Teach English in the ancient city of Luang Prabang, where the Nam Khan river meets the mighty Mekong. This protected UNESCO world heritage site and spiritual capital in central north Laos is an astounding blend of modernity and ancient Buddhist culture.
To escape the poverty cycle, many young men in Laos choose to become monks. While the education provided is inexpensive, it is also over crowded, and as a result teachers are often overwhelmed. By volunteering to teach English you will help improve the quality of education that many receive, which in turn will help many students and their families improve their quality of life.
Volunteers will have time off at weekends to explore the region and so can take a scenic boat trip up the Mekong to the Pak Ou Caves, watch the sunset from atop Mount Phu Si, swim in the Kuang Si Waterfalls, marvel at the many temples, trek, raft or take an elephant tour. This is the perfect way to explore one of the countries in Asia least tarnished by tourism.
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.
You will teach both practical and conversational English to students across various levels of ability. As you develop bonds with and get to know your students, you will have the unique opportunity to explore Laotian culture and also forge some lifelong friendships along the way with your fellow volunteers.
In your base town of Luang Prabang, French Colonial mansions fuse with exotic Southeast Asian architecture to create an intriguing city in which to live, in which you will have your own room in a centrally located guesthouse with a private bathroom. You will also receive a weekly food budget that you can use to explore the amazing Lao cuisine, a rare blend of French meets Southeast Asia.
English offers many people a way to make a living and improve their overall socio-economic status. However, a severe lack of English teachers has made classes extremely overcrowded and led to the deterioration in the quality of the class that can be delivered.
Our goal is to help deliver a consistent supply of enthusiastic English teachers who are interested in working to help improve the current English language 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 program 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.
Beautiful jungle foliage reaches up from the numerous gardens and from both river sides. Colourful blossoms and rich fragrances. Coconut palms and bananas......But, probably, the most memorable aspect is the hundreds of saffron robed novice Buddhist monks to be seen wherever you look. Teaching them is such a pleasure. Typical of Lao people, they are humble and mild mannered and learning English is so important to them. Being amongst them, teaching them; just being here is a wonderful calming experience. None of us want to leave.
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
- Private 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