The beautiful ancient city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World heritage site, is situated in northern central Laos. Teach English in this idyllic setting, at the meeting of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, famous for its Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Many young men in Laos will choose to become monks so that they can access education and escape poverty. Temples do provide inexpensive education although teachers are often stretched beyond capacity making it hard to provide all students with the attention they deserve.
Have the rare opportunity to work closely with novice monks in a temple school; learn about Lao culture, history, food, religion and language; visit local sights; enjoy a weekend break on the banks of the Mekong River.
Volunteering on this project you will teach English to these students, improving the quality of their education. This will enable them to access more opportunities and bring a higher quality of life for their families.
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This project offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the project for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
You will work with a wide variety of students teaching both practical and conversational English across different levels. The challenging but rewarding role will provide a unique insight into the Laotian culture.
You will work on the project Monday to Friday, weekends providing an opportunity to relax and explore.
You will live in Luang Prabang where South east Asian architecture and French colonial mansions collide to create a beautiful and unique setting. Accommodation is in a centrally located guesthouse with electricity and private bathroom.
Receiving a weekly food budget you can sample the local cuisine whilst exploring your new home and mingling with locals.
Many students in Laos have a strong desire to learn English which can create more employment opportunities improving their economic situation. This increased demand for English lessons and a severe lack of teachers has made classes extremely overcrowded resulting in a deterioration of quality.
By providing enthusiastic volunteers to focus on delivering high quality English lessons we aim to improve the quality of current English programs. Providing more native speaking teachers to area temples, schools and education center will help to increase access to learning the English language thus providing a higher level of education for individual students.
How this project makes a difference:
In the ancient city of Luang Prabang, English is the most popular subject in school and it is not uncommon to see a high teacher to student ratio. You will be able to help these eager students learn English and receive a quality education.
A growing number of volunteers are now coming from retired people or those having a career break . These are individuals who have more time, often a number of different experiences in the...
A growing number of volunteers are now coming from retired people or those having a career break . These are individuals who have more time, often a number of different experiences in the workplace. They see opportunities through GVI to use these in different ways to help local communities in different countries. My partner Tricia and I, are such a couple. We started off on a GVI building project in Peru, and this year moved to teaching English to Monks and Novices in Laos. We enjoyed it so much we are returning next year. Why? Well, quite simply we really enjoyed it and we were inspired by the local project leader and the high level of motivation of the students. Resources were often basic but the whole project was well planned by GVI. We worked with a great group of other volunteers and the accommodation was good. We both felt that our combined contributions were making a real difference to students’ progress in speaking English. We also learned a lot about Laos culture and cuisine. After taking a cookery course while working in Luang Prabang I have now expanded my range of Asia dishes, but I miss my Beer Laos to go with them!
In August 2011, I spent four truly incredible and adventurous weeks on GVI’s ‘Teaching English to Buddhist Novice Monks and Local Communities’ program in Luang Prabang, Laos. Just like everyone...
In August 2011, I spent four truly incredible and adventurous weeks on GVI’s ‘Teaching English to Buddhist Novice Monks and Local Communities’ program in Luang Prabang, Laos. Just like everyone else, I felt unprepared and very nervous about the task of teaching an actual class- but just after a few days I felt comfortable enough to teach by myself. I was fortunate enough to have a more experienced volunteer with me for the first two weeks, and in some classes we were also working with a Lao teacher. Even though I am currently studying English and French at Uni to become a teacher, I would not have expected teaching to be so much fun! The students were simply amazing- they were motivated, funny and working quite hard. Even though I couldn’t always get them to do their homework, they participated well in all of the lessons, and they always turned out more lively and funny than I had expected. Of all the wonderful memories I made in Laos, teaching was simply the best.
What I most recommend is to just go with whatever comes your way- planning is really not needed and often things go very differently from what you expected. Exactly this is what made this trip the best experience I’ve ever made- it was exciting and surprising, and I did and saw things I would never have thought I would or could!
I am a science teacher and have done various Earthwatch projects and have been a TREC teacher and a Teacher at Sea. I was looking for something a little different as a volunteer experience and was...
I am a science teacher and have done various Earthwatch projects and have been a TREC teacher and a Teacher at Sea. I was looking for something a little different as a volunteer experience and was surfing the net and found the GVI Laos trip, which looked very interesting.
Personally, I feel that I am giving back and making a huge difference in some young peoples lives and hopefully helping them break out of a cycle of poverty. Professionally, I think whenever you teach in areas outside your comfort zone it makes you a better teacher and some of the skills learned in Laos I am bringing back to the classroom in the US. I also bring back to my classroom stories of experiences from other countries to give them a perspective of what it is like in other places.
It was an amazing experience. To be able to interact with young novice Buddhist monks and know that you are actually making a positive impact on them seems almost a little surreal at first but then becomes so common place that it takes a moment when one grasps you on the arm and says "You are a very good teacher" to bring home exactly what you are doing.
But that is only a small part of it. The people that I met are what really made the Laos project something that will have a special place in my heart forever.
I could not leave a class without every passing student say “thank you very much, see you tomorrow” on a daily basis. Things don’t always go the way you plan here, but that is the epitome of Lao culture. As a teacher, you are seen with great respect by the community. The second you tell someone you are an English Teacher, they bombard you with questions.
I can only speak for myself when I say that this was a great experience. But I honestly believe that this is a chance worth taking.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Luang Prabang field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Laos!
Optional Side Trips
On your weekends or while off project, the following short trips are popular with our volunteers and should definitely be checked out! Swim in the crystal clear water of the Kuang Si waterfall, enjoy the cascades and walk to the top of the falls to enjoy the beautiful view of the course of the water below. There is also a protected bear camp at the falls that is well worth a visit; take a ride on the Mekong River to visit the historical Pak Ou Caves that hold thousands of Buddha images. Visit the “Jar Maker” and weaving villages on your way back to watch the weavers at work; a short ride out of town, you can kayak on the Nam Khan River, discovering village life, beautiful countryside and lush green mountains along the way; take a guided city tour through Luang Prabang with an experienced English speaking guide, visiting the Royal Palace Museum and the beautiful temples of Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai; discover the Tad Sae waterfall, a multi-level limestone formation that creates numerous cascading pools; cycle through the Luang Prabang valley and experience the daily life of the local people, passing temple ruins and handicraft villages.
Further Travelling Opportunities
If you have the time and budget, there are a number of opportunities for exploring Laos further. These could include visiting the World Heritage-listed ancient temple of Wat Phu Champasak, the nature reserve of Nam Ha Npa, the elephants and villages of Hongsa, the dramatic Mekong River, the travellers’ adventure hotspot of Vang Vieng, and many more.
Even further afield, the likes of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all border Laos and are a travellers dream with an endless list of possibilities and activities. You’ll be left wondering why you didn’t stay for longer!
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- The rare opportunity to work closely with novice monks in a temple school
- Orientation on teaching methods and techniques, language, culture and religion
- Airport pick-up and transfer
- Your own room in guesthouse accommodation in the ancient city Luang Prabang
- Learning about Lao culture, history, food, religion and language
- A guided tour of Luang Prabang to show you the sights and point out the best restaurants, internet cafe’s, banks, etc.
- Food allowance
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes