International Language Programs takes care of all your arrangements for housing, food, airfare, visa, local support, training, peers with standards like yours, opportunities for meaningful service, and everything you need to have an amazing experience living abroad. We’ll even help with things that aren’t officially part of the program like packing tips, how to get great deals, where the can’t miss vacation spots are, and how to pay less (or even go for free!). We even send someone with your group who is experienced and can help work out any “turbulence” that comes up. If you’re wondering about international volunteering but need some help figuring out how it will all work, we’re here to help set things up for your adventure.
Everyone’s experience volunteering with kids is unique, but each location has the same key elements of a classic ILP adventure.
Your housing is arranged for you. Depending on the location you may live with other volunteers in an apartment or dorm, or you may live with a local host family. Everyone has agreed to live by the ILP Code of Conduct, so no awkward situations.
Three meals per day are provided, usually at your school cafeteria, at your host family’s home, or sometimes you’ll receive a stipend to shop at your local grocery store; it just depends on where you live. Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and learn how to make empanadas, creamy soups in Russia, or tacos and papaya in Mexico.
ACTIVITIES + EXPLORING
We protect your time so that you can fully experience the culture and the country you’re living in. You only volunteer 20 hours per week, so take advantage of your free time to explore your city. A couple of times a week you may also participate in activities arranged for volunteers like language and culture classes. Practice your Russian or learn how to make tortillas!
Do fun, play based activities with local kids for a half a day. We train you before you go and send a “coach” to help give you support throughout the semester. Most volunteers say that even if their biggest motivation for going abroad was to travel, in the end their kids were their favorite part.
Applying + Getting Accepted
1 — Discover ILP. Find out about our program from our website, at your school, or if you’re like most people you have friends who volunteered with ILP (or maybe your parents did … yep, we’ve been around that long).
2 — Learn more. Your ILP representative (someone who has volunteered recently and now works in our ILP office) can tell you about their experience, what volunteering with kids is like, and answer all your questions.
3 — Apply. Start your application by filling out a quick form online. Your rep will continue to walk you through the process and answer questions. We accept volunteers from the US, as well as some international volunteers depending on some qualifications.
4 — Get accepted. After submitting your application, you’ll receive an e-mail from ILP (usually within 2-4 weeks). We want to make sure that ILP is the right fit for you, especially considering our Code of Conduct, and that it will be a good experience that you’ll be able to safely complete.
Getting Ready For Departure
5 — Orientation. Your rep will walk you through everything we need to get things rolling and get you ready to live abroad like how to get a passport, which airport you’re flying from, travel insurance, international phone plans, etc. It’s a really helpful touch we love about our volunteer overseas programs — you have someone to help you every step of the way.
6 — Your country assignment. After your Orientation is completed, you’ll receive your ILP city and group assignment. Now you can find out more details about exactly where you’ll be, get in touch with your group members, and start getting ready.
7 — Training. Pick a weekend that works with your schedule and join us for Pre-Departure training. Here you’ll get an introduction to how ILP classes work, get tips about traveling smart, and learn more about the culture of your country + get packing tips. You’ll likely even get to meet some of your group members as you learn how volunteering to teach English works with ILP.
8 — Departure. If you’re like us, you’ll probably have those first day jitters on departure day! Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered : ILP purchased your flight, got your visa, and made all the arrangements for when you land. Just head to the airport, meet your group, and get excited for your adventure.
Your Time Abroad
9 — Arriving in country. You and your ILP group will be met at the airport by a representative of your host school; just look for a smiley person holding an ILP sign. We’ve got your pickup arranged so that you don’t have to worry about a thing when you arrive. Then you’ll head to your new home, or in some cases start your first vacation!
10 — Getting oriented. During the first few days you’ll get to know your group, learn how to get around your city, find out what your route to school is, try some local food and of course go sight seeing! There’s a lot of new things to get used to, but you have resources like your Head Teacher and Local Coordinator to help.
11 — In-country training. Before the first day of classes, your Head Teacher will hold several meetings to help you and your group get ready. You’ll see your classroom, walk through the routine, and get help planning your first week of lessons. Throughout the semester they will continue to hold weekly workshops to help you progress as a teacher so that you feel confident and successful.
12 — Vacations. In each of our volunteering programs, you’ll have every Saturday and Sunday off plus about two weeks spread throughout the semester for vacation to travel around. Volunteering in Thailand? Spend the weekend wandering ruins and glass temples in the mountain. Volunteering in Central America? Try snorkeling in the bluest of Caribbean waters, jumping in waterfalls, or release baby sea turtles off the Mexican coast. In Europe you might be strolling down cobblestone streets, eating every flavor of gelato, and taking photos of castles. Here’s where you get to live that bucket-list.
13 — Growth. Learn more than you ever expected. Step out of your comfort zone and try new things; we constantly hear volunteers saying that the biggest thing they gained during their semester with ILP was confidence! You’ll have plenty of free time since you’re only volunteering part time, so bring a journal, take some online classes, or spend more time immersing in the local culture.
14 — Coming home. Get back into life or school with a new perspective on the world, a better understanding of who you are, and a lot of new friends. You’re now one of those people that actually did that amazing adventure. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your kids from your trip; sorry you can’t take them home … even if they do fit in your suitcase. Oh and get ready for reunions with your ILP group because you’ll have a hard time living without them now.
15 — Go again. Here’s another perk not offered by other volunteer abroad programs — you can go on ILP again for free. We are always looking for alumni who did a great job and want to go again as the leader of a the group. Share your ILP experience with a new group. Go as many times as you can and to as many countries as you can because as a head teacher you’ll go for free (or mostly for free in Humanitarian programs)!