When trying to decide which service abroad program is best for you, there are lots to consider, but how many hours you're volunteering is something you should really consider.
It's really important to do your research when deciding if you want to serve abroad for a semester. The major factors I looked at when I was trying to decide was the number of hours I was going to be working (more on this in a minute), the safety aspects of the program, what support was offered, the cost of the program and future opportunities I had with each program.
Get a guide about choosing and affording a semester abroad here.
One huge thing to think about is your volunteering hours and your free time when you're abroad.
If you don't work enough then you'll get extremely bored after a couple of weeks, run out of money because you're out paying for activities every day, and most importantly you won't feel as fulfilled without having those meaningful experiences of service.
If you work too much, you don't get to explore the country you call home, and may leave feeling like you didn't get to see what your country and city had to offer ... why go abroad if you don't have time to explore?
So, where does ILP fall on that scale? Right in the perfect middle! Check it out.
How does the teaching schedule with ILP work?
- You Will Volunteer 15-20 Hours A Week
- You May Have Morning Or Evening Hours
- Your Classes Will Be Short
- You Might Teach
- You'll Have Different Age Groups
You Will Volunteer 15-20 Hours A Week
When you volunteer abroad with ILP, you are only working between 15-20 hours a week. Breaking it down, it's about three to four hours a day, Monday through Friday. It's essentially like having a part time job while living abroad.
It's a great balance of being in the classroom with the kids and feeling like you're making a difference, but also having plenty of free time to do all the cool things around your city.
You May Have Morning or Evening Hours
Depending on which ILP country you're volunteering in, you may be with the kids in the morning, afternoon, or early evening.
In countries like Thailand and some schools in China, you'll teach in the morning/afternoon because the ILP classes are part of their school day curriculum. In other countries like Ukraine, the ILP classes are an after school program, so you will be teaching in the afternoon/evenings after the kids have gotten out of school.
If you teach in the morning, you'll have to get up early every day, but you'll have the rest of the day to have free time. If you teach in the evenings, you'll have relaxing mornings where you decide when you get up and explore your city before heading to school .
You may also have a split schedule where you teach a bit in the morning, have a break, then teach in the afternoon.
Your Classes Will Be Short
All ILP volunteers will be volunteering for three to four hours; in our teaching programs, you will not be teaching the same class for that time period; usually you'll teach short 25-45 minute segments and rotate classes until your teaching shift is over.
The classes are small (no more than 8-10 kids per class) and 25 minutes really does fly by making your whole teaching day go so fast.
For our Romania program, you'll be volunteering your time in a couple of different places for your volunteering shift. Usually, volunteers are matched with a room of kiddos to help each day; you might spend your time stretching out sore muscles, helping toddlers toddle around or snuggling new borns.
You'll Have Different Age Groups
Like I mentioned earlier, you could be teaching up to six small classes a day. In some countries you will be teaching kids that are all the same age. In others, you'll have some younger kids and some a little older. You can easily adjust any lesson to fit more with the younger kids or the older kids.
If you're brand new to ILP and don't know how the teaching method works, don't worry!
We provide training before you to go give you a quick overview of our method, but your head teacher will hold weekly training meetings while you're abroad and actually teaching so that you have support throughout the semester and can ask questions as you run into them.
Have more questions about volunteering with the International Language Programs or the how teaching works? Text one of our awesome ILP representatives -- they've been on the program before and can give you a first hand experience of everything!