Travel to Teach

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6.9 / 10 after 7 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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I volunteered in Luang Prabang as an english teacher however there were so many problems as a result from the laziness of the organisers that I cannot recommend anyone do this.

To start with, the administrative body had not contacted the coordinator of Luang Prabang to inform them I would be comming and it was only due to a friend being there that they were made aware of my presence.

Prior to arriving I was giving the wrong information of where to stay and ended up at the old guesthouse were room charges were overly priced at 10euro a night which was a waste of program fees.

Briefing from the coordinator was minimal and consisted only of the handing over of an information pack which did not include things like the english abilities of the students, what had been done previously with the students, or where they were up to. There was limited instruction as to how to teach a class or prepare lesson plans and no offer to spectate the coordinator teaching a class to pick up tips. In fact while I was there, the coordinator spent all his time studying for his own exams and never sat in on a class or offered much support. There were never any checks to see what I was teaching or how.

I was not given the option of where or when or who I would like to teach, only given 2 classes a day (3 hours total) with the same class. The class had an age range from 12 to 17 varying levels of english including one with a learning disability. There was no opportunity to teach classes with monks or work in the library, and there was no opportunity to receive Laos lessons.

None of the money I paid for the program was used for the children. No new materials were bought with it, the children didn't all have the same text book and photocopies were not made available.

There was only 1 other volunteer with this organisation but no inter-organisational efforts were made for volunteers to socialise.

All in all, I was very disappointed with the program failing to deliver things it had promised or to live up to my expectations. It might be the cheapest option to volunteer in Luang Prabang but it is not at all worth it. You would be better to arrive and just ask to assist the monks or at the library without going through the organisation.

If you want to assist people learning english, this program doesn't have a system in place that will allow for that to be done and you will not receive any appreciation for it. You will also not get the opportunity to learn about the culture much through interacting with the locals. With no one really looking after the program I would suggest (which I have done to the organisation) that it needs to be shut down

Program:
Location:
Posted: August 23, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
By: strttmlrr
Age:
25

Before I chose to volunteer with Travel to Teach during my time in Thailand, I researched many other volunteer opportunities. And, although I was skeptical of the program, we still went through with my choice, mostly because monetarily, they couldn’t be beat. There were plenty of other organizations that had far more reviews and that were accredited. Well, now I know why.

We, two teachers from the US, originally signed on for a two week volunteer opportunity with Travel to Teach, but conflicting plans only allowed for us to stay for one week. Just like they say on their website, one week is not nearly enough time to get the full volunteer experience with the students that you make connections with, but it was surely enough time for us to figure out that Travel to Teach has A LOT more work to do before they can be considered a volunteer organization we would ever recommend.

Travel to Teach put us in contact with two wonderful places to volunteer, in Mae Hong Son, but they offered little to no support or resources throughout the process. Had we not been experienced teachers or advocated for ourselves, it would have been a counter-productive experience for the students and intimidating for us.

Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, we were met at the airport by the head of media, Laura, who greeted us with a smile on her face. She had left her plans to pick us up at the airport because her boss called regarding a “conflicting meeting” 30 minutes before our arrival at 8:30 that evening. It should have been the first warning sign of what was to come. Jim, Laura’s boss, and the contact person for the volunteers in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son was spread completely thin and had a lot of brushing up to do in regards to her training. She travelled to Mae Hong Son on an earlier bus, met us at the station and only stayed for a day and a half. She changed her prolonged stay because “she was needed in Chiang Mai” – a 6 hour bus ride away. During her time with us, she hastily made arrangements for us to teach 4 days a week at a temple in the town and at a Kayan village that was a 30-minute drive away. She went over Thai customs, which was the most help she provided during her time and introduced us to Jess, a novice English speaker and kind man who drove us back and forth from the Kayan village. We were left in a guesthouse bare of resources (pens, paper, etc), with the exception of a desk in the corner of the living room stacked with books. Like I said, we were on our own from the start.

On our first day of teaching at the temple, that we had one hour to prepare and eat lunch before, the four of us (there were two other volunteers that would be staying for a prolonged period of time) broke up into smaller groups during the first hour and co-taught during the last two, since we only had 3 students. Alex, the English teacher at the temple, was exactly what we needed! He sat in on all of our lessons, was interactive and co-taught whenever he could. He is the reason the program works and thrives at the temple. Jim, on the other hand, was less than helpful, offering suggestions that were not needed and interrupting lessons that were otherwise working. She seemed to have little experience teaching and interacting with students, making them feel uncomfortable when opening up dictionaries or referencing their notes, something any teacher knows is okay during beginner lessons. Although it would have been nice to have Jim there to assist us as a translator and support, considering her debut, we were better off alone.

We would arrive at the Kayan village the next day, without Jim – who suddenly had to leave for Chiang Mai that morning. The four of us spent the entire day there – 9am to 3pm – with 50 children ranging from ages 4-18. Although we had the opportunity to visit the day prior (30 minutes), we were unaware of how the students would be broken up, who would be assisting us or how advanced their English was. Within 10 minutes we found out. There would be no assistance from the principal or teachers and we had no interpreter. This was nothing like the temple experience and we were left to structure our day. So, we broke up the students on our own and went along with the lessons we planned, attempting to differentiate instruction in accordance to their levels. The day ended with us feeling defeated, but happy with our attempts, considering the lack of support. We quickly realized that the only way this opportunity would thrive was if we became our own advocates, which is exactly what we did. We no longer relied on Travel to Teach for any feedback and solely communicated and planned with each other.

Although my review is quite candid, my goal is not to deter people from volunteering with Travel to Teach. I merely want all volunteers to know what they are signing up for. I do believe that there is a desire to help, but, before that can come to fruition, I also believe that more time and resources need to be spent on structure. The staff needs to be appropriately trained (or retrained) and there needs to be a point of contact for the hosts and volunteers. Once unqualified person cannot coordinate volunteer efforts for locations that are 6 hours apart.

Simply put, there is no structure and guidance in this program. If you are looking to make an impact and provide your services to those in need, you will have that opportunity, but be prepared to be on your own.

Program:
Location:
Posted: July 22, 2013
Overall:
4
Support:
1
Value:
3
By: NYTeach
Age:
31

I was in Vietnam volunteering at another organization, before I got to Travel to Teach in Chiang Mai. In Vietnam I volunteered in a rehabilitation center with disabled children and then there were 5 other volunteers that taught English class in an orphanage. I heard their stories, about how they struggled. They had no materials for teaching, no text books, papers, pencils or a working computer, there were no other volunteers to show them around, there was nobody from the organization to support them, … They had a hard time and got really frustrated. I was preparing myself for the same thing, because after my volunteering in Vietnam I immediately started volunteering in Chiang Mai with Travel to Teach. But I was surprised in a good way. I got picked up at the airport by a very enthusiastic staff member. I got to the dorm and the other volunteers showed me around the house, the area around the dorm and in the city Chiang Mai. I felt at home at once. I was so relieved, since I would be here for 8 weeks. I had all the materials I needed to prepare the lessons, a computer that works, I had other volunteers helping me with coming up with topics and games and one of the staff members came the first day to help and translate. The schools were so happy to have us and so grateful. It’s the best feeling ever and I will miss the schools very much! I taught 3 hours a day and on Friday we had the day off, this depends on which school you go to. But everybody had more then enough time to do trips, activities, go out, … A lot of the activities were organized by Travel to Teach, and fun was guaranteed. In short, working for Travel to Teach has been one of the best experiences of my life and I recommend it to everybody!

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 27, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
Age:
23

I have travelled and worked with other organisations before and it is hard to find one that you can 100% rely on. From the second I arrived in Chiang Mai I was greeted by a smiley staff member at the airport. I was then given a tour of the city and driven to our dorm where I was surprised to see 10 other volunteers happy to greet me. This really helped calm my nerves of being in a foreign place. Everyone made a huge effort to make me feel comfortable and included me from the get go. I didn't actually start teaching until after my teaching lesson and thai language crash course (which was given to me a few days after my arrival). The teaching schedules were not as strict as I thought it would be, very different to Australia, so you just need to be flexible as they have a lot of public holidays and religious celebrations. There are endless resources to plan your lessons, and there is always someone who is willing to help you when you struggle. Even if you are given time off, you have the option to teach at the local orphanage, which was a great experience.

I definitely recommend staying for more than 4 weeks, as I was only there for four weeks and I didn't want to leave!

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 19, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
23

It's not true taht the owner ( I ) am taking all teh profits from this company. Firstly there is no profit to take, since three years back our costs exceed our income but fortunately we have a reserv to use.

Secondly we do support some of then places, schools etc where we work, but not all. We have concentrated us to a few that really needs money to survive. This may make the apperance that we don't donate since only the volunteers that work in those places will see what we are doing.

Thirdly I don't like to travel and only do so when nessecary for the work i'm doing.

And last but not least, don't believe anything that anyone says but try to use some judgment. We are still one of the most affordable programs in this area and it seems everyone who has written here was happy with the program so why let some unfounded rumors spoil it?

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 9, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: Kerstin
Age:
New User

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