Volunteer teaching English in the incredible Galapagos islands
The Galapagos have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. They offer some of the most interesting and most beautiful places in the world for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Yet the impression you get as a hosted tourist is deceptive. Most of the locals still live with very basic facilities and low income. The significant income generated from tourism does not trickle down to the majority of island residents. Despite the large numbers of English speaking tourists, most islanders still only speak Spanish.
All of the schools are keen to teach English to the children, to provide them with increased opportunity to access the tourist industry and higher earnings. Yet English teachers are hard to find and the ratio of teachers to students makes it less effective. Through extensive local relationships made through our island coordinators, Outreach International has the unique support of the local authorities to provide volunteer teaching assistants in all three main islands. This exclusively includes supporting an indigenous school on one of the islands – helping the community that transitioned to the islands from the Andes under a government programme and who now remain some of the poorest on the islands. The school not only provides education but also looks to maintain their heritage and language, Quichua.
Students are hugely enthusiastic to engage with volunteers and learn the language. Volunteers can support both primary and secondary schools, providing assistance to the existing teachers, and most importantly, giving students the opportunity to practice their pronunciation with a native English speaker.
Volunteering to teach English in Galapagos is perfect for those interested in teaching as a profession, gap year students wanting to learn Spanish, qualified teachers, and those volunteers with an interest in experiencing island life.
Schools open very early in the morning and finish early afternoon so as to avoid the excessive heat. They all have numerous classes across the age groups and each class has a requirement for a set amount of English lessons each week. The English teacher and volunteer rotate among the classes delivering English lessons according to the timetable. The exact framework for this will be decided locally with the volunteer, appropriate to each school.
Volunteers will act as a teaching assistant. Where a volunteer is a qualified teacher, or well trained in teaching English, it may become practical that they lead some classes, although this is not to be assumed, as local regulations officially prohibit volunteers being engaged as the primary teaching resource.
Some schools may also have homework clubs, or volunteers may be supported in setting one up, such is the ambition to learn English.
All of the state schools are keen to teach English to the children, to provide them with increased opportunity to access the tourist industry and higher earnings. Being able to speak English really opens up opportunities to those children in some of the poorest families in Galapagos.
Volunteers help improve the ratios and quality of teaching, and provide the vital opportunity for enthusiastic students to practice their English with a native speaker.
My fondest memory will be just being in such a beautiful place surrounded by so many amazing people, my family, other volunteers, tourists and locals! To be honest there are too many amazing memories to recount!, Teaching in Galapagos