Volunteer Participants (VPs) in the Wat TP Buddhist Immersion – Teaching English Program spend their time in the bustling yet rural town of Oudong, approximately 60 minutes outside of Phnom Penh. They settled into Oudong after spending the first few days of the first week of the program in orientation. VPs divide their time between discussing the practice of Buddhism and teaching young monks at a nearby wat, and teaching at two sites of the Universal Education School (UES): An afternoon “kindergarten” school with students ranging from ages 8 – 14 and an evening school with students ranging from age 14 with students ranging from ages 14 – 20. (The term “kindergarten” in Cambodia refers to the education level and not the age of the student.) VPs are hosted by the school principal and a head monk.
The VP’s service role is to share their knowledge and expertise as a native English speaker. Prior teaching experience is not required. The ability to provide cultural context and assist with Western pronunciation will prove helpful for students developing their use of the English language. The teaching English role requires flexibility, creativity, and adaptability. Students will range in age and English level, so VPs have the opportunity to work with different age groups. VPs are provided with a GSC Teaching English Manual with suggested lesson plans and participatory activities along with the school’s curriculum. Later in the morning there will be opportunity to meet with the wat’s head monk to discuss and learn about Buddhism. VPs will then teach different classes in the afternoon and early evenings at some of the nearby schools as well as teaching young monks at the wat.
You will be encouraged to be creative utilizing the curriculum by sharing your own background and experiences. The greatest need of these students is to practice English with a native English speaker, so this should be the emphasis of the classroom activities. This placement has a required four week minimum commitment.
Housing and Meals
You will be provided a room in a local homestay with an electric fan and air cooler. Three meals per day will be prepared by the homestay host, or will be eaten occasionally at local restaurants. Wifi is available in the accommodations and VPs with smart phones can also access the internet with a Cambodian SIM card. Laundry can be done by hand at the homestay or at a local cleaner.
While day-to-day activities and starting times are subject to change, a typical day as a Buddhist Immersion – Teach English Program participant in Oudong might look like the following:
7:00 am – 8:00 am Eat breakfast
8:30 am – 9:00 am Alms walk with the monks (optional)
9:00 am – 10:00 am Break and time to prepare for teaching classes
10:00 am – 11:30 am Buddhism discussion with the Wat’s head monk
11:30 am – 2:00 pm Lunch break and time to prepare for teaching classes
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Teach primary level English to students age 6 – 14
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Practice conversational English with mostly secondary school-aged students
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Teach beginning English to young monks at the Wat
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Dinner and free time