Teaching English in India
Kerala is known to be one of the most progressive states in India with very high literacy rates of almost 95%. Literacy however is measured in the local language Malayalam, and school drop out rates after primary school is still very high (particularly among low income groups). Many locals struggle with employment and because they lack of qualifications and/or English abilities. Many are not able to get well paid office jobs or work in tourism which is one of the fastest growth sectors in Kerala. Through this program we aim to build children’s English foundation (so in the future they do not struggle) and also support to local primary schools and struggling teachers.
The local schools we work with are run down and lack resources to afford quality teaching staff or have enough staff to support students. Schools have only basic resources, often have no extra curricular or interactive learning resources. Having volunteers means we can help to improve facilities from time to time or provide resources for schools that would not be possible for them to get.E.G. providing reading books.
Children who are from underprivileged families struggle with English a lot more and are not confident in their abilities. They also struggle a lot in classrooms as they do not have education reinforced at home as their parents are not educated or able to help them. One of our keys aim is to build up children’s confidence and English abilities from an early age. Exposure to different teaching styles and resources will also help them to develop skills that go beyond the text book so they can progress faster.
As a teaching volunteer in India you will be helping children ranging from 4 years to 16 years of age. You will be working in local schools in Fort Kochi – a quaint little port town in Cochin, Kerala. There are no luxuries here, we’ll tell you that now. But what you can’t beat is the smiling faces of the kids who are so passionate to learn from you. And all the amazing, interesting, humble people you meet along the way – Well they will just make your volunteer experience unforgettable from start to finish.
In a day you can expect to work in one or two schools (morning /afternoon sessions) where you will be as taking English class assigned to you (usually with 2-15 children in each class) or helping weaker students with one to one sessions in English, Math and Science subjects. You can also teach sports or art as long as it is integrated with English learning. In the past volunteers have conducted workshops for life skills, healthcare and story telling. We encourage you to bring materials such as photographs of your family or old story books as teaching aids that are useful for young learners. Our bilingual local staff are always on hand to help you with daily lesson planning.
The English language skills you impart will give the children a new sense of confidence and help them develop and grow as individuals. You will receive training upon arrival and you will be expected to teach independently or with another volunteer. You will always receive support from our local team when you need it.
We request you to be flexible to timings as in the developing world things change rapidly. During the summer holidays we will arrange teaching opportunities for you in alternative community centres or in schools depending on availability.
All The Details
Fort Kochi, Kerala
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- Pre-departure guide – to prepare you for your trip
- Pick-up and drop from the nearest airport or train station in Cochin
- Shared Rooms in our volunteer house *
- Experienced bilingual local staff team
- Meals (Except Sundays)
- Location orientation – a walking tour of Fort Kochi showing you the local sights, restaurants and cafes, ATMs and amenities.
- Basic project training
- 24 hour support in your location for emergencies
- An opportunity to participate on a sustainable on going project that needs you
- Auto Rikshaw to the project site – these local three wheelers are the best ride in town!
*During busy months if our volunteer house is at capacity we may keep you in alternative housing nearby.
Whats Not Included in your program fee :
- Flights to the program destination
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal shopping and gratuities
- Local excursions
- Project materials that you personally need *
*Please bring a few teaching resources from home if needed. Photocopying and printing or buying materials you need for projects is at your own expense.
Local Team On Ground
Geetha Raj: Kerala Program Manager
Geetha is the backbone of our programs in Kerala. Her friendliness, generosity and warmth towards every volunteer will leave you feeling extra special. Having worked as local journalist for almost 10 years, Geetha grew a passion for community development work, and is very forward thinking. She is instrumental in Kerala Program development. A born leader, Geetha will give you the direction you will need to succeed as a volunteer. Her team will look after all your needs from the time you enter Kerala to the time you leave. In her spare time Geetha loves taking our volunteers to the temples to get a taste of Keralan culture.
- The nearest airport for this program is Cochin International Airport (COK)
- We recommend you apply for Tourist Visas before you arrive.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program.
- We recommend you visit your local travel clinic to find out what vaccination you should take.
Here’s what your First Week looks like:
Arrival Weekend: Your arrival weekend will be relaxed. Once we pick you up from the airport and bring you home you will meet one of the local coordinators. You will be given a local area orientation and culture orientation.
Monday: Your day begins with a lovely home cooked breakfast prepared for you by our house chef. After breakfast you will begin you project training session before going to to the project sites. At the projects will have opportunity to observe a class OR shadow another volunteer. If you are confident you can also start teaching straight away! Your group size will be limited to a maximum of 8 students.
Home cooked lunch will be provided between 12:00 to 13:00 PM. After lunch you can sit with our Program Manager and go over your volunteer work plans for the coming week and even plan a lesson or two. Evenings can be used for relaxation or cultural activities in the area.
Tuesday – Thursday: After breakfast you will be going to the project sites between 10:00 to 12:00 PM. Our team will be with you to support you if you need help at all times. Post lunch you will continue with some more volunteering and finish by 16:00PM. Evenings will be free for your relaxation or cultural activities.
Friday: On Friday you have your usual morning volunteering session between 10:00 to 12:00 PM. Post lunch you can sit with your program manager to go over your week, and to plan out the following weeks volunteering activities. Evenings are free for you to explore the area.
Please note that the above is subject to change!
What Happens When I Arrive?
Living Arrangements for Teaching Volunteers in India:
We encourage community living and making deep connections with others, so you will be living in a shared house with other volunteers. All rooms are shared, will have fans and en-suite bathrooms, and basic WiFi connection will be available to you (although you may not have the luxury of high speed connection that you get at home). For those who want to upgrade, the option of private accommodation and rooms with air conditioning will also be available at an extra cost.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will also be taken care of by our team here at Volunteer Journeys. All food will be freshly cooked local Keralan or Indian food. A typical breakfast can be dosas, puttu or Keralan style pancakes. Lunch and dinner is usually curries prepared with season vegetables. Kerala curries are delicious, light and healthy – usually infused with coconut milk or grated coconut making it truly tropical to taste.
Your volunteer home will be very secure with several fire extinguishers, security cameras, a staff member staying in house, and an office area with a safety locker. In general Fort Kochi where your home is generally very safe residential as well as tourist area with low crime rates.
Please note that during busy times we may house you in alternative accommodation near our volunteer house.
Weekends in Kerala:
During your free time on the weekends, be sure to visit the famous backwaters of Cochin and stay overnight on a traditional houseboat in Alleppey. Backwaters are small inland rivers surrounded by palm trees. For a adventure hike with incredible panoramic views, the Munnar Tea Plantations are not to be missed. For total relaxation and time to kick back, we also recommend taking a trip to Varkala Beach, which is a couple of hours from Kochi but absolutely stunning.
Volunteers Love Us
‘My experience in India was absolutely fantastic. Having never done anything like this before, Volunteering Journeys made sure I settled in well and supported me throughout my time. Being placed with an amazing family gave me the chance to experience Indian culture first hand. I was part of the Disabled Childcare Programs for two weeks. Although short, I felt the time I spent was so valuable for the children. If this is something that you are interested in I would 100% recommend it. The memories, friendships and experiences you will develop will be ones that you will never forget.’
‘The teaching experience was second to none. I was overwhelmed by the respect and politeness all the children have, which made it some much easier to work with them, even with the language barrier. The amazing thing about the schools I visited was that all the children are like little sponges, they absorb everything you say, teach and do! It’s quite outstanding how much they gain from just a small conversation in the playground or in the class room.
So in general if you are questioning whether you want to volunteer and you don’t know what company to go with, it has the be Volunteering Journeys. You will be well looked after, gain an immense experience and make friends for life!!!’
‘I took a short sabbatical from work in November 2013 and decided to come to India. I was helping at a small school in Fort Kochi, teaching English, Maths, Science and the odd nursery rhyme. The school where I volunteered had amazing teachers and the kids were great. Ridhi and the team organised everything brilliantly – from cycling tours to the backwaters, to hosting me with a family that made my stay feel like home. If you’re going to volunteer in India then I highly recommend Volunteering Journeys’
“J’ai passé deux mois formidables à Kochi en travaillant comme volontaire avec Volunteering Journeys. Deux mois de ma vie que je n’oublierais jamais. J’ai rencontré des gens incroyables et participé à des projets qui me tenaient vraiment à coeur. J’ai pu voir l’aboutissement de mes efforts et le sourire sur le visage des enfants. Une expérience magique que je recommande à tous. Merci Rainbow”
‘I spent 3 wonderful weeks with the Volunteering Journeys team in Kerala, it marked the beginning of almost 2 months adventuring through India, and I can say without a doubt it was one of my favourite experiences of my time spent in incredible India! From the moment my plane landed and I was greeted by a friendly face and whisked away to a wonderful home, the local staff were incredibly welcoming, helpful, supportive and great fun to be around!
I spent my time volunteering in 2 local schools, assisting with English studies. The enthusiasm and joy with which the children approach their days will ensure you never want to leave!I cannot recommend Volunteering Journeys highly enough, it was such a joyful introduction to India – it’s culture, people and crazy beautiful way of life. You will leave with some fond memories and firm friendships’
‘I volunteered by teaching English both at a school and at an all girls’ orphanage for two months. It has been the best experience of my life so far. I really got to know the children I was teaching and seeing the children’s English improve over my time was an incredible feeling. From being introduced to yoga to tasting delicious flavoursome Indian cuisine and living in “God’s own country”, has left me eager to return. I have made friends across the World who made my time spent in Kerala unforgettable. I highly recommend volunteering with Volunteering Journeys; Kerala is beautiful and you will gain fun memories.’
‘I spent two weeks running an art workshop which was absolutely fantastic. The children were so enthusiastic and bustled about with paste and paint, putting together the most amazing creations. They were not used to producing collaborative work and were thrilled when their individual efforts achieved a glorious whole. Their personalities really shone through and I became very fond of them in the short time I was with them. Thank you to Volunteering Journeys for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience!’
‘There is some kind of magic that happens when you’re in India. The climate, the people, the warm welcome, the happiness in every person, the culture, it’s simply inspiring. On top of that having a group of friendly, thoughtful organizers guiding me through the program made my time volunteering with Volunteering Journeys one of the most memorable moments in my life.
If anyone reading this is considering becoming a volunteer, don’t hesitate, become a volunteer. It will be the most rewarding experience and adventure of your life. I assure you that you will have a vital impact on the community, the place and the children. I would recommend Volunteering Journeys without hesitation. Well organized and hassle free adventure. You get help and guidance with everything you need. Kerala was my destination. Safe, beautiful and very friendly. Just do it and have an adventure of your life!’
“Volunteering at the schools was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Once again the friendships you create are irreplaceable. Admittedly, the first few days were scary, in the sense that my partner and I were only 18 & 20 yrs old and we were teaching women and children a language that was not their first. However the persistence and willingness of Indians is not to be tested. Each of our students put in 100% and naturally we became very personal with everyone and these women and children taught us much more. We came out of this experience with more than we had ever anticipated. It can’t be put into words just how much we learnt from volunteering. Ever aspect of our lives and mindset has changed.”
‘I think it was quite an eye opening experience to kind of see how people live and enjoy their lives very differently to what we do probably in UK. Even though comparatively they didn’t have as much, the children still came to school with a smile on their face and they were really keen to learn. They were ever so happy and always had a smile on their face regardless of the circumstances that they are living in, and I think that was an amazing experience for us to take back. We have comparatively much more wealth in the UK and we have much more available at our fingertips. Yet we were quite not so happy’
‘We decided to volunteer as part of our family vacation. It was the perfect balance: making a contribution but not being asked to do too much, with Volunteering Journeys staff with us every step of the way to help, support, clarify, etc. I was also impressed that they didn’t feed us a line about how we were changing the world in a week; I knew going in that *we* would be the ones most changed, and the staff’s perspective’s was the same: we were making an impact by showing we cared and sharing experiences, which hopefully meant something to a lot of people.’