Traveling and volunteering are common priorities for a lot of people. But, we know it can be hard to decide which program or opportunity is best for you when there are so many great ones. Here are some reasons we believe that volunteering with International Language Programs (ILP) is the ideal way to experience another country.
In the 25+ years that ILP has been operating as a nonprofit organization, we've been able to send thousands of volunteers to countries all over the world! While there, they get to spend time with the cutest kids and their vacation days exploring some very ideal spots. But, there are other organizations that advertise and offer the same. So what makes our program unique?
Interested in volunteering with ILP but have some questions?
Learn More About The ILP Program
Is wanting to see the world your motivation? Or is making a difference all across the globe your spark of inspiration? We're right there with you! We can help you to meet both goals! Keep reading to find out what other things make our program so great.
What Exactly Does Volunteering With ILP Offer You?
- Payment Plans
- Round-trip Airfare
- Code of Conduct
- An ILP Group
- Head Teachers
- 24/7 Support
- Local Coordinators
- Tried & Proven Methodology
- Small Class Sizes
- Free Time
- Travel Tips
It's no secret that the overall program fee for a semester with ILP is a screamin' deal once you think about everything that is included for an entire semester. But, if you're still feeling a little overwhelmed even after seeing the cost breakdown (in comparison to a normal semester at school), don't forget that there are a few simple things to do that can get you major discounts!
For example, there's a $30 application, but we offer a way to waive that if you're on a budget. And if you volunteer with a friend in Russia, China, Ukraine, or Mexico during the fall or spring semester, you both may qualify to get a discount of $300 off! Here's a little more about how to get that deal. And if you pay the entire program fee within 3 weeks of getting accepted, you get another $100 off! So that's $430 off, just like that. Read this post to get more discount info, as well as fundraising and budgeting tips.
*Want to live abroad for even LESS? After you volunteer as an English teacher for at least one initial semester with ILP, you can do it again and again as a head teacher (one volunteer has done it 10x!) for a fraction of the cost. Learn everything about being a head teacher here!
Once you've been accepted to the program, you'll get all the info about our three different payment plans. Instead of having to pay everything up front (although that is an option), you are only required to pay an initial deposit of $270. From there, the other installments will be due as your date of departure gets closer. We know that living on a student budget is a real thing, and since we want to make this a realistic opportunity for as many young adults as possible, you get to choose which plan works best for your financial situation and income.
Not all of the countries we send volunteers to require a visa. But, if yours does, we take care of that for you! No messy paperwork or deadlines for you to worry about. And since this is also included in your program fee, there is no additional cost for you, whether the price of your visa is $40 or $400.
Code Of Conduct
We know it can be a little intimidating for volunteers (and sometimes their parents) to move to a new country with a whole group of people they've never met before. One thing that makes a big difference for everyone is that all volunteers must agree to follow the same set of rules while abroad. These rules not only help to keep you all safe, but help create the type of atmosphere our volunteers are looking for. Some of these things include no drugs, no smoking, no alcohol, no romantic relationships with locals or anyone in your group, and no vulgar language. Visit this page to see the complete list!
We are frequently asked if ILP is a religious program. Many of our volunteers are religious — that's probably because we're based out of Utah and also because our Code of Conduct attracts volunteers who are looking for that type of experience. If you would like to attend church while you're living abroad with us, it's very common to find others in your group who would like to do that with you. That being said, volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and there are no religious requirements to be apart of our program!
We provide training before you leave to help give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive. In the months leading up to departure, we'll hold a couple of training sessions in Orem, UT and you get to choose which two consecutive dates of the ones listed will work best with your schedule. At this training, we'll go over the teaching method, safety tips, important program information, culture training specific to the area of the world you'll be volunteering in, and so much more! Plus, we feed you lunch and provide snacks. All for no extra charge to you!
But we understand that when you're actually in the classroom and working with the kids, that's when the majority of your questions will come. You'll receive continued training from your Head Teacher throughout the semester, but especially at the beginning when you need it the most.
*If you are unable to come to the training held in Utah, talk to your representative about the online training which you can complete for an additional cost.
Have you ever been looking over the prices of international study abroad programs (often $1000+ per week) to then see that you will be required to pay for your own airfare on top of the total program fee? We're talking an additional $800-$1,800. Ouch! If you're volunteering with ILP, we take care of the flights for you!
Yep, your roundtrip flight is already included in your ILP program fee. You can choose which international airport works best for you, and then we will find a great round-trip flight for you and your group members. Many of our volunteers choose to fly out of Salt Lake City, but if that's not convenient for you no problem. We do our best to make it possible for multiple members of your group to travel together whenever possible. Either way, we have arrangements for you and your group to meet up at the airport when you arrive in country and to also be picked up so you don't have to worry about how to get to your new home.
An ILP Group
Every volunteer is traveling, living, teaching, and exploring with a group of fellow volunteers. In fact, it's in our code of conduct (which all volunteers must agree to follow) that you have to be with at least one other volunteer while exploring your city, and with at least 2 others any time you leave it. There will be anywhere from 4-30 volunteers in your group (depending on which country you choose), which means instant friends and travel buddies. If you're looking for a program where you'll be spending the majority of your time abroad with new friends, ILP is a good fit for you.
Remember that major discount we mentioned for those who want to volunteer again as head teachers? Our ILP head teachers are peer-aged volunteers who have served abroad with ILP for at least one semester before and are experienced in our teaching method. During the semester, your head teacher has many responsibilities, some of which are to lead the group, oversee teaching, communicate regularly with our directors, and help out in whatever ways they can. They're essentially your go-to person who will be with you 24/7 during your semester.
Every ILP program (exchange and humanitarian) has a local coordinator who is native to the area and older than the volunteers. They are a great resource for the volunteers to help understand the culture and basic things such as how to use public transportation, shop at the local markets, and plan vacations in the area! They're also a great on-site resource for the ILP directors.
We do our best to select excellent head teachers and local coordinators who can be available to help you out in your volunteer location. If for some reason you don't feel like they are meeting your needs though, you have a program manager, stationed in our Utah office, who will be your contact person during your experience abroad. Each one of them has volunteered with ILP multiple times and is very experienced in working with the needs of individuals and groups that often arise. The ILP program directors and managers give each volunteer their personal emails and cell phone numbers as well.
Oh and when we say 24/7 support we're not kidding. If there's an emergency and you're calling us at 3 AM, we actually answer.
Proven Teaching Methodology
ILP is not just a travel program that connects you with teaching programs in other countries. We implement our own teaching methodology, meaning that we control the program and how the classroom is run. Our teaching method was designed by the late Dr. Trevor McKee, a professor of Human Development at Brigham Young University over 20 years ago. Our teaching style is pretty different than what you may be familiar with in traditional language classes, as our lessons are centered around teaching simple and essential phrases through immersive, interactive play.
The research and the experience of the program has shown that after 500 hours (2-3 five-month terms) of participation in an ILP Duolingual Education program, children become functionally fluent. In tests given to students of the program, children were evaluated as having English language ability comparable to their American grade-level peers. If you come teaching English abroad with ILP, you can know that your students will actually be learning.
*Our program in Romania is unique, since volunteers spend their time with kids in an orphanage and local hospital instead of teaching English. Learn more here!
Small Class Sizes
One thing you're probably not thinking about (but is actually going to have a huge affect on your experience) is how many students are in each of your classes. Because it's so valuable to have a natural English speaker as a teacher, many schools want to put as many kids as they can in your classes, and other travel programs may have you teaching 30-45+ kids at a time. We find it incredibly important to maintain smaller class sizes and have seen that you can be more effective when working more one-on-one in smaller groups.
Our kindergarten classes which usually accommodate kids ages 4-6 have a class size of about 8 students per class. After a couple of years learning from the ILP method (usually around age 7), they enter our Basic Reading Program and have a class size of 10-12 students. A year later they begin the Follow-Up Program, where the class size caps at 15 students. We keep our class sizes small so you can do fun, play-based activities without feeling overwhelmed by the number of students you have.
As an ILP volunteer, you have lots of free time. In fact, we protect your time by not allowing the schools to schedule any volunteers for more than 20 hours of teaching per week because we know that the quality of your experience is greatly influenced by that. Most volunteers end up telling us they didn't realize they'd have as much free time as they actually do!
Spend your time seeing new sites, trying new food, wandering around your city, playing sports, online scrapbooking all of your gorgeous photos, or finally catching up on your book list—it's up to you! There may also be opportunities for cultural experiences while you live abroad, like learning a bit of the language or taking a cooking class!
As a volunteer with ILP, you get about 9 total vacation days, plus every weekend is free! If you're in Thailand and want to visit Bali? Do it! In China and want to spend a few days at Disneyland in Shanghai? Go! Volunteering in Uganda and have been dying to see animals on the safari? Now is the time! In Ukraine and want to travel around Italy? Make it happen!
While the itinerary, transport, and accommodations are totally up to your group to select and arrange, we do not leave you hanging! We have spent years visiting these hot spots and hidden gems ourselves, and spent thousands of hours researching what to do, how to get there, what to see, where to stay, etc. Our blog is actually full of all the info and details you'll need.
In fact, as a volunteer with ILP, you have access to our Vacation Planner! Just log onto your account, click on the "My Experience" tab and then the "Vacation Planner". See all those little red markers? Each one of those stands for a blog post we've written about that exact spot. Zoom in, click on them, and start planning your vacations today!
Want to see what our volunteers are up to?
Every semester we are sending volunteers (just like you) to countries all over the world! Want to see the cutie kids they get to work with and spy on some of their incredible, dreamy vacations to countless bucketlist destinations?
Fair warning: the travel bug is contagious.