English Opens Doors Program: Teach in Chile for Free

Video and Photos

Traveling with a new friend near San Pedro de Atacma.
Last day at school.
Copiapo Winter Camp
Winter Camp mural painting
7 basico students
Blue Team Represent! English Summer Camp 2016 in Puerto Montt
My English Debate Team in Temuco

About

Are you interested in volunteering to teach English in Chile? 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 Programme-Chile 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 extracurricular activities. Volunteers teach alongside a Chilean head teacher and work with students ranging from 10 years old to 18 years old.

We are offering four Volunteer Service options in 2020!
VS1 (Mar. 16-July 19, 2020) application due: Nov. 18, 2019
VS2 (Mar. 30-Nov. 29, 2020) application due: Dec. 2, 2019
VS3 (July 20-Nov. 22, 2019) application due: Mar. 9, 2020
VS4 (Aug. 3-Dec. 6, 2019) application due: Mar. 23, 2020

Apply Now!

Highlights
  • Chilean public schools
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • Fee-free
  • Education
  • Volunteer

Questions & Answers

Hello, hope you are doing good. The first thing you should put in mind is that this is a volunteer service, and not a regular job for payment, whatever is given to you is not payment actually but compensation for some other extra expenses which the host family doesn't takes care (like transportation to school and to some other meetings called up by your regional representative and others) so you...
If you're asking how to become a volunteer, then you'll need to apply as per the website and go through the vetting process. All this information is on the EODP website.
The visa is free, all fees are waived. The only thing you have to do is make your own way to the embassy nearest you to get the stamp, and collate all the information and send it off.
Hi Edith, Yes, you have to take care of your flight and visa. You need to purchase your own flight, and the EODP will help you with any visa queries and guide you through the process, but you do have to do it yourself. Jacob

Reviews

87%
based on 46 reviews
  • Benefits 7.6
  • Support 8.2
  • Fun 8.2
  • Facilities 7.7
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 46
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Alla
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with English Opens Doors Program

I was just starting teaching English and looking for opportunities of volunteering abroad when I found the English Opens Doors Program. It was ideal for me, as I wanted to teach, travel, learn about Chilean culture and learn Spanish. And that's what I did.
It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, especially in the beginning, as there is a lot of new information, cultural differences and a language barrier. But it is what you make it, so I tried to be open to new experiences and learn as much as I could, while contributing to the Chilean society. It is great to feel that you are helping these kids not only to learn English, but also to feel more confident and motivated. You are making a change, you are this special person for many of them, supporting them and making them believe that things are possible, that they can travel and learn about different cultures in the future as well.
I lived with a host family, and they were great!
The coordinating staff in Santiago was always ready to help, and the orientation week in Santiago is exactly what you need to be ready to teach and live in Chile.
So, if you like teaching, want to learn Spanish and experience real life in Chile, if you are not afraid of challenges, this program is what you need!

Default avatar
Focho
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience with the kids

The was the core of my service. The kids were so excited to meet their new foreign English teacher. I was well received y the school. I spent 4months with these kids and at the end of my program I saw a face of satisfaction from them, their desire for English was established and this was thanks to the English Opens Doors program thought the National Volunteer Center (NVC). Their training never
ver went in vain. The school was so encouraging, providing every single thing I needed coupled with that from the ENGLISH OPENS DOORS PROGRAM. The students started mounted great desire for the language and it turned out to be fun. The school took me out with other teachers to a beautiful touristic side(sorry I can't recall the nae of that place), it was fun out there. Another aspect of the school was the caring nature of every single teacher in the school the fun here was everyone wanted to talk to me in English even those who didn't know a single vocabulary in English.

What was your funniest moment?
Oh the camps were were the striking moments I had in this service. The struggle by these children to talk English, them trying to dance and the lipdub were moments never to be forgotten
Default avatar
Sienna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience With the EODP

In 2017, I decided I wanted to do something different that included traveling and community development. I happened upon the English Opens Doors Program (EODP) after searching through a long list of online options. I chose the EODP over other programs for several reasons. First of all, you don't have to pay to participate in the program. The only fee you cover is your flight. Second, the way they integrate volunteers into the local community ensures that you're not taking a job that could be fulfilled by someone who already lives in the community. You're not replacing a Chilean English teacher; rather, your native English skills are put to use to complement the classes taught by the local teacher. Finally, I wanted a program that seemed like it was well-run, and I wasn't going to just be dropped in a foreign country with limited teaching experience and be told to have at it.

The EODP ticked all of these boxes for me, so I said yes to the offer and headed down to teach for one semester (~4 months). I arrived along with a group of about 70 other volunteers with an average age range of 22-30. Some volunteers have teaching experience, but it's not a requirement because the first week of orientation gives you a crash course on how to teach ESL. Since then, I've taken a variety of other ESL crash courses (and a longer TEFL certification), and I have to say, the week of orientation provided by the EODP has yet to be beat. It's incredibly well-curated, it covers all the information you could need to know, and not only prepares you to teach, but also makes you aware of the extensive support network available to you. The support within the program is super accessible and includes the National Volunteer Center in Santiago, other volunteers, a Regional Representative in your region, and staff in the school in which you're placed.

I was placed in the center of Chile, in the Bernardo O'Higgins region. My host family consisted of a single mom and her daughter. She was really enthusiastic to help me improve my Spanish and do everything possible to make sure I had a great time. I worked in the same school that she taught in, so we would drive to school together in the morning. I actually taught in two schools (something that occasionally happens), so I saw one group of kids for two days a week and another group for the other two (I had Fridays free). I enjoyed working with my co-teacher and getting to know the other staff in the school, but by far the students were the best part of the whole experience. I taught middle school, so my kids were 5th-8th graders, and they just have an energy that can't be beat. Although there are some days when motivation to learn English is low, the kids are generally just so excited that you're there that it doesn't take long for them to come around to a lesson. The most rewarding part of the whole experience is when you hear students use English outside of class. I remember hearing a group of fifth graders yelling directions in English at each other during recess, and it made me so happy to see that I was having an impact.

Outside of school, I had plenty of time to travel around Chile. Chile is a beautiful country that offers a little something for everyone. I went hiking and rock climbing in a number of national parks in my region and in neighboring regions. I traveled to Santiago every once in a while on the weekend to explore restaurants and museums. And, I went on a couple of trips with other volunteers, including wine tastings at vineyards and a longer trip to the island of Chiloé. I've never had such a full social calendar as I did in Chile. And, I think that's because, in my experience, my host mom and Chilean friends were really excited to show me around Chile, so I was constantly invited to things. That, coupled with all the things other volunteers plan, and I always had something to do.

But, time flew between when I arrived in July and the end date of November, and when my return to the United States loomed, I just knew that I had to come back. So, I applied for a second semester and came back to teach again in 2018. I was again impressed by the organization of the program, and I had a similarly great experience the second time around, this time in the surf town of Pichilemu.

If you're looking for an opportunity to go abroad, get involved in a local community, and contribute in a meaningful way, then you should look no further.

What was your funniest moment?
I think whenever you're in a new country and you don't speak the language well, pretty much every day is either full of self-deprecating laughter or tears of frustration, and most days have a good mix of both. There were only a few times that I felt frustrated by my inability to communicate in Chile, and whenever that happened I usually took my frustration as both a sign that I really cared about the people to whom I was expressing myself, and a sign that I probably needed to spend some more time on Duolingo.
Most of the time, my inability to communicate for the first few months was pretty funny. I joined a climbing club in my town that had gym with a bouldering wall (i.e. no ropes, just free climbing) where I would train a few days a week. One of the first times I went to the gym, I struck up a conversation with one of the members with the intention of asking him about the different types of climbing and what they were called in Spanish. So, what I wanted to say in English was:
Is there a different name for the type of climbing we're doing here, climbing without a rope?
My Spanish version of that:
Como se llama el tipo de escalar que estamos haciendo aqui, escalar sin ropa?
The English translation of what I said:
What would you call the climbing that we're doing here, climbing without clothes?
Needless to say, he gave me a funny little side glance and then laughed. I quickly realized that I had said "ropa," which means clothes, when I meant to use the word "cuerda," which actually means rope. I laughed pretty hard at that mistake and he laughed along with me, and I assured him that we do climb with clothes on in the United States.
Things like that happened all the time. But, what made it not feel quite so soul-crushing was how the Chileans always just laughed it off with you. They didn't judge your inability to speak their language; they just liked that you were trying.
Default avatar
Lisette
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Really fun and meaningful program!

I went for a 4-month service last year (VS4 2018) and it was such a special experience! It can be tough at times, but for those tough moments you will get back so many rewarding moments! Although the program is aimed at teaching English, I learnt Spanish on the way, from speaking with my host family, colleagues and friends I made. It was not only an unforgettable experience for me, but I could also see a change in the children, becoming more excited about English and foreign culture.
The coordinating staff in Santiago is super helpful whenever you need them and they are all really nice! As a non-native English speaker like me, it is still possible to apply for this program if you can prove your fluency. So if you are up for a fun and rewarding challenge then I would definitely recommend this!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was teaching a couple of different classes, but there was this one class that never really paid attention and there would always be children messing around. I thought they just did not like English and although I kept my enthusiasm and excitement up, at times this group was hard on me. Then, one week before the program ended, I told them I was going to leave and the most surprising thing happened. All of them were like 'noo miss, we like your classes, please don't go' and 'but we are learning English so well now'. I was just so surprised by their reaction, as their behavior throughout the semester did not show any of these sentiments. To me this proves that keeping a positive attitude is always good, even when you don't think it is doing much.
Default avatar
Charles
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in a Chilean public school

After a week-long orientation in Santiago where we learnt about the Chilean education system, TEFL theory, Chilean culture, lesson planning and classroom management, I was sent to Quillota, where I would spend the next eight months. Quillota is a small city located in central Chile's Valparaíso Region, and surrounded by huge plantations of avocado trees. There, thanks to Couchsurfing, I found an incredibly nice family that hosted me for free for a couple of weeks! They were so nice I ended up renting a room in their lovely house for the remaining of my stay.

The house was located in a rural area, outside of town. It had a swimming pool, a barbecue, a secondary house rented to six university students, hammocks, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and lots of animals (a dog, cats, chickens, turtles...). Needless to say it was quite a change from my Parisian life: exactly what I was looking for. The peaceful atmosphere that prevailed there left a strong impression on me.

Andrea and her son Luciano were incredible hosts. They took care of me, showed me around, cooked delicious meals for me, took me to football games, to the beach, to parties, introduced me to their friends, to their culture and their lifestyle. I will forever be grateful to them as they truly made me feel a part of the family.

The school I got assigned to was Colegio de Niñas Canadá. Like its name suggests, it is an all-girls school. There, I taught to grades 5th to 11th. I had my own classroom which also served as the music room. The various Chilean teachers I had the pleasure to work with divided their classes in 2 groups and would send half of their students to my classroom so I could teach them for 45 minutes, while they would teach the other half. Then, we would switch. This method allowed us to teach to smaller groups (15 to 25 students) which was a lot more efficient as students were less distracted and teachers could spend more time focusing on each girl.

Some classes were amazing, filled with students that were eager to learn a new language, while others were more chaotic. Indeed, as we were told to make our lessons fun and filled with games and entertaining activities, some of the students took my classes as the recreational part of their day. They often took advantage of the fact that I was a foreigner, didn’t speak perfect Spanish and was not allowed to punish them in any way. I almost wanted to quit at some point, after yet another tough class. Nevertheless, I remembered why I chose to apply to this program : I wanted to positively impact the lives of kids from underprivileged backgrounds. Therefore, I didn't give up and it was definitely the right choice as it ended up being a very enriching experience. I learnt a lot, definitely became a better teacher and hopefully managed to demonstrate the importance of speaking English to some of my students as well as the impact it could have on their life.

If you want to learn more about the program and my experience, check this blog post out : https://www.teachercharles.com/post/english-opens-doors

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have some extra money because you will need it if you want to travel and discover Chile !
Default avatar
Jordan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great TEFL experience - but not for everyone

The English Opens Doors Program is a wonderful opportunity for those looking to gain TEFL experience in Latin America. If you’re more interested in traveling and/or are serious about learning Spanish, I’d look elsewhere as your vacation time is limited and you have to be dedicated to your classes. There are, however, ample opportunities to learn and improve your Spanish by living with a host family and through the option to take a basic or intermediate-level Spanish course, but keep in mind that – at least in my experience – teaching takes up most of your time.

The program doesn’t require any previous teaching experience and the week-long orientation provides you with basically everything you need to know about classroom management, preparing classes, working with Chilean students, Chilean culture, etc. The orientation is extremely thorough but informative, so pay attention. I had taught previously as a private ESL tutor before arriving in Chile and was pretty nervous since I had never taught multiple students in a classroom setting before. But after the orientation, I definitely felt much more confident to lead and teach in a classroom.

When you’re applying for the program, you get to select your location preferences based on Northern, Central or Southern Chile, as well as a large, medium or small-sized town. EODP tries to place you as well as they can according to your preferences, but ultimately be prepared to go anywhere. Before you decide, I recommend researching Chilean regions and cities, as both the weather and climate can vary significantly from region to region and city to city. In the South where I was, for example, winter was brutal (and I’m from Minnesota!) due to the cold temperature, constant rain and the fact that most people heat their homes through only a small, wood stove or oven. This isn’t meant to deter anyone, but just a fair warning for those of you that will be placed in the South!

I was pretty open in terms of my placement and ended up for two semesters at a high school in a small town called Lanco, in the Los Ríos region, located about 10 hours south of Santiago. The town itself had basically nothing to do, but at least the locals were very friendly.

Unlike some other volunteers, I happened to love the school where I was placed as the administration and teachers that worked with me were both outgoing and supportive throughout my entire experience. And my students – despite their low-level of English – were fun to work with and pretty well-behaved compared to those of some other volunteers in larger cities.

The orientation will go into more detail on Chilean students, but be prepared for the students’ low-level of English as well as the general lack of motivation and interest. When I arrived, most students at my school had little interest in learning English and at least those that I worked with, could not even respond to very basic questions, such as "How are you?" There are, of course, exceptions, but in general the level of English is quite low.

In terms of a host family – if you choose to live with one – it’s really a hit or miss. Many volunteers had wonderful experiences with their family, others did not. And while the norm is that most Chilean families are welcoming, outgoing and inclusive, this is not always the case. With my first host family, I didn't have a positive experience as the family barely interacted with me and we had pretty conflicting personalities. I was eventually able to switch to a new and much more suitable host family after I expressed my concerns to my regional representative and EODP staff, which definitely made the second half of my experience more enjoyable.

The staff at EODP is probably THE most dedicated group of people I have ever met in my life and they work hard to make sure you are well-supported throughout your time in Chile. Since they all are previous volunteers and have been living in Chile for many years now, they know what they’re talking about and can give some excellent advice if you’re encountering any issues whatsoever. I personally struggled with classroom management shortly after I had started and the staff gave me some awesome advice and recommended certain teaching techniques that helped significantly improve overall classroom behavior.

I agree with some of the other reviews on here that this program isn’t for everybody. Given all the uncertainties that you may face in terms of your family, school, etc., you have to be willing to participate in the program with a very open mind and be prepared to make the best of non-ideal situations.

Teaching through EODP is a definitely a challenging experience as you'll have to adapt to an entirely new culture and language (if you have no previous knowledge of Spanish), but overall, it is a great opportunity if you want to acquire international professional experience and improve your teaching skills, organizational skills as well as adaptability.

What would you improve about this program?
English Opens Doors is very well-run program. Nothing is perfect but EODP is always seeking opportunities to refine and make improvements where needed. They always send out surveys for you to fill out regarding your experience and they take them very seriously. Though this isn't exactly a suggestion for improvement, it's important for prospective applicants to know that one of the most difficult aspects of the program is the unpredictability. Depending on where you end up, schools can have little resources e.g., lack of technology, or there can be little to do in your town (such as in my case). Regardless of these issues, you have to be willing to make the best of your situation. And even in difficult situations such as these, the EODP team is always willing to help you out! So be sure to speak up if you encounter a problem, otherwise you're going to end up miserable.
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Jacob
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience Chile through EODP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you improve about this program?
Its hard to improve the program when its a government program. Municipal schools in Chile don't have a lot in the way of resources, nor is English seen as a high priority - but that what makes the experience rewarding! Wouldn't be much point encouraging people to study English if everyone was already fluent! Whilst there are sometimes problems, in my experience the team always supported us as much as they could, and have been a huge help to me.
Default avatar
Jack
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EODP Thoughts: Brief Overview and Advice

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Knowing one's town, family, and school before departure would allow one to be more prepared for their situation.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Sakshi
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching in a municipal basico school in Copiapo

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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).
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Christine
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EOD and two services

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Opportunity to Grow

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.

What would you improve about this program?
I have never worked with an organization as efficient as English Opens Doors Program.
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Holly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life in la novena región

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.

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

Another note I have is that although the volunteer surveys they ask you to complete are long and in-depth, the program staff takes very seriously all of the feedback they receive in order to constantly make improvements in the program, so definitely be honest with them. I have seen a lot of great changes over the years and I know that in part it is from the feedback and suggestions they received from former volunteers.
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Jessica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience- Need Right Mindset

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Andrew
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching in Temuco

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Katie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Completed English Opens Doors fall service

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.

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About English Opens Doors Program

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...