Volunteers with the English Opens Doors Program come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have extensive teaching experience, and some have never taught before. However, the National Volunteer Center has found that regardless of a volunteer’s background, the most successful volunteers are those who come to Chile ready to dedicate themselves to their students and who arrive open to learning about what it means to be a volunteer.
To prepare volunteers for their volunteer service, the National Volunteer Center conducts a week-long orientation for each group of volunteers. Food and accommodations are provided during orientation. During this week, volunteers learn about the Chilean education system, TEFL theory, and Chilean culture in addition to participating in dynamic workshops on lesson planning, classroom management, and teaching practice. Below you will find information about the intensive training that volunteers receive during their first week with the program in Santiago, as well as feedback from some of our 2014 volunteers.
“Orientation was fantastic! I have volunteered and taught through other government English programs, and in comparison English Opens Doors does an excellent job of training their volunteers, equipping them with the tools to be successful in the classroom. Even with experience, going through the training was a good reminder for lesson planning and the progression of a good lesson. The National Volunteer Center team is great support for the volunteers. You learn about the Chilean school system, the program, and have a crash course in classroom management and TEFL. The first week is fun, but hard work.” -Jessy Lammers, 2014 volunteer
Volunteers are asked to arrive on the Saturday or Sunday before their volunteer service begins. For those who do so, the National Volunteer Center will provide a transfer from the airport to the designated accommodations. Specific information about the transfer, including the company and reservation code, will be provided before the volunteer’s departure. Accommodations will be available for volunteers starting on the night of their arrival.
Volunteers arriving in Chile more than 2 days before orientation begins will risk complications in their visa registration process. Please consult EODP staff with any questions about arrival in Chile.
On the first day of orientation, English Opens Doors Program staff will focus on important background information and theory, so that volunteers will have a complete understanding of the program and their expectations. Presentations will include:
In addition, volunteers will receive instructions on how to register their visas.
Orientation gave me the tools I needed to be successful in the classroom, and taught me how to get answers to questions that would inevitably come up. It got me excited to be teaching and eager to get to know my students. – Kristin Giordano, 2014 volunteer
The second day of orientation is designed to help volunteers understand their specific role in developing students’ communicative abilities. Sessions include:
I think the single most valuable part of orientation was the example class that Jeremy taught to us as if we were a class of Chilean students. That is what I think back to while I am planning lessons as well as when I am in the classroom. I already had completed a TESOL certification, but I didn’t know how to create such an engaging class based solely on speaking and listening. I think back on Jeremy’s example frequently and it has certainly helped my teaching.” -April Hayden, 2014 volunteer
The third day of orientation is devoted to the most common challenge identified by former volunteers: classroom management. Sessions include:
The materials provided in the orientation in Santiago were incredibly helpful. I have been in Chile for over 5 months now with the program and still constantly refer to the Volunteer Materials for ideas and organizational tips, which we were able to discuss and practice during the week of training. -Kevin Marriott. 2014 volunteer
The fourth day of orientation is also the final day of intensive TEFL training for volunteers. The focus of the day is giving volunteers the opportunity to practice what they have learned during the week. This is accomplished through “microteaching”, where volunteers work within small groups to plan and execute 20-minute lessons for given topics and age groups.
A volunteer conducts a lesson on food during his “microteaching” session on Thursday.
As someone with no experience, I was pretty nervous coming into the English Opens Doors Programme as a volunteer teaching assistant. However, in just one week of training we were all equipped with the exact tools we needed to get going in our placements straight away. The training was excellent because we were taught the important structures, techniques and skills necessary for being an effective lesson planner and teacher and then given the opportunity to put it into practice and receive feedback. I’m currently able to perform my job successfully because of the training we received in Santiago. -Rinu Ogundeji, 2014 volunteer
The final day of orientation is dedicated to the volunteer experience outside of the classroom. Sessions include:
On Friday evening, volunteers are invited to a casual cocktail party to continue the conversations started during the week of orientation.
After a long and intensive week of training, volunteers are invited to join us in a celebratory cocktail on Friday evening!
I was very nervous moving to a completely different country. I had never been out of the United States before, so my emotions were all over the place with extreme nervousness and excitement. After meeting fellow volunteers, I realized that everyone was feeling the same emotions as me! I felt comforted by knowing and seeing that I was not alone outside of my comfort zone. After talking with others going through the orientation, I realized that our stories were very similar, either it was someone who just graduated college or it was someone, like me, who had graduated a while ago and wanted out of their jobs to experience something different! Jeremy, Ryan and Stephanie were extremely helpful and gave us the tools we needed to survive the Chilean classroom. If you have not worked with or taught kids, like me, you will feel prepared going into this amazing and challenging adventure! -Collyn Stephens, 2014 volunteer
Beginning on Friday night and continuing through Sunday, volunteers will travel to their placement cities. Volunteers traveling by plane will receive a transfer directly from the hotel to the airport. Volunteers traveling by bus will be accompanied to the bus terminal by a National Volunteer Center staff member to ensure a problem-free departure. For all volunteers, their arrival will be organized and a combination of their host family, head teacher, and Regional Representative will be waiting to meet them at their destination.