Since you're here, we're guessing you're wondering what a trip with ILP would be like right? Here's some quick info to cover all your questions!
First things first, International Language Programs (or ILP) is a non profit organization that sends volunteers to countries all over the world. Each volunteer goes for a semester (so 3-5 months) where you’ll be helping children learn English or volunteering in an orphanage … and taking vacation time to see all the cool places nearby, of course. If you're in Europe, that means vacations to all the countries on your bucket list like Greece, Italy, and Norway. Headed to Central America? Hop over to the Costa Rican jungle or lounge on beaches in Panama. Want to volunteer in Asia? Vacation in favorite spots like Singapore or even Australia. We think you get the idea.
We have spring, summer, and fall semesters. If you're looking for summer volunteer programs to take a break from school, ILP could be perfect for you!
Not sure how to make a semester abroad happen?
We have tons of ways to make things more affordable.
Here’s what you need to know about a semester living abroad with ILP!
- Who Can Apply?
- How Much Does It Cost? (And Where Can I Go?)
- What’s A Typical Day Like?
- How Do Vacations Work?
- Will I Be Alone?
- Is It Hard To Be Accepted?
- Do I Need Any Experience?
Who Can Apply?
All ILP volunteers need to be at least 18 before their semester starts, but you can apply up to 1.5 years in advance. Our volunteers are typically in the 18-25 age range so it's a great way to meet new friends.
A lot of our volunteers are college-aged, but you don’t have to be a student to adventure with us! We do have some students who have gotten school credit for their semester (like an SUU Internship or a BYU-Idaho semester abroad), and some volunteers who take online classes during their semester.
We also have volunteer opportunities for married couples as well, so if you're looking for the coolest honeymoon ever — go abroad with your spouse!
You also must be a native English speaker, so if English is your first language or the only language you speak you've got a really great skill to share.
ILP volunteers must also be residents of the US or Canada. If you have some documentation like a green card or you're living as a student in the US, let us know and we may have some volunteer opportunities for you as well.
How Much Does It Cost? (And Where Can I Go?)
Cost depends on your country, but no matter where you go these things are always included in your program cost: roundtrip airfare, visa (if necessary), housing, culture classes and 3 meals a day!
You’ll be making a difference teaching English and helping wherever you go, but for our Exchange countries (China, Thailand, Mexico, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania) the program cost is $2,520.
For our Humanitarian programs, the schools and students can’t help subsidize the cost, so volunteering in countries like Haiti, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic cost $3,750. A semester in Romania and Uganda is $5,470.
Here’s more information on the difference between the humanitarian and exchange programs.
Worried About The Cost?
We have lots of ways volunteers can help fundraise to pay for part (or all!) of their program fees — each semester, we always have volunteers who have been able to fundraise part or all of their program fee.
We even offer some discounts if you’re worried about cost (we are talking savings like a few hundred dollars off of your program fee).
ILP also has a payment plan, so don't feel like you need to pay it all the minute you apply. We are here to help you make this happen!
What’s A Typical Day Volunteering Like?
You'll be volunteering no more than 20 hours a week (and will always have weekends off). That means you have lots and lots of free time to explore your city during the week and can take weekend trips to nearby cities if you want. Depending on your school, you might teach in the morning and afternoon, or may teach in the evening around dinner time. It just depends.
So a day in Thailand may mean waking up, having breakfast at the school cafeteria, and planning your lessons under a shady palm tree or at a cutie cafe in town. You’ll eat lunch at the cafeteria with your students then teach for 3-4 hours.
When you’re not teaching, that time is all yours! You can run down the fruit stand for a smoothie, hike to a pagoda, hang out at the beach, climb up some palms for fresh coconuts, play soccer with the neighborhood kids, go to a WWII museum, or wander around your city’s Old Town. You’ll find hidden gems all over the place.
How Do Vacations Work?
We know that living abroad means you’ll also want to travel abroad right? Here’s how volunteering and vacationing works with ILP, but in a nutshell, volunteers always get weekends off and then also have about two weeks of vacation time during your semester to explore cities that are farther away or even different countries!
Usually these vacation days are spread out during your semester, broken up in a long weekend or two, and a longer vacation. Combined with every weekend off and vacation time, you can see quite a lot during your semester.
Will I Be Alone?
Nope! A huge part of our mission is that you have support and a group to experience all the aspects of traveling abroad with — you’re not just dropped off in a foreign country and forgotten about. Every volunteer is part of their ILP Group (maybe 5 teachers, maybe 25 teachers) and a Head Teacher or two.
Your Head Teacher is someone who has volunteered with ILP before and can help you figure out life in a foreign country and help in the classroom.
Because you're volunteering and most often living with and teaching with people in your ILP group, you're instantly put in contact with a group of friends. So many ILP volunteers end up being best friends with the people in their group and stay in touch years later.
Is It Hard To Be Accepted?
ILP looks for volunteers who want to make a difference and have English as their first language. Every volunteer will also agree to a Code of Conduct and want to make a positive impact on the community they serve, so if you’re looking for a semester of drinking and partying, this isn’t the right program for you.
If you're looking to help out in the community and travel, come apply! We do have a high acceptance rate. The process is really easy — all you’ll need to do is apply, then fill out some paperwork, and talk with one of ILP’s representatives. That’s it!
Do I Need Any Experience?
Nope, not even a little bit. That’s one of the biggest draws of our program — ILP has a unique teaching method so it’s new to everyone. You don’t need any experience teaching to be a good ILP teacher, seriously.
(We’ve got more info on teaching with ILP right here.)
Ready to start your application?
Even if you're not totally sure, we recommend just applying to make sure you get a spot in your preferred country destination — some spots fill up fast.