What is Learning Enterprises?
Learning Enterprises, or LE, is a program that sends volunteers 18 and older abroad to teach English classes during the summer for approximately 4-7 weeks (depending on the location).
Where can I volunteer with LE?
LE currently offers volunteer programs in the following countries:
Do I need to speak the local language in order to volunteer?
In most cases, the answer is no. The majority of LE’s programs have no language requirement, but LE China is the only program that pairs you with a native-speaking teaching partner (a volunteer student from Nanjing University). The following countries do have a language requirement or recommendation:
- Brazil (Portuguese not required, but appreciated)
- Hungary (no requirement, but orientation includes introductory Hungarian)
- Panama – Proficiency in Spanish required
What are the requirements to be a volunteer?
- You should be a native or otherwise fluent English speaker (as the point of the program is to teach English).
- The majority of volunteers are from the United States, but not all. My volunteer group included a student from France who was attending university in Ireland.
- You must be 18+ years old. There is no upper age limit, but the majority of volunteers and directors are university students.
- To volunteer in Panama, you must be proficient in Spanish.
Who would I be teaching?
This depends on your country and the needs of your local community. You may teach children or adults or a combination of both, and you may teach beginners or students with more English experience. In my case, volunteering in China, I taught a class of 21 students between approximately 10 and 12 years old. They had all learned some basic English before, though they used it with varying comfort/proficiency levels. Other volunteers in my group taught slightly younger students, and some taught slightly older students, but all were of late elementary/early middle school age.
How long are classes? What is the time commitment?
This, again, depends on your country and the community’s needs. Personally, I taught class for only 3 hours per day on weekday mornings. Add to this the occasional office hours that my teaching partner and I held, plus lesson planning. We also had both breakfast and lunch at the school, as they were kind enough to provide those meals for us.
How are the living and teaching conditions? What kinds of communities would I teach in?
Living conditions in host communities can range from fully modern and urban to extremely rural and far removed from Western/US standards – even within a single volunteer group to a single country. Volunteers are welcomed into host families (in China, you are paired with one of the teaching partners as your living partner – usually not your own teaching partner), and the conditions in which they live may or may not be what you would expect. Living conditions in my group ranged from a modern high-rise apartment with AC and running water to a small one-story house with no shower – The volunteers living there had to use a nearby public bathhouse.
Schools could also be urban or rural, depending on the country and community. The school I taught at in China was a small local elementary school with no AC (only ceiling fans) except in the teachers’ office, and only one classroom with a projector. But the volunteers had free reign to arrange desks and hang posters in our classrooms as we wanted, and we could also make use of the turf area outside for recess and games.
What fees and costs are there to volunteer with LE?
- Application fee – $25 for priority deadline, $35 for regular decision
- Fundraising – Volunteers are expected to each raise a certain amount before they begin their program. You can choose to collect donations or simply donate the money yourself.
- Passport and visa – If you do not have a passport or need to renew an expiring one, you’ll need to cover that cost, as well as the cost of a visa, if needed for your host country.
- Travel expenses – You will be expected to purchase your own plane tickets, and there may be some in-country travel costs as well, for example, if your group travels for the program’s midpoint break. You may also need to pay for a couple of nights in a hostel/hotel during orientation, as you won’t have been placed in your host family yet.
- Teaching materials – Though your host school may provide you with some materials (mine did), anything extra you may want to bring along or buy in-country will be paid for out-of-pocket.
- There is not, however, any program fee. Most meals are provided by host families and/or host schools. Extra shopping, travelling, or going out to eat is on your own dime.
How do I apply?
First, you will need to fill out the online application, which can be found here: http://www.learningenterprises.org/apply/. The majority of applicants move on to a first-round interview with a campus director. Applicants who pass this interview will have a second-round interview with the program director of their first choice program. Application decisions are rolling, and as programs fill, LE closes the applications for those countries.
Where can I find more information?
Take a look at LE’s website for program-specific information, director introductions, and more: http://www.learningenterprises.org/