Most of the teaching will be English language. This can be done by non-native speakers quite well, as you may still remember your own English lessons and might be more conscious about the difficulties of getting a point across. Of course it's best if you are an English teacher, but don't worry, it's still a great help if you don't do a perfect job. Just hearing a foreign accent and getting used to it is a great help for the kids.

Environmental education is the other big issue. I don't know of any projects doing that, but you can still start one up! Tim

Working in a School

Education in Asia is run very differently from what we are used to. There is a lot of frontal teaching, "learning by heart" and very little transfer/understanding in the teaching methods. The kids in a school in northern India even called their exercise books "copy". And that's the only thing they used them for: copying. Just be mentally prepared to face that aspect and deal with it carefully. You can't push it too hard, those kids have been learning that way all their lives. But it works to slowly, step by step, introduce other methods and make them do it. Kids are amazing!

It was also very hard to watch the physical punishments inflicted on the kids. They had to kneel on a cold, rocky ground for an hour for missing the morning prayer. Some teachers also would hit them on the hands.

It took me a lot to not interfere immediately. But there is obviously no use in just hacking randomly into a system that's practiced all over the countries. The teachers themselves have been treated like that... Be respectful, and keep that in mind that you are still the foreigner and if you criticize too harsh they might take it as cultural imperialism. If you are able to do so, educating teachers in basic paedagogics would be fantastic. Tim

Teaching on Your Own

Often people are concerned about the length of time they can commit to. In an ideal world, a class would be set up and run consistently. However, most of the time this doesn't happen. Just spending some time with people talking, listening and correcting can boost people's skills and interest.

Specific Skills & Adults

If you have specific skills that you think might help a community, start talking to people, see if there is interest in what you have to offer. Sometimes you will stumble upon a perfect match -- someone who may have been waiting years for the opportunity to learn what you know. Teaching a week or a few days even could turn out to be pretty significant in this case, when students (whatever their age) are thirsty for knowledge and teachers eager to share, big things can happen in a small amount of time. You can also exchange emails and continue the dialog / lessons after you leave. -Jonathan

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Written By: Tim. Please contact for any suggestions or further information.