Volunteer teaching with monks in Laos
Volunteer in Laos, teaching young Buddhist monks in beautiful Luang Prabang, a UNESCO Heritage town. Live and experience day-to-day life in an exciting, culturally rich town, next to the Mekong River. Work with young, novice monks and help them to improve their English, helping them to improve the employability in the future. By giving back to the community, gain a privileged insight into the Buddhist religion.
For those interested and passionate about volunteering as a teacher abroad, this programme certainly stands out. Help to teach monks in Laos and make some life-long memories. The people of Laos are welcoming and friendly and keen to meet people from other parts of the world. When you arrive in Luang Prabang, you will receive a full orientation and it will not take you long to see why the town is a protected UNESCO Heritage site. As the former royal capital city of Laos, the town blends French colonial architecture with many stunning Buddhist temples.
As Buddhism is the predominant religion in Laos, volunteers will gain a unique insight into the role of monasteries in the local community. Monasteries look after many novice monks, boys who often come from poor, rural communities. They provide free accommodation, food and education for the young monks. The local community donate food to the monks each morning. When the young monks are old enough, they are welcome to choose which path they would like to follow, to become a monk or to return home and to seek employment. The temples encourage monks to make their own decision because regardless of their choice, they believe that the novice monks will continue to lead a good life, spreading Buddhist ideas and benefiting society as a whole.
Novice monks are often enrolled in local, mainstream schools and they also take part in spiritual classes within the temple. However, educational resources and teaching can be limited for novice monks and that is why dedicated volunteers are so valued. Volunteers will teach within the temples to help the young monks to improve their English, which is important for monks looking to study at university or to gain employment in a tourist city like Luang Prabang.
What will I be doing?
You will work at two different temples. One is home to approximately 400 novice monks. The facilities are very basic. The second temple is 30 minutes outside Luang Prabang and has white boards and a greater supply of resources. The contrast between the two temples will give you a broader view of how different monasteries are run. Volunteers will teach monks aged 10 – 18.
On Tuesday to Thursday, volunteers will work 3-4 hours a day. These hours will be split between the two temples and may include evening lessons. Volunteers will also have 2-3 hours a day to prepare lessons. Volunteers will team teach with fellow volunteers.
At least one lesson a day will be held at a local private school or English centre. At the private school, volunteers will teach English to university students, who are keen to practise their conversational English. At the English centre, volunteers will get to teach a wide range of people, from monks, women and children. These lessons are very fun and interactive.
On this programme, all volunteers will receive over 7 hours of training to ensure that they get the best out of their teaching. There will also be on-going support from your own teaching mentor to answer any questions that may arise. Before you begin teaching, you will be given handover notes from previous volunteers so that you can pick up from where they left off and help to keep the learning experience consistent for the monks.
Volunteer teachers will have access to a teaching resource room in a local college, to help them to plan their lessons. There are so many helpful resources, many left by past volunteers. You will find teaching materials, curriculum information, lesson plans and story books – it really is a teaching treasure trove!
Accommodation and food
You will be living at a shared volunteer guesthouse. There are shared rooms and bathrooms at the accommodation. However, there are upgrade options if you would prefer to have your own room. Staff at the guest house are very welcoming. Rooms are cleaned weekly. You can also get your laundry done for a fee. The guesthouse has a curfew of 12pm, which is the same for everyone in Luang Prabang. On the first Friday, prior to the Saturday arrival date, you will need to book your own accommodation. We can offer advise on this.
You will be provided with 3 meals a day, while at the guesthouse. Cooked by a local Lao cook on site, you will get to experience authentic, delicious, local food. Vegetarians can be catered for. There are plenty of restaurants in the local area if you fancy a night out.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Gain an incredible insight into Buddhism in Laos.
- Help novice monks to improve their English and make a real difference to their future prospects.
- Teach and socialise with like-minded volunteers.
- Live by the stunning Mekong River in a UNESCO Heritage town.
Whyshould I do this?
This is a unique programme that will enable you to become completely immersed in Lao culture. Whether you have previous experience teaching or not, you will gain country specific teacher training, enabling you to make a real difference in the classroom. The programme leaders are supportive and promote collaboration and team work. With shared resources, team teaching and seamless transitions between volunteers, you will truly feel part of a worthwhile movement to raise English levels in the local community.
You will be collected from Luang Prabang Airport. You will need to arrive on a Friday. The programme starts at 9am on the Saturday.
The programme coordinators will be there to support you from the moment you arrive to the moment you are taken back to the airport. You will also be assigned a teaching mentor, who will be able to support you with lesson planning. The team have been working in Luang Prabang since 2009 and have a lot of experience working with volunteers, local schools and temples
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure briefing covering medical and safety features
- Help and advice 24/7 from our UK office
- Visa advice (which will vary depending on length of stay)
- Pre-arranged transfer to and from the airport
- Full induction on arrival
- Clean, convenient accommodation at a local guest house from the first Saturday night
- Three meals a day, cooked at the guesthouse.
- Over seven hours of teaching training, teaching resources and guidance.
- Free access to InterHealth’s Travel Health Advice Service
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return date
- Flights to Luang Prabang Airport (Oyster can help you to organise these)
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel, we can introduce you to a policy
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Cost of accommodation for your first night in Luang Prabang
- Independent travel costs and return to the airport
- Any additional costs such as trips, food if away from the guest house, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £30 per week depending on lifestyle)
- Visa costs – you should not need to apply for a visa in advance if you are from the UK and most western European countries. You will receive a visa on arrival for about £30. Advice given on longer stays – there will be costs associated