English Opens Doors Program: Teach in Chile for Free!

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About

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)!

The Application Deadline for our final 2018 volunteer service is Sunday, April 8, 2018! Apply Now!

Still accepting applications for VS4 group:
August 6, 2018 - December 9, 2018

Questions & Answers

Our volunteer candidates must have a bacherlor's degree (or the equivalent) to participate in our Program. Please check out our website for more information about requirements! http://www.centrodevoluntarios.cl/
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.

Reviews

87%
based on 41 reviews
  • Benefits 7.5
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8.1
  • Facilities 7.6
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 31 - 41 of 41
Default avatar
GringaPa'Siempre
1/10

A Gamble Not Worth Taking

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.

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
Gringa630
9/10

Must be positive and flexible

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Alexi
8/10

EOD Chile

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
la
10/10

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

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
dksndl
8/10

Good program if you get lucky

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
SupaShawn
9/10

Two Thumbs Up!

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.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kenneth
6/10

A Definite Learning Experience!

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
saladfork77
10/10

I extended three times

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!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
UK
6/10

Spanish and Teaching

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

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

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

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.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
merken
8/10

English Open Doors, 6 Month Volunteer,2008

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.

Yes, I recommend this program

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About English Opens Doors

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...