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ILP Blog: Stories, Adventures, & Advice from 20 Years of Volunteering Abroad

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ILP FAQS | Language

  
  
  

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that since our volunteers are teaching English, you all are prolly English-speakers, yeah?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Since you speak English, you might be nervous about heading out to a country where they don't speak your language. This leads us to one of our most frequently asked questions:

Do I have to speak Russian/Thai/Spanish/Chinese/Lithuanian to volunteer with ILP? 

Not at all!

The ILP method is all about teaching fluency via organized play. The only language you need to know is native English.

That said, if you want to learn the language of your assigned country, we offer language classes in-country. The cost of the class is covered by your program fees, and how much you learn totally depends on your dedication to learning. I've seen some teachers learn enough of the language to clep out of the first year of college language credit. Several of our alumni have even gone on to major in their language. 

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Aaaaaaaaand then there are teachers like me, who took the classes (and enjoyed them) but don't really apply themselves to learning more than basic skills. I mean, while I was in China I was totally able to go shopping, barter like a pro, get around on the trains and even order food at my favorite restaurants. I didn't need to know how to do any of these things, but I feel like it made my experience richer. I really felt like I was living there, you know what I mean?

So. To sum this all up. No, you don't need to speak a foreign language, but we give you the opportunity to learn one if you want :)

ILP Facts | What we do

  
  
  

What is ILP, anyway?

ILP is anacronym. It stands for International Language Programs. But what does that mean? What, exactly, is this thing called ILP?

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In 1992, BYU (Brigham Young University) professor Dr. Trevor McKee took the teaching method he'd spent the greater part of 2 decades developing and a group of students over to Russia for a beta-test of what he hoped would be a study abroad program associated with BYU but which has become so much more, so much greater than he'd ever imagined. Now, 20 years later, more than 6,000 volunteers have served more than 20,000 children - giving them the basics of a language they can use in the workforce.

We teach children from 4 years to 12 years in age, using the McKee method, and watch as they learn quicker than we imagined possible. We teach in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, China, Thailand and Mexico.

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ILP volunteers are English teachers - but we don't have degrees. We don't speak the languages of the countries we serve in, either. We're young - 18-25 years old for the most part. We're just people who want to travel and serve and go on adventures and discover ourselves and learn a little about the world outside our hometowns. 

We don't have a lot of money. Most of us are only able to go because of our hard work in fundraising or working a couple of part time jobs and saving everything we earned over the course of many months. Good news, is the program fee is cheap. If you're a college student in Utah, you'll discover that the program fee is similar to a semester'stuition - except the whole experience is cheaper since you don't have to pay rent or buy groceries. All that is covered in the program fee.

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We're good people, trying to do some good in the world and have fun while doing it.

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For more information, visit our FAQs page, or click on the blue button below.

Tell Me More

ILP volunteer makes an involuntary vocabulary mistake

  
  
  

One of the best and most remarkable features of the ILP program is that we get to take language classes in our countries. And those classes are included in the program fee.

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Since we go to their countries to teach English, wouldn't it make sense for us to try and learn their language as well?

How much you learn in your language class is entirely dependent on you. If you want to carry around a phrase book and do a lot of pointing and flipping through pages with a heartfelt smile universal for “please have pity on me” stamped on your face, you can. Nobody will stop you.

On the other hand, if you want to be able to walk up to a stranger on the street and ask for directions (coherently) and be able to follow their instructions, you can!

Language classes are such an amazing feature to the program, I highly recommend taking advantage of them and learning as much of the language as you can.

Heather, a volunteer in Kyiv during the spring semester 2010, actively applied herself to learning Russian. When she was halfway through the semester, she could carry on extended conversations. By the end of the semester, she could get her point across and sustain long conversations on just about any topic. When she came home, she was able to test out of the beginner levels of Russian at her university where she continued her language studies as her minor. A few months later, she applied to be a proselyting missionary for her church and was assigned to serve in Russia where she is speaking and practicing the language she learned while serving with ILP.

Seantay, a volunteer in China, also learned enough Chinese on the program to test out of the first year of classes at her university, where she ended up majoring in the language.

Those are just a couple of the success stories – Nicole, a China volunteer with 3 ILP semesters under her belt, is another. Jake, another. Amanda, another. The list goes on and on – and your name can be on it as well!

While we have many success stories, we also have stories about language blunders. Here’s mine. Permission to laugh at me has been granted.

When I lived in Ukraine, I was amazed. I had started learning Russian before I spent a year and a half learning French, so I hadn't noticed it the first time around, but after having abandoned Russian for a couple of years while I learned French and then coming back--the cognates astounded me! While English and French have many similar words, English and Russian do not. Russian and French, however, is a whole different ball game.

Back in the day, you know, when monarchs could only marry other monarchs, the aristocratic families of Europe interbred. The George of Germany went and became the King of England, the So-and-so of Italy went to Hungary, the What's-his-title of Denmark and the What's-her-face of the Emporer of something's daughter had a one-nighter that turned into a dynasty, and so on.

While all of that was going on, somehow French became the language of the upper classes in France, England, Russia, and a few other places. What that means is that the royals were educated first in French, then in the common language of their country. As a result, French bled into the language, filling the various tongues with adorable cognates which make learning a new language both horrendously tricky and delightfully simple.

In Russian, the word for sidewalk is nearly identical to the French word. Ah, the glory of knowing these random words and the ability to ask directions without seeming like a stereotypical American tourist!

When I arrived in Ukraine, I felt rather pleased with myself for my ability to get around with the language. Rather pleased translates to cocky. Cocky as I was, it was a sublime pleasure to stop by the grocer's stand on the way home and pick up a piece of fruit or a vegetable to complement my dinner knowing that I spoke enough of the language to ask for tomatoes and bananas politely and semi-fluently.

And then I learned one day that the cognate for tomatoes that I'd been so proud to know was false. The word in English is tomato. In French, it's tomate. In Russian, I thought it was tomat--WRONG! It's pomodore. What!?! That has nothing to do with tomato as we know it!

I felt so ashamed...all those days and weeks of stopping by the cute little stand on my way home, asking for tomatoes and having them smile nicely at me and my WRONG WORD REQUEST!

My cheeks flushed.

I felt an inexplicable desire to change my route so I would no longer pass by that particular stand.

I cowered against the laughing gaze of my brother, the pro-Russian-speaker who had corrected me and proved his correctness with a dictionary when I hadn't wanted to believe.

I started my journey home, taking a marshrutka from the school to the metro.

Then I took the green line to where it connected with the blue line.

Then I took the blue line to my stop.

Then I walked through the tunnel under the train station.

Then I came up the steps and smelled waffles.

Then I reached the decision location: turn here like I normally do and pass by the vegetable stand of shame or go around the block past the movie theater?

I paused, feeling the world swirl around me like special movie effects.

I bit my lip, fighting my pride and my shame.

I took a deep breath...

 

...

 

...

 

...

...and realized that I was being silly and needed to suck it up, be a man, and face my shame.

I turned and hiked up the hill to the vegetable stand of shame and humiliation.

I greeted the veggie man.

I asked for 4 tomatoes.

"chitiri pomodores pagalsta?"

His face broke into a massive grin. He laughed and told me I was a good girl, and chuckled the whole time he bagged my tomatoes and counted my change. When I walked away, he gave me the heartiest, 'Come back soon!' I'd ever received in my life. He was so proud of me for finally learning that word, I shall never forget it, as long as I live.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to make a few language blunders. Laugh about them, learn from them, and keep trying to speak the language of your country!

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Volunteer for FREE (part 1)

  
  
  

Feeling like financial woes might blow you over?

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Today's post comes as part one in a three-part series on fundraising and budgeting.

The demographic for ILP volunteers includes men and women from the ages of 18-25. This means that most of our volunteers are students. It also means that most, if not all, of our volunteers are pretty close to broke. As in sans argent. As in, none of us have any money.

That's okay. We're non-profit. We don't have money, either.

So how does a money-less organization and a bunch of money-less young adults manage to send approximately 200 volunteer English teachers abroad every semester for 20 years?

Two words: Fundraising and Budgeting. 

There's so much information to share about these two lovely words, that we couldn't possibly smush it all into one post - or even a seminar or vlog. So we're bringing it to you in a series over the next three weeks. Check in each Monday for the next installment.

Part One: Scouting Costs and Outlining a Budget.

Part Two: Learning the ins and outs and how-tos of fundraising.

Part Three: Traveling money-wise. Save money while abroad.

And now, without further ado,

Part One: Scouting Costs and Outlining a Budget

No matter which study/volunteer/travel abroad experience you choose to participate in, the question of "Can I afford this?" is relevant and applicable to you.

Before you can answer that basic question, you first need to scout the territory and ask questions such as:

  • How much is the program fee?
  • Is airfare included?
  • Will I have to purchase my own visa?
  • Is room and board included?
  • How much additional spending money do you recommend I take?
  • Will I need to pay for my baggage at the airport?
  • What else will I need to pay for on my own?
  • Are there any discounts or incentive programs available?

Not only are these questions essential for figuring out your budget, they’re also a great way to discover any “hidden” costs which might exist.

When you ask these questions, write down the responses. Asking them will do you no good if you forget the answers. Write down an itemized list so that creating an accurate budget will be simple.

Now, to the budget. When I say “budget” what I really mean is “the grand total amount needed to go on this program” – but as we’ll go over next Monday, there are ways to get out of paying that amount on your own. But you do need to know what that amount is so you can raise enough money to cover it.

Since this is the ILP blog, I’m going to go ahead and answer all of these questions and create a budget listing for a typical semester on our program. You’re welcome.

How much is the program fee?

$2520

Is airfare included?

Yes ($0 extra, unless you’re flying from Canada, Alaska, or Hawaii – then you’ll need to pay the difference to get yourself to the continental U.S. and then we’ll cover your flight from there to the country you’ll be serving in)

Will I have to purchase my own visa?

No (you’re welcome)

Is room and board included?

Yes

How much additional money do you recommend I take?

$1,000 – $1,500 (for eating out, vacations, souvenirs, and cultural activities)

Will I need to pay for my baggage at the airport?

Yes, and unfortunately the airlines change the rules about this so often, we can’t give you an accurate amount. In the past, the fee has been anywhere from $75 - $150.

What else will I need to pay for on my own?

You will need to purchase your own passport, as well as your I.D. photos. You will also need to come to Orem, Utah for your 2-day training before your trip, and you will need to cover the costs of travel and a place to stay during training.

You will also need to pay for the teaching supplies you bring with you.

Are there any discounts or incentive programs available?

Yes. If you pay in full within 3 weeks of acceptance, we will discount your program fee by $100. We also have incentives offered at various times throughout the year, so be sure to ask your representative if there are any currently available.

 

So to travel with ILP on a given semester, you will need roughly $4,000-$4,500.

(If you’re from Utah, you’ll note that that amount is the equivalent of a semester’s costs at any of our major universities, and depending on your eating habits and rent, might even be a great deal less than what you’d spend staying here and going to school.)

Now that you know the questions to ask, and you know the answers as far as ILP is concerned, it’s time to look at that number and decide how to pay for it. Some choose simply to pick up extra hours at work or cut back on the number of take-out meals they eat in a week – that’s a sure way to save some dollars!

I chose to take a semester off and work two part time jobs, but many of us would rather not take a semester off to save money to take a semester off. And that’s okay. Next Monday I’ll be going over ways to fundraise and get other people to help pay for your volunteer experience.

In the mean time, click here for the tutorial on how to get a passport, and here, here, and here for stories and videos guaranteed to convince you that this trip is worth budgeting and fundraising for.

Or, you can always click the big button at the bottom and have one of our representatives call you.

Oh, and one more thing – this blog exists to help you get ready to serve abroad and give you tips and tutorials for surviving the teaching scene. If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or anything of the sort, leave a comment below and we’ll make sure to answer in the form of a post. Thank you, and happy budgeting!

Ukraine Volunteer: Vacation to Dresden

  
  
  

*Sarah West taught English in Ukraine as an ILP volunteer last year. Here follows the account of her weekend trip to Germany!*

 

The day we went to Dresden was the halfway mark of our time in Ukraine. Dresden was AWESOME. Everyone should go!

 

 

 


Funny story. Remember how we went with Ukrainians? Even though they weren't on our tours, we would see them around the city. I am not kidding when I say they pose exactly like the picture below for ALL pictures. They never smile. They usually make these kind of faces. They are posers! So we had to try to become more cultured. Mine worked.

But in the middle of Laria's shot, a truck was coming up behind her. I caught her face right after she turned back to see it. This picture looks posed, but it is not. That is real life.

 

 

 

 

Our tour guide Sylvia

This was the most divine crepe I've ever had in my life. Nutella and bananas. How come no one ever introduced me to Nutella before Ukraine?! Too good, too good.

Eating our crepe

Awesome street crossing lights.

Eating bratwurst in Germany. Sweet! I don't even love hot dogs, so I was worried. No need for that because it was DELICIOUS! 

Laria and I found an awesome old photo booth. After we took some cool best friend pictures we used them for her photography practice. Turned out pretty cool right?

 

And that was Dresden. And these are the kinds of things you can do on vacation from Ukraine with ILP!

To travel, or not to travel?

  
  
  
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Where do you see yourself this January?
Slogging through the slush of a Utah winter? ?
Tromping through snow in Idaho?
Fighting the cold to get to class - and fighting a sudden head cold when your professor reminds you of a research paper you forgot you needed to write?
Maneuvring through commute traffic to get to work?

Wouldn't you rather be wandering through a market in Eastern Europe?

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Or how about visiting China's Venice?

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Or, if you're protesting in fury because you absolutely adore the snow and the cold, wouldn't you much prefer to explore a monastary in Russia than the hike from your car to your apartment?

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Wherever you decide to spend the first few months of 2013, make sure they're memorable.

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It is amazing how the love for children is universal. I went to Ukraine during the fall 2010 semester, then China in fall of 2011. I loved the kids in both countries soooo much! The experience and knowledge that one gains from service abroad is entirely different from what can be learned in college. I would love to do ILP over and over again! This program made a huge impact on my life and has made me a better person. If you are thinking about going, just do it!
- Megan Graham
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The best choice I've ever made in my life was to volunteer abroad. Everyone needs to experience living in another country. The second best choice was going again! Wish me luck for my third trip this fall :)
- Jennifer King
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Dear Elder: I'm traveling the world!

  
  
  

While he goes to the MTC, have some adventures of your own!

adventure

While waiting for a missionary, why not volunteer in China, Lithuania, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, or Thailand with cute kids for a semester? Here's the word from some ladies in a similar boat:

Chelsie: "My missionary had been out for a year when I left and now that I'm back, I have less than six months to go! It was great; I learned so much and really got to focus on serving (although in a different way) and we grew a lot together as we served!"

Alyxandria:  "I'll be going to Thailand in January, and I'll be coming home in June. He gets home in April... =] So this time he'll be waiting for me in the airport. =]"

Desiree: "It helped the time fly by and it was an amazing way for me to grow while my missionary was out :) He has 6 months left and ILP really helped me :)"

Amanda: "I went to China for two semesters and he served in Thailand. I thought it was a great experience for both of us. I was able to understand a lot of what he went through since I got the Asian experience as well. We even got home the same day :) Oh and we are married now! One of the best things I did!"

ILP is a volunteer program with LDS standards teaching children English in six countries! Read posts from current and former volunteers, speak to someone who recently returned, or learn about what a day in the life of a volunteer is like!

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Facing college disappointment (and BYU admissions) with ILP!

  
  
  

Have BYU admissions or BYU-I admissions let you down? Did you get into a different track than you wanted, or just plain get rejected? Don't despair! BYU admissions is especially notorious for being tough to get into, and a semester abroad can help your college chances and let you cope with admissions angst. Here are five ways a semester with ILP can help with acceptance into the off-track or no acceptance at all:

1. If you re-apply: It may be an issue of space, and you may have a couple months to kill while waiting to apply for a different semester. In the meantime, instead of moping about the house, you could spend a semester in another country teaching English!

2. If you take online classes: Taking online classes can get your GPA up and/or prove you have college chops. And it's definitely possible to take online classes while volunteering in China, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Thailand, or Mexico!

china classroom

3. If you get accepted into the off-track: It's hard to get a job for just a semester or the one-off track. If BYU-I admissions accepted you into an unexpected track and you have a few months to kill, spend your off semester in a different type of classroom! Mexico is especially nice for a break from Rexburg's chill.

4. If you want to strengthen your application: It's hard to go wrong with a semester abroad. Service and volunteering, international experience, first-hand learning in the education field, possible study of a language... all these things look good to an admissions committee. Plus, it's a lot of fun!

5. If you want to give up and move on: living abroad is a great way to start a new life. You may make new friends, discover new interests, and see more of the world. Who knows? You may never want to leave!

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Questions? Curious? Head spinning? Speak to a former volunteer or check out our website for the deets, and best of luck in whatever road you choose!

 

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