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.
Winter Camp mural painting
7 basico students
Copiapo Winter Camp
One of my 1º medio groups during my year in Loncoche
Blue Team Represent! English Summer Camp 2016 in Puerto Montt

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.

Here are the Volunteer Service options we are currently offering for 2020!

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 16 - 30 of 46
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Craig
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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

What would you improve about this program?
I think that volunteers could be provided with a larger and more comprehensive Lesson Library. This would cut down on planning and increase time that the teacher could spend with their students. The program was working on implementing a more robust lesson library before my session ended.
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Kristin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

July-Nov. 2014 in Temuco

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

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

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

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

What would you improve about this program?
Due to the large number of people involved in the program (host families, English teachers, other school personnel, Regional Representatives, the National Volunteer Center and the volunteers) and the large number of responsibilities each person involved had, sometimes different people would have different information. This was part of the reason why, during the interview and orientation process, the importance of being flexible and straightforward in your questions and concerns was so emphasized.
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Emily
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Difficult but unforgettable experience.

I lived in a small rural town, which is exactly what I had wanted and requested. I almost didn't write this review because I am so nostalgic for that small town, for my amazing students, and for once every night with my host mom. I will be honest, I didn't expect the program to be this much work. I was up late planning lessons, trying to think of the best ways to engage them and have successful classes. However, that was the case because I fell in love with my students. They made me want to come to class prepared, they made me want to engage them and do the best possible job of teaching them as I could. They made me want to be there every day helping and pushing them, as they did for me. I would say that more than teaching them English, it was a cultual exchange. They taught me Spanish and all their slang; I taught them English and my slang. It was a hard and exhausting and amazing experience. Orientation stressed this, and this shouldn't be taken lightly. We were there to help students; it wasn't a vacation time to travel around Chile. However, in this process I learned so much more than I would have volunteering at a school for a few hours a week. It was a real job. It had ups and downs. The schools aren't perfect. There are school politics and hard situations. It was a real-life, Chilean experience. But I wouldn't change it. Chileans can be some of the most caring and welcoming and wonderful people. Their culture is welcoming and warm, and I think that the orientation staff has embraced this concept and truly made it part of the program. Will never forget my beloved region <3

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Lauren
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Difficult Personal Experience, Good Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also think it would be great if each volunteer would be personally prepped during orientation for the region/city they'll be going to, especially if it's a difficult one. For example, my city was heavily populated with men who just loved hitting on me, calling me profane names on the street, asking me out incessantly etc, etc. Preparation and techniques for dealing with this behavior beforehand would have helped me prepare myself and my reactions and defenses to this.
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Yanpei
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

English Opens Doors Summer Camp - Jan 2015

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

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

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

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

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Volunteer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience

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

What would you improve about this program?
Although I understood the reasoning behind this, I would have preferred the monthly stipend to have been received in the first months of the program (you receive aggregate lump sums in the last two months). The program gives you fair warning that you may have to draw on your own resources (which is later reimbursed by the stipend). However, I found I never had to spend too much of my own money anyways as all food and housing is provided.
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VS3
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

OK program, but horrible support staff

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

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

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

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

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

Response from English Opens Doors Program

Petya, thank you very much for your feedback.

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

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

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Jessy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

From application to end of service, great program

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you improve about this program?
The Independant teaching model (ie, splitting the class in two, taking one half for an hour and then switching with the head teacher) is not always practical. Sometimes a class is too small (less than 20 students total?). having so few at a time isn't fun or interesting. It also makes it hard for the head teacher and the volunteer to give eachother feedback and help eachother.
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Kevin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A professional teaching experience

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

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

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

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

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

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Isaac
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A great experience

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

What would you improve about this program?
One challenge is that the model of teaching is often to work with many groups of students relatively little over the course of each week. This results in getting a lot more students to work in small groups with a native speaker, but it prevents students from getting a lot of practice to develop their listening and speaking abilities. I understand the reasoning of the program and the objectives; however, I would rather see volunteers working with less students and spending more time with each group.
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Katie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Great TEFL Opportunity to get your feet wet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would you improve about this program?
I agree with some of the other posters that crucial information should be provided beforehand. It was a little nerve-wracking not knowing our exact placements until mid-week during our orientation in Santiago! Having so little information made my family members and friends a little worried and I think it made the program seem unorganized, even though it really wasn't. Giving the volunteers their placement information earlier can help them prepare better and pack accordingly!
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Seep
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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

What would you improve about this program?
As per me the program is perfect!
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Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible professional and personal experience

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.

What would you improve about this program?
The process for getting a visa for Chile can be a little difficult. However, if you follow their timeline and stay on top of your stuff, it isn´t hard.
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Katie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

EOD VS3 April-Nov 2013; Coronel, Chile

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.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing about the program, I would change the fact that we find out such crucial information about our placement so late. The program discloses your region to you less than two weeks before your departure to Chile. While knowing the region is helpful, there is a lot of variation within each region. Even within the region where I was placed, I could have been in the mountains or near the beach, in an urban area or in the middle of nowhere. We are told the name of our town and school, and given information about our host family and guide teachers mere days before we go to live in these places. I think I could have had a more positive experience from the beginning and been better prepared had I known these important details well before I left the United States.
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Alexandria
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best decision ever!

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.