If you're interested in spending time abroad and the idea of getting involved in a community overseas appeals to you, volunteering as a tutor is a great option to gain experience, work with the locals, and immerse yourself in another culture. It's also a great opportunity to gain experience in education, especially if you're an educator or plan to pursue a career in education.
But even if you're not in the education field, this type of volunteer experience gives you the chance to work one-on-one with individuals or small groups, allowing you to connect deeply with the people you work with. Through this more intimate volunteer experience, you can really become immersed in a new culture and language.
The most popular way to volunteer as a tutor abroad is to support education programs by helping students with their homework, but you can also find different types of tutoring experiences such as tutoring adults or tutoring in sports and outdoor activities.
Where to Volunteer as a Tutor
Volunteer tutors are needed everywhere in the world. From highly developed and prosperous countries in Europe to developing countries in parts of the world like Latin America and Africa, families and institutions are looking for tutors to help students with both their academic work and extracurricular activities.
If you have your heart set on traveling to a specific destination, look into tutoring opportunities in that country, as they are quite common and could provide an excellent bridge into a new experience overseas.
Although you're likely to find tutoring opportunities where you want to travel, there are a few standout locations for volunteer tutoring that are worth looking into.
Spain has become a common destination for volunteer tutors, with many local families looking for a live-in tutor. This means that a Spanish family will host you in exchange for you tutoring their children, usually in English.
This is the perfect volunteer opportunity for someone who wants to fully immerse themselves in the Spanish culture and way of life while also getting to know a host family and gaining some teaching experience. Since you'll be living with the family you work for, you will likely have a flexible schedule and plenty of time to explore this beautiful country.
Thailand has a rich history, a tropical climate, and is renowned for its welcoming hospitality. It's become an extremely popular destination for backpackers, but why not take the time to actually live and volunteer there for a while? This country is always looking for tutors, so it's a great place to go if you want to gain experience in education.
As a tutor for a semester or year, you can work with local school students in communities across the country. If you're interested in teaching or tutoring English in the future, you may also be able to get a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certificate through your program, which would come in handy for finding a volunteer or paid English teaching positions in the future.
Tanzania is a great place to tutor abroad because of the huge range of subjects that tutors can teach there. There's a big need for tutors in this country, as education resources are scarce in some areas. Thus, tutors specializing in a variety of subjects are all welcome.
One option is to teach English -- the language of instruction in Tanzania but not the first language of many Tanzanians -- which you can find opportunities to do with students of all ages year-round. There are also shorter English language camps that take place for a few weeks throughout the year that always need volunteers.
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Different Types of Volunteer Tutoring Opportunities
There are several opportunities to volunteer as a tutor, depending on your skills or interest. Read on to learn about some of the most common types of tutoring volunteer programs you can potentially choose from.
A common type of volunteer tutoring program involves living with a host family and volunteering as a tutor for the children in that family, or even sometimes the whole family. This is a great experience for individuals looking to gain some introductory experience in teaching, teachers wanting to travel during their summer break, or travelers seeking a full cultural immersion experience while getting to volunteer as well.
Usually tutors in these types of programs will be teaching English, and families will be very eager to have a native English-speaker in the house to teach them. The great thing about these programs is that they can vary greatly in duration, from just a couple weeks to multiple months, so you have the flexibility to find what works for your schedule.
With the US being seen as a technological hub around the world, families and schools in foreign countries are quick to trust Americans in teaching technology and computer skills. This means there are many opportunities for American travelers to tutor in these subject areas abroad.
Through these types of programs, you'll be able to teach primary and secondary school students computer basics and help them improve their proficiency so they can successfully compete in advanced education and job-seeking. You may also have the opportunity to tutor adults, as older generations are often lacking in their technology skills and are eager for new ways to be more competitive in their local job market.
Outdoor Activities & Sports
If you want to tutor in an area outside of academics or language, you can actually find volunteer opportunities helping kids learn sports and other outdoor activities. Especially in Europe and Central and South America where soccer is hugely popular, schools and teams are looking for people to help with their athletics programs.
If you're working with young children, you don't need to be highly skilled at the sport. Much of the focus in teaching sports to kids at such young ages is actually on teamwork, team-building, and anti-bullying, so the sport itself sometimes takes a backseat to these more important lessons.
Other Information about Volunteer Tutoring Programs
Since there are many different volunteer tutoring program options in so many different locations around the world, you won't have a problem planning a trip that interests you. Here are some details to consider while planning your trip.
How to Choose a Tutoring Volunteer Program
With so many different programs out there, it can be daunting to find the one that's right for you. It's important to consider the location (do you want to be in an urban or rural setting?) as well as the specific country you want to spend time in. You'll also want to consider what type of accommodations you prefer, as this can vary program to program. The homestay option is very common for these types of programs, but not all programs offer it. Some programs may provide volunteer housing and in other cases, volunteers are responsible for finding housing on their own.
You'll want to be sure you're tutoring a subject you're interested in and feel comfortable teaching. While tutoring English is the most common avenue for native English speakers, there are plenty of other subjects you can tutor in depending on the program you choose. Program length is another critical factor and can vary greatly -- from just a couple of weeks to several months -- so you'll need to make sure you're choosing a program that matches your timeline.
Health & Safety
Well-established volunteer programs value the safety of their volunteers. They are deliberate about choosing your housing arrangement or host family, as well as the location where you'll be tutoring. You can keep yourself safe by being a smart tourist wherever you go: be mindful of your possessions, carry a phone with a local SIM card, and be aware of your surroundings.
Depending on the country, you may want to avoid drinking the tap water and eating questionable food from street vendors or small restaurants. Always schedule an appointment with a travel doctor 6-8 weeks before traveling for professional advice on vaccinations and other health precautions, especially if you're traveling to a tropical country or particularly remote area.
Need to Know
Some volunteer tutoring programs have a program fee. If you plan on volunteering for a few months, the typical fee ranges from $1,000-$2,000. This money is usually used by the program to compensate your host family, pay the program provider who helps you with logistics (especially if you have onsite staff in your country), and cover the orientation fee if your program has one.
These fees vary from program to program, and some programs don't have them at all, but you'll definitely want to check to make sure it's a cost you find reasonable and commensurate with the service being provided. Fees can also be avoided by independently organizing a volunteer opportunity.
If you're ready to get started as a volunteer tutor, there's no better time. You can give back and help others learn skills you can pass on.