Working with Charities & Volunteering to gain Teaching Experience

Guest written by i-to-i graduate and online tutor Catherine

Looking for Volunteering Teaching Opportunities

If you have read my previous blogs, you will know I started my TEFL journey last summer with i-to-i and completed my Level 5 qualification in November. The course is super helpful, and covers all the key stages for planning lessons, and teaching students of different ages, including loads of great resources! The course has given me a great starting point in my TEFL career and enabled me to build up my experience over a number of different platforms.

The first platform and where I started my online teaching journey, was teaching as a volunteer with a charity called Paper Airplanes. I started teaching with them in January and I am about to start my fourth term with them! They are a great company to be part of, and there is a great online community between teachers and students. I would highly recommend looking for volunteering opportunities if you are new to teaching online and teaching in general. There are lots of benefits and it provides a wide range of experience. Plus, it encourages the use of lots of different skills.

I found Paper Airplanes through i-to-i’s sister site – LoveTefl Jobs. This is a great site for finding volunteering opportunities to build your skills. There are many other sites and platforms available to look for volunteering opportunities too. Search online, check out your local area and see what charities are around and if they need English teachers to help. I also sent my details to a few local companies and went from there to see which was the best fit.

looking for a volunteer job and working with charities

Volunteering Online as an English Teacher

The charity I work with, provide full training and full classroom material including lesson plans, so you can concentrate on providing the best (online) classroom environment for your student. As Paper Airplanes helps students in Syria and across the MENA region, training is provided about the region, issues the students face and the impact this can have on lessons so you are fully informed and can respond appropriately when necessary. Students look forward to a relaxed classroom environment as it is often a welcome distraction from the problems they are facing.

Working with a charity is a great way to build up your teaching experience and help people from different backgrounds, where they may not have the opportunity to learn English otherwise. Most of the students with Paper Airplanes want to learn English so they can improve or finish their education or to improve their work career. Students are incredibly grateful for the time and effort we put into lessons and it is great to see their improvement week on week. Students can take part in end of term exams if they wish, so they have a formal review of how they have progressed.

How to teach English guide

Volunteering locally as a TEFL Teacher

Before Covid-19 struck, I looked into working with another charity providing group English lessons to local refugees based in Manchester. I was going to provide weekly lessons to a group of adults with mixed abilities on different topics, but topics that would be relevant to their needs, such as shopping, medical assistance, and travel. Again, the charity provided a base for lesson material, but I was able to adapt and change as necessary – a great way to practice and improve my lesson planning skills! We were all really excited to get the program up and running and had had a lot of interest after advertising the lessons at the centre and online, but unfortunately, the day before my first lesson, lockdown started, so hopefully we can pick it up again in the future!

As I said at the start, I cannot recommend enough looking for volunteer opportunities at the start of and throughout your teaching career. There are so many different charities and causes out there, and people from all over the world wanting to learn English. Options to teach online, face to face, 1-2-1, group lessons, adults, and children. It is a great community to be part of and to know you are helping people achieve their goals.


About Catherine

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