Where and what would I be teaching?
WorldTeach offers teaching programs in multiple countries. For a current list of countries and detailed descriptions, see All Programs.
WorldTeach bases each program model on what the host country partner (usually the Ministry of Education or a sponsoring institution) has requested. In some countries, WorldTeach volunteers have been asked to teach English at the elementary, secondary, or college/adult level. In others, volunteers may teach subjects such as math, science, computer skills, social studies, or general elementary education.
Once you have been accepted into a particular program, you will have an opportunity to express any preferences with regard to your teaching placement. When all the volunteers in the group have been confirmed, the WorldTeach field staff work with the partners in the host country to assign volunteers to schools that need teachers. The field staff will take your preferences into account, but they must also consider the needs of the host communities. While it is not possible for WorldTeach to guarantee you any specific school or placement, we do our best to match you with a school that suits your background and interests. This matching process can take some time. When available, you will receive information about your teaching placement a few weeks prior to departure.
How does WorldTeach differ from Peace Corps?
Many applicants consider WorldTeach as an alternative to Peace Corps service, and the two experiences share many points in common. Reasons why WorldTeach may be a good fit for some, as compared with the Peace Corps, include the need for a shorter length of service, the desire to serve in a specific country, a commitment to teaching, or lack of US citizenship. You can find a brief comparison chart between the two programs here.
Do I need to be a qualified or experienced teacher?
For most programs, we do not require volunteers to have classroom teaching experience before they apply. However, we are looking for candidates with a demonstrated interest in and commitment to teaching. WorldTeach provides an intensive in-country orientation and on-going assistance from our Education office to all volunteer teachers.
What qualifications do I need to have?
WorldTeach programs are open to native and native-level English speakers who have a commitment to education and international development.
To be a WorldTeach volunteer you must be at least 18 years old and under the age of 74 by the date of departure. You must have a genuine interest in teaching, though formal teaching experience is not always required. All yearlong and semester programs require a bachelor’s degree (B.A./B.S.), or your country’s equivalent. You must complete the degree and receive your diploma before you depart, but you may apply while you are still in your final year of college. Summer programs are open to anyone over the age of 18, including undergraduates and others who do not have a bachelor’s degree.
A WorldTeach application must be completed for all programs. One required reference and a second optional reference must be submitted for yearlong and semester programs, and one for summer programs.
Applicants for the semester and yearlong programs must have an interview with a member of the WorldTeach staff.
When reviewing applications, WorldTeach looks for several qualities including a demonstrated interest in teaching, a commitment to service, cultural awareness, ability to work independently, and overall “fit” with the program for which you are applying. Most programs have a rolling admissions process, so apply early for the best chance of acceptance. Applying at least six months before the program departure is recommended. Please read the steps to becoming a WorldTeach volunteer for more information on how to apply.
Do I need to speak the local language?
No foreign language skills are required to apply, although WorldTeach strongly encourages volunteers to begin studying the local language on their own before their departure. Once in country, volunteers will have classes in the local language during orientation (3 weeks for long-term programs; 1 week for summer programs).
Do I need to be a US citizen to apply for WorldTeach?
No, you do not need to be a US citizen to be a WorldTeach volunteer. As the majority of our volunteers are US citizens, we send out visa application instructions pertaining to US citizens. Applicants who are citizens of other countries should contact the consulate of their program country for visa information. WorldTeach can provide a letter of verification for confirmed volunteers to present to those consulates.
What does the application process entail?
The application process begins here on our website.
Can I apply to more than one program?
Yes, there is a spot for you to list a second choice on the application. However, we recommend that you do enough research to determine which program is the best fit for your interests. Your application will automatically be considered for your first choice program, and we will notify you if the Admissions Committee needs to transfer your application to your second choice program.
How long does WorldTeach take to review applications?
Upon receipt of a complete application, the Admissions Committee may take between 2-3 weeks to review an application and make a decision. We will contact you regarding our decision via email.
How competitive is the program?
There is such a high demand for teachers in developing countries that we try to send as many qualified volunteers as we can on our programs. If your essays are well-written, your application includes strong references, and your interview report is positive, the Admissions Committee should consider you favorably. Funded programs are our most competitive, as the funding only supports a certain number of placements.
Will I get paid?
WorldTeach teaching positions are voluntary, not salaried. In the yearlong programs, the host school, institution, or government will provide a modest living allowance, paid in the local currency. This monthly stipend is designed to cover your day-to-day living expenses based on the local cost of living. It is not designed to cover extra personal expenses such as travel, tours, communications with home, etc. so you will need to take your own spending money.
Why is there a contribution if I’m volunteering?
There are costs involved in recruiting, preparing, sending, training, and supporting a volunteer to teach abroad. WorldTeach, the volunteer, and the chosen country’s host institution all work together in a partnership to meet these costs. The contribution that is raised by the volunteer is part of the volunteer’s commitment.
WorldTeach is an independent, non-profit organization. WorldTeach receives no funding from the U.S. government and no significant funding from other sources. WorldTeach has a small permanent staff and aims to keep costs down while providing a high quality service to volunteers and host communities. The host school or sponsoring organization provides housing and, in the longer-term programs, a monthly living allowance for the volunteer. In some WorldTeach programs, the host government or schools provide additional funding to support volunteer costs, enabling the volunteer fee to be substantially reduced (for example, in the Marshall Islands, China, and Guyana programs). In countries where the host community cannot afford more than the stipend and housing, the volunteer commitment must be higher to meet the same costs.
The volunteer commitment is your contribution to the costs of preparing and supporting you as a teacher. Many volunteers run successful fundraising campaigns to fulfill their financial commitment. See our Fundraising page for ideas.
What does the volunteer commitment cover?
The volunteer commitment covers the costs of preparing, training, and supporting you as a teacher and volunteer. It covers your overseas medical coverage, and enables WorldTeach to provide you with organizational support, an intensive in-country orientation, and full-time field staff (usually former WorldTeach volunteers themselves) to assist and support you throughout your service. Specifically, the WorldTeach program cost covers:
- Comprehensive visa sponsorship and assistance in securing necessary work permits – If a visa or work permit is necessary to enter, live, and/or work in the country, WorldTeach will cover fees up to the cost of a visa for a US citizen. WorldTeach will also provide detailed instructions about the documentation that each volunteer will need to provide for their corresponding visa and will facilitate the process between volunteers and Immigration whether that process occurs in the US before departure or upon arrival to the country of service.
- Supplemental travel medical insurance – WorldTeach provides reliable international health insurance coverage for its volunteers, including emergency medical evacuation coverage.
- Field support – WorldTeach employs at least one full-time staff member in each of the countries where it places volunteers. Often he or she is a former WorldTeach volunteer who has chosen to remain in the host country. The field staff member arranges teaching sites and volunteer housing, visits volunteers at their sites at least once during their time abroad, organizes volunteer trainings and conferences, and troubleshoots any problems that might arise.
- Orientation training – Each yearlong and semester WorldTeach program begins with a 3-week in-country orientation. This intense training period includes cross-cultural adjustment seminars, teacher training, health and safety tips, and language lessons. Summer programs begin with an intensive one-week orientation.
- Organizational support – WorldTeach has a 24-hour emergency phone number for volunteers and their loved ones to use during service. WorldTeach employs conscientious, knowledgeable staff to answer your questions throughout the application process and throughout your experience. As a WorldTeach volunteer you also have a built-in network of other volunteers in your country to help support you throughout the program, and afterwards as alumni.
You will have room and board during your training and teaching service. Your host school or sponsoring organization will provide your accommodation and meals, either with a local host family or in teachers’ housing on or near campus.
See further information on the WorldTeach Support & Services.
Does WorldTeach offer financial aid, scholarships or loan deferments?
There are several fellowships and scholarships that undergraduate students may apply for to cover the costs of WorldTeach summer programs. Please see our Scholarships page for more details.
Many volunteers have successfully fund raised a significant portion of or even the entire volunteer commitment from friends, family, employers, and foundations. Fundraising invests not only the volunteer, but also the broader community in the experience abroad. Please read more about how to get started.
The ability to defer your school loans is very dependent on your specific lender. You should contact your lender to determine your options, then contact WorldTeach if you are in need of specific documentation. WorldTeach can provide verification of service.
Do I have to pay taxes when I do WorldTeach?
WorldTeach stipends to volunteers/Fellows are not considered income and do not require 1099 reporting. The stipends are reimbursement to volunteers for a non-profit organization, as the amounts do not exceed the estimated expenses needed to sustain a participant’s volunteering activities. Stipends are not wages and not professional or work compensation.
Can I see the financial information for WorldTeach?
Yes, we have created a pie chart that shows the breakdown of all WorldTeach spending, and it can be seen here.
Where will I live?
Host schools or communities provide housing for WorldTeach volunteers. You may live with a local family, share a house with other local or foreign teachers, or, in some cases, even have your own apartment. Volunteers in some countries live in traditional houses without running water or electricity; others have modern apartments with many of the amenities of home. Wherever you are placed, you are likely to have your own furnished bedroom and access to a bathroom, kitchen or cafeteria.
Are the host communities safe?
WorldTeach’s number one priority is the health and safety of volunteers. However, as a volunteer, you will face risks that are different from those you encounter at home. These risks may range from exposure to tropical diseases, to natural disasters, to civil disorder. WorldTeach is vigilant in responding to U.S. State Department travel warnings and will relocate volunteers to different areas of a country, or, in extreme cases, evacuate volunteers altogether, based on U.S. government recommendations.
In addition to these emergency situations, you will need to be aware of risks that are present in most countries and cities, such as road accidents and theft. You may feel more susceptible, especially at first, because you are immersed in an unfamiliar culture. Orientation includes discussion of health and safety issues and practical information to enable volunteers to stay safe and well. Throughout the program, the field staff and your host family/community will serve as a support system for you as you navigate a new country.
Although most of the countries where WorldTeach works do not have medical facilities comparable to those in the United States, we avoid placing volunteers at sites that do not have access to adequate medical care. Volunteers are covered through WorldTeach’s health insurance, which includes emergency medical evacuation, if needed.
What can I do to prepare myself for my host country?
- Study or practice the language of your host country – You will receive language training during orientation at the beginning of your program, but any exposure or practice you can gain before departure will help you pick up and improve your language more quickly.
- Learn more about your host country – Do as much research as you can on the history, culture, politics, and current social issues of your country of service.
- Contact Returned WorldTeach Volunteers – Talking to other volunteers is a great way to learn more about your program, the teaching role, and what it is like to live in your host country. We are happy to provide connections to WorldTeach alumni.
What’s a typical day for a WorldTeach volunteer?
Your typical day will vary greatly depending on your country of choice and your particular teaching site. Yearlong volunteers in Ecuador, for example, often teach at universities, and so might have mostly late-afternoon and evening classes. Yearlong volunteers in American Samoa work in elementary and secondary schools, and so are likely to be at school from 8:00am to 3:00pm.
Will I have time to travel?
Volunteers often travel during school vacations and after their teaching responsibilities are completed at the end of the year. Depending on the location of your teaching placement, you may be able to make weekend trips to visit other volunteers or areas. You will not be able to travel during the week, as you will have a full-time teaching schedule.
Could I continue teaching beyond the end of the program?
Once you have completed your program commitment, it is usually possible to extend your service. You would discuss your interest in extending with your field staff and submit a written extension request midway through your service. In a second year you can make even greater contributions, since you are familiar with your host school, students, and the culture.