Frequently Asked Questions

Do volunteers usually sign up alone or can I bring a friend? What if I’ve never traveled before? Are there payment plans? If you don’t see your question answered below, just reach out!

Frequently Asked Questions2024-06-03T15:01:27-06:00
Do you have your own room?2024-01-03T15:09:05-07:00

If you’re single, probably not. Housing can vary from semester to semester and is unique to each location, but in general, you’ll most likely be sharing a room with at least one other volunteer of the same sex. Sometimes, you’ll be sharing a room with 2-5 other members of your group (or more), depending on the housing situation in that location. Your Head Teacher will help make room assignments, so let your Head Teacher know if you’d like to have a say in who your roommates are.

Married couple volunteers will have their own room.

Does ILP ever check in with the school we’re teaching at?2024-01-03T15:30:53-07:00

We go to great lengths and costs to make sure that we are sending volunteers to schools that are consistently keeping up our standards.  It’s such a priority that each semester, someone from our stateside Support Team flies out from Utah to visit every school. They meet with both the school and local leaders as well as each volunteer to check in.

What if I get homesick?2023-09-12T12:06:29-06:00

Everyone gets at least a little bit homesick at one point during their semester which is why we’re here to help. During your pre-departure training, we’ll talk about it and help you understand ways to overcome homesickness (giving you tips on how to adjust to the new culture, ideas on how to spend your time rather than watching Netflix, and ways to connect with your group).

But, we can also give you a little advice right now! Finding ways to love your country and have fun is really key to avoiding the big homesick symptoms. It helps to stay in touch with friends and family back home but finding things you like about your new home is a big boost, too. This blog post may help you know what to anticipate, and how to handle some things that may come up during your semester.

It’s also good to remember you’re not alone! Any time you want, you’ll be able to call and text friends and family, post on social media, video call, and share everything about your semester to everyone back home.

Plus, you have your ILP group with you. Sometimes the best experiences come only after stepping out of your comfort zone to help distract you from missing home — ask your ILP group to try a new local snack with you, plan a trip for your upcoming weekend, or check out a shopping street to keep your mind busy.

Will I have free time or vacations?2022-03-09T11:50:32-07:00

You’ll have every Saturday and Sunday off, plus a few vacation dates scattered throughout your semester. Usually, it works out to be around 9 days off from volunteer days (in addition to your free weekends). You will not know your travel dates until you arrive in-country; your school and your Local Coordinator will figure out your vacation dates.

Usually, semesters have a couple of  3- or 4-day weekends, plus a longer vacation that may be around 5 days off from teaching (plus the time off you get on the weekend, of course).

I have questions … can I talk to someone who’s already volunteered?2024-01-03T15:27:51-07:00

Of course! Our office representatives have all recently returned from a semester abroad and are happy to answer your questions. You are more than welcome to call our office (801-374-8854) and talk one-on-one with an ILP rep. You can also leave your number on this form and we’ll text you back.

Another resource is the ILP Takeover Instagram Account. That account is run by volunteers in-country to give you a peak at what it’s like from their point of view — taking you through a house tour, explaining meals, what vacations are like, and more, with tons of pictures and videos. Groups typically have a day where they answer all sorts of questions if you have any to ask.

Then, once you have finished your application and have been accepted, you are invited to join your country’s Facebook group which is full of ILP alumni for your country and future volunteers (like you). Loads of volunteers use the ILP Facebook groups to ask specific questions about their country or their school like “any tips on things to pack?” or “what coats and boots do you recommend for a winter in Eastern Europe?” or questions about what teaching is like or where to get teaching ideas.

If parents have questions, they’re more than welcome to check out the same resources, this blog post, and/or email the office to set up a call with one of the Directors — just email office@ilp.org.

What if I’m worried about affording it?2024-05-28T16:46:42-06:00

There are many ways to making your ILP adventure happen, and we’re happy to talk to you about ways that might work best for you!

We recommend checking out learning about fundraising. We have had past volunteers fundraise half or even all of their program fee. It takes work and can be a little intimidating but the pay-off is so worth it. To help you get started, we have a downloadable fundraising guide that brainstorms lots of fundraising ideas and explains how other have had success fundraising.

Fundraising aside, our ILP team can help you with additional financial concerns. We have discounts available and customizable payment plans that make your goals more attainable, whether you’re signing up in advance or can make monthly payments leading up to your trip or if you’re signing up just before departure and want to look into options for going now and paying your program fee later, with plans as low as $100/month.

What do we do on vacations?2023-09-12T12:12:05-06:00

Since volunteers plan their own vacations, this is completely up to you! Each country is full of popular sites to see and things to do. Volunteer groups may decide to go on safari in Uganda, spend a weekend holding baby sea turtles in Mexico or touring cities like Prague or Budapest (and more!).

Since volunteers will be planning their own vacations, we suggest you start looking into and researching which cities you’d like to travel to — browse Pinterest and you’ll find lots of ideas there to start with. We put quite a bit of time and energy into the ILP blog where we share ideas of places you might want to see, including tips from past volunteers and lots of other recommendations.

Who’s there to help while I’m in country?2022-05-17T12:45:49-06:00

ILP has native, on-site coordinators that help volunteers enjoy their country safely (called Local Coordinators). Local Coordinators act as a liaison from the Head Teacher and ILP group to the local staff of the school. They are there to look out for the general needs of the ILP volunteers and help as you adjust to living in a new country. They speak the local language (which is very handy) and can help with some language barrier issues.

Your relationship with your Local Coordinator depends on a few factors (some like to be very involved and get to know the group, while others are there to help via text, phone call, or visit when necessary). They’re often quite protective of their group of volunteers and work closely with your Head Teacher to help with what they can.

Local Coordinators usually keep an eye out for the ILP volunteers and are here to help, but aren’t there to take on the role of a parent (they aren’t there to make sure you’re getting along with others or that you are taking your vitamins!). ILP is structured as an independent program, with some support from your Head Teacher, other group members, and a Local Coordinator.

I’m still in school during April and part of May … can I still volunteer over the summer?2023-09-21T09:43:36-06:00

We get this question a lot and the answer is, “it depends”. Our summer semesters typically start anytime from mid-April to the first (or sometimes second) week of May. We do not know exact departure dates until we book flights, which is 2-6 weeks (usually in March or April) before the semester starts.

Additionally, we do ask that you will arrive the same day as the other volunteers which can conflict with some school schedules.

As soon as you know your university’s schedule, talk to your professor to let them know you’d like to volunteer abroad. It’s completely up to your professor (or higher up positions) but some volunteers have had luck taking finals a bit early so they can leave on time for their semester.

You can also talk to your ILP representative about choosing a location that tends to leave the latest for their summer semester. Choosing a location that leaves in May rather than mid-April may be best for you. Our Thailand group departs the latest (typically early June) so that may work really well! You’ll just want to make sure to apply quite a bit early so that there are still spots available if there’s a particular group you would need to be in.

Or you can avoid this situation altogether. Other volunteers have deferred their spring semester at school and used that time to work and save up before their summer semester with ILP.

Is there married housing?2024-01-03T15:07:07-07:00

Yes, but it does depend on location. Talk to your ILP Rep to get more details for your particular semester, but you’ll also find some married housing in countries like the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and a few others. Get a full list, here.

How will I get around my city?2022-05-05T14:26:59-06:00

Most volunteers get around by walking or using public transportation — the specific type of transportation depends on your country, but you’ll typically run into buses, trams, metros, or motorized carts like tuk-tuks or rickshaws. If you don’t live near the school you teach at, you’ll also use public transportation to get to your classes. Some volunteers have chosen to purchase a cheap bicycle for getting around town (instead of walking or riding the bus) but in almost every location, you’ll be walking quite a bit so bringing good walking shoes is a must.

What does ILP do to help keep you safe?2022-06-09T08:47:07-06:00

ILP follows several safety benchmarks to help keep each volunteer safe:

  • ILP Code of Conduct and Safety Rules: All ILP volunteers agree to abide by the ILP Code of Conduct, and Safety Rules. Volunteers who follow these rules self-filter out many of the risks associated with traveling (and being abroad) which is the major reason we have these in place.
  • Head Teachers: ILP Head Teachers are peer-age leaders who have previously taught at least one semester with ILP. These volunteers stood out as exemplary teachers and demonstrated good social skills and team skills. They act as coaches to the ILP group, and are there to help in the classroom, help with lesson plans, boost the group dynamic, as well as other behind-the-scenes projects.
  • Local Coordinators: Local Coordinators are native to the country and help in several ways. They may impose curfews as needed, restrict both local and long distance travel, advise about local political circumstances, and keep an eye on local situations that might impact the safety of our volunteers. Local Coordinators also assist with host family and apartment living situations, visa support, language and culture classes, and other situations as needed. They aren’t there to completely take on the role of a parent, but do often help out in many ways that help keep our volunteers safe while they’re living abroad.
  • State Department/Embassy: All volunteers are registered with the nearest American embassy or consulate; after registration, volunteers will receive any political or travel advisories through the U.S. State Department warden system.
  • ILP is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but many of our volunteers are members; we maintain contact with religious missionary programs and many church leaders in areas where our volunteers serve.
  • BYU and other international programs: ILP exchanges information with international programs that have students in the same locations as we do — like the study abroad programs at Brigham Young University (BYU). We compare notes about political or travel advisories, as well as disease epidemics or outbreaks with these programs to help ensure the safety of our volunteers.
Is it safe to live abroad?2022-06-09T08:33:50-06:00

We go to great lengths to find locations for our programs that we feel would be a good spot for American volunteers to live in. Part of this includes our Directors and Program Managers personally traveling to scout out each location prior to opening a new program and visiting again at the midpoint of each semester to talk with volunteers in person about how their experience is going. Program Managers are also available by phone 24/7 for the group when support is needed throughout the semester.

The media tends to look for the most extreme stories to report on, and often generalizes an entire country even if only one area is affected. Even if stories are being shared on the news, it may not affect our particular program, so we have several other watchtowers to rely on when making decisions about the safety of our volunteers. ILP also keeps an eye on similar programs who are in the area (like church mission programs and university study abroad programs) and stays in touch with our Local Coordinators in each country (who act as our ‘eyes on the ground’).

Our Directors welcome any calls from parents (or volunteers) who would like to discuss concerns in more detail.

There are always certain risks associated with traveling but following the ILP safety rules helps reduce those risks. Over more than three decades, ILP has worked hard to make sure thousands of volunteers have had a safe experience abroad and will continue to work hard to maintain that for future volunteers.

Are there any deadlines?2022-05-03T13:12:25-06:00

There are no deadlines! As soon as we open up a semester on our application, you can apply. Typically, you have more options the earlier you apply, but we frequently have last minute spots available even during the weeks or days leading up to departure.

How does it work if I don’t speak the language?2023-08-28T21:59:36-06:00

You’ll be fine! The majority of ILP volunteers don’t speak the local language and have a fun and successful semester. It is helpful to learn a few key phrases and words to help you get around and connect with the people around you, but it isn’t required. Especially with apps like Google Translate which can help you get over the language barrier, you can get by without knowing the local language.

Also, your Local Coordinator and local friends you meet can help you with the language barrier. In the past, Local Coordinators have helped ILP groups buy train tickets or make reservations over the phone.

If you’d like to learn the local language, we say go for it! Not only will it enrich your semester abroad, but locals you meet really appreciate that you’re attempting to speak in their language (even if you’re still learning). And of course, it can be helpful when buying a train ticket, shopping, and ordering food. Many Local Coordinators arrange opportunities for ILP volunteers to have the chance to attend culture classes which often include some basic language lessons. However, you’ll have plenty of free time to use for your own language study if you’d like to learn the local language.

As far as volunteering goes, classes are held entirely in English using ILP’s methodology. We’ll show you strategies to holding a lesson and interacting with your kids even if they don’t speak any English yet. Even if you do speak the local language, you’ll be asked to speak only in English while teaching.

Volunteers who serve at the Romanian orphanage (and are not teaching English classes) often learn a few basic Romanian phrases to help communicate a little easier with the children there.

Can family and friends visit?2023-01-17T16:10:40-07:00

Your parents are welcome to visit you, but be sure to call the office to make arrangements prior to purchasing tickets. It often works best for your parents to visit at the end of your semester or during your scheduled vacation days so you don’t miss any teaching days. You will not know your vacation dates until you arrive in-country (they are set by the host school) which can make planning a visit a little tricky. ILP cannot predict your vacation dates, so your parents will likely need to wait to purchase tickets or plan on visiting you after your ILP semester ends.

Friends and siblings are not allowed to visit during your semester unless they are accompanying your parent’s visit. If your friends and siblings would like to visit on their own, they can schedule a trip with you once your ILP semester is completed (if you choose to travel on your own afterward).

Do I need to speak another language?2023-08-28T21:57:10-06:00

No. In fact, most volunteers speak only English. It is not a requirement and it’s completely possible to get by relying solely on the English language, friendly locals you meet, Google translate, and even some charades at times.

Living in another country is a unique opportunity to learn the local language, though. A lot of volunteers make an effort to learn phrases that they can use to communicate better with their new neighbors and friends. Even basic greetings can be a great way to show respect for the culture you’re in.

How can I teach when I don’t speak the language?2022-06-08T14:38:38-06:00

ILP teachers hold English lessons through total immersion; the ILP method works by creating an environment where the children learn the language by “playing”; the lessons you’ll teach are more like activities at a well-structured birthday party than formal classes. These lessons are broken up into six teaching areas (areas like arts & crafts, games, gym, etc). Instead of desks and textbooks, the kids start the ILP program with games, gym, kitchen and other fun activities. For older, more advanced students, the classes become a bit more traditional while still utilizing our immersion methodology.

All ILP lessons are meant to be fun and engaging and conducted entirely in English, so there is no need to learn another language!

Can I trust medical care abroad?2022-06-09T08:47:59-06:00

Each ILP location has a dependable local clinic or pharmacy for smaller needs and access to larger facilities (most likely in the capital city) for more serious concerns. Local Coordinators are familiar with the area and can assist volunteers in finding adequate health care facilities when needed. They are also available to accompany the volunteer and provide translation if needed.

How many bags should I pack for my semester?2022-06-09T10:48:05-06:00

Most volunteers bring two carry-on items (like a backpack or a purse, and a smaller suitcase) and 1-2 checked suitcases, but how much you pack is up to you. Once your flight is purchased by ILP, check with the airline you’ll be flying with to see what their baggage policies are. Volunteers are responsible for their own baggage fees if any. Many airlines will allow one free checked bag (up to 50 lbs) and have a fee for the second bag, but you’ll need to double check the exact policy.

Is this the right program for me?2023-08-28T21:49:57-06:00

We know you want to do some traveling, but you’re also going abroad to make a difference. We’re looking for volunteers who have:

  • A desire to serve children. The kids you teach will learn to speak because they want to communicate with you. We have found that when volunteers put teaching first, their experience with travel, the country’s culture, friendships, and more really open up.
  • High moral integrity. We believe that the best teachers are the best people, regardless of what they are teaching. Parents and schools entrust you with their children’s education and we want to exceed their expectations by providing volunteers who are honest, hardworking, and trustworthy.
  • Good social skills. You’re not volunteering alone — you’ll teach with an ILP group of volunteers. You will be living, teaching, hanging out, and traveling together all semester long, and it’s important that everyone works well with others (in and out of the classroom).
  • Confident and comfortable: Even if teaching is totally new for you, ILP volunteers are expected to complete several activities in front of a small class of kids — like drama activities, art lessons, and others. These ILP lessons are more similar to leading a well-structured birthday party than teaching a formal class, but we are looking for volunteers who feel like they can accomplish this after some training and practice.
  • Willingness to follow the rules and Code of Conduct of ILP. ILP has a Code of Conduct in place for a reason; not only are you representing the program and your home country while you are abroad, these guidelines are there to help keep you safe. This is a high-standards program — ILP volunteers are expected to:
    • Abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
    • Abstain from romantic relationships with teammates or locals
    • Avoid vulgar or profane language
    • Obey the law
    • Maintain a neat appearance
    • Follow all rules and help other teachers do the same
How does the “lottery” work?2024-05-28T16:21:36-06:00

There is a specific number of volunteers that we can send to each country, determined by the host school(s). That number is based on things like housing and the number of students attending that semester. Even after a country is fully assigned out, volunteer spots can become available for a variety of reasons (maybe a volunteer defers to another semester or we open up a new school in that country), so we utilize a lottery system to assign out newly opened spots.

When you apply, you’ll complete an online Orientation where you’ll have the opportunity to let us know:

  1. Your top choice country
  2. Additional countries you’re interested in if your top choice isn’t available
  3. Countries you don’t want to be considered for, if any

When it comes time to make your location assignment, if your top choice country is available, we will assign you there. If not, we’ll assign you to one of the other countries you’re interested (if there is an assignment available). If there are no spots available in any of those countries, we will add you to the lottery for each country you’ve listed as being open to volunteering in.

When a spot becomes available in a country, we will do a random drawing from the lottery for that country. The person who is randomly drawn will receive the assignment to that country.

A couple of things to keep in mind if you’re in the lottery:

  • Being open to volunteering in one or two particular countries increases the chance that you’ll be in the lottery. The more countries you’re open to going to, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to get you a spot.
  • Being in the lottery is fairly common and does not mean you won’t get to volunteer that semester. Spots do become available, but again, the more countries you’re open to going to, the more likely it is that you’ll get a spot that semester because you’ll be in multiple lotteries.
  • Some countries have fewer spots than others. In some countries, we may send only 4 volunteers, which means it’s much more limited than a country where we send 20-30 volunteers+. If you’re placed in the lottery and worried about getting a spot, chat with your rep. We can help you understand your options for increasing the chance of getting a spot that semester. A lot of times volunteers in that position will increase the number of countries they’re open to in order to increase their chances.

We will do our best to help you receive a volunteer spot that you are excited about while also remaining as fair as possible to all applicants.

What does my program fee include?2023-09-21T09:31:38-06:00

No matter where you’re going (whether that’s on one of our Humanitarian Programs or an Exchange Program), your ILP program fee includes a few things:

  • Roundtrip international airfare from the U.S.
  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • Your visa
  • Housing for the semester
  • At home meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • WiFi
  • Pre-Departure and In-Country Training — You’ll need to arrange transportation to Utah for the in-person training, but the training and materials are included in your program fee. You’ll also receive in-country training throughout your semester. You also have support throughout the entire semester.
  • Some language and cultural experiences — Depending on your location, you may have access to language classes, a tour around the city, or cultural classes like a cooking class.
Is traveling on vacation expensive?2022-05-05T14:54:19-06:00

Travel is a big part of your experience — every ILP volunteer has Saturday and Sunday off from teaching, plus scheduled vacation days. While you’ll need to budget some money for things like museum tickets and ice cream, travel is where volunteers spend the bulk of their spending budget.

How much you spend on vacation will vary. Flying is going to be more expensive than taking trains or buses, certain countries are going to be more expensive than others, etc. Volunteers who have managed their money well on other things (like eating out and buying souvenirs) were able to attend all trips during vacation time with a $1,500ish budget, particularly in countries like Mexico, Thailand, and the Caribbean.

How much you spend abroad is completely up to you; we have had volunteers get by on less, and have had volunteers who have spent double that recommended  amount. You and your ILP group will decide your travel plans including things like where you’ll go, how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay, and which excursions you do throughout the vacation … which means you have a lot of control on how much you spend.

If you cannot afford to travel, you are welcome to stay in your city during vacation times. Certain ILP countries do require that you leave the country at some point to abide by visa rules, so if you’re planning to not travel, please let your representative know so that you can be placed in the right country for you.

Do you live with other volunteers?2024-01-03T15:03:51-07:00

Yes! Group support is a huge part of this experience. You’ll be doing just about everything with your fellow volunteers from teaching to traveling, and even living with them. They become like your family for the semester. Most setups have volunteers sharing a room with at least one other volunteer, sometimes more … if that’s the case,  it’s a slumber party every night!

Can I take classes to learn more about the language and the culture?2023-08-28T21:59:00-06:00

Prior to the semester, ILP volunteers attend a Pre-Departure training. A portion of this training is to give you a quick overview of how to prepare yourself to live in another country and adjust (including topics like safety, culture shock, and things that are unique to the country you’re going to). You’ll be able to get a glimpse into the culture at this time and ask any questions you may have.

While you live abroad, many Local Coordinators arrange informal language and culture classes a few times throughout the semester. They are a good way to get more out of your experience. Classes may be focused on learning some helpful phrases in the local language, learning how to make a local dish, or might include a tour around your city with your Local Coordinator. In the past, some groups have been more interested in attending than others, so classes are typically only offered if your group expresses interest in having them.

 

How much is due when I apply? Do I have to pay everything right away?2024-05-28T16:27:22-06:00

As part of your application, your first payment towards your program fee of $500 is due. If you’re not accepted for any reason, that payment is refundable.

If you would like to pay your program fee right away, there is a $50 discount (for paying in full within 3 weeks of your acceptance). We also have several payment plans if that works better for you!

What if I have special dietary needs?2023-09-12T12:03:37-06:00

If you have allergies or certain dietary restrictions, that is something you’ll need to be proactive with. With as many unique diets and needs as there are, we are unable to accommodate everyone. However, we can talk to you about certain locations that might be a little easier for you to work around your diet (maybe choosing a location where you’ll be shopping for your own groceries would be a better fit than a host family situation).

In any case, if you have certain dietary needs, plan on adding more to your spending budget so you can purchase snacks and meals that fit your diet better than what the local cuisine may provide.

Additionally, you may find this blog post about eating vegan, vegetarian, and/or with dietary restrictions while traveling helpful.

How long is an ILP trip? What are the departure and return dates?2024-01-03T14:02:37-07:00

Semesters are around 3-4 months long and happen three times a year on a Spring, Summer, and Fall timeline (it looks pretty similar to a semester at school). We won’t know the exact departure and return dates of your semester until it gets closer, but we have the general time frame listed below.

Each group/country has an individual departure and return date that works best for the local school that we work with. So for example with the Spring semester, you might depart early January, mid-January, or end of January, just depending on which school you’re assigned to. If you have a conflicting event (like maybe finals at the end of your Spring semester at school) talk to your representative and we can see which countries might be the best option to work with your schedule.

Spring: January – end of April/early May. Thailand is a bit unique with an earlier group (early Jan-early April) and a later group (end of March-end of June).

Summer: mid-April/early May – mid-August

Fall: late August/early September to December (Yes, you’ll be home for Christmas!). Thailand is bit unique with an earlier group (early August-end of October) and a later group (end of September-just before Christmas).

Can I bring my medicine abroad with me?2022-06-09T08:57:42-06:00

We typically do not recommend that your medications are sent to you through the mail, so it’s best to speak with your doctor and see if you can get a larger supply temporarily that will last for the entire semester.

If you’re not able to get enough medication to last your trip, talk to us. An ILP Director  or Program Manager will be visiting each school about halfway through the semester in person. If your parents are able to pick up a second supply of medication for you and bring that to the ILP office, we would be happy to bring it to you on the mid-semester visit. Give us a call and we’ll see if that is something that could be worked out.

Is there training?2022-07-21T14:13:56-06:00

Before departure, volunteers are required to attend a 1-day training workshop in Orem, Utah.

You’ll go through training workshops to qualify you to teach and volunteer with ILP — we will cover the ILP teaching method, cultural seminars to help you prepare for your new country, etc. It is also an opportunity to meet other volunteers going on your semester (likely to your own country or city).

If you cannot arrange to attend an in-person training, please talk to us about your options! We’re happy to help arrange another way for you to receive your ILP training before departure.

Throughout the semester, your Head Teacher will hold training workshops each week with your group to revisit skills you briefly learned about in Pre-Departure training. It’s often easier to understand these skills as you practice them in a live setting, so your Head Teacher will drop in on some of your classes each week to help you work on those skills you’ve been learning, help you troubleshoot things that aren’t working so well, and provide feedback as best they can.

What if I forget something after training?2022-07-21T14:09:31-06:00

Pre-Departure training briefly covers all of the teaching skills before you leave for your semester, but the real learning happens when you start working with the kids.

There’s quite a bit of information that we have to go over in training and it can be a bit overwhelming. We’ll provide a binder to help prompt you to take notes on the most important tidbits, but it is still common to forget things. Remember, we expect that you won’t be a perfect teacher the first week. (Actually, the first couple of weeks is more about getting used to your new students and how to manage a classroom than anything else).

Your Head Teacher will have workshops with your ILP group to give you tips and remind you about things you learned in training. In the Romania program, your Head Teacher will hold group meetings to discuss how things are going and see where they can help while in teaching locations, your Head Teacher meetings will also cover learning teaching skills. Your Head Teacher has taught at least once with ILP so they are there to help you lesson plan, work with your class (and the troublemakers) and help you give the kids the best English education they can get.

What is a typical day like?2023-10-03T10:41:20-06:00

You’ll spend about a half day volunteering (up to 4 hours of direct interaction with the kids, plus preparation time, transportation, and clean up), Monday through Friday.

You may be volunteering in the morning and afternoon, or the afternoon and evening; the times are determined by your Local Coordinator so that they work best with the program there, but either way, you’ll have quite a bit of time outside of your volunteering hours. How you spend your free time has a big impact on your semester — living abroad should be spent out exploring, not spending hours watching Netflix, (even if that means waking up early to fit in some fun before you start teaching)!

Here’s one example of what your day could look like, if you want to make the most of things:

Wake up to FaceTime or video call with your family (you may be 2 hours ahead of them, or 12!) then you could go for a quick jog with your ILP group before eating breakfast at your apartment. Next, you’ll have some time to plan lessons before visiting a nearby cathedral or maybe try a new snack at the nearby market. Have lunch with your group and finalize some details that you’re planning for your upcoming vacation.

Next it’s a commute to school … you may walk, or take a bus, ride the metro or take a taxi. You’ll spend a few hours with your class  — you’re teaching kitchen today and the kids loved the idea of celery, peanut butter, and raisins as “ants on a log”, but not every lesson goes perfectly! After class, time to tidy up before commuting back to your apartment for dinner, prepping tomorrow’s lesson, and playing a few games with your ILP group before bed.

There will also be days where you want to stay inside instead of exploring, lessons don’t go according to plan, or you are homesick. Through it all, we highly encourage all volunteers to get out and make the most of your ILP experience each day because the experience really does go by quickly.

How old are most volunteers?2023-08-28T21:50:53-06:00

Typically, volunteers are 18 – 25 years old (our program is geared towards those who are college-age). Most ILP groups contain a pretty good age range of volunteers, but most volunteers tend to be 19-22 or so.

You must be at least 18 years old by the time the semester starts to participate, but you may apply earlier with the support of a guardian.

When will I find out my official country and group assignment?2024-05-28T14:48:38-06:00

When you apply, there are a few tasks to complete. First, you’ll submit the short online form, then you’ll receive instructions for the next steps which are things like submitting a couple of references, having a phone interview, and completing an online Orientation. Once your application is complete, our team will review your application and get back to you in about 3 business days.

After you are officially accepted, the next stage is getting your location assignment. During the online Orientation, we’ll explain an opportunity to “Expedite” your location assignment. Volunteers who choose Expediting find out about their assignment within about 1 week of completing Orientation, otherwise, you’ll hear from us in about a month (from the time you complete Orientation).

There are a limited number of volunteer spots in each country, so if those spots are all assigned out by the time you’re ready to receive your assignment, you’ll be added to a “lottery”. We do have spots that open up, so we utilize a lottery system to assign those newly available spots. During Orientation, you’ll have the opportunity to let us know which countries you’re interested in volunteering in and the more countries you’re open to, the more likely we’ll be able to get you an assignment in a timely fashion.

What is the housing like?2024-01-03T14:19:09-07:00

Volunteers live like the locals, in local neighborhoods — That may mean living in a Soviet-Era apartment in Poland or a tropical wooden cabin called “the Tree House” in Costa Rica.

In some of our Humanitarian locations, you’ll be living in a home that you might not consider nice, but it’s an obvious step up from the tin roofs and dirt floors of your neighbors. All ILP housing could be described as basic, complete with necessities like beds, chairs, tables and desks, along with running water, electricity, etc. ILP volunteers won’t be living in grass huts or living with dirt floors, but there will be some adjustments compared to comforts you may be used to growing up with. For example, most housing situations have fans instead of air conditioning, and has a washing machine, but not a dryer for your clothes. Living like the locals is one of the most influential ways to really immerse yourself in the culture of your country and makes up a big part of your ILP experience.

When should I apply?2024-05-28T14:31:13-06:00

We accept applications up to three semesters (1.5 years) in advance. Because we’re limited on how many volunteers we can send to each country, the earlier you’re able to apply, the more likely we’ll have spots available!

As we mentioned, each location has a limited number of volunteers based on factors like housing and the number of students who attend ILP classes there. Once those spots are assigned, we work off of a lottery system. We are always working to expand so that we can meet the demand of the number of volunteers who apply and want to go. It’s not uncommon to be in the lottery when you first apply (especially if you’re applying closer to the start of the semester), only to receive a spot a bit later.

Who should I use as my references?2022-05-03T13:21:39-06:00

As part of your application, you will provide two references (the application asks for their contact information — after that’s provided, we will email a short reference form that they can fill out and send back).

For your academic reference, you may choose any teacher who has given you a grade within the last two years, including high school teachers.

For the character reference, each situation is different. Typically, you choose a respected person who can attest to your good character with authority, who is not related to you. Religious leaders (bishop, pastor, preacher, etc), are a great option for this. However, managers, coaches, mentors, and others who have worked closely with you work as well.

Who plans my vacations?2023-09-12T12:10:36-06:00

You do! Once you arrive in-country, you’ll decide with your ILP group and Head Teacher where you want to visit. There may be some compromising so that everyone is happy with the travel destinations, but often it works out that you’re able to go to the places you’re hoping to. Your group will plan where you want to go (once it’s approved by a Program Manager), how to get there, where you’ll stay, and what you’ll do together. You can find plenty of vacation ideas and vacation planning tips on the ILP blog.

*The one unique exception to this is our India program, where volunteers will have their trips and excursions planned and accompanied by our in-country Tour Guide Team!

Where can I get ideas for my lessons?2023-09-12T12:13:38-06:00

ILP volunteers will be coming up with their own lessons if they are teaching Primary Levels. Pinterest is often your main source for kid-friendly ideas. We also have tons of resources to help you plan your lessons, including an entire blog post of ideas, plus more resources online once you’ve been accepted to the program. Get lesson ideas here.

If you’ll be teaching Elementary students, you’ll just need to follow the ILP curriculum; your lessons are planned for you in a few different textbooks and you’ll get instructions on how to follow the curriculum online.

What can I do in my free time?2022-05-05T14:12:34-06:00

We leave this up to you. We are not scheduling out your entire day, which gives you the opportunity to really take charge of your experience and decide what it will be.

We can’t encourage volunteers enough to just get out and explore — you may have the chance to attend some language and culture classes provided by your school, but you’re also welcome to work on the language yourself, go out with your ILP group to grab a treat downtown, head to the theater to see a ballet or concert, plan a picnic in the nearby park, visit the local pop-up market, do some shopping, take a hike to the mountains behind your school, etc. Each location will be unique, but in every city you’ll find there’s plenty to be explored. You’ll also need to spend your free time planning vacations and other adventures.

We recommend brainstorming and making a big long list of things you want to see, do, experience and eat during your semester abroad with your group (get help on the ILP blog!); that way, you’ll always have a list of ways to really get to know your country.

If I’ve already paid my entire program fee, can I still do fundraising?2022-06-09T08:29:06-06:00

Yes. We have quite a few volunteers who opt to receive the $100 discount for paying in full within 3 weeks of acceptance and then fundraise to “get paid back”. Once you’ve paid in full, we will refund you the money received from donations (up to the full program fee amount). This refund process typically happens just before your semester begins.

When are my vacation dates?2022-06-09T10:25:25-06:00

Vacation dates vary each semester but tend to closely follow local holidays. You won’t know your vacation dates until you get to your country, as they are arranged by your Local Coordinator and may change from semester to semester. When you arrive in-country, your Head Teacher and Local Coordinator will discuss vacation dates for that semester with the school. Once you know your dates, your ILP group can start planning your vacations.

Is there a guide around town?2022-05-05T14:23:28-06:00

Your Head Teacher and/or Local Coordinator can help orient you to your city once you arrive and help you find your way around. You may also make local friends who would love to spend time with you, and show you their city. Often though, the best way to explore your city is to simply wander around with your group members. Just walking around a new part of time can be quite the adventure — it’s not uncommon to discover new activities for your group to do throughout your semester while you wander.

Past volunteers who have lived in your city have recorded some of their favorite spots they’ve found and recommend you check out which can be invaluable for your group. Once you’ve officially been assigned to a school, you’ll have access to a whole website with specific recommendations (but we still encourage you to go exploring to find new spots past volunteers may have missed!).

Are there any discounts?2023-09-21T09:37:46-06:00

Yes, we have several discounts to help you make this experience even more affordable. Our available discounts tend to change, so talk to your ILP representative about which ones you may be eligible for.

What if I’ve never traveled before?2023-09-12T11:56:13-06:00

You’re likely not the only one! The Head Teacher in your group will have lived abroad with ILP previously, but we’ve seen a wide range of experiences when it comes to our first-time volunteers (some have traveled, others haven’t). Your semester abroad will be an adventure, whether or not you have experience outside of the country … plus, you have many people to support you.

We believe that this experience is a great way to travel for the first time because you can rely on your group and others associated with ILP instead of trying to go it alone. ILP has also put together many tips and resources to help prepare our volunteers — check a few of those on the ILP Blog.

Do I have to be a student to volunteer?2023-08-28T21:51:26-06:00

Nope! The majority of our volunteers are college students, but it’s absolutely not a requirement.

What is the best way to purchase things in a foreign country?2023-09-12T12:01:50-06:00

Cash always works, but credit or debit cards work very well too, especially Visa and MasterCard. Some countries accept cards at most restaurants, shopping stalls and eateries, while other countries operate better on cash — either way, you’ll want cash as well as a credit or debit card to pay for things directly and/or to get local currency out of an ATM. It’s often best to carry both cash and a card so you have options.

There is often a minimal foreign conversion fee each time you use your card. You may want to contact your financial institution to be aware of how much that fee is. There will probably also be an ATM fee associated every time you take out cash; comparing those fees may help you decide whether to pay for most things in cash or pay for more things with your card. You may want to consider opening up an account that offers no fees on foreign transactions to save a bit of cash.

Are my meals provided?2022-05-17T11:23:48-06:00

Yep — Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be provided to you by either your school, your host family, or via a stipend. Volunteers are responsible for purchasing any supplement foods like snacks, treats, going out to eat, or any items that you’d prefer to have in your diet in addition to what’s provided.

Meals are not provided during scheduled vacation days, which also include any weekends adjacent to those vacation days (most volunteers are traveling and eating out during these days anyways — it’s just something to be aware of if you decide to stay home instead of traveling).

Should I wait to apply until I know which country I want to go to?2024-05-28T14:52:50-06:00

Don’t wait to apply! Because we have a limited number of volunteer spots in each location, the earlier you apply, the more country options will be available to you.

After you submit the first part of your application (the online form), you’ll be put in touch with an ILP representative who is there to answer your questions and give you more information about each country you have your eye on. While ILP is the same no matter where you go, the experience varies a bit as each location and program is unique in various ways. We’ve actually found that many volunteers end up switching where they’d like to go anyway after talking to their rep and learning more about each program!

How do I pick the right country for me?2023-09-21T09:42:35-06:00

Each of our countries has very different cultures, climates, and traditions, but wherever you go, you will fall in love with the country, the kids, the activities, and make good friends with your ILP group. The best way to find out more about the countries you’d like to volunteer in is by talking to past ILP volunteers, doing your own online research, reading the ILP blog, and talking to someone who has been there — at any time, you’re welcome to call our office and talk to one our representatives! They’ve recently volunteered in different locations and can help answer your questions about what it’s like. We can help find a country that would be a good fit for you.

Get in touch with an ILP representative by scheduling a call here.

You can also compare the main differences between our locations here. We highly recommend keeping an open mind, as each country has its own unique experience.

Do I need to get vaccinations or antibiotics before I go?2023-10-03T09:57:10-06:00

Our policy on vaccines has always been to leave the decision up to you when we can, but some countries do require travelers to receive particular vaccinations (we have more info about this, below).

The Covid-19 vaccination is no longer required for ILP volunteers, but is recommended. We have more information on our Covid-19 page.

For volunteers headed to Uganda — There are certain immunizations required for all travelers entering Uganda. Please contact us if you’d like more information on the medical requirements for this country.

For these + all other immunizations you may choose to get, consult with your health care provider and what’s suggested by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Just keep in mind that the CDC often lists immunizations that are recommended for those living in rural areas; most ILP schools are located in larger cities or more developed areas, not rural areas.

 

Can I go to church services?2023-09-21T09:36:22-06:00

On the whole, yes. As a reminder, ILP is not affiliated with any religion, however, many of our volunteers are religious and would like to attend services.

Church services of many faiths are available in all ILP countries and cities. There are often many opportunities for members of various faiths to worship in local services — if finding a meetinghouse or service to attend regularly is important to you (ie: volunteering in a city that has easier access, versus a city that is a 2+ hour bus ride), feel free to talk to your ILP representative about finding a location that would be best.

In general, there are a number of ILP volunteers who are interested in attending services for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There is an option for members to attend church in every location, whether that be a local branch or ward.

Just to clarify, this is a common question because many of our participants are religious, but it is not a requirement to attend church or to be religious to volunteer with ILP.

What happens when I give you my name and number?2022-05-03T13:00:51-06:00

Don’t worry, you are not making any commitment when you leave this information. We will contact you within a few days to see if you have any questions or help you through the application process if you have chosen to apply. If you aren’t interested, we won’t bug you anymore.

What if I have special health needs?2022-06-09T08:56:21-06:00

If you have special physical, emotional, or mental health needs, you will need to consult with your doctor to learn if your needs can be met while living abroad. We’d be very happy to provide information that you might need to share with your doctor to help both of you make the best decision when it comes to volunteering with us. It is very important to us that all of our volunteers have an equal opportunity to have a great experience!

There may be individual circumstances where we believe that living abroad may not be the best situation for you and in those cases, ILP will invite you to either postpone your trip to a later date when things have changed or possibly not participate in our program (even if you have consent from your doctor). Over the years we have gained experience working with thousands of volunteers with unique health needs and want to do what we can to help set you up for success, whether that means living abroad or not.

Can my parents receive tax credit for paying on my program fee?2023-09-12T11:58:32-06:00

Yes. ILP is a non-profit organization, so donations made directly to International Language Programs are tax deductible (we’re an IRS-qualified 501(c)(3) organization; the program fee and other contributions are tax-deductible). When volunteers fundraise, many have had luck getting half of all program fees (or more) through generous donations.  Parents, relatives, and friends can all act as ILP program “sponsors” to help you make this semester abroad happen.

How do ILP classes work?2023-10-02T12:42:41-06:00

ILP volunteers follow a teaching method known as Duolingual Education; it’s a methodology developed by the late Dr. Trevor McKee, Ph.D., professor of Human Development and Psycholinguistics at Brigham Young University. ILP volunteers will use this teaching method in the classroom which helps the kids learn English similarly to how they learned their native language naturally as a young child: through fun activities and experiences, all conducted by a native speaker (that’s you!)

When teaching the younger kids (the Primary Level), classes are made up of around 8 students; they’ll attend ILP classes and complete activities in English. During this time, the students will rotate to different “lessons” (or content areas) taught by different teachers (each one lasting about 20-30 minutes). For Primary lessons, teachers won’t be teaching in a formal sense  — it’s more similar to a structured, fun party. In English, children will play games, sing songs, hear and act out stories all through activities which focus on students learning to speak English.

For more advanced classes with older students (Elementary level), teachers create lesson plans using things like textbooks, grammar strategies, etc as students focus more now on reading and writing, while also improving their speaking skills.

Is teaching hard? What if I’ve never taught before?2022-06-08T14:36:58-06:00

You don’t need any previous teaching experience to volunteer with us. And no one is expecting you to be the best teacher on the first day! Actually, our teaching method is quite different than traditional teaching methods, so it will be new for everyone on the first ILP semester (even if you happen to already have some teaching experience).

As a heads up, there is a learning curve to teaching — it’s not difficult, but it usually takes most volunteers a few weeks (or a month or so) before they feel more comfortable teaching.

The method is extremely effective, with most children becoming functionally fluent after about 500 hours (about one year) of classes. You may not notice your students improve with their English skills day-to-day, but know that you are still making an impact. It takes time to learn a new language. When you look back over the semester you’ll likely see how they’ve grown and you can feel proud that you’ve had a hand in that!

The majority of our volunteers will tell you that teaching is the most challenging but most rewarding part of the whole ILP experience. There will be difficult teaching days, but by the end of the semester, volunteers have a hard time saying goodbye to their students.

Can anyone volunteer?2023-08-28T21:47:56-06:00

While we would love to send everyone who wants to serve, right now we are working with native English speakers, from the U.S. and Canada.

ILP volunteers are typically between the ages of 18 – 25. It is open to married couples, but not a great fit for those with children.

Do you have any shorter trips?2024-05-28T14:23:35-06:00

No, all of our trips are 3-4 months. We want this to truly be a life-changing experience for you and believe that a full semester abroad is needed to accomplish that. A trip that is 1-2 weeks would be really fun, but in our opinion, it’s just not the same experience as living abroad for a few months! Also, you’ll be teaching children while volunteering with our program and we’ve found that there’s a bit of a learning curve to teaching with our methodology. Time spent with the kids is much more effective and impactful for them when you’re there for more than a few weeks.

Can I take online classes if I’m in school?2023-09-21T09:36:00-06:00

It’s not recommended, but it is an option for you.

Taking a class can be a productive way to fill your free time (most people are actually surprised by how much free time they really have), but it also means missing out on some of your ILP experience — like studying or doing homework while your group is out exploring. If you do decide to take an online class during your semester, it’s recommended that you’re mindful of the type of class and the credit load.

You’ll also need to be aware that WiFi (in general) tends to be less reliant and slower than you’re used to in America. Because of this, it’s best to take classes where you can work ahead or have a flexible professor so that you’re not caught in a scenario where the internet temporarily goes out the evening your paper is due. You may want to talk to your ILP representative about locations that have better connection than others if you’ll be taking an online class.

We have more in-depth info about this question, here.

Can married couples go?2023-09-21T09:43:53-06:00

Yes, yes, and yes! They add tons to the chemistry of the ILP group and often become sort of a big brother and big sister to the group.

Currently, a few of our locations do not have housing to accommodate a couple (however, the majority do). These locations change according to the semester and have a few stipulations so it’s best to talk to your ILP representative about which current spots are a good fit for you and your spouse. This blog post also goes into detail about locations where we can typically work with married couples.

Our program is not a good fit for married couples with children.

Is my housing and meals included?2022-05-17T10:43:48-06:00

Yes, it is!

Housing is arranged for you and is covered by your program fee. Depending on which country and city you’re volunteering in, you will live with a host family, in a dorm at the school, or in apartments with your ILP group.

Three meals per day are also covered by your program fee. You’ll be eating what the locals are eating, which helps volunteers get a front-row seat to the local culture. You may be eating at the school cafeteria, your host family may cook for you, or you might receive a stipend for groceries so you can prepare your own meals. It all depends on what works best for where you are volunteering. On vacation days and weekends adjacent to vacation days, volunteers are responsible for their own meals which typically means trying new foods and restaurants in the city’s you’re exploring on your vacation.

Can I drink the water?2022-05-17T11:39:15-06:00

Not in most countries. If you cannot drink the tap water in your country, you will have purified water available at your home. We suggest packing up a metal water bottle that you can easily refill from these purified water filters to take with you to school and to use during the day. You can also purchase bottled water at any convenience store. Some volunteers have preferred to travel with a purifier instead of relying on bottled water or purified water at their ILP house or apartment.

In countries where it’s particularly important to avoid the tap water, avoid drinking liquids with ice in them at restaurants (unless you know the water to make the ice is purified), or eating fruits washed with a questionable water source. If you’re not sure, eat fruits that have a thick peel (bananas, pineapple, etc) instead of ones you bite directly into (like apples).

 

What happens if I get sick while I’m abroad?2022-12-22T07:49:46-07:00

If you get sick on your semester, your Head Teacher and Local Coordinator will help make sure you are cared for and can accompany you to get medical care and provide support if needed. For straightforward injuries (such as a broken leg) and minor illnesses, local medical clinics are readily available. If hospital care is required, you will receive assistance from your Head Teacher and your Local Coordinator to get to quality facilities to care for those needs.

If you or your family prefers that you return to America for medical assistance, your Head Teacher will help you make those arrangements. Any associated travel costs for medical care will be your responsibility. Please note that this isn’t always an option: there are situations where you will need to be treated in-country.

We do require that volunteers have health insurance that meets certain requirements while living abroad. If you do not already have health insurance that will cover you internationally, we can recommend plans past volunteers have used that meet our requirements (these plans may also include other things you’d like covered during your time abroad). This is an additional cost you should budget for. Most plans that meet these requirements are $100-$250 for your semester, depending on your coverage and the policy.

How many students are in each class?2022-06-08T15:44:09-06:00

In the kindergarten classes, there are usually up to 8 children per class, in Basic Reading there are 10-12, and in Follow-Up, a maximum of 15.  Keeping class sizes smaller is an important and unique aspect of our program. You may find as you look around that other volunteer teaching programs place you with classes that are upwards of 30-50 students (sometimes even more); We find incredible value in enabling you to work more 1-1 with each of your students.

How can I exercise?2022-05-05T14:25:55-06:00

Your school may have a track or gym that you can use, but if not, look for a nearby park with a running path or grab your ILP group and go for a run in your neighborhood. There could be a neighborhood gym you could get a membership for. If none of these options are available, you can look online to find workout videos. Past groups have also hosted a a yoga or Zumba night with their ILP group.

Once you’ve been assigned to a country and school, you’ll be able to ask the ILP Facebook group for your country and see how past volunteers exercised at their school. On your City Page (a website you’ll have access to once you’re officially assigned to a school), there is a section about working out and resources explained in more detail.

You may need to get creative with what you have available, but every semester, volunteers find ways to stay active.

Is traveling on vacation expensive?2023-09-21T09:44:46-06:00

We know travel is a huge part of your experience abroad and often ends up being most of your personal spending budget.  But since you and your ILP group are planning where to go, where to stay, and how to get there, you can have some control of how much you’ll spend.

How much you spend on vacation will vary — flying is going to be more expensive than taking trains or buses, certain countries are going to be more expensive than others, etc. Volunteers who have managed their money well on other things (like eating out and buying souvenirs) were able to attend all trips during vacation time with a $1,500ish budget while a few others who opted for more expensive experiences have reported spending closer to $5,000 throughout the semester.

Just remember: how much you spend abroad is completely up to you. We have had volunteers get by on less, and have had volunteers who have spent more than double that amount.

If you cannot afford to travel, you are welcome to stay in your city during vacation times. Certain ILP countries do require that you leave the country at some point to abide by visa rules, so if you’re planning to not travel, please let your representative know so that you can be placed in the right country for you.

Are the lessons already planned for me?2023-10-02T12:45:52-06:00

No, ILP volunteers create and plan out their activities.

You’ll spend about a half day volunteering (up to 4 hours of direct interaction with the kids, plus preparation time, transportation, and clean up). You may need a little more time at the beginning of this semester while you’re getting used to the process, and a little less time at the end of the semester after you’ve developed good habits. You will plan lessons one week in advance to be reviewed by your Head Teacher.

In advanced English classes (which are held in certain locations) there are lessons already prepared and you’ll just need to follow the curriculum, but you’ll still take time to go over what needs to be taught and be prepared to fill the class time.

In the Romania Orphanage Program, you will not spend time outside of volunteering planning lessons like the teachers do. Instead, you will create goals for the children to help them progress and work on those skills as you play and spend time with them. For example, if the goal for one child was to learn to share, you might work on passing a toy truck back and forth that day as you play together on the floor. There is much less preparation time needed here.

How many hours a week will I be volunteering?2023-10-02T12:46:58-06:00

You’ll spend about a half day volunteering (up to 4 hours of direct interaction with the kids, plus preparation time, transportation, and clean up). Depending on the location, you may volunteer in the morning or afternoon/evening. Volunteering is Monday – Friday, with Saturday and Sundays off.

Will there be WiFi?2023-09-21T09:35:28-06:00

In every country, you’ll have access to the internet either at home or at your school. Keep in mind that the internet will probably run a little (or a lot) slower than you are used to. In certain locations, you may run into a very slow connection or periods where the WiFi cuts out completely for a time.

If you are dependent on having a better WiFi connection for something like an online class that you’re taking, talk to your ILP representative. We can help direct you to locations that tend to have a more reliable connection.

Does ILP keep in touch while I’m abroad?2024-01-03T15:22:47-07:00

Yes! You may not see it, but a lot is going on to support you behind the scenes. Each semester has unique and unexpected challenges, so we have years of experience figuring out how to handle what may come up during your trip. We stay involved from start to finish.

Each in-country volunteer has access to our 24/7 stateside Support Team. We’re here to answer both the day-to-day questions and offer support when urgent situations come up. What if your flight gets delayed? Or you get sick on vacation and aren’t sure what to do? Just text or call the Support Team! We will have frequently scheduled calls with your Head Teacher to go over the various needs of the group, but we’re also available if you need to reach out directly.

We aim to have someone from our team come visit in person once during your semester, about halfway through the trip. Additionally, our office is also in contact with your local leaders, when needed. Things are handled on a case-by-case basis but don’t hesitate to reach out to your Support Team during the trip if you have questions or concerns.

Do I need an international phone plan? How can I get one?2023-08-28T22:01:24-06:00

It’s not required, but is strongly recommended. Many apps like FaceTime and Google Hangouts are free to use so you can message and call home whenever you’re connected, but you might want a data plan so you don’t have to rely on the internet to stay in touch. It’s pretty helpful to be able to use Google Maps on vacations so you can get around or check in at home whenever you’d like. Plus, parents tend to like knowing that you’re always in reach, even when you’re away from your home.

International phone plans are becoming more common and are a popular option for travelers. First, talk to your current provider and ask what their international plan consists of. If you’re lucky, you might already have international coverage at a pretty affordable rate.

If you can’t get a good deal on an international data plan with your current provider, know that many volunteers have had luck purchasing data cards from local shops in their country. This is typically a cheaper option than adding on to your current phone plan. We have detailed instructions on getting a local data plan once you’re officially assigned to a city and country.

How old are the kids I’m working with?2023-10-02T12:41:57-06:00

Plan on teaching children of all ages! The ILP program includes levels that start at 3 or 4, and go up to teach children who are about 15 years old.

The kindergarten level includes children who are 4-6; at this age, they become functionally fluent speakers through organized play. At age 7, students enter our Basic Reading program where they learn to read English. At age 8, they begin our Follow-Up Elementary program, which is more of a traditional classroom setting. Kids in this program can be as old as 15 or so. Certain schools focus on select age groups (only hosting ILP classes for younger students) while others teach classes to all age groups.

At the orphanage program in Romania, the children can range from young infants up to 18 years old.

Can I get school credit for this?2023-08-28T21:45:37-06:00

Since ILP is not affiliated with any university, you must arrange all credits directly with your university. Most universities encourage a semester taking classes off-campus whether that’s through online classes or through other methods. We suggest working with your university’s Internship Coordinator to see if an ILP semester would qualify. You can often also work with your academic or department advisor to discuss adapting your ILP service as an internship or to fulfill credit requirements. Some volunteers even take a few online classes during their semester abroad.

If you go that route,  don’t overdo it … The beauty of ILP is that it is not a study abroad, but a service abroad, which is a very hands-on experience. Generally taking more than about 6 credits can be a lot of work to complete while you are abroad. You will only be teaching half of your day, but there are so many things to experience that you probably won’t want to use all of your free time abroad doing coursework in your apartment.

If you need to take credits in order to volunteer with us  (for academic, family, or other reasons) we support you doing so! Just remember that credit cost to your university is in addition to the ILP program fee. Since credits are arranged directly with the university, payment for them needs to be made directly to them.

What if I don’t have a passport?2023-09-12T11:53:59-06:00

A passport is required for any travel outside of the U.S. and Canada, but you don’t need one to start your application. Getting a passport isn’t difficult, but it does take time (or can be rushed if you’re applying late). After you’re accepted into the program, getting one will be one of the next steps. It feels pretty rad to have a passport, so welcome to the club!

If you’re ready to get yours, start by visiting the website for the US Department of State and follow the steps to apply for your first passport. Just as a heads up, you will need to apply in person and provide proof of citizenship, proof of identity, and bring along 2 passport photos which can be obtained at places like Walgreens, Sam’s Club, as well as certain US Post Offices. We have a blog post about other locations to get passport pictures for the lowest price.

Are the children I’m working with poor?2023-09-21T09:28:13-06:00

ILP has two main volunteer programs: Exchange and Humanitarian (plus a Hybrid Program that combines elements from both).

In the Exchange Program, volunteers are teaching students who primarily come from middle to upper socioeconomic classes. To keep costs low for you, host schools subsidize some of the expenses through tuition. In this sense, it is truly an exchange. This is also the situation for a portion of the kids you teach in Hybrid Programs.

In the Humanitarian Program, the children come from extremely limited means. Many families come from underprivileged circumstances and some of the children live in an orphanage. The ability to speak English is an incredibly valuable skill to set the stage for a successful future for any child, and this is especially true in touristic areas. The education you give in these programs is free for the children and their families who are unable to help subsidize your costs. This is also the situation for a portion of the kids you teach in Hybrid Programs.

Our goal has always been to open doors for children by teaching them English — but what we didn’t realize is that learning this language would only be the “tip of the iceberg” — these kids truly benefit from their relationships with our volunteers. ILP volunteers are there to teach, but are also there to act as a positive role model and a friend to these kids.

How will the political and economic situation affect me?2022-06-09T09:16:59-06:00

In each of our ILP countries, the political situation is currently friendly towards the US and Canada (we have found that service to children is an international common denominator that can help smooth over any prejudices).

The economic situation is challenging but improving in all of the ILP countries. Each location and semester has a unique housing setup that will work best for that city (sometimes you live with a host family, other times in a dorm or apartment) and it is arranged by the Local Coordinator. Volunteers typically live in housing that is similar to housing that middle-class locals may live in. You likely won’t have all the comforts you’re used to at home, but ILP works with Local Coordinators to ensure that your basic housing needs are met such as a bed, clean water, etc. It’s an adventure living abroad!

Can I apply before I’m 18?2022-05-03T13:14:49-06:00

Yes. ILP Volunteers must be at least 18 before they leave for their ILP semester; you’re welcome to apply 1.5 years in advance (so when you are 16 or 17) if you’ll be 18 before you’d leave to go abroad. You must have a legal guardian who is able to sign the agreement in your behalf until you are a legal adult (then, when you turn 18, you will sign the agreement for yourself).

How often will I see my group outside of teaching?2022-05-05T14:19:23-06:00

You’ll see them every day — one of the most important parts of your semester abroad is the friends you’ll make with your ILP group. If you’ll be living with a host family, you’ll be getting together with your ILP group to explore your city or check out a new restaurant together (when you’re not spending time with your host family).  If you’ll be living with your ILP group, you’ll be spending most of your free time together.

What happens when I apply? When will I know if I’m accepted?2024-05-28T16:23:39-06:00

When you apply, an ILP representative (who has been a volunteer with us before and now works in our office) will contact you to help you complete the next steps of your application and talk over the basics of our program. They are also there to help answer any of your questions before you fully commit.

Once your application is complete, our review team will consider your application and get back to you in about 3 business days.

What if my local leaders aren’t helping me?2024-01-03T15:28:49-07:00

We do our best to choose both Head Teachers and Local Coordinators who will follow the standard that we ask of them, but if for some reason you don’t feel like they are meeting your needs, don’t worry. You’ll have the contact information of your Support Rep (who works directly with your group) and the ILP Directors to help you with any issues that may arrive once you’re in-country.

The ILP Directors also give you their personal emails and cell phone numbers so they can be reached at any time. You can call them at any point, even in the middle of the night. Hopefully, you’re only calling then if it’s an emergency, but know that you have that option available! In a nutshell, you have many resources to reach out to if you feel like one support system isn’t working.

When will I find out the training dates?2023-09-12T12:13:05-06:00

Before you leave to volunteer, there’s a mandatory training you’ll need to attend in Orem, Utah. Training is held usually 2-3 months prior to when your semester starts (there’s typically 3-4 training sessions held for teachers so that you can choose one that works best with your schedule). For Romania volunteers, 1 training session is held. We do our best to get this date to you as soon as possible so you can fit it into your schedule.

You can find the dates for training on my.ilp.org — you’ll have access to this site once you’ve been accepted as an ILP volunteer and after you register an account name and password. As a reminder for accepted ILP volunteers, you can get the walk through on how to access my.ilp.org in your acceptance email. Feel free to reach out if you can’t find that email, or need a reminder.

If you cannot arrange to attend an in-person training, please talk to us about your options! We’re happy to help arrange another way for you to receive your ILP training before departure.

Has anyone in my group already taught before?2022-05-17T12:55:53-06:00

While most first-time volunteers have no experience teaching prior to their ILP semester, yes, there will be at least one person (your Head Teacher) who has taught with ILP before.

Head Teachers are volunteer peer supervisors that have at least one semester of ILP  teaching experience. Your ILP Head Teacher works with your ILP group — they are there to help lead the group, conduct teaching trainings, and give suggestions for working with the children. They also work with the Local Coordinators and school to help keep things running smoothly. You may also have alumni in your group who are returning to teach for the second or third time.

It’s also good to remember that most locations are familiar with the ILP program. Children who have been in ILP classes for a few semesters typically know what to expect (though they do like to bend the rules to make sure you’re paying attention!). But even if you’re the first semester in a brand new location, you will have a Head Teacher there who’s familiar with the ILP method to help you.

Where can I go on vacation?2024-01-03T15:35:11-07:00

That’s up to you! There are so many options to consider, as long as travel rules are being followed — you’ll need to vacation with at least 3-4 people from your group, and will need to have your travel plans approved by a Program Manager, etc. This isn’t a complete list below, but will give you an idea of where you can go during your semester:

  • Europe Volunteers – Travel within the European Union and other approved countries.
  • Thailand Volunteers – You have lots of places to explore in Thailand, but you can also travel to neighboring countries like Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
  • India Volunteers — Soak up all the sites India has to offer (which is a lot)! You also have the option to visit other countries like Nepal, or even Thailand if you’d like — but really, there is more than enough to keep you busy in-country.
  • Mexico Volunteers – Vacation inside Mexico or head to nearby ILP countries like Nicaragua or Costa Rica.  Most volunteers opt to stay within the country though because there are more than enough destinations in Mexico!
  • Dominican Republic Volunteers – There are plenty of places to travel to within the D.R., but volunteers can also hop over to most of the surrounding Caribbean Islands.
  • Nicaragua and Costa Rica Volunteers – Vacation in these two ILP countries or head to approved countries like Panama, Mexico, and even Peru.
  • Peru Volunteers — There is so much to see in Peru, but there are a number of destinations that are approved if you’d like to visit another country. Costa Rica and Nicaragua are popular options, or you can visit places in Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil (Patagonia is a dream!).
  • Africa Volunteers – There is plenty to see and do within Uganda during your semester, but you may also travel to approved countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and more!
  • Vanuatu Volunteers – We love all the things to do on your own island of Efate, but you’re welcome to island-hop within Vanuatu (Check out Santo or Tanna). You can also visit Fiji, Australia, and New Caledonia. So fun!
Do I need to pay everything right away?2024-05-28T16:56:46-06:00

Nope. Your first payment towards your program fee, Payment 1, ($500) is due with your application. And Payment 2 ($1,000) is due 30 days from the time you are officially assigned to a location. Payment 3, the remaining balance, is due about 2-3 months prior to departure.

There are several options for taking care of those payments, and we’ll talk you through everything so that you can make the best choice for your situation. First, we have a few options for payment plans. It might work better for you to make monthly payments leading up to departure (essentially the earlier you start, the smaller your monthly payments are), or even go now and pay your program fee after your semester by working with Affirm.

If you would like to pay your program fee right away, there is a $50 discount (for paying in full within 3 weeks of your acceptance).

We really want to do what we can to help make this realistic for you. If you can’t make payments until you start a summer job, we can help you pick a payment plan that matches up with your paychecks when your job begins. While there are some specific payment deadlines (like when your flight needs to be purchased), our payment plans are set up to help keep you on track — but we are here to be flexible. Just let us know what’s going on and we can do our best to work with your situation.

Can I volunteer with my friend?2023-08-28T21:41:50-06:00

We love when friends go together. When you apply, there is a section where you can let us know if you have any friends who you would like to be in your ILP group.

We often have discounts for referring friends as well. Give us a call or talk to your ILP representative to see what our current referral discounts are.

What should I wear while I’m volunteering?2022-06-08T14:59:59-06:00

When you are teaching, you should be neat, clean and modest. In general, as long as your shoulders are covered (and all skirts/dresses go past your knees), you’re in good shape. In most schools, nice jeans (no holes) and a nice shirt (t-shirts with no logos) are fine.

However each location is slightly unique depending on the host program’s preferences. In a few countries, the schools require that female volunteers wear dresses or skirts. In our Romania orphanage program, volunteers will need to wear medical scrubs. You will be getting more specific ideas on what you can wear while teaching at the Pre-Departure Training and the details when you’re officially assigned to a location.

We also have programs where modesty (while teaching or not) is extremely important the culture where you are volunteering. In those locations, you’re asked to wear flowy clothing that covers your shoulders and goes past your knees and be mindful of covering up when you’re exploring, just walking around town, swimming, hiking, etc. Being respectful of the culture is an enormous part of your ILP experience, and a huge part of that is dressing modestly, particularly in certain locations. If you think this may be an issue for you, please contact the ILP office about your semester preferences to see which countries would be the best fit for you. 

What are weekends like?2022-05-05T14:14:03-06:00

On the weekends, you’ll have even more free time —  there is no volunteering hours scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. Some groups leave to explore a nearby city (or even a new country, depending on where you’re located). You can also spend the full day adventuring in your home city, like a little stay-cation. Take a train out to the edge of town, spend all morning at a museum, or take a full-day hike to a nearby volcano, beach, or castle.

What is the food like?2024-01-03T15:05:26-07:00

You’ll be eating like the locals, so what foods you’ll be eating depends on which country you’ll call home. Here are some general characteristics of typical meals found in these parts of the world:

Eastern Europe: Plan on lots of meals served with bread, soup, and your favorite root vegetables. Common foods are potatoes, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, chicken and other proteins, lots of bread, and several types of soups. Tea is also very popular.

Asia: Common foods are rice, chicken, pork, fish, seafood, vegetables, local fruits, curries, stir fries, and soups. Oh, and rice is a staple here — plan on it being served at every meal. In some locations, you’ll have flatbreads and rice, served with curries filled with lots of protein-rich veggies like lentils, chickpeas, and beans.

Latin America: Meals here often consist of rice and beans, fried plantains, corn tortillas, and meat like chicken or beef. Even for meals like breakfast, you’ll typically find a scoop of rice and beans.  You’ll also run into fresh fruits like pineapple and papaya, and lots of fresh juice.

The Caribbean: You’ll find lots of beans, rice, pasta, tortillas, chicken, pancakes, bread, fried plantains, fruit and basic staples in the Dominican Republic. Plan on running into fruits you know from home (like bananas) and others you might not recognize (like sugar apples).

Africa: Many local dishes include staples like rice, beans, pasta, plantains, pork, and fresh fruit like bananas and jackfruit.

South Pacific: You’ll have lots of fresh fruits and veggies (avocado, pineapple, raspberries, coconut, papaya, cucumber, tomato, etc) that are grown locally. Yams and other root veggies are popular, served with rice, eggs, and some proteins like chicken/beef/fish. Lots of dishes are made with coconut milk.

Even though meals are provided, ILP volunteers are responsible for purchasing things like snacks, ice cream and other additional items you may prefer. If you incorporate a lot of fruit and fresh veggies in your diet and you’re headed to a country that doesn’t eat a lot of fresh produce, it would be a good idea to add a bit into your budget to shop at a local market for that.

What’s the difference between Exchange and Humanitarian Programs?2023-09-21T09:30:19-06:00

ILP has two main volunteer programs: Exchange and Humanitarian (plus a Hybrid Program that combines elements from both). You can compare the programs and their fees here but in either program, your program fee covers the same things.

In our Exchange Programs, the service that you give is subsidized by the host school and your student’s family. These students come from a wide variety of backgrounds (typically middle to upper class) and are able to contribute to help fund the education you’re providing. This helps keep your costs low.

In our Humanitarian Programs, the students and children you serve generally come from extremely limited means. Many are in situations where getting their basic needs such as food and housing is a daily concern. Some of the children live in an orphanage. The volunteer work you provide them is a gift – free of charge – as their families and caretakers could not otherwise afford an education like this. This means that your program fee will be higher than the Exchange programs.

Our Hybrid Programs are just that — a combination of the Humanitarian and Exchange programs. In these programs, you’ll be teaching children from both backgrounds: those who come from more affluent backgrounds (and are able to help subsidize the program cost) and those who come from limited means. It’s a unique way to keep the overall cost of the program down while helping as many children as possible.

Discover how unique each of our Humanitarian and Hybrid Programs are (and choose which one is right for you) here.

Will I teach by myself?2022-06-08T15:56:21-06:00

You will be teaching alone, but in rare cases you may team-teach. It’s natural if you feel nervous about this at first, but you will be surprised how comfortable you become leading an activity (it’s one of the skills we hope your ILP semester abroad will teach you!). Remember, the groups are small and your students are excited to be there – even if they’re too cool to show it.

Can I still volunteer with ILP and not teach English?2023-09-12T12:15:19-06:00

Helping children learn English is the main focus of our program, but you can also volunteer in our Orphanage program in Romania.  Instead of teaching, volunteers in Romania are there to help these children develop, meet goals for physical growth, and help them adjust to a family-like setting before entering foster care.

Get more information about our Romania program here.

Apart from our Romania location, every ILP participant is there to teach English (and in Romania, are there to help with our Orphanage program). We are unable to send volunteers who will not be helping — when it comes to married couples, both spouses will need to participate in the ILP program, whether they are a Head Teacher or a volunteer. It isn’t an option for one spouse to work remotely or attend online school while the other participates in the ILP program.

Do I have to be religious to volunteer?2023-08-28T21:52:12-06:00

Nope! ILP is not affiliated with any religion.

We do our best to support our volunteers who wish to practice their individual faiths while living abroad and understand that this can be an important part of your experience.

You may notice some info regarding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — we are not affiliated with this religion (or any other religion), however many of our volunteers are members of this faith and have requested information about church access, etc.

Can I stay longer and travel after my semester is over?2023-09-21T09:35:16-06:00

Volunteers can travel after their ILP semester if they would like but there will be some extra costs associated. Your ILP program fee includes roundtrip airfare to your ILP country during the dates of your semester. If you’d like to change those dates (to come home later) or change your airports (so you can leave to go home from another country), you’ll need to pay the cost of those changes (given by the airline and/or travel agency) or in some cases, will need to purchase a new flight home.

If you’re interested in traveling after your ILP semester, feel free to contact your ILP representative to discuss what those costs might look like.

What extra expenses should I plan for?2023-09-21T09:39:21-06:00

While your program fee includes quite a lot, you will need to budget for extra expenses like a passport, travel insurance which meets certain requirements, medical exams, ID photos, immunizations (if desired/required), teaching materials/supplies (if not donated), airline luggage fees, and transportation costs to travel to training in Orem, Utah.

When it comes to spending money in-country, we recommend that volunteers budget around $1,500-$2,500+ to cover any in-country costs during the semester such as travel expenses during vacation days, weekend excursions, eating out with their group on vacation days, souvenir shopping, tickets to local museums, etc.

How much you spend during your semester is really up to you. Your personal spending habits (plus where you are volunteering) may mean planning trips and activities with a different budget than others in your group. You can certainly get by on less, but you may miss some unique opportunities to travel outside of your assigned city or country, and will need to watch your spending when it comes to snacks and souvenirs.

If you’re looking for a more affordable semester, your ILP representative can help you choose a country that has a lower cost of living, where things like traveling, accommodations, and activities tend to be less expensive than another country or region.

What happens in case of an emergency?2022-06-09T09:39:14-06:00

The majority of Head Teacher training focuses on how to handle emergencies. Local Coordinators work together with the Head Teacher to solve medical, political, host family, and safety problems. The Head Teacher is also regularly in direct contact with the ILP Directors and Program Managers who make themselves available at all times. All volunteers and parents will have access to the personal cell phone numbers of our Directors.

Along with these resources, ILP uses several safety benchmarks to help ensure safety in an emergency situation. We often look to other organizations such as the U.S. State Department, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and their worldwide missionary program, and other international programs and universities such as BYU that have participants in the same locations we do and take into account any safety measures that they make.

We do require that volunteers have health insurance while living abroad. If you do not already have health insurance that will cover you internationally, we can recommend plans past volunteers have used that meet our requirements (these plans may also include other things you’d like covered during your time abroad).

1.  Apply Online

It’s easy to get started, just submit your online application for the semester you’d like to go! It’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out yet (there’s time to make changes).

2. Talk To Your Rep

We’ll reach out and support you with every step of the process, answer your questions, and help you decide which program + location is the best fit for you.

3. Receive Your Assignment

Things are getting official! Find out where you’re going — start learning more about your country and dream up your can’t-miss-adventures with tips from the ILP Blog.

4. Get Ready To Go

We’ll help you prepare for departure with everything from tips and training to getting your flight and visa. And start getting to know your new friends in your volunteer group!