Teach English and learn Spanish in Patagonia
Live and volunteer in a gateway city to the stunning landscapes of Patagonia. Stay with host families while volunteering as a teacher in a local school. If you like adventure and the great outdoors, this is the perfect programme for you.
If you are looking for an adventure with a difference then volunteering in Patagonia would suit you. Based in south Chile, Coyhaique is a remote city and a fantastic base to explore the stunning surrounding landscapes.
Living in a Spanish speaking country is the fastest way to learn or improve your Spanish. Before you move into your host family, you will have 3 days to adjust to the Chilean way of life while taking part in planned activities that will help you to meet locals in your area. Typical activities include rafting, take part in a cooking class and planning classes in the local university. Picking up Spanish will take a little work from you, but being surrounded by people speaking Spanish all day really helps.
Teaching or Sports coaching in Chile
Your role is to help teach English in selected primary and secondary schools in this friendly town of around 60,000 inhabitants. English is important to the local economy, yet little is spoken.
- Teaching: Teach in primary and secondary schools either as a teaching assistant or, if you are up for the challenge or you have experience working with children, choose to take on an excitable class of your own. Coyhaique is a regional capital and has a number of thriving schools that have received Oyster volunteers over the years. The children are lively and particularly pleased to have a teacher from overseas.
- Sports coaching: Bring extra curricular activities to your children with football and other sports being particularly popular. One past volunteer who ran his school football team, coached the team in English giving the team some extra English outside the classroom.
Living with a host family
Living as a local with a very welcoming Chilean family is the highlight for many volunteers as you live life as locals do and not as a short term visitor. The families are relaxed and enjoy having volunteers and feed them well! Many have had many of our volunteers of the years. Our Oyster representatives and their family live just outside the town and add a further welcome, friendship and support.
The town of Coyhaique is a fun place to be with plenty of cafés and restaurants and surrounded by mountains and a national park. Many volunteers travel down to the Torres del Paine National Park and get involved in trekking, rafting, glacier hiking and so much more in Patagonia! Our representatives live in Coyhaique and will help you to plan any trips that you want to get involved in.
Volunteers are also drawn to this part of Chile as it so far off the beaten track and not on the way to anywhere else (except Terra del Fuego and Antarctica). Patagonia is still not somewhere many travellers go to. The scenery is breathtaking and includes, glaciers, mountains and rivers with a backdrop of constantly changing light thanks to its varied weather.
Accommodation and Food
Volunteers are placed with a family on their own, although other Oyster volunteers will be very close by. You are treated as one of the family, but are free to come and go as you please. Volunteers talk about their Chilean families as one of the best parts of their stay and often keep in close touch on return. They’ll give you breakfast, a big lunch and a smaller dinner and show you the Chilean way of life. Chileans eat well at lunchtime, particularly in winter.
- Learn or improve your Spanish with full immersion in a Spanish speaking community
- Learn about Chilean culture and go rafting in the 3 day orientation
- Make a valuable contribution to the local community by volunteering in a local school
- Experience life in a relatively unknown part of Chile and explore the breath-taking landscape
- Live as a local with a welcoming Chilean family
- Gain insight into exciting additional trips you can get involved in while you are in Chile
Whyshould I do this?
Spending 12 weeks or more of a gap year in Patagonia is an amazing opportunity for anyone who loves the wilderness yet enjoys being based in a friendly town. Coyhaique is surrounded by spectacular, jagged mountains and you will have plenty of chances to hike, bike, camp, ride and kayak. Not only will your Spanish take off but you will also form incredible bonds with your local host families who give you a taste of real Chile rather than a tourist’s view of the country. ‘
Volunteers fly into Balmaceda Airport (BBA) on the Thursday. You will be met by our representative who will drive you to Coyhaique.
Oyster’s representatives are Jacqueline and Ian Farmer who have been working for Oyster since 2002. They are both British and trained teachers and have lived in Chile for most of their adult lives, raising their three children in Coyhaique. Jacqueline had her Gap year in Latin America and enjoys being an important part of our volunteer’s Chile experience. Jacqueline runs the Spanish course so you will get to know her well from the start. They will meet you on arrival and co-ordinate all aspects of your programme. They live just outside Coyhaique and are in town every day.
What is provided
- Phone or face-to-face interview and informal briefing
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account
- Pre-departure briefing and support
- 24/7 support from the team in the UK and Chile
- Airport pick-up
- Hostel accommodation for the first 3 nights
- Rafting trip and other activities included at the start of the trip
- Financial protection with IPP or ATOL if we book your flights
- Host family accommodation
- Monthly social meet ups
- BBQ at the representative’s house
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A valid passport
- Travel insurance
- Money for eating out, SIM card and independent travel
- Visa after 3 months (US$100 approx) if you stay for longer