National Volunteer Center

National Volunteer Center

English Opens Doors Program

Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions section is designed to provide answers to your questions and to direct you to appropriate National Volunteer Center resources. Should you not find an answer to your question here or on our website, please send an email to voluntarios@mineduc.cl and an EODP staff member will respond to your inquiry.

Getting Started – The program in general

For specific information regarding commitment requirements and service dates, please visit our Volunteer Services & Dates page, linked here.

There is no fee for participation as a volunteer. As an initiative of the Chilean Ministry of Education supported by the United Nations Development Program, the English Opens Doors Program does not charge for its services. In addition, all volunteers are provided with in-country health insurance, travel to and from placements and Santiago, as well as food and accommodations through your host family. Volunteers also receive a small volunteer allowance to reimburse teaching-related costs. Volunteers will also be provided with a Chilean bank account. For EODP volunteers, Temporary Residence Visa fees are waived by consulates.

Volunteers are responsible for costs associated with obtaining their visas (transportation to and from consulates, doctor’s appointments, Criminal Background Checks, etc.), international transportation to Santiago on stipulated arrival dates, and bringing sufficient funds for their own personal needs (travel, leisure, etc.) during their service.

Historically, we have had placements all over Chile – from Arica to Punta Arenas. Every year, we have different schools that apply for a volunteer, so availability varies. On the application, volunteers are asked to rank their placement preferences relating to geography and population density. These preferences will be considered when assigning the volunteer if they are indeed accepted into the program.

It is not likely that volunteers are placed in specific cities that they request in their application. Every year, we get many requests for cities such as Santiago, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, La Serena, and other such “tourist-friendly” areas. However, we have very limited placements in these areas compared to the amount of volunteers that request them.

While we can’t guarantee to accommodate specific requests, we are often able to place volunteers in the type of placement that they would prefer. For this reason, we suggest that you research all of Chile and think about what kind of placement you would work best in. (Would you prefer to be in the desert? In a cooler, forested climate? In a rural area? An urban area?) It’s possible that we may not be able to place you in Viña del Mar, however if you are looking for a coastal, urban area there is a good chance that we can find that for you.

Please keep in mind that the more specifications that you have (vegetarian? allergies? religious preferences?) the more difficult it will be to find a family in any specific area. Therefore, if you do have these preferences, we ask for flexibility regarding your location preference.

In all cases, we ask for your flexibility and understanding – we can’t guarantee anything. You will be placed where you are most needed.

While start and end dates differ, volunteer services are mostly identical. All volunteers are provided with in-country health insurance, lodging, meals, in-country transportation and the online Spanish course. All volunteers have the same application and placement process, visa requirements, volunteer allowance (proportional to days in the program), orientation, and teaching duties.

The main difference is between the first-semester volunteer service (VS1) and year-long volunteer services (VS2 and VS3). VS1 one-semester volunteers will have the added benefit and responsibility of participating in 1 or 2 weeks (as needed) of Winter Camp before they finish their volunteer service. These Winter Camps fall within the dates of first semester volunteer’s service, and as such, volunteers are not paid anything extra for working in these camps. However just like the rest of their volunteer service, they are provided with health insurance, lodging, in-country transportation, and meals. VS1 one-semester volunteers will observe school, provincial, regional and federal holidays during their volunteer service. However, they are not eligible for any additional vacation time.

Year-long volunteers (VS2 and VS3) will have their school’s winter vacation in July, which is typically 2-3 weeks. Additionally, year-long volunteers will receive an additional week of paid vacation, to be used at the volunteer’s discretion during the year. This week of paid vacation must be taken as a block (from Monday-Friday, Tuesday-Monday, etc.) and not as separate days. This week of vacation is meant to help volunteers fulfill their year-long commitment by offering the flexibility of traveling home for an important event (weddings, graduations, etc.), or scheduling a trip with friends or family members from home. Year-long volunteers will have the opportunity to apply to participate in July’s Winter Camps, and will receive more information during the 2015 year.

Second-semester volunteers (VS4, from August-November) will observe school, provincial, regional and federal holidays during their volunteer service. However, they are not eligible for any additional vacation time. VS4 volunteers will not participate in the July Winter Camps.

The placement of volunteers is a complex process that involves numerous factors. Furthermore, we must wait until volunteers are committed to the Program before beginning the process of matching up volunteers with suitable host families across the country. Volunteers cannot be considered for the placement process until we receive their flight itinerary, due three weeks before the orientation start date.

From that date, we determine first which region volunteers will live in before making specific assignments based on volunteer and family preferences/characteristics (Smoker? Religious? Vegetarian/Vegan? Allergies? Geographic and demographic preferences? Sexual orientation? Male/female? Etc.).

This process is time and labor intensive, as the National Volunteer Center does take volunteer placement preferences seriously and we do our best to accommodate these preferences to the best of our ability. Each assignment must finally be confirmed with the school and family. Volunteers arrive in Chile during very busy periods of the year (at the start of school semesters), and the confirmation process can be delayed in certain cases. For these reasons, we are unable to guarantee that volunteers will receive their specific placement location and information until the week of orientation in Santiago. However, volunteers should know that there are many people working together behind the scenes to make sure that both the family and school is fully informed and ready to receive the volunteer after the week of orientation in Santiago.

As in many aspects of the program, volunteers are expected to be flexible and good-humored in regards to receiving their specific placement information. Volunteers who are unable to display flexibility in this context may not be suited to living and teaching in Chile.

All volunteers receive an allowance of 70,000 CLP for each month of completed service. This is calculated as 2,333 CLP per day you are in your placement. This volunteer allowance is intended to reimburse you for costs that you incur during your time teaching, such as transportation to and from the school, any supplies you might want to buy, and perhaps some extra food to supplement your meals with your host family. However, the money will not go very far if you are looking to travel around Chile, eat out with friends, or buy yourself some souvenirs.

Although volunteer allowances are typically paid every other month, we can only guarantee that the allowance will come at the end of your time here as a volunteer. Therefore, we ask that our volunteers come to Chile with savings that they are willing to spend during the program. Living and travelling in a foreign country is often accompanied by unexpected costs, and we want to make sure that you have the finances to be comfortable and enjoy your time in Chile!

Yes, we have had many successful volunteers who are near-native speakers. Non-native English speakers who wish to apply should possess the ability to speak loudly, clearly, and confidently considering that they will need to lead classes with large groups of students. Applicants who are not native English speakers must demonstrate fluency and error-free speech in a Skype interview.

No. A teaching degree and/or TESL/TEFL certification are not required to participate; however, they will certainly be considered as an asset for applicants.

Each Volunteer Service applicant is considered based on the strength of their application. Both individuals comprising a couple must merit acceptance into the program for us to consider their application as a couple, and joint placement. It should also be mentioned that it is nearly impossible to find families who will allow volunteer couples to live in the same roof. Therefore, couples who wish to volunteer together can either volunteer in the same town/area living with different families, or live “independently.” For more details regarding living independently, please refer to the Host Family Section of this page.

The English Opens Doors Program’s mandate is to recruit volunteers be between the ages of 21-35. We recognize and appreciate that volunteers over this age limit may be highly qualified, excellent teachers. However, volunteers work with their head teachers in an apprentice-guide sort of role, and assume a daughter/son role in their host families; therefore, the Program is geared toward younger participants. Additionally, it is very important that all volunteers are comfortable with basic accommodations.

Applicants over the age of 35 will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

No. The nature of the program is not conducive for volunteers to be accompanied by dependents. The Ministry of Education is unable to assume responsibility for their well-being, nor are foreign children able to easily enroll in public schools in Chile.

No. The insurance coverage is only provided between designated program arrival dates and end dates within Chile. If you travel during breaks to another country, you should purchase supplemental coverage from a provider of your choosing.

Click here to view a flowchart that details the steps that all applicants need to follow. Applicants are evaluated at each stage of the process, and continuation to the next step assumes successful completion of the prior.

After sending the Applicant Recommendation Form to their “recommenders” and completing the online application form, applicants will receive an email with instructions on continuing the application process. Applicants must provide the following required documents during the second step of the application process:

Two candid photographs clearly showing your face.
Scanned Copy of Passport Information Page (passport must be valid for at least the length of your service, and most likely longer depending on which consulate you use).
Résumé or Curriculum Vitae.
University Transcript (can be unofficial/electronic version).
Teaching Certifications (if applicable).

After completing the second step of the application process, successful applicants will move on to their interview. We require volunteers to interview by Skype, and the interviews usually last between 20-40 minutes.

We will be in touch with you about your status within two weeks of your interview. If you are accepted into the program, we will email you information about confirming your participation and deadlines for the submission of required documents. We will also send information on preparing to come to Chile. You will be responsible for obtaining required documents for your Temporary Residence Visa by a designated date. Volunteers placed on the waiting list will be given a date by which the final decision will be made on their applications.

Click here to view a flowchart of the Pre-Departure Process.

No. While having the ability to speak Spanish will definitely make your transition to your new host family and community easier, it is by no means required. We will not consider lack of Spanish ability as a weakness on an application. We have had many successful volunteers who arrived with no prior knowledge of Spanish. Additionally, we also provide volunteers with an e-learning Spanish course during their service which is meant to help aid their transition into a Spanish speaking country. Please refer to the “Spanish Support” section of the website to learn more details.

Schools chosen to receive a volunteer are required to provide potential families with a relationship or connection to the school to host the volunteer in their home. The English Opens Doors Program requests various prerequisites from possible host families, such as: separate bedroom for the volunteer in a house in a safe neighborhood and, if possible, located near the school. The EODP Regional Representative then contacts the families to establish preliminary interviews in order to later visit the families to evaluate whether or not they are fit to host a volunteer.

The selected families receive preparatory material directly from the EODP and are sensitized to cultural differences and possible difficulties that may result because of these. For example, although your real family may seem comfortably middle-class, you are probably used to a higher standard of living. Before the volunteer arrives, the family is provided with specific information about the volunteer that will live with them. While host families are provided with an allowance for hosting volunteers, it is important to understand that families are not profiting monetarily by hosting volunteers. Rather, they are being compensated for the extra costs that they incur by taking another person into their home. There may be some things that you might take for granted that in your host-home are actually budgeted for very carefully (such as hot water and electricity). Considering this information, applicants should realize that host families also act as “volunteers” in a sense, and make sure to incorporate this into their perspective while living with their host family.

Volunteers have the opportunity to let us know personal preferences (non-smoker, vegetarian etc.) on the application form. Program staff will do their best to match these preferences, although in some cases, it may not be possible. Applicants are requested to remember that families today come in many different forms, and are not always composed of a mother, father, and children, but instead may be comprised of a mother, grandmother, and children, or a single woman, etc. In addition, host family preferences will limit the ability of program staff to match other preferences, such as your requested placement size or location.

Although it is recommended to live with a host family, volunteers may choose alternative living arrangements and receive the living allowance allocated to host families ($150.000 CLP per month during the 2015 year). Please be aware that if you choose to live independently (in an apartment , pension, etc.) and receive the living allowance designated for the host family, you will be responsible for assuming any expenses not covered by the living allowance. It is important to note that volunteers in the past who chose to live independently have reported that using their own funds to offset the costs of their accommodations was unavoidable – having additional savings is a necessity.

Yes. Vegetarians are welcome to live with host families. While vegetarianism is not very common in Chile, we specifically ask families whether or not they are willing to host a vegetarian, and only place vegetarian volunteers with families that are open to this option.

Volunteers should be aware that they will be offered the food that the host family eats, which may not necessarily be the food that they are accustomed to eating. With that said, volunteers may need to supplement their diet with other foods if necessary. In addition, if you have other types of dietary restrictions (for example, Celiac’s disease) you will be responsible for supplementing your diet.

All volunteers must obtain a Temporary Residence Visa before coming to Chile. The National Volunteer Center will assist volunteers with this process, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the volunteer to contact their consulate and to gather and submit their paperwork.

Required documents include:

Valid Passport
Criminal Background Check
Medical Certificate
Completed Temporary Residence Visa application
4-6 2×2 cm visa photographs
Acceptance letter to the English Opens Doors Program

We will send you detailed information on all these items once you are accepted. As requirements differ slightly from country to country and also from consulate to consulate, it is important for each volunteer to check with their individual consulate to become familiar with the process.

The only document that can potentially take some time to obtain is a Criminal Background Check, depending on your country. We recommend that you do the following as soon as you consider the English Opens Doors Program as an option:

Contact your closest Chilean consulate and ask what kind of Criminal Background Check is needed to apply for a Temporary Residence Visa and the requirements for validity (in other words, will they accept it 3 months or 6 months after it was issued?).
Contact the agency that performs Criminal Background Check, and inquire into the length of the process.
You are responsible for obtaining your Criminal Background Check well in advance of your program’s start date

Again, we will send more detailed information when you are accepted to the program.

You will find this information out when you arrive in your region. Keep in mind that you may be teaching all grade levels, depending on the size of the school. Some basic materials, such as stickers, posters, and other items not available in Chile, are popular with all grade levels. The English Opens Doors Program works with students from 5th to 12th grades (10 years-18 years old), and it is common for volunteers to work with between 4 and 8 different grades.

While internet access is not a host family requirement, many host families do have internet in their home. Most schools also have internet access, as well. Also, internet cafés (usually called “cibers”) are very common in Chile. These are usually open all day, and charge about 1 USD for an hour of use.

If you have a laptop, feel free to bring it – many volunteers bring their laptops and find them useful both within the classroom and when keeping in touch with family and friends.

The English Opens Doors Program will only pay for a reservation at the designated hostel beginning two days before orientation begins. For example, if orientation begins on Monday morning, the first night paid for by EODP will be Saturday night. Meals will be covered starting that same night.

We recommend that volunteers arrive within the given window of 1-2 days before orientation begins. Volunteers are not allowed to arrive the same day that orientation begins. Volunteers arriving in Chile more than 2 days before orientation begins will risk complications in their visa registration process. Please consult EODP staff with any questions about arrival in Chile.

The English Opens Doors Program will only pay for the shuttle if you arrive 1 or 2 days before your program begins. If orientation starts on a Monday, then the shuttle service will be provided at any time on Saturday or Sunday. The shuttle is available 24 hours a day, so even if your flight arrives at 4 AM you will be provided shuttle services. Once volunteers have completed all steps in the pre-departure process and sent in their flight itinerary, volunteers will be sent the confirmation code to be able to use this service.

Entering Chile on a one-way ticket should not be a problem, especially since you will be arriving as a Temporary Resident with a visa. However, every airline has its own protocol, so please check with your airline to confirm this.

No vaccinations are needed to enter Chile. However, keep in mind that if you plan to travel outside of the country, you should find out what vaccinations you need for those countries.

You will not be covered by SegurViaje while you are outside of Chile, so it is recommended that your purchase additional insurance for this time.

If you will be flying to your region from Santiago after orientation (Iquique, Arica, Aysen or Magallenes volunteers will all take a domestic flight) remember that you will have a weight restriction. Your checked luggage all together cannot weigh more than 20 kilos (44 pounds) in total. This means that you can bring one suitcase weighing 20 kilos, or 2 suitcases weighing 10 kilos each, or other such variations. You can also bring a carry-on, however this means a purse or a backpack only. If your luggage is over the weight limit, you will have to pay a fee. Please refer to the Sky Airlines website for more information:

https://www.skyairline.cl/en/informacion-viaje-ing.aspx#

If you are taking a bus to your region, there isn’t a weight limit, but remember that you will be in charge of carrying your own luggage around. Additionally, some bus attendants will charge passengers a fee for extremely heavy baggage, or passengers carrying more than 2 large bags/suitcases. Don’t bring more than you can handle yourself! Also, keep in mind that your host family may have limited space for your belongings. Packing lightly is highly recommended. Basic hygiene items, such as shampoo, toothpaste, deoderant, and soap, are widely available throughout the country. Basic clothing items, such as socks, underwear, hats, and gloves, are also widely available.

Students love stamps, stickers, and other little rewards that you can give them during class. Stickers with English phrases (Well done! Fantastic job!) are relatively inexpensive, easy to pack, and motivating for the students. Books and magazines are also good options. Basically, anything that you can’t easily get in Chile is fun for the students!

The Ministry will provide you with markers, poster board, tape, glue, pencils, and other basic supplies.

Chile is very diverse, so the weather varies greatly by region. Take a look at our pre-departure information for specific suggestions by region. As for Santiago, for those of you arriving in January, keep in mind that it will be summer and it will be very hot. In March, nights will be a bit cooler, but days will still be hot. In July, keep in mind that it is winter in Santiago. While the temperature almost never drops below freezing, central heating is rare and is not available in the hostel. Make sure that you bring some warm clothes for chilly nights at the hostel.

Your host family will probably appreciate anything you’d like to give, but if you’re looking for ideas, candy is always a hit. Any local candy from your area or something fun and simple would be a good idea – just make sure that you declare any food you bring into Chile and check the requirements (www.aduana.cl) before packing.

Don’t feel obligated to bring your family a gift if you don’t have room in your suitcase or can’t think of anything you’d like to bring. They won’t be necessarily expecting a gift from you. It might be a good idea to wait until you have met them and know what they like, and then bring them a little gift from someplace you visit within Chile.