Volunteer Teaching in Bolivia
- Placement locations: Cochabamba
- Types of schools: Elementary School, High School, University
- Age of students: 12 – 17, adults
- Class sizes: 20 – 30, small groups at University
- Role: Teacher or teaching assistant or lecturer assistant in English or French (German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Mandarin at University on request)
- Requirements: None
- Extra-curricular roles: Dance, Music
- Accommodation: Host families
- Length of placement: From 4 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
You can work as a volunteer teacher in Bolivia with Projects Abroad without previous experience and do not need to have a TEFL certificate or other qualification. Whether you want to volunteer abroad teaching during your gap year, career break, or as part of an extended vacation, you will have a role to play on one of our international volunteer placements.
Bolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America. With English being the language of much international business and commerce, students are eager to learn from you. The standards of conversational English teaching are usually not high, so students need to develop good spoken language skills wherever possible, which is where you can help as a volunteer teacher.
Volunteer teachers in Bolivia can also teach French, Japanese, and Italian full-time.
Volunteering as a Teacher in Schools in Bolivia
The level of English in Cochabamba, a vibrant university town in the central highlands, is generally low. The first language of students in Cochabamba is either Spanish or Quechua, an indigenous language of the Andes.
While Spanish will be the main language of communication you will hear spoken, English is viewed as an important language to learn. It is seen as a gateway to learning - to more books, to different professions, and to international jobs. Away from the tourist trail, Cochabamba does not generally attract a lot of native English speakers so as a Projects Abroad volunteer you will have a hugely positive impact.
Projects Abroad works with local high schools providing education to teenagers from low-income families. Volunteers can help give these students a head start by teaching at these schools. You could get involved with teaching subjects such as English, French, dance, or music. This is an opportunity for you to be as creative as possible, helping to make learning fun and enjoyable. In exchange you will learn a great deal about Bolivian culture. Whether you are assisting a teacher, have a class of your own, or are leading extra-curricular activities, your help will be greatly appreciated by your students and colleagues.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Bolivia Teaching Management Plan.
Volunteering as a Teacher at a University in Bolivia
Volunteers taking part in our teaching project in Bolivia can also choose to work at the University of San Simon in the town of Cochabamba.
At the university, the level of English varies from beginner to advanced, so let us know if you have a teaching preference. Similarly, if you are - or have been - a university student yourself, let us know what you studied and we may be able to match you with groups of students from that subject area. Then you can use your common interests for conversation and to help them build up relevant vocabulary.
Projects Abroad has been supporting the Universidad Mayor de San Simón through volunteer assistance since 2002. As a volunteer teacher at the university you can expect to teach between about 18 and 20 hours a week, but remember you will need more time to prepare structured lessons. Teaching students who might be a similar age to you can be fun and rewarding. University students are there by choice so will be committed to their studies, but just because they are not school children does not mean they won't enjoy playing games – your creative, fun lessons will provide a welcome change from their regular lectures. Your supervisor will be happy to guide you with lesson ideas if necessary.
Did you know? Over 1 million Bolivian children over the age of 15 are unable to read or write.
Teaching volunteers working at the university provide extra-curricular courses as well, based on topics covered in classes, including intercultural topics and international affairs. Volunteers also assist both professors and students in carrying out additional educational and academic activities related to language learning or the present curriculum. For example, volunteers can help students prepare presentations, proofread papers, and assist with organizing student fairs.
Volunteering at a Teaching Placement in Bolivia with Projects Abroad
The Projects Abroad team in Bolivia organizes regular workshops for all Teaching volunteers. The workshops provide greater insight into the education system in Bolivia and the background of the placement where you are working. You will also receive advice and suggestions regarding activities to carry out at your placement.
Taking part on a Teaching project is also a great way to improve your level of Spanish. Your conversational Spanish will rapidly improve through socializing with your Spanish-speaking students and teachers. Staying with a Spanish-speaking host family will greatly improve your Spanish language skills as well.
The main school and university vacations take place from mid-December to the end of March. During this time we run our own popular Projects Abroad language classes. These are entirely run by Projects Abroad.
You can also join the Music Project in Bolivia, where you will teach music to children in an orphanage.