This program is no longer offered. View more programs from ABCi.
ABCi volunteer program - CLOSED
76% Rating
(34 Reviews)

ABCi volunteer program - CLOSED

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from ABCi.

The ABCi initiative was absorbed by the English Teacher Training College in 2015. At that time, the existing ABCi volunteer programs were discontinued and the college began offering incoming students internationally recognized TEFL certifications in conjunction with Trinity College London and Cambridge University.

Locations
Europe » England » London
Length
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
Project Types
Language
English
Housing
Apartment
Host Family
Hostel
Hotel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
ABCi will provide exposure to English project teaching and the administration of a nonprofit organization, feedback from a senior teacher or manager, full room and board with internet access, evenings and weekends free, and possibly an offer for full-time future work should you prove a good fit.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    78%
  • Support
    76%
  • Fun
    79%
  • Value
    79%
  • Safety
    84%

Program Reviews (34)

Danny
Male
21 years old
Manchester, United Kingdom

A real gem of an experience

10/10

Apologies for the informality of this review but sometimes I think it is best to just hear it how it is.
This review isn't the average, it is aimed towards the 18-20 year olds that don't have a degree and are trying to find themselves.
I was in Austria around this time last year and everything changed from there. I still always talk about it!
Not only that but it gave me a direction..at only the age of 18. Sometimes it takes someone like Mr Stone to tell you to your face that 'you are a natural teacher' to make you think maybe I could do a bit more of this TEFL stuff.

SO WHAT WAS IT LIKE AT ABCI?
It is no walk in the park, especially if you are on the younger side. It is very demanding, long hours and there is a lot of learning involved on the course. You may get into the habbit of comparing yourself to the others, maybe they have a degree in linguistics, German or are just hyper intelligent. My advice to you is just concentrate on yourself, Rome wasn't built in a day and nor is a good teacher.
Something you will learn is you are constantly learning and so are those others in your group, what you will likely find is they will help you one on one if you ask them so don't be afraid.
For example I could never get the parts of speech down I actually failed the test, I was actually the only one. Everyone helped me every night to prepare for the retake and sure enough I passed. Even Ben Stone who could be regarded as the busiest man in the world, Skype called me to go over some of the things that could be on the test for over 40 minutes! Support like this really shows the caring dedication of ABCI and why people 18-20 can also be right for ABCI life.

IS IT FOR EVERYONE
ABCI is hard work you have some very early mornings, long car rides with your flatmates falling asleep on you and you have to feel the pressure of having your lessons assessed. The first week is non stop! Just remember I know you have never been to uni before so you are not used to staying up late and getting a deadline in early the next day. Do the smart thing a work hard first and play hard second, I get its all new and it will be your first time away from home with no rules but be sensible! If you take this into account you will be able to get up the next morning no trouble making life so much easier.
You will also get quite homesick but everyone is friendly and they are there for you, dont forget the senior teachers are people too. If that doesn't work you could always just bring your home to the classroom. For example, I always told classes no matter the age that the classroom was Manchester it helps you get the 'only English' point across and actually helps fight home sickness. I did it all the time at ABCI. I even think it started to annoy some of my group but it definitely helped!

SO WHY ABCI?
You will not find a more character building course any where in the world. Gmundens mountains, Sanct Poltons whisky bar and Graz' Christmas lights are breathtaking
It is a very good deal because you are very highly subsidised and even though they can't pay for you flight there and back, it is because it just isn't practical only once you have done a CertTESOL and got your certificate from ABCi do you have the experience for companies that would be willing to fly you out somewhere to even look at you. Also the people at ABCi will grow you as a person and a teacher. They gradually get you to grow a thick skin and show you how to give constructive criticism. For example, in my very first assessed lesson I actually said to the students 'come in, come in everyone for a..erm....plenary..' much to Ben Stones amusement.
Although, by far the best thing about ABCi is they contiue to check on us even after leaving, asking if there is anything they can do to help. This I think sets ABCi apart from the rest!
I would and have recommended ABCI to people of all ages but I think those of you like myself at 18 who think they know everything, but are not ready for University definitely should try your hand at TEFL teaching you might like it.
If you have any other questions about ABCi I would be glad to answer them.

How can this program be improved?

Just keep going as you are.
Keep responding to reviews and take in to consideration the feed back.

Toby
Male
23 years old
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Appreciate the course for what it is and it is worth its weight in gold.

9/10

I came to ABCI and Austria off the back of finishing an English Literature degree. I was unsure of what I wanted to do and found the chance of moving to a new country for a short while and learning a new skill to be a fascinating prospect. Teaching, was not something that had interested me before or something that I thought I would ever consider. Throughout the course (January 2016) myself and other trainees were put under immense stress both through teaching and completing various assignments that were required for your certification. It was intense to the extreme, at times it seemed no matter how much time you put in to your assignments and lesson planning that it would not be enough. However, through the help of your fellow trainees and staff members you will find that the college has an atmosphere much like a well meaning, although at times; dysfunctional family. Each individual whether trainee or member of staff were always on hand to help with any problem whether small or large. While this doesn't always mean that things run as smoothly as planned (there will be highs and lows to your experience, as in any new place) it is an experience that I would thoroughly recommend providing you are prepared for one of the busiest workloads I have ever experienced.

Austria as a country is beautiful, while not every weekend will be free for you to roam around, you will find yourself with a little time at least to explore, meet new people and enjoy what Austria has to offer. Through ABCI and my experience in Austria I decided that teaching was in fact a career path that I wanted to explore, and now only a short while after completing the course I find myself about to go into my first paid teaching job in Poland, this can only be down to the support and encouragement I found at ABCI.

Although you may read discouraging reviews for ABCI (English training college of Austria) I would advise you to take them with a pinch of salt. Of course there are areas of improvement for the college but at the same time there are also many fantastic aspects to the college and your own experience that you will not find anywhere else.

How can this program be improved?

Organisation,
Facilities.

Default avatar
Sinead
Female
27 years old
Manchester, UK
Newcastle University

Teach abroad and get a TEFL qualification in return

9/10

ABCi is a fantastic charity which works with schools across Austria to provide interactive English workshops to pupils. The organisation is run by Frank and Ben who are very passionate about their mission and delivering high quality English education. It's great because you teach English and travel around Austria, meeting other teachers along the way and get your food, accommodation and a TEFL qualification in return!

The work is most definitely not for the faint hearted. The days can be long and you must be dedicated to becoming an excellent EFL teacher. There is a big emphasis on training and improving and practicing your craft, as well as some (very) early mornings.

If that does't perturb you, then ABCi is the volunteer programme for you. You will have great fun with the children, delivering their excellent programme of activities. I am now a teacher and frequently employ many of the active based learning techniques that I delivered through my work as an ABCi teacher.

This is a unique, challenging, fun opportunity in a beautiful setting. You will make friends for life and better your professional life. What is not to love?!

How can this program be improved?

n/a

Default avatar
Grace
Female
22 years old
Glasgow
University of Glasgow

Intense but so worth it.

8/10

There are a lot of mixed reviews of ABCi but my experience was very positive.

I have never worked so hard in my life: I spent 4 months waking up between 4.30 and 5.30am to work at schools that could be up to a 1 hour and 45 minute drive, teach for 6 hours, then return to do 2-3 hour training sessions. As well as teaching I had to study and do assignments as I was completing the CERT-TESOL (which is a very good certificate to have in the ESL world) so I didn't have much free time throughout my time spent in Austria. But, with the time I did get off, I had the chance to visit different places in Austria as well as Hungary and Germany a couple of times!

This course is not a holiday. It is hard work but rewarding work. I taught students aged 6-19 in 18 weeks of teaching and I also gave one-on-one adult lessons. The adult lessons were pretty unorganised which was unfortunate but it was good experience nonetheless.

Although this course is a lot of hard work, the support I was given from my senior teachers was incredible. They would give me all the support I needed, answer any silly question I had and most importantly, made the long days fun. This course relies on the support you all give each other (between trainees, senior teachers and staff). As it is so intense, it really is so important to be a positive and optimistic person. In all honesty, I don't think my group of trainees would have completed the course successfully if it wasn't for the support and encouragement we gave each other. Although you are completing this course to become a qualified ESL teacher yourself, you have to be a team player. Working together and sharing ideas is what is needed to be successful.

Living situation- It is like living in first year halls/dorms all over again. Lack of privacy, shared rooms (up to 4/5 people in a room) and shared bathrooms. Although the accommodation doesn't give you any privacy, it is actually really nice. They are modern and there are large kitchens/ living rooms to chill out in. ABCi provides basic food (pasta, pasta sauce, rice, etc) which is a big help. The most important thing is to be flexible. Sometimes you would be relocated to a different town/city with very little notice. Although this can be very frustrating, you just have to take the positives from it- it's a new place, different schools, working with a new senior teacher who will give you more tips, etc.

During my time with ABCi, there was a lot of stress but also a lot of laughter. I would definitely recommend this course if you are looking to become and ESL teacher as it gives you so much experience in such a short amount of time and getting this training in such a beautiful country with lovely students is obviously such a great bonus. You just have to be ready to work and to be committed for the whole time you are there.

How can this program be improved?

More organisation, assignments spaced out better, more privacy in accommodation.

Kristen
Female
32 years old
Houston, Texas

ABCi - It was a way to see Austria

8/10

I worked for ABCi back in 2013 when they had some paid staff (senior teachers) and volunteers. Volunteers were in Austria for 3 months and got teacher training, free lodging in some of the most beautiful places in Austria and wonderful experience teaching. I then moved back to the states for two years and when I returned to Austria at the end of 2015 I was surprised to see an advertisement for a job placement on the Austrian unemployment website. I applied for the job and was amazed at how much the organization had changed. It is no longer the two man show of Mr. Carle in the office and Mr. Stone in the field with other staff helping create the programming and being lead teachers in schools. They have established the English Teacher Training College of Austria where student teachers get scholarships for different certificates (CertTESOL, CELT-P, etc). If I had known this I wouldn't have paid over €2500 for a CELTA in the US. I will admit I miss the days of 1 lead teacher and 4 volunteers teaching at a school in the alps with the afternoons free to explore the lakes while living in Gasthäuser. Now Student Teachers pay their own way to Austria, but are provided with dorms (VERY much like the ones at your local state college... no frills here), travel to and from their teaching practice locations, subsidized teacher training, BASIC food (think staples: rice, pasta), and the support of all staff.
ABCi has gone from a somewhat hectic volunteer organization to a real professional college (although sometimes it is still hectic, especially the first week of a course).

Default avatar
Helen
Female
28 years old
Canterbury

Great starting place for a career in TEFL

8/10

I started with ABCi when it was still the initiative as a volunteer teacher, moved on to be a paid teacher and then worked as project coordinator for over a year. The time I spent with ABCi was invaluable and made me into the teacher I am today. The work was challenging, rewarding and exciting. The staff were committed to their vision of what English education should look like and the support we received was fantastic.

Teaching- For a first time teacher not having the stress of lesson planning and teaching a set program allows you time to practice and perfect different teaching techniques. You receive a good balance of theoretical input and practical application in the classroom. The work load does demand a lot of time and effort but it's worth it!

How can this program be improved?

ABCi progressed massively during the time I spent with them. However, it is important to remember it is still a developing organisation and as such occasionally has teething problems. There have been a lot of changes since I left but if you are flexible and keen to work hard for a great start in TEFL I’m sure you’ll find a visit to beautiful Austria with ABCi a rewarding experience.

Default avatar
Rob
Male
24 years old
Denton, MD, USA

Incredibly Stressful and Rewarding

7/10

I completed the winter (Jan- March 2016) program this year and it was incredibly stressful and exhausting as well as really enriching and rewarding... I loved it. And I learned a lot. But also, as a new and rapidly expanding program, the logistics of it were pretty chaotic. I think we logged over 225 teaching hours, which is outrageous for a beginner course, in towns all over Austria. That amount of teaching practice really forces you to build confidence and improve as a teacher.. especially in observed lessons, where I mostly got really thoughtful feedback. But it also is overwhelming when you have assignments due, lessons to plan and activities to memorize.

I haven't had the chance to search for a job with the cert TESOL I received through ABCi, but the certificate is accredited through London Trinity College and many of my friends from the program have been able to get jobs teaching all over the world... have a friends in the Galapagos, Germany, and Barcelona. The fact that I now have the opportunity to travel anywhere to teach makes it pretty worth it. You also receive the Tefl-yl certificate which is not internationally recognized but given through ABCi.

Austria's beautiful and an amazing country to travel.. though there was little time to do so during my course. Also as a US citizen I had some visa restrictions... US citizens can only be the Schengen are, most of Europe, for 90 days max in a 180 day period.

You learn a lot about active learning and classroom management through teaching games, drama, and songs. Its fun and pretty rewarding to have your class perform dramas in English at the end of each week. I feel really confident about lesson planning and running an activities. Though by evenings in the second month when we started studying for CertTESL, we were exhausted when the actual input sessions about English language, phonology, grammar etc. came up. It's possible and everyone in my course passed.. it just took a lot of will power and patience.

The support form my senior teachers was great when it came to actually teaching in schools.. but you spend a lot of time driving to and from schools. The printers and wifi and housing was always a bit sketchy.

Hard to give the program a positive or negative review. I learned a lot. Made some really good friends and got to see some incredible places. I'm really happy I did it. Just have to approach it with expectations of hard work, uncomfortable challenges and inevitable logistical nightmares.

How can this program be improved?

4 months rather than 3. Consistent welfare and housing.

Default avatar
Former
Male
26 years old
Leeds

Steer clear

1/10

This is the worst company I have ever worked with!
They mascarade as a charity but it is to avoid taxes and the only person doing anything charitable is you (the senior teachers earn a higher annual salary). You will get up at 5 in your less than ideal accommodation, drive for 2 hours, turn up at a school with little or no information on what you will be doing that day and teach until 2, drive for another 2 hours and then attend pointless seminars.
On more than one occasion the school had no idea we were coming (a senior teacher let slip that if the school hasn't confirmed then a SALES tactic is to turn up anyway and the school will then feel obliged to hand over the daily salary they pay)
The company is a shambles, they have no respect for your time or the fact you are a volunteer. The administration is down right rude and obnoxious. I could write pages upon pages of examples of incompetency from the staff and company as a whole.
Just don't waste your time.

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Kirstie
Female
24 years old
Vienna, Austria

Review from current trainee on 2015 intake

8/10

I am a current volunteer on the ABCi intermediate programme. I have been asked before I leave to write a review of my experience and thoughts about this programme. Austria is a beautiful country to work in and we have seen a lot of the country driving to and from schools. One of the biggest pros of ABCi is that the students really respond to active learning, which is this company’s focus. I have worked with a wide range of different students and this approach seems to work well with almost any type of student. It was particularly beneficial to students with learning difficulties and disabilities as they found the songs very beneficial, with parents asking if they could sing them at home with their child to keep them learning English.
During my time at ABCi I have worked with many different types of children throughout Austria and have had over 320 hours’ worth of teaching experience. To my knowledge this offers the most teaching hours I have heard of for a TEFL and TKT certification programme, as you are expected to teach full time after just a week and a half from starting the course. This has been a primarily learn-by-doing experience with the academic part of the course being taught and assessed after working hours. This has been difficult as this means that during the beginning of the course we could be working at school from 7/8 in the morning to 1 / 2 in the afternoon, then do training sessions til 4, drive back to our accommodation by 6pm and then spend a few hours preparing lessons for the rest of the week and researching and writing assignments.
There are some financial costs to taking this course. Flights are not paid for, and you are expected to show proof of a round trip travel within a short period of time after accepting the position. For me, this meant borrowing money on very short notice. If you do not have the opportunity to pay for flights right away this could be an issue. It has also cost a lot in living expenses, particularly as I have had the Vienna location twice. It is lovely to live here but the living costs are more expensive than elsewhere in Austria. I would not recommend coming to this course with less than 1200€ at least. ABCi provide store cupboard essentials such as pasta, rice, sauce and bread etc. but do not offer any fresh fruit or vegetables. As fresh produce is quite expensive in Austria a food budget is needed. If you have special dietary needs this may be quite difficult with the store cupboard food and in Austria in general. Store cupboards contain meat sauces even if the people living there would prefer a vegetarian sauce, and most of the essentials contain gluten with the exception of rice.
I believe that my time here has been a generally positive one, and I have made some friends who I will stay in contact with for sure. It has also been a good taster experience of EFL teaching without a long term contract. This experience allowed me to trial teaching with no commitment and I believe this was helpful.

How can this program be improved?

- contract in English
- more time before coming to save money for flights and living costs
- more transparency about expectations in the beginning part of the course

Default avatar
Brittany
Female
26 years old
Scotland
University of St Andrews

Avoid Like the Plague

1/10

ABCi claimed to reimburse travel for its volunteer teacher trainees. However, having left 2 months ago, I still have not received a penny from them. Unfortunately, there is no written obligation from ABCi in their contract with trainees to pay travel reimbursements. However, since this was a core element in their job advertisement on The Guardian and TEFL Jobs websites, this is a clear case of false advertising.

Having complained to ABCi about this on numerous occasions, they now no longer respond to emails. Previous responses have been unprofessional and claimed former volunteers are no longer registered with ABCi. I am also deeply suspicious of reviews left on online forums. For example, the review, written by a person called 'Millie', appears to contradict the claims made against ABCi regarding travel reimbursements. Whilst Millie may be a former student from a different placement who did recieve her travel reimbursement, there was nobody of that name on the April - August 2015 intake.

The trainee contract is written in German and ABCi refuses to provide a written translation into English. I was instead assured during the interview stage of the application process that it would be verbally translated upon my arrival in Austria. This service was never provided, in spite of requests being made several times. However, after using Google Translate, I am deeply concerned about the organisation's insurance policy (or, more accurately the lack of it) with regards to its volunteers, who are not recoginsed as official employees or associates during their three-month voluntary placements. This is particularly worrying given that teaching takes place in an Active Learning environment, where children are running around inside classrooms, and with sporting activities and lessons making up a crucial component of the project weeks. Although trainees undertook a day of training with the Red Cross (as they are obliged to under Austrian Law), we never received formal training on how to safely teach sports or deal with any injuries that may occur. Given the lack of clear insurance policy and procedure, this is clearly unsafe for both trainees and the young students they teach in Austria.

The contract contains no statistics whatsoever in such important elements as the number of working hours required of volunteers, dates and amounts of reimbursement money to be paid, or classroom sizes teachers can expect to teach. Nor does it specify any obligations on the part of the organisation to provide safe and secure accommodation for its volunteers. In fact, it does not even stipulate the nature of labor which was to be expected of us. This had implications for the volunteers on my placement as we were expected to assemble furniture for ABCi's offices after a full day of teaching in late July, even though the welcome pack clearly states that volunteers could expect to have their afternoons free after the intensive CERTesol component of the course, which had ended two months before. To be clear, this was not a voluntary option and were not provided with a way to opt-out. We were instead told one morning that after school that day we would be driven to the new office to build furniture. The furniture building took two hours longer than expected. We were then housed in the old office, and expected to sleep 10 of us in 9 beds (which had been constructed by the volunteer office interns), and provided with only one shower, which was broken, and two kitchen hobs with no oven or grill. There was also a shortage of bedding meaning I didn't have a pillow or bed sheets for several nights. This was an ongoing problem, since on our day of arrival it was clear that the apartment had not been cleaned (there were dirty razors in the bathroom, uncleaned floors and old food left in the kitchen). Again, I did not have a pillow or duvet cover. This is highly demonstrable of the way in which ABCi routinely disregarded the welfare of its volunteers.

Response from ABCi

We are genuinely sorry that you did not enjoy your time with us here in Austria, but all of our staff work really hard to ensure that all our trainees have a rewarding experience here in Austria: the combination of a TEFL teacher training course, teaching training placement in state schools and travel throughout the alpine region that ABCi offers as part of our trainee teaching placements is truly unique – I think you’ll find that there is nothing else quite like it in Europe. To be honest, most people DO in fact take advantage of these opportunities and gain both the theoretical knowledge and practical experience required to advance their careers as young ESL teachers in a beautiful setting. The "ABCi" (The student-centered initiative to to bring together English native speakers and Austrian children at all the secondary schools in Austria by 2020) has also gone through some big changes recently, namely being absorbed by the English Teacher Training College. The combination of college staff to provide teacher training and the practical teaching experience in Austrian schools means that no one leaves our course without knowing how to teach. In any event, we really do hope that you'll apply again - we take valid feedback very seriously here at the college and are quick to implement suggestions.

Please remember, the English Teacher Training College and its associated Bilingual Classroom Initiative (ABCi) is a not-for-profit Austrian College with a dual mission: Firstly, as a college, to provide a practical education in teacher training for trainees from the English-speaking world based solely on the candidate's academic merit. Secondly, as a charity outreach, to promote language learning, cultural exchange and foster understanding between English-speaking countries and Austria by bringing hundreds of teachers from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia into Austrian classrooms to reach every child with a free English project by the year 2020.

For your intake of trainee, reimbursements for travel to and from Austria were a part of the programme. Trainees were told that the reimbursement time is typically between 8 to 12 weeks, however no exact time frame can be given due to the different steps involved in this, some of which involve outside parties. The organisation is working to get the reimbursements paid to the trainees of ABCi as soon as possible and we thank them for their patience and understanding as this process takes place.

The trainee contract, which has been written by both ABCi and our legal advisers, is now written in both English and German. The contract is a legal document without which trainees would not be allowed in Austrian schools as they would not then be covered by the organisation's insurance.

It is made clear to trainees that this is not an employment contract, as they are on a course. Therefore there are no labor hours involved. Similar to a University degree, attendance is expected and, if a session is not attended, absences are noticed.

There is now a full time Welfare Officer at ABCi to deal with all concerns. When a lack of bedding was highlighted to the organisation by trainees, new bedding was purchased the next day and given to them. ABCi has professional cleaners, this is an external company which ABCi has been working closely with to ensure that they are meeting high standards. They clean the flats once a week. Trainees are responsible, however, to make sure that communal areas remain clean and tidy.

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Millie
Female
26 years old
England
Other

A great introduction to teaching

9/10

I took part in the course when the organisation was ABCi, and personally I had a great time. It was the first time I had been abroad for more than a holiday and I was quite nervous, but to be able to do this with a group of like-minded people was great. We all started at the same time, so immediately I didn't feel alone.

I remember talking to my group of trainees towards the end of the placement about what the best thing about the whole experience was- and we decided it was the amount of time we spent laughing.

You have to be pretty flexible and adaptable, because there can be last minute logistical changes. But the more relaxed and open-minded you are about it, the more you'll get out of the experience.

I'd recommend this course for anyone who wants to travel around Austria and gain lots of teaching experience. I did an online TEFL course before I came out here and learnt so much more by actually being in a classroom and teaching in different schools in Austria than I did at my computer.

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing it would be getting the flight reimbursement back slightly quicker, although I understand they no longer reimburse travel. You get it back eventually though, so it wasn't really a problem.

Default avatar
A
Female
25 years old
xx

more accountability needed

5/10

- volunteers from the last intake (april to august) are still waiting on the flight reimbursements that they were promised. while this reimbursement may not be a part of the new program, it was a part of the previous program and those volunteers are entitled to this reimbursement.

- to dismiss a former volunteer's comments, with the argument that (1) the particular program has been discontinued and (2) the content is now considered out of date, is misleading. again, the last intake was april - august of 2015, hardly out of date.

- a significant number of the reviews on this and other sites have been written by current or former employees (many who did participate in the program, but were hired afterwards) and not volunteers. if this isn't a conflict of interest, then I don't know what is.

Response from ABCi

The "ABCi" (The student-centered initiative to to bring together English native speakers and Austrian children at all the secondary schools in Austria by 2020) has also gone through some big changes recently, namely being absorbed by the English Teacher Training College. The combination of college staff to provide teacher training and the practical teaching experience in Austrian schools means that no one leaves our course without knowing how to teach. In any event, we really do hope that you'll apply again - we take valid feedback very seriously here at the college and are quick to implement suggestions.

Please remember, the English Teacher Training College and its associated Bilingual Classroom Initiative (ABCi) is a not-for-profit Austrian College with a dual mission: Firstly, as a college, to provide a practical education in teacher training for trainees from the English-speaking world based solely on the candidate's academic merit. Secondly, as a charity outreach, to promote language learning, cultural exchange and foster understanding between English-speaking countries and Austria by bringing hundreds of teachers from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia into Austrian classrooms to reach every child with a free English project by the year 2020.

ABCi is indeed registered as a nonprofit organization with the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior and fulfills all the legal and financial requirements required to achieve the status of a "gemeinnütziger verein" in Austrian law. This is publicly available information. You can quickly and easily confirm this information for yourself by checking at the ministry in Vienna or inputting our NPO registration number (249983245) in the federal "Zentrales Vereins Register" at following government website: http://zvr.bmi.gv.at/Start

As a not-for-profit organization, transparency is very important to us, so the college has no problem sharing the above information with you. Please feel free to contact the campus in Vorchdorf if you have any more questions on our structure or administration.

The organisation is currently working to process the reimbursements for the previous group of trainees. Trainees are told that this process typically takes between 8 and 12 weeks, but this can fall outside of this time frame due to numerous steps being involved in this process.

We take feedback very seriously, and have numerous channels through which trainees can give us feedback, including exit interviews, complaints forms and suggestions boxes. All current feedback is processed in compliance to our feedback procedure, however as a young organisation our courses and organisation does evolve rapidly so content can become out of date fairly quickly.

We welcome feedback from all participants of our courses, regardless of whether they are currently employed with us or are no longer part of the organisation.

Default avatar
Harry
Male
24 years old
United Kingdom

Know What You're Getting Into

3/10

Above all else, I feel the interns and trainees are being taken advantage of. I shall focus primarily on the former so as to be able to speak from personal experience. The interns' wage is unacceptable. I find it all the more despicable that we 'volunteer' 20 hours so as to ensure there is no need to pay a living wage for your workforce. When we factor in the cost of travel to and from the office (something not mentioned during the interviewing stage), it becomes extremely difficult to afford basic necessities like food. Furthermore, we were advised during the interview process to bring around 300 Euros to cover the first month of expenses. I will go onto highlight further levels of poor communication from the side of the organisation later. Regarding the previous point, it isn't explained that we wouldn't receive a proper month's wage until the middle of October. If it is difficult to make (not even) 300 Euros last 4 weeks, six weeks is near impossible. I can't help but feel as many corners are cut as possible by the organisation. Knowing that interns and trainees are in a vulnerable position, the organisation from a position of power does things like only allocate 3 keys to 5 interns, not provide a freezer for the trainee accommodation in Brunnenweg, etc. While I can accept room sharing as occurs in the interns' accommodation, I'm astounded on two counts. First, that a trainee may share his room with 3 other people, and second that up to 400 Euros is taken from the interns' wage for the pleasure of being housed in a different town to the office. Again, this wasn't told during the interviewing process. If given proper notice, I would have personally preferred receiving my wage in full and have the opportunity to source more appropriate accommodation for the duration of my stay. Regardless of whether or not I would have been successful, I feel it's my right to make the decision. Moreover, the fact that the interns' have such a sizeable amount of their wage taken because of our accommodation makes the threat of random trainees being dumped in our flat with no more than 48 hours' notice and no consideration is all the more galling. I emailed HR twice regarding this matter for clarification on whether or not rumours were true. These were ignored.

In my time I've found this organisation disturbingly disorganised. In the first week, the interns were very much an afterthought, left alone for hours on end with no work or guidance. We all became quite familiar with the coffee machine and the interior design of the kitchen. Why all of us had to pay extortionate amounts of money for a hotel just so we could sit through a trainee teacher lecture is beyond me. Why not save your hardworking new staff a hotel bill by housing them one extra night or else pushing timing back a few hours and negating team building. Why team build when the majority will move on across the country, not to be seen again for several weeks? Further examples of disorganisation can be found regarding the use of the virtual classroom. I believe I'm correct in saying trainees are supposed to be handling it during regular hours. If that is wrong, it seems strange that interns would be taken away from their regular duties. Regardless, both times that I've been asked to handle virtual classroom duties (on both occasions told at 1400, with no consideration for what work I may be doing) I was given no advice regarding where I could go. What results is a desperate rush around Vorchdorf looking for a free computer where I won't disturb other staff. This isn't to mention having to borrow appropriate kit to utilise a microphone and hear sound. Further highlights of disorganisation include, during the first project week the interns were sent out on, the girls (staying in a different town to me) arriving at their accommodation to find nobody in the guest house and no key. When they were eventually let into their house, the senior teacher and I faced the same problem at our accommodation. To date, I have done 1 project week, 1 project day and assisted another intern on the final day of her project week. None of the interns have received training regarding proper ABCi practices. We have viewed a senior teacher take 1 period of our classes individually during the first project week. I have personally had the least amount of teaching when it comes to the interns. That one of the other interns is set to do 5 consecutive weeks of teaching in the first 6 weeks of work is absolutely astounding. None of us came here to be teachers. We all have varying levels of experience anyway and chose to come here to work in an office. I would suggest for the next intake, that interns arrive a week earlier than trainees to help in preparation for their arrival. It may just help the logistical nightmare that this organisation seems to face every day (if the completely unreliable, ever-changing calendar is anything to go by). Finally, the interns haven't been allocated our due holidays in September.

Below I shall outline examples of poor communication from this organisation:

We were told by different parties that the introduction of a wage was because of a change in the law or out of the goodness of this organisation's heart. I don't think it's too cynical to assume the former over the latter.

In week 3, interns hadn't been allocated time to open a bank account. Communication regarding this amounted to surprise and acknowledgement that something should happen regarding this.
Office training was allocated 2 hours. This consisted of a second identical tour of the office and a 5 minute guide on how to use the printer.

Interns are invited to a team building lunch that is mandatory (how else would we get home after the project day if our senior staff member that drove us is going). We are then told, at the end of the meal, that we have to pay. Why weren't we warned beforehand? To assume causes unnecessary stress.

The contract we signed is in German. Why is there not an English copy? It is pure luck that 2 of the interns speak German. Regardless of whether or not it would be official, an English transcript seems appropriate.

Finally, there has been no opportunity for professional development. The first aid course consisted of a four hour lecture with minimal practical activities. The teacher training (lectures) is not relevant for me personally or professionally (we aren't supposed to be teaching regularly and don’t receive any formal qualification). The intern office work is menial and doesn't allow for any learning of the inner-workings of a nonprofit. I had personally hoped to be able to spend at least some time shadowing the Director of Fundraising and to sit in on some meetings. While I have expressed this wish, my work has consisted of moving information from one spreadsheet to another.

Response from ABCi

This review was left by one of our office interns, who left the programme after 3 weeks of being here. We take feedback received seriously, and therefore will take the time to respond to each of the points mentioned here.

It is quite rare for office internships to be paid, particularly within the non-profit sector, and as an organisation we made the decision to pay our interns so that we could give them added responsibility and let them have an input in many staff-level decisions. This is also exceptional for an internship placement.

As far as accommodation goes, again we made the decision to house them and this is a benefit to them because we don't want interns to worry or busy themselves with searching for accommodation when they begin their internship. The alpine area in which we are situated has high rental prices and Austrian rental contracts are very rarely for less than 3 years. Trainees and interns do share rooms with other trainees, and this is made clear at several points in the admissions and recruitment processes. Due to logistics, accommodation changes can happen at short notice, and we try to provide information on this as soon as we have it.

The interns are given a substantial amount of time in the first week to help them familiarise themselves with the teaching programme, so they do not have to spend their evenings doing this. We have, however, taken this feedback on board and intensified the first week of the internship programme, so that interns begin their regular duties earlier. The interns in our current programme did experience a lot of teaching at first. This was due to a lot of projects taking place at the beginning of the school year and also schools wanting extra classes at our projects to allow refugee children to take part. The amount of teaching that this intern's group experienced was an exceptional situation and going forward we have structured our project coordination so that interns will only have to teach in the event of illness or a sudden increase in project numbers, which rarely happens.

As part of the initial week at ABCi, our trainees and interns take part in a special team building event. Team building is a very important part of arriving at ABCi, and feedback from it has always been positive. The participants get to experience something new in Austria, and is not only important for getting to know everyone there, but is also structured in a way that it helps to strengthen the individual teaching teams.

As an Austrian organisation, all of our legal documentation has to be in German for it to be legal. The contracts are signed whilst a member of staff who speaks both German and English is in the office.

Professional development is an integral part of the internship placement, and our supervisors meet once per week in order to make sure that interns receive special projects which will help them learn new skills. The welfare of our trainees and interns is also of high importance to us, so there is a designated Welfare Officer to oversee all issues and concerns.
We are a registered non-profit organisation with a specific aim of reaching children in rural areas. Most children in these areas have never met a native speaker of English before, and have not been to an English speaking country. Not only do we promote English language, but also the culture from English speaking countries. We specifically focus on rural schools which don't have access to native speakers and for whom an English project with our trainees marks an unforgettable experience with a culture they have only read about or seen on TV. These rural schools and children often lack the financial resources to fly to England or the USA so, acting as a charity organisation, we bring these far away countries to them for free.
Our sponsors recognise this need for bilingual exchange and support the work we do. At the moment we are working with many refugee children. As a non-profit organisation, any money which is received through memberships goes directly back into allowing us to provide free project days for all schools in Austria and quality teacher training for our trainees who teach these projects.

In terms of the duties and responsibilities of an intern in the fundraising and marketing department, the job description matches that of most, ordinary fundraising/marketing internships. This includes things like: researching new companies and foundations to contact for support, maintaining the existing database of donors and supporters, helping in writing minor proposals and reports to donors, researching new fundraising markets, posting about ABCi events on our blog and Facebook, providing information to local media outlets about our charity work/events, etc

We have also structured our internship program such that interns do administrative tasks (like the ones mentioned above) for half of their time and then provide interns with the tools and training to pursue their own projects or initiatives and/or accompany members of staff to events where they can witness, first hand, the work of their department. For this intern, this consisted of training on a high resolution camera followed by several trips to schools to take pictures of our projects for marketing purposes. Another project, initiated by the intern, involved researching a special topic relevant to our field of work and then posting it on our blog after getting feedback from a senior member of staff. Finally, the Development Office had planned to bring this intern to several fundraising meetings to witness, first-hand, how this job is done in Austria, but the intern left two weeks before his placement in the Development Office was finished.

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Maria
Female
24 years old
England
University of Central Lancashire

A very rewarding and valuable experience

10/10

As someone with 6 months experience teaching in China I was very keen to finally experience teaching in Europe - and when I saw the advertisement for ABCi I thought that this would be a great route for me to go down. ABCi offered me a Trinity Cert TESOL qualification in return for my time - so I got an internationally recognised language teaching qualification for free AND 3 months teaching experience in Austria on top of that - a great addition to my CV. Another great advantage was the variety of experience: a different school each week provided me with the opportunity to teach students from 5/6 years old up to students in their early twenties; and the opportunity to experience small rural schools, huge urban schools and everything between. I could also spend my weekends and down time experiencing many different cities in Austria - from Gmunden, Salzburg, Graz to Vienna. But for me the most valuable part of this experience was volunteering for an NPO. Visiting schools for just one day to provide them with free and fun English lessons and seeing how grateful they were for my time and efforts was incredibly rewarding and important to me. Thank you ABCi for giving me this fantastic opportunity!

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Teresa
Female
24 years old
Germany

A great experience!

9/10

I have recently taken part in the office internship with ABCi. I worked in the office and helped to ensure that the teachers of ABCi had everything that they needed. I worked in HR, Project Logistics and Fundraising and Marketing. It was interesting to be able to see how the administration of a not-for-profit organisation works. Although a lot of my tasks weren't all too challenging, I enjoyed the more creative tasks like creating a newsletter. One of my favourite parts was gaining experience teaching in the classroom. The ABCi program is great fun to teach and it was amazing to witness the students finding ways to communicate to me and to each other in English, coming up with creative plays and playing the games and singing the songs with huge grins on their faces. I have enjoyed my time in Austria immensely, all the staff were very friendly and it was great working together with other people, who are all passionate about teaching and working towards the same goal.

How can this program be improved?

More notice about logistical changes.

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Joanna
Female
32 years old
Austria
University of Cambridge

An incredible experience in Austria!

8/10

This is exactly what I was looking for. I had recently completed my PGCE at Cambridge and I wanted immediate classroom experience, as well as a formal qualification for teaching English plus time in a new country...well I got that, and more! I loved teaching in Austria, do not misunderstand it was tiring and on occasion difficult but it was such a great experience. The students were generally lovely, and willing and able to get involved in the activities, games and songs. This was such a contrast to teaching in England.

We got to travel around a lot and teach in lots of schools, while also receiving training to improve our own teaching. The staff at ABCi have a lot of teaching experience and the feedback I received was so helpful and can be applied to any classroom situation in the future. I was also afforded the opportunity to get my certTESOL and TEFL-YL certificates which will be invaluable when applying for jobs in the future.

I found the very early starts coupled with the active learning very tiring as we had to travel distances to get to schools, but this is part of the job. ABCi really focus on the use of Active Learning in the classroom and they promote immersion environments for students. This can be both challenging and rewarding, especially when you see students speaking English more confidently by Friday afternoon of a project week.There are lots of songs and excellent activities to use with the students, and once you know the activities you can then really focus on improving your teaching skills. The training continued after the first month and lasted the entire duration of our placement. We had training in the afternoons which was helpful as we were working with our peers to improve how activities were run in the classroom as well as discussing grammar topics, activity creation and carefully chosen readings applicable to the TESOL classroom.

Another great aspect was the fact our accomodation and food was paid for. Having said that quite often I needed to supplement the allowance to buy other things such as meat or fresh vegetables.

I would definitely recommend the placement to others but be aware of the early starts and the energy the placement requires. It is such an incredible opportunity which I have not found anywhere else.

How can this program be improved?

The early starts are difficult and very tiring. Also the food allowance is a bit limiting, as meat and fresh vegetables are often quite expensive. One thing I noticed was that ABCi were constantly asking for constructive feedback which they would then try to implement as soon as it was possible, such a positive thing to see.

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Amy
Female
24 years old
United Kingdom
University of Plymouth

Fantastic teaching experience

8/10

I spent 3 months with ABCi in Austria and it was the most incredible experience!
As a nearly qualified Primary School teacher, I had had plenty of experience of teaching children from 5-12. The experience gain at ABCi has been invaluable and I have been highly commended during my university course for taking part in such a program.
I arrived late as I had to finish my dissertation, and the program leaders were very accommodating about this and were able to support me whilst I was 'catching up' with the rest of the group.
Teaching a different class every day/week requires a massive degree of flexibility and can be challenging, however this is a skill which particularly as a teacher needs to be developed and my time in Austria has been a huge support to my teaching back in England.
The children taught were generally lovely- a big change from children in England- this is the main difference which I found. They were so eager to please, friendly and helpful!
The program was very different to what I've previously taught, ABCi pride themselves on using an active teaching approach which requires alot of energy and enthusiasm (there's no room for bad moods!) This active method means that you can have heaps of fun with your class- just make sure they dont push it!.
We were regularly observed, which I was super nervous about- but actually the feedback gained is an integral aspect of the program- and all senior teachers are very friendly and deliver criticism in a positive and constructive manner.
As part of the qualification gained each teacher was asked to create a game to trial with the children and present to their peers- this was a great way to incorporate your own thoughts and ideas into the program and feedback gained from peers and senior teachers was very useful.

All of my weekends were free and most evenings, Austrian schools finish around 1.30 (ish) so despite the sometimes very early mornings (some as early as 5am) the afternoon was generally free.
We were asked to act out the activities as a group, which I found very useful and as we were all friends, this did not seem like a chore!
There is an interactive classroom where we were asked to 'run' 1 session a month (roughly 2 hours) where we were able to talk to the children which had bought into the program- again, not really much to ask, and not a chore!
We did have reading and grammar exercises to complete each week which we would feedback to the rest of the group with the support of the senior teacher. I found these sessions very useful and motivational do actually complete the reading (this is for the test at the end).

Austria is a very beautiful country and somewhere were I would like to visit again- the nature of ABCi meant that I was able to see alot of the country!

It almost seemed to good to be true when I read the advert. If youre down for a bit of hard work, loads of fun and great teaching experience this is the place to go!
I was able to expand my teaching skills, gain a qualification and more importantly I have made some life-long friends through ABCi. So thank you!

How can this program be improved?

The general consensus of our group was that we expected to receive our flight reimbursement during our time there, these were not sent until after we left.
The commute to schools was sometimes very long- and with the early mornings the days could sometimes seem very long.

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Natalie
Female
19 years old
Vienna, Austria

Great experience in a wonderful country!

9/10

I spent three wonderful months with ABCi and, honestly, it was one of the best experiences I've had. I learned so much as a teacher and, although I found the initial training pretty overwhelming, it was totally worth it.

The first month or so, I admit that I was not the best teacher. With the support and help of the senior teachers as well as the reading booklets, my progress over the course of my time with ABCi got better and better. I was even awarded a "most improved teacher" certificate which I was, and still am, thrilled about. I can't thank the senior teachers enough for being so patient, calming and always approachable.

The children I taught were just incredible. Obviously, like every school, there were some menaces. Looking back, though, I say thanks to those little menaces because I learned how to improve my behaviour management - a wonderful tool you learn with ABCi. Each week (excuse me if I get this wrong - I don't remember correctly) I was instructed to think of a new game or a new song which could be played or sung in the classrooms with the children. I often found this tricky but applying the game or song to the kids was great fun. The funny thing was finding out if it worked or not. At one point, one of the games I tried out kind of completely failed - the kids were BORED. But when it works, the feeling is almost as good as victory.
My favourite part of the week in school was the performance on the Friday of the project week. Everyone is super excited, there are lots of songs to be sung and danced to, and some of the kids' dramas which they make up are fantastic. All staff at each school was sociable, kind and always made sure everything was going good. It was very emotional leaving the children and teachers behind after each week, or sometimes each day if it's a project day.

Throughout my three months in Austria, I stayed with other volunteers. I became very close to my group and they are truly some of the greatest people I've ever met. I can safely say that you definitely make friends whilst volunteering with ABCi. You almost always have weekends off to do whatever. I think out of all weekends, there were two Saturdays or so when I had to do something work-related such as a First Aid course and teacher training. Also, after school there is often scheduled time to go over games and songs to make sure you understand what to do/what to sing. The time spent doing this can be exhausting and all you can think about is bed but it's the best time to ask questions if you're unsure of anything or to really pay attention if you have no clue how a game goes. You always have some free time though.
Most mornings are early - some as early as 5am if your accommodation is located far from the school. This was tough at the start of the course but it got easier and I rather enjoyed some fresh super early morning air.

Austria is such a beautiful country and being able to teach here was just brilliant. I got to see SO many parts of Austria: Gmunden (beautiful little town where the headquarters are based), Windischgarsten, Leonding, Linz, Vienna, Liebenau, Spittal, Salzburg (standing right where Maria Van Der Trapp sang was an incredible feeling), Zell am Moos, Sankt Pantaleon, Tulln, Krems, Grunberg, Attnang Puccheim, Hallein - where we WALKED to Germany - and so many more. Before volunteering with ABCi, I never thought Austria would be a country I would love as much as I do. So much that I now live in Vienna!

To sum up, I strongly recommend volunteering with ABCi. The senior teachers are awesome, the children are so precious, you meet fabulous people and the memories are definitely worth making. If you're prepared for early mornings, working hard, ups and downs, but also so much fun, laughter and enjoyment then I definitely suggest signing up to volunteer with ABCi.

Massive thank you to ABCi! :)

How can this program be improved?

Communication between the directors/senior teachers and volunteers. Sometimes we were told where we would be going the day before we left, which I thought wasn't a lot of time. As far as I'm aware, ABCi are working on informing the volunteers about where they're going in plenty of notice.

In addition to communication, 20€ per week per volunteer was the norm for food shopping. Some weeks it wasn't a problem, but others the food seemed to run out. There was a bit of a confusion whether essential food was included in the 20€ or not, which is where it went wrong. So it's merely down to knowing if essentials are included in your weekly shop. Other than that, 20€ was a very reasonable allowance. Especially considering ABCi is a not-for-profit organisation.

Before I got to Austria, I was told that I would be reimbursed for my flight as soon as I arrived. Two months after I left was when I got reimbursed. It wasn't much of a problem for me, but just the fact that I was told I would get reimbursed as soon as I got here was a bit annoying. I truly think ABCi have made changes to this.

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Emma
Female
32 years old
New Zealand
University of Otago

Austria is lovely, volunteering for ABCi is not.

4/10

Luckily Austria is a beautiful, friendly country and the school children are for the most part a pleasure to teach, because volunteering with the Austrian Bilingual Classrooms Initiative is not something I would recommend.

For a start, the program revolves around games ('Active learning', which means children running around) and songs. Expect to do a lot of this, and very little real English teaching. There are a few games which have useful grammar and language content, but they are minimal. If you do not enjoy being in the role of cheerleader, this program is unlikely to provide you with much teaching satisfaction. It will also pay to dispel any ideas of Not-for-Profit goodness early on, as this program charges the children a fee for participation, while being well funded from other sources besides.

Secondly, constructive criticism is not welcome, nor are complaints. The managers are either rude or temperamental (the director, did not introduce himself and I did not meet him until I accidentally bumped into him a week and a half into the program). We were provided with very limited food supplies for the first week, and when I complained about this I was told that I raised the matter at an inappropriate time, that disciplinary action was needed; that all ABCI's crushing force would be applied to such dissidence in the ranks.

Expect to be working flat out and FULL time. Getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning is not unusual (despite what they will tell you). The schools are usually a long commute from wherever you are staying, and even in Vienna it is often necessary to take public transport for an hour+ to reach schools on time. When you get back late in the afternoon, there is usually something to prevent you from relaxing too much (meetings, the Virtual Classroom, or practicing new classroom content in front of colleagues when they decide you need to learn a whole new program). In short, all of this means that this program is more stressful than any paid position I've been in-- there is no time or place to talk to anyone or discuss grievances, and you end up feeling exhausted and unmotivated.

They will tell you that all of the above is to be expected, because it is a training program for which a qualification is awarded. Don't be fooled by this-- you will get a piece of paper which is worth very little in real terms. Unless you happen to be an 18 year old school leaver with no qualifications, it is unlikely to be of much use to anyone.

Also, don't expect anything to happen efficiently unless it is of benefit or consequence to the organization. As a trainee you are expected to be punctual and well organized (fair enough), but they will not return this favor where it is your time or resources at stake. Expect long waits for people to turn up, don't expect prompt reimbursement of your monies (my flight reimbursement arrived 2 months after I left; the certificate took even longer). Disorganization is the norm, so from time to time you may have no internet access, or no washing machine for a couple of weeks. Similarly, safety of participants is taken rather lightly-- there was a seat belt missing in a vehicle, which I mentioned early on. Nothing was done about it, despite high-speed travel on the auto bahn being a regular phenomenon.

The academic side of the program is equally sloppy. You will be asked to create new content (preferably original) for which no reference is included in any of the program booklets. As anyone with any academic background will know, this effectively constitutes plagiarism.

And finally, the staff predominantly consists of young males, particularly amongst the teachers. Some may not mind, but I believe it does influence the outlook and attitude of the organization to some extent. On the plus side, the senior teachers are for the most part a great bunch-- it is the managers that bring it down.

If you are young, unqualified and willing to tolerate all of the above, this may be the place to develop your cheerleader skills. If you are not, then I'd recommend trying another program.

Response from ABCi

We are genuinely sorry that you did not enjoy your time with us here in Austria, but ABCi staff worked really hard to ensure that all our
trainees had a rewarding experience whilst they were here in Austria. The combination
of a TEFL teacher training course, teaching training placement in state schools and travel throughout the alpine region that ABCi offers
as part of our trainee teaching placements is truly unique – there is nothing else quite like it in Europe. To be honest, most people DO in fact take advantage of these opportunities and gain both the theoretical knowledge and practical experience required to advance their careers as young ESL teachers in a beautiful setting. The "ABCi" (The student-centered initiative to to bring together English native speakers and Austrian children at all the secondary schools in Austria by 2020) has also gone through some big changes recently, namely being absorbed by the English Teacher Training College. The combination of college staff to provide teacher training and the practical teaching experience in Austrian schools means that no one leaves our course without knowing how to teach. We take valid feedback very seriously here at the college and are quick to implement suggestions.

Please remember, the English Teacher Training College and its associated Bilingual Classroom Initiative (ABCi) is a not-for-profit Austrian College with a dual mission: Firstly, as a college, to provide a practical education in teacher training for trainees from the English speaking world based solely on the candidate's academic merit. Secondly, as a charity outreach, to promote language learning, cultural exchange and foster understanding between English-speaking countries and Austria by bringing hundreds of teachers from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia into Austrian classrooms to reach every child with a free English project by the year 2020.

We take both staff and trainee welfare very seriously, so this type of feedback about welfare is very important to us. Some people say that trying to learn how to teach without being in a classroom is a lot like trying to learn how to drive without being in a car. The college's TEFL-YL courses provide trainees with exactly that kind of experience in the classroom of a state school. That means valuable hours of teaching experience each week where you are i) being observed by a course tutor, ii) observed by a more experience teacher iii) observing a peer or iv) gaining
additional practical teaching experience. So if this was describing the course for trainees, to say that you are working long hours isn't
factually correct - you are studying to become a teacher.

We are genuinely sorry if you felt taken advantage of as a trainee taking part in our charity outreach to Austrian children, but traveling to different schools across Austria to observe other teachers and learn new teaching techniques and activities, getting feedback on your own teaching all while getting the chance to teach project weeks with ABCi members and give free lessons to all students in Austria is normally described as a great experience by most of our trainees. Some trainees prefer short commutes and large cities (and teaching low-income students there), but to get to the rural children who need these lessons the most, we sometimes need to visit "middle-of-nowhere towns." But most of our other teachers take advantage of staying briefly in these alpine villages to hike, swim, bike, climb and otherwise enjoy the natural beauty of the alpine region.

This experience has enabled past trainees to go on to successful teaching careers. Past students have secured competitive, ESL teaching positions all over the world from Asia to South America. Others have successfully gained places on PGCE, BEd, and then later gone onto a DipTESOL, DELTA or masters in Education courses at Universities or language institutes in the United Kingdom and America.

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Lizzy
Female
32 years old
Dunblane, Scotland
University of Aberdeen

The best tefl training programme

9/10

I volunteered for ABCi for three months and had an incredible experience. I was able to travel all over Austria and live in Vienna, Graz and up in the Austrian countryside, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The programme is run by a small and friendly team who are extremely hard working and passionate about their programme which creates a motivating work atmosphere and you feel an integral part of that process during your stay. The programme is not for the work-shy; the mornings are early and you are expected to teach for at least 6 hours a day plus tefl training. However, this all pays off and the teaching experience you receive is invaluable. You will come out with a good grounding in core teaching skills and experience in teaching a variety of different age ranges and abilities (not forgetting a tefl certificate to prove all this!) progress is monitered closely by a senior teacher during the whole programme and they will give you regular constructive feedback on your lessons which is a huge help to your development as a teacher. The kids in general are well behaved with some interesting characters and you will have a lot of fun with them! The programme looks after its volunteers well and all food, accommodation and travel expenses are all paid for . There is always someone available to contact if you have any issues or complaints during your stay. The social scene is awesome, the abci team are a friendly bunch and organise team building activities regularly for their volunteers. you need to have an open mind and expect to live in close quarters to fellow volunteers, you may need to share rooms regularly but you become very close, very quickly to your colleagues as a result, and make life long friends. In short , the experience I had with abci was incredible. I met some wonderful people, I felt I was working towards something meaningful and it was a challenging but very rewarding experience that I would highly reccomend.

How can this program be improved?

I would say better communication would be a good idea. Sometimes you don't know where you are going to end up until the day before you leave which can be very exciting is also a bit frustrating if you want to make plans in your free time. ( although I believe they are working in this)

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Ali
Female
32 years old
Kent
Canterbury Christ Church University

ABCi

10/10

ABCi is a brilliant, emerging company which seems to be going from strength to strength, and hopefully has a very exciting future ahead, as English is integrated into every class room in Austria by 2020. The staff at ABCi are very hard working, particularly Ben, Frank and Helen who create a great family atmosphere within the company and work long days (nights and weekends usually included).

I would highly recommend this company to future applicants, the surrounding area of Gmunden is beautiful, there are stunning lakes, mountains to climb, and places to visit.

How can this program be improved?

As a relatively new company there are occasionally teething problems, however everyone works hard to solve any issues that arise.

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Jonathan
Male
24 years old
United Kingdom
Birmingham City University

ABCi madness (a good thing)

8/10

So I was was working as a volunteer for ABCi for three months and just returned a couple of weeks ago in April. It was great fun, learnt a lot, became a much better teacher and made some good friends. At first it was certainly a lot of work! However after the first week things began to get a bit easier, by the second month it was much more chilled and the third there was lots of chilling.
You travel around with two other volunteers and we had a really good time together, even though I was sharing a room with one of them for three months. The programme you teach seems a lot to take on board at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly and at the end of the three months you will feel a very confident teacher and it will be pretty easy to go into a classroom and be creative. Generally speaking the kids are really sweet as well, there are naughty ones, but you develop your ability to deal with those kids, so it offers that side of teaching development as well.
I got given a jar of honey from one school which was great, because it sorted out my souvenirs for when I returned home!
Oh and that's not to mention the total of ten bottles of wine I secured from schools over my time there.

Austria is a really beautiful country, if you haven't been to a mountainous country before, then it is mind-blowing. The office is in a lovely town with some pretty big mountains and so its pretty easy to get straight into nature.

Overall it was a great experience, try it out!

How can this program be improved?

Sometimes the commutes to schools could be a little long, up to an hour. But this is dependent on the schools that book really and is really unavoidable. Generally speaking journeys were under 30 mins.

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Jeremy
Male
32 years old
Llandybie, Wales
Macquarie University

Great Teaching Experience

9/10

I worked for ABCi for a three-month placement from December through to the end of February, and really enjoyed my time with the company.

The general work day was approximately 6 hours at a school (taking 6 50 minute periods), which, when combined with travel time and training later in the day, often resulted in some pretty long days, particularly in the first month. Over the course of the placement, the post-school training sessions become less frequent and we had more leisure time in the afternoon.

The lesson plans/activites are all provided by ABCi and are clearly explained, and are a lot of fun to run with a class of Austrian school kids.

As a relatively inexperienced teacher, I found the placement very useful for several reasons. Firstly, you get a lot of teaching experience with kids from different schools, of varying ages (between 6 and 16). Because you run the same activity programs regularly, it allows you to focus on different aspects of teaching (such as behaviour or time management). The head teacher will often observe you teach and provide useful feedback both during the class and later in training sessions. Finally, you get experience running a large variety of activities, including songs, theatre and sport workshops.

I found the staff to be friendly and supportive, and the accomodation comfortable. Overall, if you are happy to work hard and looking to get some teaching experience, I thoroughly recommend ABCi.

How can this program be improved?

More notice about the next week's school locations.

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Helen
Female
24 years old
Bristol, UK
University of Southampton

Beautiful Austria

8/10

A great way of seeing the real Austria and a very good introduction to teaching as you are thrown in at the deep end. Social scene was good as you will be sharing your experience with at least 2 people.

The hours are very long in the week with 6 hours teaching during the day often followed by 3 hours training along with some long (but very scenic) commutes. A very central location in Vienna which is fantastic.

Friendly staff and beautiful surroundings!

How can this program be improved?

Slightly shorter working hours and easier commute in Vienna during winter months.

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D.M.
Female
32 years old
USA
Other

Great Program

9/10

I volunteered with ABCi recently and had a very positive experience. I would highly recommend this program. Ben and Frank are fair and very hard working. The staff thoughtfully listen to concerns and respond appropriately.

The program is great. ABCi is taking Austria by storm and becoming a nationally recognized non-profit. The teaching is fun, active and easy to learn. I am very happy I completed this program.

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Sam
Male
19 years old
Devon, United Kingdom

A great experience!

9/10

As one of the youngest teachers ABCi have ever taken on, I feel privileged at having been given the opportunity to teach and volunteer for them. In general, it is an excellent programme, if you don't mind early mornings, and hard work! The opportunity to work with loads of different kids, all of different ages and skill levels, is one that I think will be hugely beneficial to me in the future! The training we got during the first month of the placement was invaluable, and has been really useful in all of the teaching I have done since. What I would say is that following on from the first month, once we had grasped the basics, there was too much time devoted to training, which I think was because the programme that they were teaching was changing-it meant that, with the long days travelling, things did at times become very stressful!
Apart from that, though, there are only good things to be said about ABCi. The staff are really friendly, helpful and make you feel very welcome when you arrive. The country and the people you meet on the job are amazing, and the different places you stay, in Gmunden, Vienna and then roaming around, are at times breathtaking. The teaching itself is really enjoyable, as long as you take some classes with a pinch of salt, and are a fairly confident person! Some days, you get nightmare classes, but that's just to be expected, and my advice would be to do your best while you are there, reflect on it afterwards and then move on! Most of the time, it's not your fault.
Overall, it's a great volunteer programme, where you get to meet lots of lovely people, see lots of great things and gain some incredible experiences along the way!

How can this program be improved?

I think the sheer amount of time spent travelling, commuting and training, if you have to travel four hours a day anyway the last thing you want to do is have another 4 hour meeting at the end of it!

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Antony
Male
42 years old
Austria
University of London

A challenging but rewarding journey

8/10

This offered a chance to see and experience many parts of Austria, promote and teach english in a variety of schools, and lived up to its billing. From unforgettable car journeys over mountains to waking up in a ferienwohning high up and finding there was a lake underneath and mountains across the far side, obscured by the mist the night before, you will experience living in Austria, working in out of the way schools in Alpine Valleys and engaging with excited schoolkids. You will also experience commuting to work in and around Vienna, and have the chance to explore the city and country on weekends. Almost always, you will be warmly welcomed by the director and teachers of the school for the day or week and find that the kids faces light up when you engage them in the activities. It will challenge you but you will also learn much more about Austria.

How can this program be improved?

Austrian schools start between 7.30 and 8 so the day starts early, and with debriefing, training and program planning as for any teaching role the day is longer than first appears.

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Danielle
Female
32 years old
Currently live in England, but originally from the US
Georgetown College

Authentic Austrian experience for both the teachers and students

9/10

One of the things I loved most about ABCi's program is the authenticity - real native English speakers immersed in Austrian schools. Since many of the schools at which ABCi teaches (at least, in my experience), are in semi-rural to rural areas, I felt that I was benefiting as much from the local Austrian culture as the students benefited from my American culture and English language abilities. Austrians are so hospitable and welcoming. At the end of my first week with ABCi, a student gave me a jar of his mother's homemade strawberry jam as a thank you!

Frank and Ben were fantastic to work with, providing logistical support, motivation, answers to questions inside and outside the classroom, and fun. Their passion and enthusiasm are contagious for both the volunteers and the students. Who can resist smiling when a burly 6'3" man is dancing like a moose?!?

I particularly liked the team atmosphere that ABCi promoted and the nightly prep meetings to make sure we teachers knew what to expect the next day. I also liked the daily recap with the students to discuss what they enjoyed. It helped me continue to advance my teaching skills.

Austria is beautiful, no matter the season. The snow covered Alps are gorgeous in the winter, and sitting along a river bank enjoying a Radler in the summer is as good as life gets!

I would definitely recommend ABCi as a fantastic place to work abroad!

How can this program be improved?

In general, I enjoyed the recap/prep meetings that the teachers held every day after school, because I liked that Frank and Ben were interested in my feedback and I always felt prepared for the next day. The downside, however, was that these meetings were sometimes rather long, especially if there were several new teachers in the group. If I could change one thing, it would be to condense these meetings.

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Kristen
Female
42 years old
Vienna, Austria
University of San Francisco

A fun, rewarding and challenging teaching experience

8/10

As an experienced trainer who has been with ABCi for over a year now, I have taught in a variety of schools around Austria, with diverse groups of students, classroom organizational structures and teaching staff. That in itself is extremely valuable for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of and competencies in being an English teacher to non-native speakers.
Being on the move week-to-week is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because I have worked in completely different settings all over the country - from villages to big cities, and from primary schools to high schools. It is challenging because I have been frequently away from 'home' while moving from place to place and have had to take on a new form of adaptability. The weekly programs are also subject to change even a few days before they begin, so it definitely has required me to remain flexible and accept a certain level of unpredictability in scheduling.
Even though each week is the same in terms of the program and general schedule, I have never had the same experience once. There are plenty of opportunities to give and receive feedback on the program, which has allowed me to improve my own teaching, as well as give my advice on how to adapt activities when I have felt it was necessary. I think you must adopt a particular teaching style with ABCi, but you can still adjust some activities as seems fit.
The best moments are on Friday's, when students present their work of the week to their parents, teachers and peers. Through songs, theater and workshop demonstrations, all in English, I have been consistently surprised by the unique personalities and capabilities of each student. All the hard work of the week pays off on Friday when you see the students up there on stage, glowing with nervousness and excitement, and then radiating with happiness and pride when you give them their certificate of completion at the end.
I think that moment captures the value of the ABCi program for young students throughout Austria. And, if someone truly cares about being a teacher, there is no better confirmation of the value this work has.

How can this program be improved?

The one thing I would change is, as much as is realistically possible, communicate details to trainers, before the week begins, regarding logistics - accommodation, transport, working hours expected and reimbursements for meals. When all those things are clear it makes teaching much more enjoyable:)

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Fawi
Female
32 years old
Gmunden, Austria
University of Chester

Valuable and great fun!

9/10

I completed my month-long voluntary training period with ABCi in February 2013, and was then offered a full-time position with the organisation, until July 2013. I only ever intended to stay for a month, and then to look for jobs at home in England. However, 6 months down the line, I am still here and still loving every single day! I have recently been able to extend my time at ABCi for another year, and I am incredibly excited about the further opportunities and experiences that are waiting around the corner!
I am a trained primary school teacher from England, and originally applied to ABCi because I wanted experience teaching abroad. During my initial voluntary training period, I was given the opportunity to observe other teachers, and when teaching, feedback on a daily basis in my first week. The support I received from senior teachers during this time and throughout my experience has been to the highest standard; positive, constructive feedback and encouragement goes a long way! During this time I saw my confidence in my own classroom skills develop massively.
When I returned to the organisation as a full-time teacher, they offered me full room and board, lessons to improve my German, lessons to improve my driving, opportunities to contribute towards their programme development, and opportunities to observe and give feedback to newer members of staff. My experience and qualifications as a primary school teacher were acknowledged, and as a result, I have been able to use my training to help develop the school programmes.
ABCi is a great community to be a part of. The teachers are positive, friendly and sociable, which makes the occasional early morning starts a lot easier to get through! In the past we have had many ABCi social events, including a BIERZELT CHALLENGE, an end of term dinner, a very interesting ski tour experience and a team mountain hike! The standard of accommodation and board provided is very high, and I know a great deal of thought and care is put into making these arrangements for teachers. The office apartment in Gmunden is an ideal base for experiencing Austria during the volunteer period; close by there is a beautiful lake (5 minutes’ walk), shops, restaurants, cafes, swimming, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, and numerous weekly community festivals!
My time so far at ABCi has been a truly rewarding experience, and I’m incredibly grateful to Ben and Frank for the opportunities they have given me to develop my career and confidence. I’ve had quite a few jobs since leaving school, but in none of them have I laughed so much, or felt so valued as a teacher, as at ABCi!

How can this program be improved?

Watch out for the early morning sing-a-long car journeys...! And when you start singing the Moose Song in the shower, it's probably time to take a weekend excursion!

About The Provider

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The ABCi initiative was absorbed by the English Teacher Training College in 2015. At that time, the existing ABCi volunteer programs were discontinued and the college began offering incoming students internationally recognized TEFL certifications in conjunction with Trinity College London and Cambridge University.

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