Teach English with Trellis - Volunteer in Vietnam, Travel with Purpose, Learn by Teaching Others

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About

Volunteer in Vietnam, gain valuable international experience and uplift the local community by teaching English as a foreign language. Our innovative nonprofit initiative provides intrepid individuals the opportunity to catalyze positive change while traveling the world, developing in-demand skills, and creating meaningful connections that will last a lifetime.

Trellis provides its volunteers with all the training, support, and experience necessary to confidently and constructively teach a foreign language, all within the context of a safe and structured classroom environment. Our volunteers are young adults who want to explore the world and help others while pursuing their personal aspirations. Upon completion of our program, Trellis can assist you with securing teaching positions through our network of partners in Japan and Vietnam if you wish to continue onward with your journey overseas. By doing this, we hope to increase access to effective foreign language education globally.

Highlights
  • Educate and uplift yourself and those around you by working closely with the local community.
  • Learn the basics of teaching English as a foreign language in a safe and structured classroom environment.
  • Gain valuable international experience while developing in-demand skills.
  • Immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery of central Vietnam.
  • Receive assistance with securing a job teaching English in Vietnam or Japan if you wish to continue onward with your journey overseas.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

81%
based on 7 reviews
  • Benefits 8
  • Support 7.4
  • Fun 8.8
  • Facilities 7.6
  • Safety 7.8
  • Impact 8.5
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 8
  • Value 8.5
  • Safety 8.5
Showing 1 - 7 of 7
Default avatar
Duvessa
9/10

An Incredible Opportunity and Experience

I can not recommend this program enough. I worked for them for just under 4 months during which I lived in a great apartment, was given 2 weeks of thorough teacher training and taught multiple individuals from age 6 to 25 at two universities and an orphanage weekly. Trellis gives you the opportunity to actually have a visible impact on members of the community, which is rare to find in many programs. Furthermore at the end of the program Da Nang felt like a second home to me due to the ideal balance between independence and guidance that Trellis offers.

I was able to make friends and engage with the community in a way that I haven't been able to before whilst traveling abroad. I was also given a considerable amount of responsibility, being able to plan my own syllabus and classes. I was an 18-19 year old girl when I took part in this program, which was daunting to say the least, but Trellis made me feel safe, comfortable and confident. This is an experience I am so lucky to have had and would recommend it whole heartedly to anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone in a positive way. I am undoubtedly a better person for it.

How can this program be improved?
It can't be.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Morgan
7/10

Challenging but Rewarding

Hello!

I was part of the first round of volunteers for Trellis. I'm a military spouse from the USA. Unfortunately, I had to leave a month early to help a loved one recover from major surgery. Now that I'm not a full-time nurse, I've decided to leave a review.

The program begins with a crash course into teaching, including basic lesson plans and how to adapt lessons from a textbook. It focuses on the teaching aspect, not so much on the evaluation aspect. As a new teacher, I had to guess student's English fluency and try to make lessons to their level.

My background is education and biology, so I expected to do well in Trellis. However, the program was really difficult for me. When I first started, there were not as many lesson activities and resources as I thought there would be. I'm good at designing lesson flows once I understand how to incorporate activities, but if I don't fully understand how the activity works then it's harder for me to adjust it to a student's level. I asked for help and I mostly got it. At first I was mostly told to Google lesson plans. Most of what I found online tended to be aimed at kids. Maybe I'm not good at Googling. I was persistent in asking for resources and ideas on how to modify the activities, and eventually received more help. Trellis is a program where you have to advocate for yourself. If you're not comfortable asking for help when you need it, then this program may not be for you. If you ask for something and you're not getting it, then you have to be persistent.

In college, I was trained to have well planned lessons. I became a bit of a perfectionist by the time I graduated. I thought my attention to detail would serve me well in Vietnam, but it hindered me. Teaching in Vietnam is very different from America, it's more laid back. The expectations are low, to the point where teachers aren't really supposed to take the teaching part too seriously. I did, and I struggled because of it. Eventually, I learned that teaching there means focusing less on grammar and vocab and more on creating opportunities for them to practice. It took me a while to find activities appropriate to their fluency level, but once I did I used them in rotation.

Trellis provides transportation to and from the hotel, and volunteering is like working a 7am-4pm job. Most of my time was at the University, if not teaching then preparing lesson plans. I'm not someone who's good at "winging it," and I think that added to my struggle. I like having activities ready ahead of time and at least ideas for back up activities if students aren't at the level I think they are (and frequently, they weren't). Others could just grab supplies and throw things together, but alas I could not. At least, I couldn't until the end of my time there. Eventually I came to understand how each activity worked and how it could be adjusted, but a lot of what I learned came from trial and error.

As far as the country of Vietnam, it was really overwhelming to me at first. Growing up, my parents always pointed out certain parts of town to stay away from, especially since I was a girl. To me, most of Da Nang looks like the parts of town my parents told me about. It's a developing country, and I didn't really quite know what that looked like until I was there. It took me a bit to feel comfortable enough to walk and explore on my own. Once I gained that confidence to explore, I discovered that the locals are some of the most friendly and outgoing people that you'll ever meet. People approached me and invited me to join them frequently, whether it was at a coffee shop or for an early morning beach walk.

If you do go, I'd recommend getting to know the locals. One of the easiest ways to do that is through your students. I know, it's looked down upon to socialize with students in Western countries, like mine, so it can feel uncomfortable at first. But really, if you want to know the best places to shop, eat at, or just explore, they're probably your best resource. Most of them want to get to know you too, so take advantage of it and invite your class to eat out with you, or just go to the beach on a weekend.

It can also be tempting to want to stay with the group of other teachers (or other expats) because they're familiar. I didn't really get to know the locals until I ventured off on my own, and I'm so glad I did. I learned so much more about the country's richness and a surprisingly lot about myself. Unfortunately, right about the time I started adapting to life in Vietnam, I got some bad news about a loved one and had to leave early. I wish I could have stayed.

Although most of my time with Trellis was a struggle, I'm really glad I went. I don't think I'm the same person I was going there, I'm much more capable and confident. I'm handling the recovery of my loved one and the uncertainties of my personal life surprisingly well, and I think a bit of that comes from my growth abroad. I am grateful for my experience there. If you're up for a challenge, then I recommend that you go too.

(Also, ladies: options for feminine products are limited, so bring your own)

Response from Trellis

Hello Morgan!

We're so glad to hear that things are going well for you back home and that your loved one successfully recovered from their surgery. That's great news! Thanks very much for taking the time to leave us a review.

For the sake of others reading this, I would like to emphasize that the program that Morgan took part in was our very first pilot program. As such, the expectation wasn't that it would be perfect off the bat. Since then, we've taken measures to process the feedback we've received and identify areas which we could develop further so that our volunteers and students could benefit even more from our program. One of the biggest changes we've made is to our scheduling; volunteers will generally teach for about two to three hours per day with some additional hours thrown in for recap discussions so that we can provide support and feedback in order to make the lessons more enjoyable and productive. We've also partnered with two new organizations since this program which will allow our volunteers to gain a broader spectrum of teaching experiences and increase their overall engagement with the local community.

Here in Vietnam, all students study English in school from a very young age. As native or fluent English speakers, the biggest impact we can provide in terms of the language development of our students is practical, one-on-one engagement and speaking practice. Grammar and vocabulary are very important but we prefer to incorporate grammar and vocabulary teachings into more fluid, practical lesson activities. A large component of our lessons are game or discussion-related rather than traditional methods such as lectures and daily worksheets. This creates an environment which indeed seems more "laid back" when compared to a typical classroom environment.

Trellis values independence and flexibility in our volunteers. Culturally, Vietnam is very different than most Western countries and this indeed translates to the classroom and institutions. Most important, however, is that our volunteers are not expected to be 'perfect' teachers from the beginning. We aim to assist in developing your skills over time. Our program is also meant to be a way by which people who are interested in teaching English overseas can test the waters to see if it's something they would like to do long-term. Living and teaching overseas isn't for everybody but for many, many people it has provided an avenue for personal growth unlike any other possible!

Morgan - while, at times, the skills of other volunteers developed at a faster rate than yours, we're very confident that if the unfortunate circumstances in your home life had not arisen and you weren't forced to leave early, you would have definitely caught up and become a fantastic teacher. You're absolutely right about the importance of getting to know the local people; when it comes to travel in particular, you get back what you put in!

Thanks again Morgan! Please keep us updated on how you're progressing home. We're glad everything has worked out for you and we wish you all the best! Stay in touch!

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

You try it!!!

In this internship program, we gained valuable experience not only teaching Japanese but also developing a new project from scratch. In order to teach well and make the students understand concepts better, we always needed to pay close attention to students, their learning environment and other teachers and find problems that needed to be solved. Then, we discussed solutions, decided our next actions and improved the quality of our language program. This is our mission. We came up with different activities in extracurricular activities in the Japanese Club and school trips to provide with opportunities to know more about Japanese and Japanese culture. I tried to make these activities something that students could enjoy a lot and also learn Japanese. I came to think about how I can make the most of this wonderful experience with Trellis in Vietnam for my future. I began to think that I would like to be a police officer and be of great help to Vietnamese students studying in Japan in the future. Having more dreams for the future will be a drive to your life. I hope more people will join this program and expand the possibility of their future.

Response from Trellis

Hello Yuki,
Thank you for the kinds words. We are happy to know that Trellis internship program has provided you with valuable experience and an inspiration for your future career. Come back and see us when you have a chance. Good luck with your future endeavors!

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

Great experience in Da Nang, Vietnam

I had a great experience and met wonderful people as a Japanese intern in Danang, Vietnam. The organization is still at its early stage and we were their first interns. Of course, the system was not perfect but Trellis provided us with a comfortable environment where we could reach out the staff if there were any issues and they dealt with them right away. We needed to be proactive as volunteers and Trellis listens to our opinions and respects them. I could nourish my skill to come up with my own ideas and put them into practice during my time there. As one of Trellis' Japanese volunteers, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to work with English volunteers, Vietnamese teachers and students. I also had a chance to meet a lot of Japanese living in Danang. It was an extraordinary experience to understand different traditions and cultures there. It was the best internship in terms of gaining experience.

Response from Trellis

Hello Rika!

Thanks for the kind words. We're glad to know you made it back to Japan safe and sound. Thank you so much for all you contributed this program! Your students truly grew as a direct result of your time spent in the classroom and they all miss you very much! We hope to see you again soon.

All the best,
Team Trellis

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

A fantastic way to experience SE Asia

To begin, let me start by saying that I was a member of Trellis' pilot program, and it will only get better with future programs. That being said, my experience was great. I found Trellis while searching online for possible location to teach English, without even having a destination country in mind. Not knowing if teaching would be something I would like to do for more than a few months, I though I would give it a shot.

The hiring process was very quick, and gave plenty of time upon my acceptance of the offer to prepare to come to Vietnam. I arrived a few days before the program started, and found temporary accommodations waiting for me. The day the program started, I moved into the housing that Trellis would provide for the next few months: a spacious, well-furnished studio apartment with some of the friendliest staff I have met.

A two-week training period kicked off the program, with one of the teachers from Trellis' parent company in Japan travelling to Vietnam to give a crash course in teaching basics. The classes themselves consisted of between 8 and 10 university students between the ages of 19 and 22. They were very entertaining to speak to and become close to, and they loved the system of "learning disguised as games" that Trellis uses.

Vietnam itself is a beautiful country. Da Nang is a seaside city surrounded by mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Travel inland a few miles, and you will be surrounded by dense jungle. Be sure to travel to Hoi An and check out the silk tailors! Or take a ride up to the Lady Buddha on Son Tra Mountain and explore a very peaceful monastery.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Trellis in Vietnam. Upon completion, you will have a chance to work in Japan teaching English in Kanazawa, a small city in western Japan that is rich in culture and heritage. Having been in Kanazawa for just over a week now, I can say that I made the right decision volunteering with Trellis.

Response from Trellis

Hey Daniel!

We're so happy that you gained so much from our program. You're welcome back anytime you'd like! We hope your settling into your new role as an English teacher in Japan. If you need anything please let us know!

All the best,
Team Trellis

Yes, I recommend this program
Danny
3/10

While the concept is a promising one — Trellis fails to deliver on its promises

Note: This is a truthful depiction of my personal experience of Trellis's Fall 2017 volunteer program. I understand that this program's other two volunteers’ reviews will be drastically different, as they are now currently employed by Trellis’s parent company, Lesson4U. Everything in this review is true to the best of my knowledge.

Trellis… "Travel with Purpose."

While the concept is a promising one — Trellis fails to deliver on its promises.

In August 2017, I had the opportunity to be part of Trellis’s initial foray into the non-profit volunteer space. While it started off rather well, it quickly fell into a state of chaos, disorganization, and ultimately, frustration.

While it is understandable that the program is still in its infancy, there are some major flaws that must be worked out, in order for it to be considered a fair exchange of time.

Trellis is engineered to funnel free (volunteer) teachers (recruits) into their school by offering them teaching positions at their Kanazawa office, after they’ve completed the three month program. Unfortunately, this is the their primary goal – NOT impacting developing communities, as listed via their marketing materials.

Trellis "loosely" (non-contractually) promises its volunteers the following:

1) An opportunity to travel with purpose.
2) The safety and well-being of its volunteers.
3) Transportation to and from its volunteer teaching obligations.
4) Adequate living accommodations.
5) Training as an English Language Teacher.
6) A secured job at the end of the program, signed off and agreed upon prior to the last month of volunteering.

Unfortunately — in my personal experience — Trellis was only able to deliver two of the six aforementioned items: the living accommodations and training as an English Language Teacher.

We started with a team of four volunteers. Three males and one female. By the end of the program, only two of the males remained. Half of us quit — myself included. This leaves Trellis with a 50% approval rating for their first program.

My full contract term was not fulfilled due to administrative and professional business ineptitude that led to unsolved issues related to my legal visa status and program management, more specifically, but not limited to:

• Ineffective leadership and mismanagement
• Dodging of responsibilities and the well-being of volunteers, regardless of their decision to part ways with the program (i.e. getting them home safe and sound)

• A steep program fee cost, with zero guaranteed return and no clear refund policy ($2,000, plus airfare, international insurance, living expenses)

• Poor orchestration of teaching schedule; locking volunteers into an 11-hour window of free labor (6:45am-5:45pm), five days a week

• Failures in getting important legal documents acknowledged and signed (the acting manager forgot/neglected to have me sign the Terms & Conditions Agreement)

• Transportation costs not being reimbursed in a timely manner (we often had to find our own way to the school, on our own dime)

• Lack of adequate teaching materials (whiteboard markers, erasers, printing paper, etc)

• Onsite training limited to about week or two, as acting manager is rarely in the office to administer continued training

• Acting manager showing up late (hours after volunteers clock in) on a 4/5 (weekly) ratio (volunteers show up at 6:45am/acting manager does not arrive in office until 8am or later)

• Agreements have not been crafted or cleared by attorneys. No legitimate contract. No legal disclaimers or failsafes. Grey areas all around

• If something goes wrong, "it's the volunteer's fault, not the company's"

CONCLUSION:

At the current moment, I do not believe this program is worth the requested investment (time/money).

I will be requesting a full refund and compensation for my time, program fees, and expenses – as the acting manager did not present and mutually agree in advance any formal terms and conditions documents.

That said, I am grateful for the learning experience and the opportunity to try something new. Your actual experience will most likely be different, if the issues mentioned above are resolved to present a program that is as fulfilling as promised for all parties involved.

Response from Trellis

Hey Danny,

It’s unfortunate that you didn’t have as good an experience as the other volunteers during your time with Trellis! We’re constantly working hard to improve our program and have taken your feedback into due consideration. For the sake of future prospective volunteers reading this review, we’d like to go through your individual comments in order to identify and expound upon your grievances. So here we go!

“Trellis is engineered to funnel free (volunteer) teachers (recruits) into their school by offering them teaching positions at their Kanazawa office, after they’ve completed the three month program. Unfortunately, this is the their primary goal – NOT impacting developing communities, as listed via their marketing materials.” - It's unfortunate that this was your perception of the primary goals of our program. This is a very one-dimensional perspective of the values that Trellis espouses and we'd like to take this opportunity to elaborate and shed some light on our model and strategies for the benefit of future prospective volunteers.

Trellis is a hybridized nonprofit organization which aims to harness the positive potential of commercialism and globalization in ways which create long-term sustainability. Our model is designed in a way which incentivizes for-profit foreign-language educational institutions across the globe to engage with and support our nonprofit activities via the incorporation of cyclical value chains into our nonprofit operational strategies. We are not a traditional nonprofit organization. In fact, we've worked very hard to set ourselves apart.

Put simply, we are able to provide cost-free foreign language education to the local community in Vietnam because we provide a great amount of value to our volunteers and our for-profit partners. For our volunteers, we offer the opportunity to develop your skills as foreign language educators and secure teaching positions overseas in a way which not only benefits you but also your students. We create value for our for-profit partner institutions by providing them an avenue for accessing and hiring teachers that are trained, ready to teach, and have previous experience teaching and living overseas. This greatly reduces the hiring risk for foreign language institutions which often hire teachers from abroad based only on a few Skype interviews.

A primary goal of Trellis is to create value for all - from our students to our volunteers to our partners - in a way which creates long-term positive impact and sustainability. During our Fall 2017 program, we did exactly this; our dedicated volunteers received training and work experience while teaching the local community as well as full-time teaching positions in one of the most in-demand cities in all of Japan to live and work upon completing our program.

If anybody would like to discuss our model or values in more detail, we're happy to have a discussion! Please send us an email at [email protected] to get the conversation started.

“We started with a team of four volunteers. Three males and one female. By the end of the program, only two of the males remained. Half of us quit — myself included. This leaves Trellis with a 50% approval rating for their first program.” - To keep things simple, this is in fact grossly disingenuous. One of our volunteers unfortunately was forced to return home prematurely due to a family emergency. The other two volunteers successfully completed Trellis’ program and went on to teaching positions in Japan upon their departure from Danang.

“My full contract term was not fulfilled due to administrative and professional business ineptitude that led to unsolved issues related to my legal visa status and program management….” - Our partner institution was hosting his visa under the condition that he was teaching. After his premature withdrawal, our partner institution was under no obligation to continue hosting his visa after its expiration but we came to an agreement to continue hosting his visa until his scheduled departure. Another volunteer faced a similar visa situation in which his visa required extension and Trellis worked with him to extend his visa with no issues.

“• Ineffective leadership and mismanagement” - We’re sorry you felt this way. We have taken measures to further develop our management strategies so that this is no longer an issue in the future.

“• A steep program fee cost, with zero guaranteed return and no clear refund policy ($2,000, plus airfare, international insurance, living expenses)” - Our refund policies are clearly laid out in our Terms and Conditions agreement. His failure to sign it initially is our oversight and we have taken measures to ensure that such a scenario does not occur again.

“• Poor orchestration of teaching schedule; locking volunteers into an 11-hour window of free labor (6:45am-5:45pm), five days a week” - All of Trellis’ program fees are put directly towards maintaining and expanding our non-profit initiatives. We make absolutely no money from conducting these extracurricular educational programs so referring to our volunteer program as ‘free labor’ is extremely disingenuous. While our class and transportation schedules were indeed a weak point of our initial program, we have reorganized our operational strategies so that this will not be the case for any future programs.

“• Transportation costs not being reimbursed in a timely manner (we often had to find our own way to the school, on our own dime)” - Volunteers were given access to an Trellis credit card to use for Uber services to get to and from our facilities as a group. When an Uber car was not available, our volunteers were advised to get a taxi and were reimbursed, in cash, for their transportation expense.

“• Lack of adequate teaching materials (whiteboard markers, erasers, printing paper, etc)” - We’re sorry that you felt that our teaching materials were not adequate. As a small, growing, non-profit organization, we do our best to supply our teachers with all the necessary materials to conduct their classes effectively. For future programs, we will try our best to take measures to ensure a surplus of materials for use by our volunteers.

“• Onsite training limited to about week or two, as acting manager is rarely in the office to administer continued training” - Trellis provides its volunteers with two full weeks of training prior to beginning teaching classes. This includes 5-6 days of in-classroom training, a group excursion, and a final few days of lesson planning and Q&A. If any volunteer - at any point - requires additional training or has any questions whatsoever, our staff will happily sit down with them one-on-one to assist with their individual skill-development. This happened on multiple occasions throughout the duration of our Fall 2017 program and we have since developed systems which allow for our volunteers to schedule meetings with our team abroad to discuss individual questions via Skype.

“• Acting manager showing up late (hours after volunteers clock in) on a 4/5 (weekly) ratio (volunteers show up at 6:45am/acting manager does not arrive in office until 8am or later)” - We apologize for not meeting and exceeding your personal expectations regarding on-site management. Trellis’ volunteer program is structured to prepare our volunteers for gainful employment overseas upon completion of our program. During the first month to month and a half of our program, we work hard to ensure that a Trellis staff member is on-site to assist our volunteers with anything they need. This was the case with our Fall, 2017 program. We feel it necessary to gradually expect our volunteers to be more and more independent throughout the course of our program. This is because, as with any job, when you eventually transition to teaching full or part-time, you will be expected to conduct your lessons and activities as an individual. Our staff is always contactable and ready to provide assistance to our volunteers at any point during our program but, gradually, more independence will be granted to our volunteers as our program progresses.

“• Agreements have not been crafted or cleared by attorneys. No legitimate contract. No legal disclaimers or failsafes. Grey areas all around” - We have taken measures to ensure that this incident is not repeated. If any prospective volunteers wish to go over our Terms and Conditions document in detail with a Trellis representative, we’re happy to accommodate this request.

Again, we sincerely apologize that Danny’s personal experience did not live up to his expectations and that he didn’t have as good a time as the other volunteers did during his time with Trellis. We have taken his feedback into due consideration and have identified as well as implemented strategies to improve our programs in future. We encourage all prospective volunteers reading this review to take this into consideration. The reviews of our other volunteers that worked alongside Danny during our Fall 2017 program are available on our GoOverseas program listing page.

If any prospective volunteer would like to discuss this particular review or any grievances raised within it in detail, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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

Go For It!

Let me give a brief synopsis of my experience as a volunteer for Trellis and I hope it will convince you to take this opportunity! I had always wanted to travel abroad, and I especially have always wanted to go to Japan to teach English. However, I knew I lacked experience in teaching and I'd also always been interested in Vietnam as well, so when I learned about Trellis, I truly felt like it was right for me! My experience so far in Vietnam has been everything I had hoped for, and my journey will continue on to Japan in January of 2018! From the day I arrived in Vietnam, Trellis has been there for me every step of the way, but not in a way that is overbearing or gives you the feeling that you can't have your own experience. However, if you feel at anytime that you need someone, they are always there to help you.
As for the teaching experience, I feel that as a volunteer Trellis has given me the opportunity to develop my own teaching skills and given me the tools that I will need in any future teaching job. It is the perfect opportunity to develop classroom management skills as well as develop lesson plans and ideas for any ESL classroom setting. I now feel confident in my ability to lead a classroom, whereas I did not before I began volunteering at Trellis.
To say Trellis has impacted my life in a positive way would be an understatement. I have seen and learned so much in such a short period of time while in Vietnam. Not only has my volunteer experience been life changing, but Trellis has impacted my future as well by enabling me to secure a teaching job in Japan! I implore you to consider a position with Trellis, as it could very easily change your life like it has mine!

Response from Trellis

Hey Trevor,

Thanks very much for your kind words and for being part of our first ever program. You were an integral part of our team and we hope to see you and Daniel return for a visit very soon! Good luck with your journey to Japan in the new year.

Regards,
Team Trellis

Yes, I recommend this program

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About Trellis

Trellis is a non-profit organization which uses education as a tool to uplift individuals and communities. We offer comprehensive volunteer and work experience programs for people who want to travel, teach, and live overseas.

Our entirely unique,...