Traveling is something that everybody should do at some point in their lives. It teaches you about the world, helps you to develop as a person, and it’s also incredibly fun.
But it’s always good to mix up your trips abroad and try different things in order to get the most out of it. One great way to do this is to spend some time as a volunteer.
Volunteering abroad is an excellent way to simultaneously see the world and make a difference to a good cause of your choice. By staying with real communities and getting out of the tourist-orientated areas, you get to see a more authentic side of a country, save money, meet amazing people, and improve the lives of other people.
There are so many good choices of volunteer projects that it can be hard to decide which is the best. One of the best options is to volunteer and teach English abroad. Here are some of the reasons why teaching English is great for you, and how it can help communities that need it.
Make a difference to the lives of other people
At the end of the day, the most important thing about being a volunteer is always going to be the positive impact that it has on the lives of other people. There are few things in life that allow you to have such a tangible effect on people and see it for yourself.
For better or worse, the English language is becoming more and more of a necessity for people around the world. It is the language of business, the internet, and science, meaning that anybody who can master it will vastly improve their prospects.
You can kick-start the learning and be a vital part of people’s language development.
Traveling `opens up so many more social opportunities than you have at home. However, even when traveling, there can be times when it is difficult to find people to spend time with and you can end up feeling isolated.
Volunteering helps you to overcome any of these issues, as you will be living and working with like-minded volunteers, day in, day out. These other people are all likely to share similar characteristics like empathy and selflessness, which makes it easy to form friendships.
Learn about the culture
As well as meeting other volunteers, you will also have the opportunity to spend time with local people. This may come about as a result of living in local communities, but as an English teacher, you will also be interacting with your students every day.
Teaching English is not just a one-sided experience. By chatting with and hanging out with students, you can learn huge amounts about their culture and way of life.
Get teaching experience – build a career?
Teaching in a relaxed and forgiving environment as a volunteer can be a perfect way to gain teaching experience.
This can be useful if you are interested in pursuing a teaching career as it gives you a good base from which to develop your skills.
Even if you don’t want to teach professionally, volunteering as a teacher can help you to develop important transferable skills that can be useful in other ways, such as confidence and communication.
Learn another language
While you may be there to teach others a language, it’s surprising how much of the students’ language you can pick up in a short time.
For example, if you are teaching in Costa Rica, you will be exposed to Spanish constantly throughout your work day, allowing you to build your knowledge.
Good volunteer organizations may even offer language lessons as part of the volunteering package, meaning you can fast-track your learning even more.
Volunteer as an English teacher for a different kind of traveling experience
Nothing compares to visiting a foreign country and ending up feeling at home there. As a volunteer, you can integrate with the local culture far more than as a traditional tourist who simply passes through.
As an English teacher, you can connect with people even more, as you get to spend so much time with your students, and see them improve.
If you’re looking to try something different for your gap year, volunteer teaching English.
Nicoleta is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.