Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) is an incredibly rewarding experience for many people, but it can be intimidating, especially for those who don’t yet have classroom experience. No matter how much knowledge and tools you’ve learned during your training, actual time spent at the head of a classroom offers an eye-opening experience.
The need for volunteer ESL teachers is on the rise, especially in developing countries and communities where non-English speaking immigrants are present. Choosing to devote a few hours each week to teach English to non-English speakers benefits both the learner and you the teacher.
The benefits of a volunteer ESL teaching experience are often things that aren’t obvious at first glance.
Teaching as an ESL educator gives you the opportunity to implement, test and revise your teaching methods and approaches. This allows you to optimize your teaching efficiency and boost the learning of your students.
Teaching English as a volunteer lets you adequately learn what works and what doesn’t, and tests your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses, all in a non-threatening context. You have the time to figure out your techniques and strategies and improve on them.
Volunteer ESL teaching is a magnificent opportunity for anyone, but especially for people who are or who want to be teachers. The great thing is that you don’t have to be in the beginning of your teaching career to do it. Educators of all ages give volunteer teaching a chance as they realize how purposeful and substantial this is in contributing to their own development.
ESL teaching abroad is a popular choice for non ESL teachers too. People from all walks of life and professions take ESL teaching courses and jump at the opportunity to explore new countries through a volunteer ESL teaching program.
The fact that you will be providing knowledge and skills to others without any financial rewards for yourself can be a difficult concept for many. Not a lot of people would consider giving energy and time to such a consuming task. As such, when you do choose to teach English voluntarily you get to reap all the benefits: a sense of fulfillment, feeling humble yet accomplished, becoming kinder and less self-centered.
Especially when teaching students of different cultures, ESL teaching lets you to learn more about peoples’ customs and culture, priorities and way of living, an invaluable experience for you as a teacher and a person. You’ll become culturally empathetic and more tolerant to differences, and you’ll discover new tastes and predilections.
If you choose to volunteer through international programs, then you will generally have many travel opportunities, and a chance to teach English on almost every continent.
This experience is something you can use as a selling point later. Having a year-long teaching experience in another country on your resume says a lot about your aspirations, determination, motivation and goals in life. It’s an excellent opportunity to cultivate your teaching skills, acquire unique experiences, and grow wiser and more mature out of such an experience.
Volunteer ESL teaching can open up a career window in ESL teaching either abroad or at home. Doors will open and connections will be made that would allow you to pursue an ESL teaching career or any other English-teaching based career, such as a journalist, a writer, or a public or private school teacher.
When you look at the experiences reported by thousands of volunteer ESL teachers, there’s one recurrent theme: the challenges were many and often overwhelming, but the benefits made it all worthwhile.