Joined: 05 Nov 2012
|Posted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:17 pm Post subject: English Opens Doors: An Honest Review
|I feel like this program, from within and without, gets bad press and wanted to give an honest appraisal.
Before I say anything, it must be said that experiences of this program have been diverse, not everyone has loved it as much as the inspiring EOD trainers, nor does everyone hate it as much as those who slate it online.
From my experience, it is advisable that not only has one lived abroad prior to enrolling in this program, but that they can speak, at the very, very least, basic conversational Spanish. We are sent to public/semi-public schools where English is generally pretty poor. I speak Spanish, but honestly canít imagine that it can be done without even a low level of Spanish. They will tell you in the orientation week in Santiago that it can be done solely in English, but in the time slot of 45 minutes which is the suggested teaching plan, it takes a long time. Although they ask, the program seems to take on any old Tom, Dick or Harry, as unpaid teaching volunteers are few and far between but this, in my opinion in a mistake. Its far more beneficial for the students that they have volunteers who care and are competent, than volunteers who leave half way the 6 months.
From what I have heard, the regional representative from my region was the worst of all the regions. She was unreliable, unprofessional, and just generally unconcerned about the program or the volunteers. I know not all are as bad as she was, but if you don't expect too much, you won't be disappointed with their support.
Generally, I have few complaints of this program and would say you definitely need to have lived abroad and be prepared to be very flexible with just about every part of your personality, as you will be tested.
Here are a few realities that they don't make too clear that you should bear in mind if considering this program:-
- your pay cheques for the stipend will not be given to you every month, but once every two months
- not every volunteer receives a carnet and RUT number, and some volunteers received visas that expired lot after others. This seems to be at random, but they say it depends on your region.
- Local Chilean English teachers are generally underpaid and overworked so you are also there to provide support for them as well as the students
-Summer/Winter Camps can be disappointing. On the contrary to what they tell you in Santiago, not all kids are there because they love English enough to sacrifice their holidays to learn, some are also just dumped their by their parents
-Patience and a good sense of humour is needed with your host family. Remember, this is not a business for them as few families that host even break even and you are from a different culture/set of values as well as them
-Think properly about whether you are capable of seeing the entire 6 months through. It isnt easy for the teachers to apply to have a native school, especially in poorer areas of Chile and leaving half way through does kind of leave them in the lurch. This will not be easy!
-Remember in neither your home or school are you a dogsbody. It seems that some of the homes got confused thinking the volunteer would be volunteering in the house too and got lumbered with unfair amount of chores and housework. Be aware of this.
-This is a fairly religious country, if it is going to annoy you a lot, reconsider coming to Chile.