Education is the foundation for one’s future. It’s key to achieving one’s dreams and living happily and securely.
Yet access to education remains a problem. According to UNESCO’s 2017—18 Global Education Monitoring Report, 264 million children aren’t attending school. Moreover, a lack of resources and staffing shortages mean hundreds of millions of other students face obstacles to success. What this equates to is that lots of people aren’t provided the proper opportunity to learn crucial skills, such as reading, critical thinking, and communication.
The good news is that all kinds of work is being done to ensure people gain access to better education. One way you can help is by promoting literacy abroad through education initiatives. From teaching English in Costa Rica to offering after-school support in Romania, there are plenty of volunteer teaching opportunities abroad.
Let this article serve as your guide for finding high-quality volunteer teaching programs abroad. Read on to learn more!
Ways You Can Promote Literacy Abroad
English teaching programs are the most popular ways to teach abroad. This is because knowledge of the English language can open up doors for individuals. After all, as the world’s lingua franca, English literacy presents economic opportunity for people.
When you teach English abroad, not only can you help local students improve their English skills, you can also earn your TEFL certification, or similar certification like TESOL or CELTA.
Moreover, there are literally thousands of English teaching programs across the world, from Peru to Kenya to Madagascar. So, you can really choose a program based on your budget and location preferences.
Beyond teaching English, there are other ways you can promote literacy. Remember literacy, traditionally speaking, is defined as the ability to read, write, speak, and listen. Many education experts have now expanded the definition to encompass having adequate skills to meet the demands of modern life.
That means you could teach the following:
Music Literacy: The ability to read and write musical notations and/or play an instrument has been shown to benefit language and math learning. If you know music well, volunteer to teach music abroad. International Volunteer HQ for example has many good music education projects, such as their initiative in New Orleans, USA.
Digital Literacy: Also called information literacy or computer literacy, digital literacy is absolutely a necessary skill to have in the 21st century. Unfortunately, a digital divide exists, and it’s preventing too many disadvantaged people from being able to break the cycle of poverty. You can bridge that gap by helping with computer training projects like this one in Cambodia.
Environmental Literacy: Environmental issues, such as pollution and resource depletion, could greatly impact our ability to build a sustainable future. You can promote environmental literacy through conservation initiatives that raise public awareness about local issues. By doing so, you can empower people with the skills and motivation to make responsible decisions about their environment. There are lots of great programs, from a dolphin conservation initiative in Australia to a lake preservation project in Russia.
Math literacy: Along with language literacy, numerical literacy is essential. When you volunteer to teach math abroad, you’ll help provide students with a foundation for using math to solve problems, not just in the classroom but in real life. For instance, you could teach math in Peru through GVI—and play a role in improving the quality of math education there.
Additionally, other ways you can promote literacy abroad include through childcare volunteering, special needs volunteering, and community development volunteering. For such programs, you’ll teach reading and writing, in addition to other subjects and skills.
So, are you ready to travel? Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top organizations for teach abroad programs. Take a look and see what captures your attention!
Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has offered volunteer and teach abroad programs in Latin America. The organization has done lots of good work in promoting literacy in the region, notably in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Their programs are internationally accredited, which means you could get academic credit for teaching abroad through Maximo Nivel (check with your school).
With a commitment to quality, transparency, and affordability (see fees here), Maximo Nivel has become one of the most respected names in volunteering. Here’s what one past volunteerhad to say about the experience:
“I just returned from a six-week teaching internship at Maximo Nivel in San Jose, Costa Rica. I learned more life and teaching than will fit in this paragraph. I’ve created lifelong friends through this program at Maximo Nivel; they treat you like a member of their family.”
Consider these volunteer teaching opportunities offered by Maximo Nivel:
- Teaching English in San Jose, Costa Rica (from $695 for one week): As a top tourist destination, knowledge of English opens up many economic doors for Costa Ricans. Teach children in underprivileged schools and adults in disadvantaged communities, and give them a language skill that can benefit them for a lifetime. During free time, enjoy the sites around San Jose and journey out into the rainforests. Interested? Learn more about the program here!
- Working with Kids in Antigua, Guatemala (from $645 for one week): For children from families facing severe economic difficulties, a lack of proper resources and support means their education, emotional and physical well-being, and ultimately their futures are put at risk. Help address the issues facing such children by giving them attention and care, and teaching them basic skills such as reading and communication. It will go a long way in empowering them to a brighter tomorrow. Sound like the right program for you? Register here!
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)
Established in 2007, International Volunteer HQ has sent nearly 100,000 volunteers abroad in their first 12+ years. A trusted volunteer organization, IVHQ has been featured in publications like National Geographic and The New York Times. If you’re looking to promote literacy abroad, few organizations offer the variety of high-quality teaching projects that IVHQ does. They’re quite affordable, too. Whether you want to teach English in Vietnam or teach kindergarteners reading skills in Bali, IVHQ has the program for you.
One great volunteer teaching opportunity through IVHQ is the teaching and school support project in Jamaica. Provide extra support and attention to children as they learn reading, math, and other academic subjects. You’ll serve as a key partner to the local teacher and even get to arrange lessons and non-academic activities. The volunteer program takes place in Saint Mary, a parish in the northeast of Jamaica that’s known for its tranquil beaches and lush forests. What’s also nice is that fees begin at just $365 for one week. Want to learn more? Click here!
Another great IVHQ program for promoting literacy abroad is the hill tribe support project in Hua Hin, Thailand. As a volunteer, your role will be to increase access to education for the local Karen Hill tribe. Your main role as a volunteer teacher will be to improve the English literacy skills of children (3—15 years old) through fun and engaging lessons and activities. Held in Kaeng Krachan National Park, you’ll be surrounded by great views and natural beauty as you immerse yourself in authentic Thai hill tribe life. Already looking for your bags to pack? Know fees begin at just $280 for one week. Get more details here!
Plan My Gap Year
With 17 destinations across Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and South America, and more than 4,000 volunteers placed each year, Plan My Gap Year has been able to make a big, positive impact throughout the world. That’s why they’re an award-winning volunteer abroadorganization. Established in 2011, Plan My Gap Year provides meaningful, responsible, and sustainable projects for those wishing to promote literacy abroad.
One excellent PMGY volunteer teaching program is the women’s empowerment project in India (from $579 for two weeks). Women’s opportunities for success are limited in India, making it crucial they learn skills that can enable them to get a job and live independently. As a volunteer, you’ll teach English, run vocational workshops, and offer computer training. By improving the English and computer literacy of local women, you can help them build a better future. During free time, you’ll have plenty to do. The program is held in Faridabad, a city near New Delhi. So, are you ready to make a difference in India? Register here!
You could also volunteer to help disabled children in Ghana (from $624 for two weeks). Head to Kumasi, a happening city known as the heart of Ashanti culture. As a volunteer, you’ll provide much-needed emotional support and education to Ghanaian children with special needs, many of whom haven’t been given adequate resources to learn and grow. Duties include teaching life skills, assisting with physical exercise, and helping the children learn reading, math, and other basic education skills. By doing so, you’ll give the children a sense of hope, as well as the ability to achieve more. Sound like the right volunteer teaching program for you? Sign up here!
Launched in 2009, Love Volunteers began with a promise to provide volunteers with affordable and highly-impactful service opportunities around the globe. Flash forward to today, and it’s clear Love Volunteers is accomplishing their mission. They now provide meaningful, life-changing volunteer opportunities in more than 34 countries.
So, it’s no surprise Love Volunteers is highly rated by past volunteers. Here’s what one program participant had to say after multiple volunteer abroad trips:
This year was my third placement through Love Volunteers and they are just the best! All of the arrangements they have made have been perfect. They check in frequently to make sure their volunteers are safe and happy, and they take time to ask for feedback regarding the placement.
If you want to promote literacy abroad, Love Volunteers has numerous initiatives, such as thiseducation support project in Bamenda, Cameroon (from just $370 for two weeks), a city known for its cozy climate and scenic hilly location. There, you’ll provide essential support to under-resourced schools, ensuring the children develop the skills needed to break the cycle of poverty and create a better future. You’ll do everything from teach English and computer literacy to coach sports. If that sounds like the program for you, find out more and register here!
Another great volunteer teaching opportunity through Love Volunteers is the language teaching program in Rabat, Morocco (from $519 for one week). In Rabat, Morocco’s picturesque and historic capital, you’ll teach English, French, or Spanish, depending on your background and qualifications. By helping local students from low-income homes acquire a second language, you’ll give them a useful tool that can open up job opportunities. If you’re ready to make an impact, and experience life in Morocco, consider this program. See more details here!
Agape Volunteers has become the go-to organization for volunteer opportunities in Africa, as the organization is absolutely committed to guaranteeing real, positive impact through their programs. Agape Volunteers currently has more than 20 initiatives across four countries: Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania. They also provide free travel insurance to volunteers (a perk not commonly offered).
For volunteer teaching opportunities on the continent, Agape Volunteers has a variety of fun and impactful programs. For instance, you could teach underprivileged children in Arusha, Tanzania, a city known as the gateway to Mount Kilimanjaro. Teach English, math, science and other subjects, and help the students gain the confidence needed to reach their full potential. Interested in teaching in Tanzania? Find out more here (fees from £695 or ~$900).
Know how to play an instrument like guitar or piano? If yes, then teach music literacy in Accra, Ghana with Agape Volunteers. Through this program, you can empower disadvantaged youth to tap into their creativity and potentially begin a career in music. Classes are small, so you’ll be able to directly connect with your students and make a big impact in their lives. And you’ll get to show them the power of music. When you’re not teaching, explore Accra, which features beautiful beaches and top-notch entertainment. So, are you ready to rock? Sign up here (fees from £510, or $660 USD).
Around since 1992, Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world. Known for their exceptional safety and support, diverse array of programs, and dedication to the communities they serve, it’s easy to see why Projects Abroad places more than 10,000 volunteers in projects each year.
If you wish to promote literacy abroad, consider Projects Abroad’s TEFL programs. They’re great if you want to jumpstart an ESL teaching career. They have programs in locations like the following:
- China: Volunteer to teach English in Shanghai as you learn Mandarin and explore the local cuisine and culture. Fees begin at $3,755 for four weeks. Find out more here!
- Ecuador: Live and teach in the Galapagos. Help disadvantaged children improve their English, which could benefit their future career. Journey around the majestic Galapagos Islands during free time. Fees begin at $2,565 for two weeks. Get more details here!
If you want to focus on computer literacy, know Projects Abroad also offers the chance to teach IT classes. For example, you could teach computer skills in South Africa (from $3,755 for four weeks). Bridge the digital divide for children and adults from low-income neighborhoods, and empower them to use technology to uplift themselves. And, during free time, experience bustling Cape Town. Intrigued? Discover more here!
Recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization in 2015 by GoAbroad, GoEco is truly a leading voluntourism company. Established in 2006, GoEco has more than 150 initiatives in areas like environmental conservation, community development, and education. For volunteer teaching opportunities abroad, GoEco offers lots of selection, from empowering women in Nepal to guiding people with special needs in Israel.
Other recommended teaching programs through GoEco include:
- Community Health Education Project in Samraong, Cambodia (from $710 for one week): Enjoy life in rural Cambodia as you work to improve health literacy. Raise awareness about health issues to local children and adults, and teach healthy habits at schools, such as brushing your teeth and getting exercise. If you want to work in a medical field, this is a great program to join. Register here!
- Kindergarten Volunteer Program in Fiji (from $950 for two weeks): Stay in the tropical town of Sigatoka, where you’ll teach kindergartens basic English reading and speaking skills. Your help will benefit the students greatly, as the school suffers from staff shortages. What’s awesome about this program is that you can chill on the beaches or trek in the jungle during free time. Ready to head to Fiji? Sign up here first!
A Broader View Volunteers Corp
Offering more than 245 volunteer and study abroad programs, as well as gap year adventures, A Broader View is well-regarded for their cost-effective projects and focus on uplifting low-income communities. Established in 2007, ABV placed nearly 20,000 people in volunteer and teach abroad programs in their first 12 years of operation.
Through ABV, you have numerous choices as a volunteer teacher—two such options include:
- Education Support in Cartagena, Colombia: Head to the Caribbean Coast, where you’ll help schools facing a lack of resources. You’ll run technology classes, coach sports, and teach English. When you’re not at the school, have fun in and around Cartagena. Visit the Rosario Islands, tour the Palace of Inquisition, and more. Ready to make your way to Colombia? Sign up here and start packing (fees from $895 for one week).
- Childcare and Special Needs Support in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: Venture to Mongolia, and help those with special needs. At the childcare center, you’ll assist with speech therapy, physical education, and cognitive skills development, as well as arrange activities and music and dance sessions. Your role as a caregiver will help give the children a healthy learning environment. So, is Ulaanbaatar calling your name? The city is an exciting mix of traditional and modern lifestyles. Register here and see what 21st-century Mongolia is all about (fees from $890 for one week).
Global Vision International (GVI)
An award-winning service organization, Global Vision International tackles key local and global issues through initiatives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. GVI has partnered with the acclaimed organizations like Save the Children, Panthera, and Building Bridges Coalition.
GVI was founded in 1998 and offers many excellent volunteer teaching opportunities abroad. For instance, you could teach math, English, and science in Cusco, Peru or join a girls’ empowerment project in Livingstone, Zambia.
If you want to promote wildlife conservation and environmental literacy abroad, consider GVI’s short-term sea turtle conservation internship in Greece. Travel to the gorgeous Kyparissia Bay and contribute to critical conservation efforts, such as protecting turtle nests from predation. You’ll also get the chance to educate the local community about conservation issues. Teaching environmental literacy is very important anywhere, as it shows people how they can implement sustainable environmental practices and preserve natural systems for future generations. If you’re interested in this program (the area is majestic!), read more and apply here.
Ready To Volunteer Abroad And Improve Educational Outcomes?
Hopefully, our list of featured organizations and projects will streamline the search process for you. Consider your passion, skills, destination preferences, and budget, and apply early. This way, you’ll get into a program that suits you wonderfully. And you’ll have a life-changing, fun experience.
For even more ideas and project recommendations for promoting literacy abroad, check out some of our other articles and resources:
Volunteer Abroad to Teach Children
Best Volunteer Abroad Organizations and Projects
So, why wait any longer? Your volunteer teaching adventure can start now!
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.