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.

Project Types
Host Family
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

based on 34 reviews
  • Impact 7.8
  • Support 7.6
  • Fun 7.9
  • Value 7.9
  • Safety 8.4
Showing 31 - 34 of 34
Default avatar

A highly rewarding experience

I have worked on and off as a volunteer at ABCi numerous times throughout the last 6 months and I generally find it to be a very rewarding experience. I was really struck by the reactions of the teachers at the schools where I gave free English lessons. They always initially thought it was too good to be true - how could a whole group of people possibly want to help kids so much without there being something in it for them. Eventually the truth sinks in that we genuinely are interested in being charitable and helping them. This makes me think ABCi is definitely doing something right.

There are a range of different schools in both built-up areas and more remote areas, both with young and old children, gifted and the not-so-gifted. I've really enjoyed travelling around and seeing new towns and the countryside which is so utterly beautiful and varied in this small country.

The suggested programme is refined down to a precise art to give the kids a true English cultural experience in just a single lesson, but you still have the time to develop and implement your own ideas. The teaching keeps you on your toes. Every class is different from the next. Kids are after all individuals and what works for some may not work for others.

On the whole, I have had the advantage of working with very dedicated, passionate fellow volunteers and it was real pleasure to get to know people from other walks of life and learn from each other. I particularly learned a lot from observing one of the full-time teachers who expertly uses hand motions and signals to get even the youngest Austrian children to understand her, which I have tried to incorporate into my own teaching.

There is a range of other stuff a volunteer gets experience in besides the English teaching like creating programming, chatting with kids on the virtual classroom and various other admin tasks.

I really appreciate all the small touches that the two managers (Frank and Ben) implement to make the experience at ABCi fun for us volunteers, and not just the kids. The office in Gmunden is fully kitted out to make living there for any prolonged period of time totally comfortable (a double-bed each, kitchen, bathroom, washing machine, top of the line coffee maker, etc.) and we have enjoyed several really fun team-building events together (a beer fest with surprise fun games and the end of year dinner to mention a few).

With regards to the previous reviewer who left such a negative review:
This young woman completely failed to mention the large personal loan she took from myself and my husband, which was supposed to tide her over until her citizenship application came through that she never paid back. The fact that we are by no means rich wasn't important to her. Instead, she demanded to receive yet another large loan from us or she wouldn't be joining the other volunteers a few days later, despite the fact that schools were expecting to receive her. I think this says a lot about her character and how much you can trust any "review" she has written. Particularly since I have talked to so many other volunteers and they have all been so positive about the organisation and its mission.

If you're looking for experience in teaching, particularly using active learning techniques, and you also want to explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world (and practise your skiing), then this is a great programme that won't disappoint.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

Do NOT work here

In case you haven't noticed, every review says how you are working for free. Sadly, ABCi absolutely takes advantage of their volunteers.Their goal, of "making English fun" and increasing language communication between students is a great idea, but with a poor curriculum at best. Their curriculum is filled with camp games and songs, many of which do not meaningfully advance language capacities in foreign students whatsoever. The traveling around Austria is quite nice, but most locations are middle-of-nowhere towns and you wake up around 5:30 am to travel an hour to get there everyday. If you like camp games, I would strongly suggest working at a language camp instead.

ABCi will tell you that you need to volunteer for a full month, only to follow an extremely simplistic set of kids games and activities every day/week. And if ABCi DOES offer to pay you after the month, beware! They offer their employees very different rates and thus never publicly advertise their salary rates since they pay what they feel like. If they think you will volunteer longer, they will absolutely try to get you to. In addition, they like to have their volunteers work on weekends preparing for the next week or for other employees.

If you have any teaching experience whatsoever, this won't really help you develop as a teacher. You're following a scripted set of camp games, and you can go on autopilot quite easily. If you are looking to play around with kids and not have to think very much, while working for free, then this is the program for you.

Response from ABCi

We had a disgruntled volunteer leave us in May. She was a good teacher with impressive qualifications, but had trouble with her work permission that have clearly colored her experience in Austria - specifically, she had difficulties obtaining EU citizenship. After about five weeks of volunteering as a teacher with ABCi, she demanded to be paid to continue volunteering. After again reiterating to her that we could not hire her to work in Austria unless she produced proof of her right to work in Austria, she quit volunteering with 36 hours notice. When confronted with what would be the consequences of her quitting her volunteer position with 36-hour notice (namely, leaving another teacher alone teaching around Vienna with huge groups and/or disappointed kids), she stated: “I am sorry you feel that way.” We have not heard from her since - until she left this review here.

We at ABCi are genuinely sorry if she felt taken advantage of as a volunteer, but having full room and board while traveling to different hotels across Austria to observe over 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 volunteers.

She clearly prefers large cities, 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. In any event, the teaching she did in cities like Salzburg or Vienna, where she worked with low-income students, is strangely not mentioned in her review.

As a rule ABCi hires three new volunteers every month, for an average of 2 to 3 months each, meaning we normally have around six to nine volunteers at any one time (with the exception of the summer). Due to no-shows, the number of volunteers is sometimes lower. In addition, we have a core of paid senior teachers that work year-round. These teachers are paid around 1,200 euros a month, after tax. These teachers act to train and supervise the volunteers, helping along their professional development. The majority of this is done informally by discussing different teaching styles and activities in the afternoon, but there is also formal observation and feedback. We never tell anyone that they "will volunteer for a full month" - we ask what their availability is and attempt to work their availability into our schedule. ABCi is flexible and most teachers end up staying an average of 2-3 months. This information is open knowledge at ABCi.

Furthermore, most weeks you are actually located in the same town as the school where you are teaching, so teachers typically wake up around 7am to start between 7:30am and 8:00am, not 5:30am. Occasionally in extraordinary situations, volunteers will be asked to start earlier based on the schedule and location of the school, but this is the exception and not the rule.

What she refers to as "camp songs and games" are actually elements of project teaching that are at the cutting edge of active learning methodology in education, see Bonwell and Eison (1991) for more information. She did not mention the over 50 non-traditional activities that make up an ABCi project (language activities, team-based competitions, songs, games, sports, workshops and theater activities) nor the fact that the program is constantly developing via weekly programming meetings, nor the lasting effects they have on the kids that we work with. ABCi just gave almost 20,000 children free English lessons in 2013.

Volunteers do not work on the weekend, everything for the following week is prepared the Friday before. Occasionally if a new volunteer
arrives on the weekend, we will ask one of the current volunteers to welcome them to their accommodations in Gmunden (or at the nearby train station or airport) and give them keys to the apartment, that is the extent of their "work" on the weekend.

Perhaps most interestingly for the reader, both myself and the other senior manager here, are ourselves volunteers, we only get our expenses reimbursed, just like the other volunteers. I hope the fact that Mr. Stone and I would be willing to pour our heart and soul into these projects without any compensation shows just how passionate we are about what we are doing.

Frank Carle BA BSc MPhil
Obmann - ABCi
Brunnenweg 2
4810 Gmunden

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar

Career development while seeing different parts of Austria

The thing I liked most about my time here was that I could combine holidaying in Austria while still being able to develop my career as a teacher. It was great to be able to see so many beautiful parts of Austria and to meet so many students and teachers. I found the feedback I received was very useful to develop personally as a teacher.

How can this program be improved?

The early starts were difficult. Sometimes we worked an hour away from the office and school usually started before 8. But this is the nature of the work.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar

fufilling way to see Austria

During my weeks of volunteering I taught at different schools across Austria. The days started early (leaving anywhere from 6:20 to 7:00 to get to the schools), and ended somewhere between 3 and 5, depending on when the bosses had time to have feedback time and when we got back from the schools. The main office is in Gmunden, which is on a big tourist lake and seems to be a smaller town, but is good for short times. The program in the schools is all planned out, including extra activities each day if you get through the main lessons quickly, which I found nice because I didn't have to plan anything. If you went to summer camp you'll know a lot of the songs. Basically you are with a group of kids for a week (ages anywhere from 10 to 16?) and on Friday they give a performance of a play they wrote and the songs they learned.

How can this program be improved?

When I was there, the bosses were still ironing out kinks, like what days did we get food delivered, and what day were we to forage through the VAST amounts food they had at the headquarters.

Yes, I recommend

About 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...