In 2004, the Government of Chile and the Ministry of Education, with the aid of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Chile, started their quest to improve the quality English teaching in public education. That year, the first version of the “Inglés Abre Puertas” (English Opens Doors) program was launched. The program sought to set a precedent in the way English was being taught in the country, promoting several exhaustive measures to teach kids between 10 and 18 years old.
One of the most innovative measures the program promoted was the incorporation of native speakers of English to Chilean classrooms, so the students could have access to a more direct and real contact with the language. Today, 10 years after its launching, the project has proved to be successful and “Inglés Abre Puertas” is seeking new volunteers to join the cause.
“The presence of volunteers is always a motivating factor for students,” says Ryan Mosser, member of the Centro Nacional de Voluntarios (Volunteers National Center), when he refers to the impact volunteers have on the students. Besides, it is not only a pedagogical experience, but emotions are inevitably involved in the process. Throughout their residence in Chile, volunteers live with a host family in the area where they teach. “Volunteers always bond with the families and with Chile and they are really appreciated,” admits Ryan, who’s no stranger to the emotional implications of the experience. In 2010 he signed up for one semester as a volunteer and four years later, he has made Chile his home and says that he’s not the only one.
To be a volunteer, applicants must:
- Be a native or near-native English speaker.
- Have completed a bachelor degree from an accredited university and be between 21 and 35 years old.
- be mentally and physically capable of working with children.
- Be willing to dedicate their energy and time to teaching, and making students and their school community their priority during their volunteer service.
- Be highly committed, responsible and flexible.
Applicants who comply with these requirements and are accepted to the program receive a week long training in teaching English as a Foreign language (TELF), as well as orientation in Chilean culture. Besides that, volunteers also receive other welfare benefits.
For more information, visit the Centro Nacional de Voluntarios (in English) http://www.centrodevoluntarios.cl/