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Guest Post: The Perks Of Volunteering To Teach English (And Other Subjects) Abroad
December 31, 1969
Today’s article is brought to you by Tom Hopkins. Tom is Editor in Chief for Minds Abroad, your informed counselor for study abroad and travel programs in China. Learn Mandarin in China and enrich your cross-cultural experience. For more posts and information on places of cultural and historical interest that we take our students to, visit www.mindsabroad.com.
The importance of international volunteer programs is often undermined because of the lack of traditional learning that comes out of them. But if you look closely, you will find that these programs offer the perfect balance between language programs and management skills.
Most volunteer abroad programs require teaching in one form or another. Up front, this is not comprehensive, but the fact that the job is to be done in a different country makes it a different ballgame altogether!
The Importance of Teaching Abroad
Study abroad programs are not just meant for students to learn a language or to master an academic skill. They serve a greater purpose and allow scope for many more activities. The objective of gap year and study abroad programs is to help a student learn better and to help hone his or her personality and interpersonal skills. These programs allow them to put their knowledge to use naturally, rather than in the simulated environment of a classroom.
For example, many gap year jobs require students to volunteer in various capacities outside of their country. These tasks call for volunteering with social programs in that country to help emancipation of the weak and the sick. When a student opts for such a program in another country, he or she has to utilize his or her full potential in dealing with the situation at hand.
If the example of such a gap year program in China is taken up, then the first hurdle (and the pivotal one) will be communication. If a student has to teach children or help them learn a new skill, then the student himself or herself should be well versed in the local language and be able to use it to effectively communicate with others. Those who have been learning Mandarin will be able to put their knowledge to use and hone their communication skills in a country with an entirely different culture. No matter what the task is, it becomes adventurous and challenging just because of the language barrier. Therefore, it is an ideal scenario to club language programs with volunteer jobs.
Those who wish to put their linguistic abilities to test can opt for volunteer teaching programs. There are many underprivileged children who need education in various streams, including basic English and other subjects. One can also opt for programs to teach them language and other basic skills. Interaction with individuals who are adept at a different language gives students a perfect lesson in effective and practical communication. It instills a sense of tolerance and patience which cannot be readily taught in a classroom and neither learned. It also helps them understand the culture of a foreign land more closely and effectively.
Developing Lesson Plans
Those who are not comfortable teaching can also opt for jobs which require development of content for teaching children in other countries. It is vital that the content be interesting because it engages them and helps make the learning process easier. This also requires knowledge of the language of that country so that one can research more effectively. Such content development programs usually come with a managerial aspect. One has to interact with individuals throughout the process to assess the viability. One has to organize events and sessions to make studies more interesting and to be able to pass on the instructions correctly that help one learn all the aspects of personnel management, a trait needed in all forms of work.
Have you taught abroad? Tell us your stories below!
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons, Mitch Altman.