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.