Teaching English in India
India is home to over a third of the world’s poor and underprivileged, and almost 30% of India’s population lives under the poverty line. And when it comes to the rich/poor divide, there’s almost no masquerade to keep you under any illusion of the alarming truth. Luxury real estate is often found just streets away from India’s slums and a state of the art building can be commissioned right next door to a row of cardboard tents, tents where families dwell and even endure the elements of harsh winters. The reality really is shocking. And it’s a tough pill to swallow for first time visitors to India. This is why our English teaching volunteer program is so important.
We can’t promise to change the lives of every poor and disadvantaged family in this incredible yet vulnerable country; what we can do though is help to tackle the problem at its roots and do our bit to reverse the problem through education and empowerment. Our program works closely with poor and disadvantaged communities in Kerala, South India and we bring together willing volunteers with willing learners and kids who are desperate to go to school. You will get the chance to work in run down schools within the local area and help to change India’s school system.
Currently, the education system in India still isn’t up to standard, with classes often going over capacity and many schools being understaffed. And for most families living under the poverty line, sending their kids to school isn’t a feasible option and many will encourage their children to beg on the streets. We work with NGO partners to provide free education, school supplies and uniforms to allow families the choice of sending their children to school ‘“ and everything our program does is designed to help break the vicious cycle of poverty.
With children ranging from 3 years to 16 years of age, your teaching abilities will be put to the test across all age groups. You will be working in the run down urban slum areas of Mattanchery in Kerala and because of the unique location, facilities will be at the most basic and conditions may be much poorer than you may have previously experienced. 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 at two project sites where you will be assisting local teachers or helping weaker students with one to one classes in English, Math and Science subjects. School books and basic resources will be available for your use. 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, old story books and teaching aids that are useful for young learners. Our bilingual local staff are always on hand to help you with daily lesson planning.
Within the cramped conditions of South India’s run down slums, you’ll find bravery and passion in the children you teach. You’ll touch their lives and the English language skills you impart will give them a new sense of confidence and help them develop and grow as individuals. You will receive supervision and training upon arrival and you will also be given the chance to teach independently, but will always receive support from our local team when you need it.
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
- Accommodation in the heart of Fort Kochi – with WiFi and Kitchen facility.
- Experienced bilingual local staff team
- Breakfast and Lunch- home cooked Indian food
- Location orientation – a walking tour of Fort Kochi showing you the local sights, restaurants and cafes, ATMs and amenities.
- Project training with the local Program Manager
- Project resources – e.g. school curriculums and books, past volunteer notes
- 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!
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 *
*We provide basic resources, school books, online resources, and use of our computers for further online research for project ideas. Please bring your own 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)
- If you wish to book flights to this destination you can fill in this form.
- We recommend you apply for Visas before you arrive. Our Kerala Volunteer Guide will give you guidance on how to get your visas.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program. You can get in touch with our team if you need travel insurance organised.
- Vaccinations are important. We recommend you visit your local travel clinic to find out what vaccines you should take.
- We work with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for travel to India. Goto www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo to find out how best to avoid trouble when abroad. Packed with essential travel advice and tips, the website also offers up-to-date country information.
- We understand it can be difficult to pay for your flights, program fees and other travel costs. Many fundraise for their journey. If you need ideas and a platform for fundraising ideas Click Here
- For support on any of the above email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
During your free time on the weekends, be sure to explore the backwaters of Cochin by boat and explore the famous Alleppey. For a cultural hike with incredible panoramic views, the Munnar Tea Plantations are not to be missed. For total relaxation and time to kick back with a book, we also recommend taking a trip to Varkala Beach or Kovalam Beach which are both nearby and have a long stretch of sand plus safe swimming.
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 with one other volunteer, will have fans and en-suite bathrooms for your own privacy and comfort, 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 if you email us in advance. Breakfast and lunch will also be taken care of by our team here at Volunteer Journeys and because we like to provide a culturally immersive experience, all food will be local Keralan or Indian food. Western food is also available from local cafes and restaurants if this is what you prefer but we most definitely recommend tasting the local dishes which are included in your volunteer package.
We take care of all the logistical details including airport transfers and daily project transport, and we will even help you get a country sim card so you don’t have to worry about a thing, and you can get started in your new life abroad as soon as you arrive.
Health and Safety :
When you join our programs you can be assured we have carried out Risk Assessments to identify potential safety and health risks on projects and in the community. We share this information with you in our pre departure documents and on arrival. Our local staff are well trained and we provide 24/7 emergency numbers to all participants.We protect the safety of children and vulnerable adults on our programs by police verification and a reference checks on all participants.
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.’