand the reasoning of the program and the objectives; however, I would rather see volunteers working with less students and spending more time with each group.

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Katie
Female
24 years old
Youngstown, Ohio
Youngstown State University

A Great TEFL Opportunity to get your feet wet!

9/10

I think that the English Opens Doors program was a wonderful and enriching experience. I have my degree in Spanish Education so I'm not a stranger to teaching, but I had wanted to 'get my feet wet' with TEFL for quite some time. The EOD program seemed like a great opportunity to do just that! Rather than moving and trying to teach English on my own, having the support of a program attracted me. I was also inspired by the fact that the EOD program has the support of both the United Nations and the Chilean Ministry of Education, so you know that you are contributing to something much bigger than yourself.

As for finances, you do have to pay for your flight yourself, but it is pretty generous for a volunteer program. The visa fee is covered, you receive health insurance, and you get lodging and three meals a day from your host family. You also get a monthly allowance to pay for transportation, extra food, etc. The only negative thing is that this money isn't available until the end of the semester, but English Opens Doors is very transparent about the fact that you should have enough savings for you to get buy until your check comes in.

I loved teaching in Antofagasta and the students were what made it worthwhile. I would say that I had somewhat of an atypical experience, because I worked in a semi-private (subvencionado) school that had an excellent English curriculum and English teachers in the double digits! Therefore, I had a lot of support from the fellow English teachers and my students were relatively advanced. Some schools have a much lower level of English and not as much support. I was also very apprehensive about behavior management, but having a system in place helped potential problems. However, behavior management can be a rougher issue in the fully-public schools, because there you teach children in vulnerable situations. But I have heard of many volunteers enjoying their experience in these schools as well.

It was great to interact with the students, say 'Hello' to them in the hallways, and see their projects and extra curricular activities (plays, etc.). And while you will always get at least a couple students who aren't really interested in English, I was overall very impressed with my students' motivation and creativity in the classroom. They would say things in English that made me laugh every day!

My host family was also very supportive and I couldn't have asked for a better family to be placed with! I was a little nervous to live with a Chilean family but it seems like most of the families who host volunteers really care about the program and they are excited to meet you. I found that this dynamic was very different than that of a study abroad program, where families host students due to financial reasons rather than a desire for a cultural exchange. My host family definitely had their heart in the right place and they made me feel like a part of their family from the very first day.

Also, I appreciate the transparency and organization of the English Opens Doors program. While getting our placement information seemed a bit unorganized, I think that the orientation in Santiago did a fantastic job giving us a crash-course on TEFL and teaching us about Chilean culture. Also, EOD made their teaching model very clear to us so that helped me understand their expectations (ex: taking half the class, having your own classroom, etc.). The volunteer center was also prompt to respond to emails and I felt very supported throughout the whole semester.

Of course, there were some difficulties. It was hard for me to get used to the family-centered nature of Chilean culture because I've always been very independent. Sometimes it was also challenging finding planning time with teachers or controlling a particular class. But these problems are very small in comparison to the wonderful experience that I've gained...I already miss my Chilean students and I've only been gone for a few weeks. I highly recommend this program if you are flexible, passionate about teaching, and open to new cultural experiences.

How can this program be improved?

I agree with some of the other posters that crucial information should be provided beforehand. It was a little nerve-wracking not knowing our exact placements until mid-week during our orientation in Santiago! Having so little information made my family members and friends a little worried and I think it made the program seem unorganized, even though it really wasn't. Giving the volunteers their placement information earlier can help them prepare better and pack accordingly!

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Seep
Female
32 years old
Chile
Other

You´ll never be the same again! A must have experience :)

10/10

I came across the EOD program by sheer luck. I say that because normally when you look around for programs that allow you to volunteer, they usually ask for a fee. This program does not. In fact it offers you a stipend for teaching. It might not be a huge amount but honestly you won´t need more than that as the program gives you options between staying with a host family or staying on your own. If you choose to stay alone then they give you stipend which covers your living expenses (around 2,15,000 CLP) and if you choose to stay with a host family then they pay you 60,000 CLP because you food and room are already taken care of by the family.
The best thing about the program is that everyone is super coordinated and always reachable. They try their best to make the transition of a volunteers, from their countries to the assigned region, as smooth and hassle free as possible.
When you reach Chile you are not pushed into teaching without any training. We had a week long orientation that prepared me for the task ahead. Teaching English can be a lot of fun but it is hard work too, and the orientation gets you into the right mindset for the same. I got some valuable tips and amazing lesson plans that I was able to use successfully during my service. It also allows to share your ideas and gain some amazing ones from the other volunteers. Plus I can guarantee that it´s not just work because it´s an active week and you get to actually practice with the activities that you think which helps you see if the activities would really work out or not.
I was assigned to a school in the beautiful little town of Los Muermos in the south of Chile. It was all that I imagined and much more. The kids loved having a foreigner all to themselves :). They have hundreds of questions and are super delighted to have some one answer those. I can say for sure that the kids would love you way more than you can imagine and actually put in more effort than they normally do just so that you would not be disappointed or to hear you say ¨ Excellent Job!¨ :). The teachers were lovely, helpful and super patient considering that I spoke zero Spanish when I came to Chile. The EOD team, my host family and the teachers made sure that I settled in my new environment and received all the material that I needed for my classes with in two weeks as the postal service in little towns can be pretty tricky.
My host family was like way better than I could have imagined! They were super accommodating and they made me feel at home instantly. I had a room to myself and the house was impeccable! Clean, big, warm and full of lovely people. My experience has not only equipped me with valuable knowledge about teaching English as a second language but has also made me a better teacher considering I taught kids who spoke very little English because I spoke zero Spanish.
I would recommend this program highly as it´s definitely one of it´s kind . It´s an amazing experience and definitely makes you realize that you can help and in the process you end up learning! :)

How can this program be improved?

As per me the program is perfect!

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Claire
Female
24 years old
Portland, Oregon
Northwestern University

Incredible professional and personal experience

10/10

English Open Doors Program was a fantastic experience! The orientation was very comprehensive and I felt totally prepared when I arrived at my placement. I had all the tools necessary to enter the classroom and into Chilean life. I loved teaching my classes and developed strong connections with my students. Every day students were excited to come to "La clase de La Miss." We would learn vocab, have conversations, and play games. During my program, I saw my students´ English improve and their confidence increase dramatically. I felt I had made a difference and was a real part of my school and local community. I also had an incredible host family that included me as if I was their daughter. We laughed a lot together and my Spanish improved immensely. Professionally, it was valuable experience working in foreign country, and something I know stands out on my resume. Personally, I learned I lot about myself. It was a challenging, but nothing more than I could handle. Overall, it was a truly rewarding and immersive experience.

How can this program be improved?

The process for getting a visa for Chile can be a little difficult. However, if you follow their timeline and stay on top of your stuff, it isn´t hard.

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Katie
Female
32 years old
Chicago, Illinois
University of Chicago

EOD VS3 April-Nov 2013; Coronel, Chile

9/10

I volunteered with the English Opens Doors Program from April-November 2013. I worked at a public high school in Coronel, Chile throughout the duration of my volunteer service. I found my work to be challenging, but I really enjoyed my time there and found the experience very rewarding. The teachers and students were extremely warm and welcoming. Staff members seemed to support my work at the high school as well as the mission of the EODP.

During the orientation, we had been forewarned of some of the difficulties we would face, but I'm not sure I was fully prepared for some of the challenges I encountered in my work. I had to learn how to become more flexible and more patient. One thing I was not prepared for was the temperature inside of the school building. I come from Chicago where we've seen experienced some extremely harsh winters, but our heating systems make those winters bearable. Even though the winters are much milder in Coronel, I had a difficult time staying warm with a winter jacket and multiple layers of clothing.

My high school was often described as "vulnerable" or "complicated". At the beginning of my experience, I was overwhelmed and frustrated, because I felt that the students' environments--both at home and at school--impeded them from learning. I was rarely able to complete the lesson that I had so carefully developed. I was finally able to make progress with my students when I changed my attitude. The environment wasn't perfect, but I had to accept that I was not going to be able to make deep, systemic changes to the school or education system in the little time that I would spend there. I think that the English Opens Doors Program has amazing potential to do great work in schools like mine. The students who were motivated to learn English had the advantage of being able to learn from and practice with a native speaker. The students who were not as motivated to learn were able to participate in a cultural exchange. Many of my students had never met another foreigner and had never thought about travelling. It was profound to see these students' horizons expand past Coronel during our interactions.

For the first three months of the program, I was living with a family in the same town where I worked. Although the people in Coronel were very nice, I had a difficult time adjusting, because I lived in a neighborhood that was far from any sort of commercial or entertainment district. I was not within walking distance of downtown Coronel or even my high school and the buses stop around 11PM. Because of those factors, it was hard to find things to do and difficult to meet potential friends. I met most of my friends through my guide teacher, but the majority of them lived in Lota, a town further west of Coronel. I was living with a host family, but did not feel welcome in their home and struggled to connect with them. When I finally decided that my living situation was not the best fit for me, I moved to an apartment in Concepcion, the nearest big city. Even though I had a much longer bus ride to school, I preferred the longer commute to my living situation with the family in Coronel. I felt much less lonely and enjoyed the environment of a thriving city like Concepcion.

The English Opens Doors Program has opened a lot of doors for me. During my experience, I was able to build skills that I will draw from throughout my entire professional career. Chile has left a lasting impression on my heart. I was able to build so many beautiful and meaningful relationships that I hope to maintain for the rest of my life. I would absolutely recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing about the program, I would change the fact that we find out such crucial information about our placement so late. The program discloses your region to you less than two weeks before your departure to Chile. While knowing the region is helpful, there is a lot of variation within each region. Even within the region where I was placed, I could have been in the mountains or near the beach, in an urban area or in the middle of nowhere. We are told the name of our town and school, and given information about our host family and guide teachers mere days before we go to live in these places. I think I could have had a more positive experience from the beginning and been better prepared had I known these important details well before I left the United States.

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Alexandria
Female
32 years old
Chicago, IL
University of Southern California

Best decision ever!

9/10

This program was a wonderful experience! I was placed in the Los Lagos region of Chile, which is in the South and what I listed as my first preference on the application. My host family was wonderful. They were some of the most kind people I've ever met and very welcoming.

The teachers I worked with were nice and the school I was placed at had great kids. It's a unique, challenging and fun experience overall. It won't all be easy and there will be times where you feel a little lost or lonely, but if you keep working at it and expect the unexpected, you will have a good experience.

Orientation: As someone without a teaching background, the program had very useful examples of teaching techniques and gave us a day to plan a lesson. I definitely used the ideas from orientation in my day to day teaching.

Be prepared to jump right into the program at orientation. This isn't a study abroad program, it's a job with the benefit of being in Chile and experiencing a whole new way of living. I think the program tries to make that clear at orientation. As with most orientations, there is a lot of administrative talk that repeats what you will read in the informational packets you must read before coming to Chile. I can definitely see why it's necessary for the program to repeat key points, to make sure everyone is on the same page.

You won't find out your exact location until right before you leave, on the last day of orientation. This is not a joke, you really won't know until right before you leave. It will be noon on the day you are supposed to leave and you will still need to find out where you are going. If you go in expecting this, you will be okay. In the online materials for the program, they state that you will find out your placement during orientation in Santiago, what they really mean is you should expect to find out your placement almost right before placing you on a bus or plane to go to your placement, at the end of orientation.

Packing: It was extremely hard to pack for this given the uncertainty of locations. When in doubt, bring layers. I found that Chile has a ton of re-sale shops with American style clothing so don't worry too much about it and leave a little cash aside to buy clothes appropriate to the location when you arrive. There are a few clothing items I definitely would have brought with me if I knew my exact location but I figured it out.

One key to remember is that Chile does not have central heating, it will be cold if you are in a southern region. It's completely normal, and expected, to wear a winter jacket indoors during the school day. If you preference a southern region, bring a comfortable winter jacket and rain coat to wear all the time.

Cell Phones: I think the program requires you to get a cell phone before you go to your placement. BUT, this did not work out well for me since my phone barely worked in the city I ended up in. Much like the USA, Chile has a few different major phone carriers and their service varies greatly depending on location. If possible, wait to buy a phone until you get to your placement or just get the cheapest one possible with the least minutes you can to start.

Program Staff: I loved my regional coordinators. They were really amazing and helpful. I think they really cared about what they do and want to make sure the volunteers are doing well. Definitely reach out right away if you have any questions or problems. If you have a major issue and can't get help from your regional coordinator, reach out to the Santiago staff because they want to help too. The key is not to let any problems fester too long before reaching out for help. I knew of some people who left the program early and it seemed like a lot of it had to do with host family issues. It is definitely important that you have a decent host family and safe/livable place to stay. You can't expect any perfection from your experience, but, reach out to staff if you have any issues, they might be able to make your situation better.

Host family: My host family was really sweet and amazing. My host mom made wonderful food and I bought a few things to eat I personally liked on my own each week. Be prepared to eat lots of bread, butter, and potatoes and supplement your own food if you have picky preferences.

I felt really lucky because my host family had a beautiful house, with an ocean view, in a nice neighborhood, with wifi, cable and a dryer! At the same time, like almost all Chilean houses, the only heating was through the fire place/stove thing and it was very cold at night and when it stormed the fire would go out. I learned to sleep with 5 thick blankets and my coat on when I needed to.

I ate lunch with my host family every day since it was a short walk from school. They only spoke Spanish and living with them was the main way I improved my Spanish during my time there. It took a lot of adjusting to get used to the Chilean accent and trying to communicate all the time in Spanish. My host family was very understanding with my bad American accent and tried really well to include me in their lives.

School: I was placed in a semi-private school and my students were very nice and fun to see every day.

Most of the kids weren't super interested in English but I think they thought I was kind of entertaining as the strange foreign girl who tries to make them play games and speak in English. My 5th grade class was a challenge because they were literally jumping around the whole time and trying to hit each other with various objects. I tried to integrate really active English games to use the energy they had but I couldn't quite figure out how best to work with that one group.

I had the opportunity to coach the English Debate team for competitions and I made a great connection with those students. While one of the keys to enjoying this program is being "open minded" and "flexible", it's also important to hold on to the qualities that work for you. In the case of coaching the debate team, I really had to push (in a polite, professional way) to get time to work with my debate team. The kids had "free" periods when theoretically they could work on the English Debate, but, the school and students put a big priority on events and other activities and would usually assume the kids didn't need much time to prepare for the debate. I ended up working out times for my debate team to practice and we went on to win the regional competition. My kids had a great time and loved the debates and my school was very happy, after we started winning. I guess knowing the difference between being "flexible" and a push-over is important in this, as in any, experience.

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LaIso
Female
24 years old
London
University of Warwick

EDOP April - July 2013

9/10

I would definitely start any review of my time in Chile by saying that I had a FANTASTIC time!! I was placed in Los Andes, which about an hour North of Santiago. I found the experience to be the most incredible, life-changing thing I have ever done, no matter how corny that sounds, and although it was certainly a challenge, I will be forever glad that I embarked on it. I feel I have made friends and connections on the other side of the world that I will treasure forever.

One important thing I will say is this: every volunteer experience on this programme is different. There are so many factors that can affect your time in Chile (the school, co-teacher, family, location etc). I think that most people might have a mix of positive and negative elements, for example a good time in school and not such a great family time, or vice-versa. No one I knew had a really terrible time. I had an overall very positive experience, so I guess I was lucky.

The main thing I would therefore say about the programme is that you have to be flexible and go in with an open mind!! It really isn't for closed minded or fussy people!! I met some people on orientation week who were nervous because they were worried about living with a host family - they shouldn't have been doing the programme if those were their fears. A lot of the reviews point out that you often don't find out your placement city until a few days before you leave to go there - true, but if you are chilled and happy to go with the flow, there really isn't any genuine problem with this!! I didn't know ANYTHING about my family or my town on the day I left Santiago. I was dead nervous, but ready to head off into what I saw as the biggest adventure of my life.

My town was very quiet. There was not a huge amount to do, and as I am from London, I initially found this very hard. But by the end of it I really had fallen in love, and had learned to see the beauty of where I was (right in the foothills of the Andes). I had a few weekends where I could travel and see other more touristy parts of the country. I also threw myself into town life and took up Arab Dance classes in the local community centre. I made friends with some of the teachers from school and we did quite a lot together on the weekends. I hadn't come to Chile to party and go out all the time - obviously that helped to make me feel at home, but I didn't need it in order to make my time there better.

My family life was also very quiet, as it was just one couple and the husband worked and studied in Santiago so he wasn't around much during the week. I come from a big, loud family so initially also found this hard, but by the end we had definitely made our own special bond, and we are still in email contact (if fairly irregularly!)

I would say that it is important to have a decent level of Spanish before you come out - it's not very suitable for beginners to be living with a family, as you have to have the basics before you can start speaking conversationally. I had a pretty good level and found that it enabled me to have much deeper and more meaningful relationships with the people I met - I also learnt a huge amount and improved massively as immersion really is the best way to learn another language!

My school was good so I was lucky, and my kids were amazing. Leaving was very hard and I am still in touch with many of them. I was supported and looked after by my co-teacher, who was incredible, and will be a good friend of mine for life.

I met so many other volunteers as well, many of whom I still see and keep in contact with. The beauty of the programme, which makes it fairly unique, is that you are part of a huge network of contacts and volunteers throughout the length and breadth of the country. We had a facebook group and every weekend people would post their travel plans and ask if there was anyone placed in their destination city, or if anyone wanted to travel with them. I went to San Pedro de Atacama with a group of about 8 other volunteers, all of who I had met in orientation, and I had another volunteer who I had met in the winter camp stay with me and my family for the weekend. You do feel like there are plenty of others to contact for advice, tips, or even just travel recommendations.

Chile is a beautiful country with beautiful people. I would recommend the English Opens Doors Programme, although only to someone I knew with an easy going and open minded nature, as I am aware that I had a slightly atypically positive experience. For me it was a very powerful thing to move to another country and immerse myself in another country, and sometimes by being pushed and thrown out of your comfort zone, that is how you learn most about yourself.

Response from English Opens Doors

Although she describes it as "atypical", we think this former volunteer's experience is very representative of the majority of EODP volunteers. Having a positive and flexible attitude will go a long way towards having a positive experience.

In 2013, we had a 13% dropout rate, with 83% of the dropouts leaving for personal reasons unrelated to the program (financial issues, personal health, family emergencies). Of those who completed their service, 100% responded in their final survey that their time with EODP was a positive experience.

Default avatar
Muchacho
Male
24 years old
Rio
Other

A risk but most likely worthwhile

8/10

The most important thing to know is that the program is a gamble. For me, it was an amazing experience and for most of the people I know, it was positive overall. However, there are the odd horror stories. Given the nature of the schools you are teaching in, kids,teachers, etc. can be extremely difficult.

If one of your main goals is to learn Spanish, then EOD ticks the box. There's an online Spanish course that you can do as part of the program. But much more helpful than this is the fact that you live with a Chilean family, so you will definitely be speaking Spanish every day. Having said that, if you don't know any Spanish, you will be pretty lost for the first couple of months and will have no idea what people are trying to say to you (Chileans speak particularly difficult Spanish).

I had a really cool host family. They were really sweet, made great food, introduced me to their friends and generally I loved hanging out with them. But I can imagine that it could be a intense living with a family that you don't get on with - basically like having parents you hate.

Undoubtedly the best part of this program will be your students. Most of the lessons these kids have a ridiculously boring and basically rote learning. So they love the fact that they can have a fun lesson with games, music, etc. Obviously there will be some kids who couldn't care less and a few who will try to disrupt your lessons. But it's incredibly rewarding when you get through to some of them. There should be low expectations on the degree to which you can improve their standard of English given the time constraints but making any kind of impact is great. You can make much more of a difference with kids who are keen to learn and participate in Public Speaking and Debate competitions.

Finally, choose wisely when you opt for location preferences and prepare to be very adaptable. Chile is geographically very diverse. The South gets freezing in the winter, whereas the North is a desert and obviously your experience will be very different depending on whether you're placed in a tiny, rural village or in Santiago.

Overall, as I said, being an EOD volunteer a risk, but chances are you won't regret doing it.

How can this program be improved?

My major problem was with communication from the Central Office, specifically the information volunteers are given. Before coming to Chile, you are basically only told the region in which you will be working. Details about your city, host family, address and school are given to you at the end of the training week in Santiago, literally one day before you leave. To me, this seems completely unnecessary and pretty ridiculous. I'm yet to hear a decent explanation for it by the program. But if you're alright with this kind of uncertainty, it won't be a problem for you.

Response from English Opens Doors

We appreciate the honesty displayed by this former volunteer.

We do hope that former, present, and future volunteers understand that we cannot guarantee a perfect town, school, and host family for each volunteer. However, each year we work to improve our protocols so that our volunteers have positive experiences. In the final surveys from 2012 and 2013, 98% of volunteers say that they had a positive experience.

It is important to know that a representative of the program does visit every host family and approves them to host a volunteer. In addition, schools must comply with strict requirements in order to be eligible for a volunteer. Head teachers must be certified with a certain level of English.

In the end, our program is focused not necessarily on the volunteer experience, but whether or not the students are receiving a benefit from having a volunteer work in their school.

To respond to this volunteer's criticism, we clearly and consistently tell volunteers about the timeline in which they will learn about their placements. All volunteers receive their placement regions 2 weeks before the program starts, so that they can pack appropriately. All volunteers receive their specific placements during orientation week. Among other factors, this is due to the complicated nature of matching host families and schools with volunteers, and the inevitability of last minute changes (both from schools, families, and volunteers who drop out or are dismissed during orientation).

Truthfully, knowing one's specific placement earlier than during orientation week is completely unnecessary, and will not change any part of the pre-departure process for the volunteer. Those volunteers who are negatively affected by the timeline may not be flexible enough for volunteering with our program.

Default avatar
Denisha
Female
32 years old
United States
University of Cape Town

My thoughts about volunteering with EOD in Antofagasta

9/10

My experience with English Opens Doors (EOD) has been great. I jumped at the opportunity to come here and I didn't do much research about the country before hand, and upon arrival I heard quite a few negative stories, which began to worry me a bit.

However, having experienced it myself now, I couldn't be happier. The training we received in Santiago, gave me the confidence and tools I needed to teach. My regional representative always responds to my E-mails within a day or two (as well as the National Volunteer Center). My host family situation, is better than ideal; I feel very safe and comfortable, we couldn't be more different in the types of things that we like to do and eat but we get on very well and I really enjoy their company. The school I volunteer at is great. The teacher, staff and students are all very welcoming; they always greet me and make sure I feel comfortable. The students enjoy learning English and are very attentive!

How can this program be improved?

I think it would be very helpful if the program had some contingency plans in place or suggestions for schools and volunteers.

Default avatar
j0k3r
Male
32 years old
Phoenix, Arizona

I had a great experience, but others didn't

9/10

Personally I had a pretty good experience with the EOD program. My host mother was a warm person, great cook and provided me with everything I needed. She introduced me to her family and friends and made me feel welcome. I should say she didn't have internet though. But, there were internet cafes in my town and my school had internet.

I taught in a public elementary school, 5th - 8th grade. I've never taught before and had very little training. The program provides you with 1 week of training before you head out to your school. Needless to say this part was a challenge for me. Chilean students are known for being difficult to manage in class and my kids could be pretty disrespectful at times. English is not a subject that is focused on heavily in public schools. Example: my students would have 6 hrs each of math and language a week but only 2 hrs of English. It could be hard to motivate them. Definitely be firm at first. I made the mistake of trying to friend them right away and it was tough to regain control of the class many times. That said, they could be lots of fun, they're kids afterall. They're very competitive and love playing games. Bring stickers, they love them. Maybe buy some candy from time to time as well, they love that stuff. The kids were very warm and affectionate. In some ways they'll treat you like a celebrity. Always asking you questions and coming up to say hi and give you a hug. I will miss them. Just lower your expectations of what they will learn with you.

Overall, I had a pretty good experience. I heard about some volunteers who had host families that would take them out traveling and give them the family car to drive and others who had host families that wouldn't even feed them. Some volunteers taught in nice private schools where students knew a good amount of English and were more disciplined and others taught public schools in rough areas where the police would show up on a regular basis. I always got paid on time, but others didn't. Note: Save up some money before you come down, don't depend on the program money.

Because this program is a gamble I would not recommend it to a friend. I'd feel terrible if a buddy of mine didn't get fed and wasn't appreciated at his school. However, from all the volunteers I talked to, I'd say at least 60% had a solid experience. Most volunteers had a decent host family and decent situation in school. Maybe 20% had it real rough, but even then not all of them quit the program.

Response from English Opens Doors

To respond to this review's point about payments:

We state repeatedly and clearly that the volunteer allowance is not a salary, and not meant to be used to live off of. Rather, it is meant to reimburse you for any teaching related costs you incur (for example, if you take a local bus to school).

In addition, as it is paid through the UN Development Program, we do not have direct control over the payments. Instead, we coordinate with them according to their payment schedule. In 2012, volunteer allowances were divided into regular payments that came about every 2 months, depending on when volunteers started. For example, X volunteers were paid in August and Y were paid in September. The amount differed according to the total number of days in their specific programs. Often, volunteers talked amongst themselves and determined that their payments were wrong or late, and never asked us directly about their specific case.

For 2013, volunteers will arrive in Chile with their temporary residence visa already in hand. That means that they will receive their Chilean ID card within about a month of arriving. This will facilitate payments greatly.

Default avatar
Lyndsay
Female
42 years old
Santiago, Chile

Mixed reviews...

6/10

I should begin by saying that I was one of the lucky volunteers who ended up with a great host family, a nice house, and a decent school. However, the program was so, so disorganized, and I heard so many horror stories from friends in the program, that I don't know that I could recommend it to anyone.

A few examples of the disorganization of the program that I experienced.
- They don't tell you what city you're going to until the middle of orientation week in Santiago.

- My host family didn't know I was coming until the day before I arrived. I didn't know anything about them until I met them at the airport. Luckily, they were great, but many volunteers did not have a good experience.

- My first co-teacher was not prepared for me and did not communicate with me. This seemed to be common among the volunteer I knew. He often threw me in front of the class without warning or preparation and sat in the back of the class making noise and contributing to the mayhem in the classroom. I was able to switch to a second co-teacher who was much more organized, welcomed my help, and from then on, I enjoyed my time in the school.

- The 60.000/month is almost nothing, and generally arrives at random times. If you want to go out, buy anything, travel, or do anything extra, this will not get you very far. If you are placed in the northern part of the country, there's really nothing nearby, so traveling involves a long bus ride or a flight. Be prepared with a lot of savings if you want to be able to fully enjoy your time. Also, with all the disorganizaton, the potential issues, having to insert yourself in a school, etc., they really should be paying you more.

I decided to leave the program early because I wanted to work and earn some money. The office in Santiago did not respond positively to this news.

If you're really brave, super flexible, have a lot of savings, good luck and a back-up plan, this program might be a good way to try living in Chile. But, I'd recommend starting with the shortest volunteer service and extending if you're having a good experience. Be prepared to face a lot of challenges!

Response from English Opens Doors

To respond to this review's point about disorganization:

We state repeatedly and clearly the timeframe through which you receive information about your placement.

In 2013, we will be working on helping volunteers become more proactive in working with their head teachers. Schools and teachers who successfully apply to receive a volunteer have committed to certain criteria, are given a manual describing the program, and attend a regional orientation. However, it is still up to the volunteer to have an effective relationship with their head teacher.

Despite the challenges that volunteers might face, we ask that in a situation such as the one described by this reviewer, volunteers fulfill their stated commitment to their school and students. This reviewer had a positive experience and situation, but still dropped out early. When this happens, the students and school are left without the resource that they are promised for the remainder of the semester. In addition, the investment made in the volunteer by Chilean taxpayers goes to waste.

To respond to this review's point about payments:

We state repeatedly and clearly that the volunteer allowance is not a salary, and not meant to be used to live off of. Rather, it is meant to reimburse you for any teaching related costs you incur (for example, if you take a local bus to school).

In addition, as it is paid through the UN Development Program, we do not have direct control over the payments. Instead, we coordinate with them according to their payment schedule. In 2012, volunteer allowances were divided into regular payments that came about every 2 months, depending on when volunteers started. For example, X volunteers were paid in August and Y were paid in September. The amount differed according to the total number of days in their specific programs. Often, volunteers talked amongst themselves and determined that their payments were wrong or late, and never asked us directly about their specific case.

For 2013, volunteers will arrive in Chile with their temporary residence visa already in hand. That means that they will receive their Chilean ID card within about a month of arriving. This will facilitate payments greatly.

Default avatar
GringaPa'Siempre
Female
24 years old
Portland, ME
University of Pittsburgh

A Gamble Not Worth Taking

1/10

I found EOD through Teach Away Incorporated, who support a variety of different volunteer teaching programs abroad.

I did unfortunately get the short end of the stick
as far as the program goes. I'm going to be completely honest (don't be scared): the program is unorganized and very slow with getting things done (example: each volunteer is supposed to be given a box of school supplies; this box is sent from the main office in Santiago to wherever the volunteers are-- as they told us in our orientation week, it is not uncommon for a volunteer to receive the box with a week left of teaching or not receive it at all). Though in theory I think the program is a great idea, there is a lot of miscommunication and still a lot of issues to work out.

Each city or pueblo a volunteer is placed in has a regional representative-- someone who is your direct contact person and is sort of your middle man with the office in Santiago. The regional representative is in charge of checking out potential host families for suitability. As far as I can tell, there is no standard the houses or the families are held to. Of course no one is expecting a mansion or anything, but in my opinion, there needs to be a standard of cleanliness. I'm no stranger to South American travel, however, this program works directly with unpaid gringos who are here voluntarily... they should place them with the thought in mind that they are indeed here voluntarily and don't have to put up with ridiculousness; the house I was placed in was overrun with cockroaches. I kid you not, I had roaches crawl over my hand while I used my laptop, I had roaches fall on me when I opened doors in the house, they were in my room, they were in my food. I let my regional rep know about this and she delayed for 2 months finding me a replacement family, all the while blaming the delay on the office in Santiago (which I know from the experiences of other volunteers in my region was not the actual reason for the delay-- this woman hung onto some of the other volunteers' passports for 2 months while "helping" them process their visas. When the volunteers emailed Santiago to ask them why it was taking so long, they were informed that the passports had never arrived in Santiago... they'd been sitting on the regional rep's desk the entire time.). Ultimately, she didn't even find me a new host family and I ended up moving in with a teacher who worked at my school.

And this segues into another sore subject: the school. I don't know who exactly is in charge of explaining the goals and teaching model of the program to the school-- the regional rep or the program itself? Either way, my school never fully understood the aim of the program, so needless to say, they didn't really understand my purpose either... no matter how many times I explained it to them and showed them excerpts from the program manual. I spent a lot of time sitting around feeling completely useless and frustrated. I stuck it out for
as long as I could because I loved the kids so much but ultimately I was sacrificing my sanity, dignity, etc. etc. and had to leave the program. I remained in Chile and found paid teaching work elsewhere so I did ride out my stay there as planned, just not with the program.

Now, I'm not trying to be super intense or bitter or anything (believe it or not, this the condensed version of my rant), because, hey, I got to be in Chile, and that's awesome. I know some other volunteers who had
problems like mine, or different but still enough to make them leave the program (I had a friend who arrived at his host family's house and they decided they didn't want to host anymore. The program set him up in a boarding house filled with Chilean sailors and he didn't have a lock on his door). On the other hand, I have friends who had a completely different experience-- wonderful host families, competent and enthusiastic co-teachers, the works, really. One of the former volunteers in my region even went on to work for the main office in Santiago.

In closing, this program is a complete gamble, personally one I would not recommend. I'm sure you can find a similar program that maybe has been around for a bit longer and has some more of its kinks worked out.

Response from English Opens Doors

This review illustrates the importance of being proactive as a volunteer. We do not expect volunteers to stay in a host family situation such as the one she found herself in, and wish that she had communicated directly with the central office. For each of the legitimate complaints listed, we would have intervened immediately on her behalf. In the past, there have been other instances of volunteers having negative experiences or dropping out without ever informing the central office of any issues. For instance, the volunteer mentioned in the boarding house dropped out of the program and left his school, not informing us for several weeks.

That said, the situations described in this review are extremely atypical. 95% of volunteers describe their experience living with a host family as positive, and that their living situation was adequate for a volunteer.

We have instituted a new communication system for 2013, where in addition to the regional representatives, volunteers will have a designated contact person in Santiago with whom they can communicate directly and who will be checking in on them on a regular basis. We have also added a workshop on communication to our orientation to emphasize the volunteers' need to let us know about serious issues. We will continue to maintain our general email account that we check continuously throughout the day, and are available during business hours by phone. We hope that with our new efforts, volunteers with similar problems will bring them to our attention and we can resolve them quickly.

Default avatar
Gringa630
Female
24 years old
Colorado
University of Virginia

Must be positive and flexible

9/10

This can be a wonderful experience, as it was for me, however, it is imperative to keep in mind that it is not this way for every program volunteer. There are a number of uncontrollable variables that heavily influence the participant's experience with the program. I.e: host family, co-teacher, school, location and regional representative. Essentially, the bulk of one's experience lies on the cards one is dealt.
I can, however, say that an open mind, patience, positive attitude, and not asking too many questions will greatly improve the participant's time in Chile. Chile is an incredible country; it is physically stunning, culturally interesting, and the people are warm and welcoming. This was no doubt a life-changing and positive experience for me, and I know many others who are choosing to continue their lives in Chile past the program. I would recommend this program to someone who is very flexible, doesn't mind feeling confused or frustrated, likes learning a new language (Chilean is its own dialect of sorts), has a go-with-the-flow attitude and is up for a challenge.

About The Provider

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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

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