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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Alexi
Female
24 years old
Diego de Almagro, Chile
University of Warwick

EOD Chile

8/10

From the people I have spoken to, the program has had mixed reviews and volunteers have had diverse experiences. A friend came up with the "two out of three" rule, that for most of us two out of three of the elements (the homes situation, the school situation and the town or city we lived in) we were enjoying. For me, it was my home (my host mum was amazing) and my school (elementary school kids are hilarious and so fun) but my town is super boring. Which brings my on to my first piece of advice, unless you are really, honestly not bothere about where you end up, choose carefully where you want to go (North/South, rural/urban). Not everyone got what they wanted, but most did, and remember 6 months is a long time to be living somewhere you dont want to be.

Take the program say they offer you with a pinch of salt, I never received a carnet or a visa for a year. It depends on your region. From what I've heard by and large the regional representatives leave a lot to be desired. Ours wasnt great, she rarely responded to our emails and misinformed another volunteer about a visa which lead to some problems.

Remember that this program isnt easy, and the teachers have jumped through a lot of hoops for you to be there and when a volunteer drops out, it does put out the school quite a bit. If you are not serious about it, its better not to do it.

Overall I had a positive experience of the program, it is extremely rewarding and a great opportunity to get hands on experience teaching.

How can this program be improved?

Re-train or fire and find new representatives, most of them are not too bothered about doing their jobs.

la
Female
24 years old
Cañete, Chile
Other

If you come to teach, you might fall in love.

10/10

The most important thing that I can say about this program is that *everything* varies. The program works with schools all over the country. You can be surrounded by snow or desert, working in a poor or well-off school, in a tiny country town or a huge metropolitan city. That being said, I had a fantastic experience and really wish I could have stayed longer.

I love my students. I love my host teachers. I love being a teacher. My Spanish has improved in leaps and bounds. I willingly work many more hours than I am required to simply because I hate seeing the looks on kids' faces when the teachers would tell them that one sixth grade class would get to work with me and the other wouldn't (or the elementary school kids looking defeated since the program officially works with older students). The enthusiasm of the kids for having a gringo/a in their school is unbelievable, and if you put the time and energy into creating fun lessons, the kids will love you back times a hundred. Considering that a normal class size here is 45 students, that is a lot of love. I can't walk into the elementary school building without being mobbed by kids :)

It is important to remember that this is a volunteer program so you will not make money, but all of your needs are taken care of when it comes to housing and food, and the bonus covers any other basics. So, you basically get to live in a foreign country for a couple of months for the cost of flight tickets, which is pretty cool. There is plenty of time to travel if you are adventurous, and oftentimes your host family or host teachers will make a point to bring you to local tourist attractions. We have found that there are some differences as to how the visas are processed in different regions, but most are good for a year so you could decide to stay and travel or find a job at a private English school.

The most important warning I can give, however, is that you have to come to TEACH. If you come thinking that you will try it out and use it only as an opportunity to travel, you very well may not survive the experience. On the other hand, if you have a passion for children, it is a fantastic life experience to add to your repertoire.

How can this program be improved?

The bureaucracy is difficult to deal with. Communication can be slow or absent. For example, the checks come from a United Nations program, to the EOD head office in Santiago, to the regional office, to a local department of education, and eventually to you.

dksndl
Female
24 years old
La Serena, Chile

Good program if you get lucky

8/10

EOD is complicated, because if you get lucky and get a great school and housing situation--it's awesome. If you don't get lucky, it kind of sucks.

I did get lucky, so I've had a great experience. My school is welcoming and nice. Teaching is really difficult because schools in Chile have different behavior standards. The kids are really noisy and rude, but they can also be really sweet. Just be sure you know you're signing up to be a public/semi-public school teacher!

What's a drag is that you don't get to choose where you're placed. I got really lucky and I'm in a great location, but if you get placed somewhere you don't like, you're stuck. They try to place you based on what you request, but they often don't succeed.

If you're a very flexible person who's open to anything, this would be great for you! If not, try it, and you can always drop out and do something else. Chile's awesome, so you should take any excuse to come here.

How can this program be improved?

I would tell volunteers where they're going to be placed in advance and spend more effort finding great placements, host families, and so on. Also, I would give more housing options. A lot of volunteers would be happier living in an apartment, and that should be a valued option.

SupaShawn
Male
24 years old
Cartagena, Chile
American Public University

Two Thumbs Up!

9/10

Definitely a good program. The program is free! Make sure to go through the program directly and not through an endorser who will charge you $1000 or so. My host family was great! I felt like their son. If you don't want to live with a host family, you have the option of finding your own place. I suggest living with a family! Chile is a beautiful country with much to see. No one really gets placed in the tourist spots like Santiago or Vina del Mar, but its all pretty accessible. The system of buses is clean, comfortable and affordable. Bring your own money if you plan to travel, the stipend won't provide you with much more than souvenirs. You work 25hrs a week or less. You are given your own classroom and liberty to design the class as you see fit. Chileans are very friendly. I suggest you learn Spanish too, though Chileans speak their own dialect!

How can this program be improved?

Some parts of Chile are not very open to foreigners. As the country is developing, visitors often become the targets of thieves.

Kenneth
Male
32 years old
Cunco, Chile
Other

A Definite Learning Experience!

6/10

Not a bad Volunteer Program, and it means great opportunities with regards to getting to know what Chile is really all about.

There is no salary, and the hours can feel long. But it's worth it; and you realise that it is possible to accomplish a lot with very little. If you spend more than 6 months in Chile you WILL realise a whole lot more about yourself and about how you work with others who come from a completely different cultural and historical background.It's eye-opening.

saladfork77
Male
32 years old
Santiago, Chile

I extended three times

10/10

I came to Chile with English Opens Doors in 2010 for four months, and ended up volunteering for 3 semesters and have now been in Chile for over 2 years. This program is for proactive and independent people looking to make a difference, and while it might not be perfectly organized, it is up to the volunteer to make an impact!

UK
Female
32 years old
Bristol, UK

Spanish and Teaching

6/10

Living with a host family is a valuable experience, and a great insight into Chilean culture. However, obviously it has it's drawbacks from living in a swanky hotel. Firstly you have to fit with their culture, eating times and general customs; alhtough Chile isn't too much of a culture shock from our western lives, so it's not too difficult to fit it. Although, I would suggest that gaining a decent level of Spanish before you come would be a real benefit. My Spanish is pretty poor and at times it is frustrating as I can't communicate with people properly, although that fact that no-one speaks English means you learn fast!
The other thing I would say is that it's well worth getting at least some teaching experience before coming out. Kids are kids the world over, and some idea of how to handle tricky ones always comes in handy. Also, you may be expected to plan your own lessons and having some idea of how to do this would be a great asset.
Overall though it is a good experience, especially for those who want to really get involved in a longer stay volunteer teaching program

Fred
Male
32 years old
London
University of Reading

A fantastic experience but be prepared for hard work with little pay.

9/10

I am loving my experience on this program. It is very professional and a 'proper' teaching experience without the need to pay large sums of money, like you so often do. You live with a host family, which is great and you are truly integrated into the community. Other volunteers will be close by so there is plenty of opportunity for a social life but you have to be prepared to travel a bit for this.

I would say that it is hard work. You will have to give a lot of time to lesson planning so do not come thinking it is a free holiday. It is worth it though for the experience.

merken
Female
32 years old
Chile
Other

English Open Doors, 6 Month Volunteer,2008

8/10

First and foremost, I really enjoyed the opportunity to teach English in southern Chile and I am not sure who learned more- the students or me! In my humble opinion, it was a difficult but overall a positive experience for the students and the teachers involved at the high school. Although the beginning was a little rocky as there was little support or training offered by the school. Instead there was a week of general orientation with all of the volunteers in Santiago ran by the Ministry of Education, but actual hands on training was limited.

Once I arrived to my designated school in the south it was more of observing a few classes with the three different English teachers and off I was on my own the next week teaching classes! Needless, to say as a person with no previous teaching experience,it was overwhelming at first but gradually it got better. It did take time to get used to the large classes – ranging in-between 30 and 45 students. Later on I learned that the school was a typical public school in Chile faced with the lack of necessary resources, infrastructure, and under paid teachers and staff. The students that generally attend the public schools in Chile come from humble and poor families who struggle to make ends met. In fact, generally speaking students who attend public schools i Chile do not have the same opportunities as private educated students.

A benefit of the program was the host family accommodation. It was here where I learned about Chilean food, family, cultural values, and hospitality. Living with a host family was an authentic way to immerse myself in the culture and although I had studied abroad before in Latin America, working and studying are completely different. By working here I was exposed to another culture and learned a great deal about the social and economical differences within Chile. The program increased my empathy for other cultures, raised my awareness of problems faced in Chile and other Latin American countries regarding education. I was located in a safe and quaint small town of approximately 15,000 nearby Puerto Montt. The local community was very welcoming. In fact, many locals could not believe I was teaching English at the public school as it has a bad reputation but after all it is the only non-fee paying high school available in the town.

Although it was not an easy experience, it was a one which pushed me to think outside of the box and definitely outside of my comfort zone. If I did not all over again, I would have had more patience with myself and with the students. I wish I would have taught the students about different cultures within English speaking countries and not only the English language itself.

On that same thread, I wish the English Open Door’s Program had informed me before what age group I would be working with so I could bring extra materials in English from the United States. Unfortunately, there were not adequate school supplies but we made do with what we had and I truly do not think the lack of supplies hindered the students learning. Looking back, I wish they would have also given me some recommendations about laminating photographs of my hometown and family and other areas of interests to motivate the students to learn English. Honestly, my students had some discipline problems and lacked general respect to teachers, which is common to see here in Chile. However, both the teacher and the student learned a lot during this process. Last but not least the program was only the beginning of my teaching career in Chile. That was four years ago and I am still here teaching English and pursuing my confirmed passion in the area of international education.

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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