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Get Paid To Teach Abroad Or Volunteer (Which One Is Right For You?)

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 4/24/18, 9:49 AM


Trying to decide whether you should volunteer abroad for a semester (all around the world) or get paid to teach can be tough. Obviously, one sounds better than the other in theory, but is it the best option for YOU? Let me break down each of them for you...

Deciding between the paid program and the volunteer program can be tricky, but deciding to serve abroad with ILP is not! International Language Programs currently offers both a volunteer and paid option, and we're here to help you decide which would be best for you, your level of experience, and what you're looking to get out of the opportunity. 


Love the idea of teaching abroad?
We have info for  Elementary Education Teachers looking to teach and travel. 

Just make sure you know what program is best for you first! Grab a pen and a piece of paper and make a pro/con list with the info below:

The Difference Between The ILP Volunteer Program And The Paid Program

  • Hours You Teach + Lesson Plan
  • Experience + Requirements 
  • How Long You Go 
  • Days Off + Vacation Days
  • Available Countries
  • Can Married Couples/Males Go?

Hours You Teach + Lesson Plan 

Volunteer program: You will be teaching around 15-20 hours a week and lesson planning a few hours per week (lesson planning hours varies from person to person — some volunteers are pretty quick while others are more methodical and take more time). All in all, you will essentially be working part time while living abroad. Volunteer teachers always have Saturday and Sunday off. 

Paid program: You will teach 30 hours a week and lesson plan for 10 hours, you'll be working full time with this program. Taiwan teachers teach on Saturdays, but will have Sundays off. 

Experience + Requirements

Volunteer program: Need to between 18-25 years old (exceptions are sometimes made for people over 25), native English speaker, USA/Canadian passport holder or green card holder and must abide by the ILP code of conduct

You DO NOT need to know the language or have any teaching experience  for the volunteer program.

Paid program: The requirements differ for each country:

Taiwan: Must be at least 20 years old, native English speaker (or have a non-native accent), must have an AS or BA in any emphasis and must have a physical diploma from their university (you can apply before you getting this).

Thailand: Must be at least 20 years old, native English speaker (or have a non-native accent), must have a BA in any emphasis, must have a physical diploma from their university and have experience teaching with ILP (not required, but preferred). 

You DO NOT need to know the language for the paid program.

ILP Adventure

How Long You Go

Volunteer program: You will go for one semester at a time. Here are the time frames -- NOTE: China and Russia are on a different schedule. 

  • Spring semester: Early to mid January - end of April/early May
  • Summer semester: End of April/early May - mid August 
  • Fall semester: Mid August to mid December

** Russia and China have different departure days; Talk to your ILP representative for China/Russia's timeline!

Paid program: Taiwan teachers go for six months and can extend up to one year. Thailand teachers go for one year.

Days Off + Vacations Days

Volunteer program: You will have scheduled vacation days that the school gives you. You do not get sick days off; if you are ill during your semester, you will need to work with you ILP group and head teacher to see who can cover your classes. 

Paid Program: Days off vary between the two countries:

  • Taiwan: Allows one to two extra paid leaves each semester depending on what school you go to.

  • Thailand: Allows 15 extra paid leaves for the whole 1 year contract that include sick leaves. 

Paid teachers also get some vacation days (like national holidays), but they vary between each semester. 

Available Countries

Volunteer program: There are two types of volunteer programs -- the exchange program and the humanitarian programs. Here's the difference between the two

  • Exchange Programs: China, Thailand, Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland and Mexico.

  • Humanitarian Programs: Dominican Republic, Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Romania, and Uganda.  

Paid Program: Taiwan and Thailand.

Can Married Couples and Males Go?

Volunteer program: Yes! males can go to these countries and married couples can go to these

Paid program: Yes! Males are accepted in Taiwan and Thailand and both schools can accept one married couple per semester or year contract. 

Neither program is a good fit for couples with children; you and your spouse will both be teaching on similar schedules and will be living with other teachers (always in your own room, but you will probably be sharing other space). 

ILP China

Have more questions?

Contact our professional program representative at taiwan@ilp.org or office@ilp.org for more info on our volunteer program (or just give the ILP office a call at 801-374-8854).

Ready to apply? We thought so: 

Start My Application!


Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering Abroad

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