Have you ever wanted to volunteer abroad but don’t have the $$$ to make it happen? This was my situation too. But it IS possible. I’m here to show you how you can volunteer abroad for free, get your TEFL qualification and teach english!
Last summer I was still in university but had 3 whole months of downtime before the dissertation began! Backpacking was the plan, but I knew I didn’t have the funds saved up for a long trip.
Earlier in the year, I’d gained my 240 hour TEFL certificate with Premier Tefl so I could teach English online. I found that they are linked with a company called Angloville. After a lot of research and speaking with advisors on the phone, I decided to volunteer for 10 days. Now here’s the random bit. I was actually working with Polish children and teenagers in Malta! They run many in-country programmes at hotels but the Malta programme was new and based at the University of Malta campus. Also, they run kids, junior and adults programmes of different lengths.
(You don’t need a TEFL to volunteer)
For most of the programmes, a bus takes you from a major city such as Krakow or Budapest to the hotel venue. For this programme, volunteers had to make their own way to the campus. Luckily Malta is small and has a really good bus system.
How Can I Get My 120h TEFL Qualification?
So something I unfortunately didn’t realise before getting TEFL qualified (teaching English in a foreign language) is that you can actually complete your online 120h course for as little as €19 (like £15!)
If you attend 3 Angloville programmes and do the online work you’ll have completed the scholarship. This is a much more cost effective way of getting your certificate plus you get a great experience!
They have programmes in the UK, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic and Romania.
Of course, you don’t have to do 3 if you don’t want a TEFL scholarship. I only attended one programme. But, it’s a great way to volunteer abroad for free and I would do it again in the future. Also, you have the freedom to travel to different countries to complete your 3 programmes.
Arriving in Malta
Having spent a couple of nights in a great hostel in St Julians, I packed up and headed to the university. On the bus, I met a fellow volunteer, Caitlin from America, so I felt a bit more at ease.
When we arrived we were met by one of the camp coordinators and taken to our home for the next two weeks. It was a lovely villa with a pool! It was literally like a holiday villa with a big kitchen and living area, and two dorm rooms with 4 beds each. Most of the other volunteers were already there so we said our hellos and got settled in.
That afternoon/ evening we had an introductory team meeting and met the kids (about 30 between the ages of 12-18). It was going to be a fun experience!
The structure of Angloville is to improve English speaking through conversation and activities. Each day we would have a few one to one sessions with different participants. We could go anywhere on the campus, such as the poolside or basketball courts and have conversations in English. Sometimes we would team up with others to play a game or chat.
It’s a relaxed method but it really did build confidence in the teenagers English speaking, which was often very good!
For other sessions, we would have structured activities such as helping our participants to present to the rest of the group.
The days are quite long, as you’re with the participants from breakfast until about 8 or 9 pm. However, because of the loose conversational structure and a break in the afternoon, it wasn’t really like work. Plus the kids and fellow volunteers were so great and funny!
One of the most rewarding parts of the programme was helping my mentees, the three youngest boys on the programme. Every participant had to create a presentation about a topic of their choice and present to the group. I was so proud of their English and the slideshows they had made and we’d spent so long practising. They were nervous but they did it!
One of the best features of the Malta programme is exploring the island!
We had some great trips around Malta. From memory we:
– Spent the afternoon in Valletta (the capital) and got the children to make a video of them asking local people questions about Malta
– Visited the historic walled town of Mdina and took photos at the beautiful Dingli cliffs
– Had a beach afternoon to sunbathe
– A day trip to Gozo, the island just north of Malta (I wasn’t feeling well so sat this one out!)
– Visited a pretty harbour town south of Valletta and ate ice-cream
After dinner, there were scheduled activities to keep the kids out of trouble!
We had an epic water balloon fight, created a very memorable talent show, and walked into the local town. There was a festival taking place during our stay and the streets were decorated and there were musicians and celebrations! Such an experience.
Some evenings us volunteers were free to explore. We got pretty lost but eventually found the local celebrations again! Another night we got a taxi into Sliema. I’m so blessed to have met such a fun group who were all so different, and from all over the world.
Being Vegan on a Volunteer Programme
Being vegan is not the easiest diet sometimes. Plus I’m also gluten intolerant!
Before arriving you have to specify if you have any dietary requirements. They were really good about this and checked with me when I arrived too.
So, the food at Angloville is normally really good because you stay in hotels. Well, we were at the university and, well, the food was ok. As a vegan, I had to go to the supermarket and get some cereal and milk and a few snacks. But in general, the vegan options were healthy and quite good.
For any situation like this as long as you are understanding that for different people or cultures your diet is totally new, it makes it much easier. I was happy to go with it and just be grateful that they could offer me something for my diet.
Would I Enjoy Volunteering Abroad For Free With Angloville?
So you might be reading this wondering whether volunteering English teaching is for you. It is pretty intense and the days are long. But, you also get to experience a new culture, meet amazing people, and make a difference to your student’s future prospects in an English speaking world.
In general, I would say you need to be:
✓ Willing to fully commit and go all in for the length of the programme (3-11 days depending on the programme)
✓ You don’t need experience but you need to open and friendly
✓ You need to enjoy talking because you’ll be doing a lot of it!
✓ Willing to be flexible and go with it
✓ Caring and eager to help the participants to get the most out of the programme
Overall I really enjoyed the volunteer experience and it was definitely something I’ll remember! If you’re interested or not sure, have a look at the programmes:
For the scholarship: https://premiertefl.com/scholarships/anglo-tefl/
Just to volunteer: http://angloville.com/home/
I hope this post gave you an insight into the Angloville program and how you can volunteer abroad for free. Please reach out if you have any questions.