Volunteer Teaching in Mongolia
- Placement locations: Ulaanbaatar
- Types of schools: Kindergartens, Elementary School, High School, Language Institute
- Age of students: 6 - 25
- Class sizes: 25 - 40
- Role: Teacher or teaching assistant (English)
- Requirements: None
- Extra-curricular roles: Drama, Music, Sports
- Accommodation: Host families
- Length of placement: From 3 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
Volunteer teaching in Mongolia is an ideal way to help at some of the most poorly resourced schools in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian government plans to increase its economic trade with neighboring countries to improve high unemployment levels after years of slow economic growth and debt. With this in mind, the hard-pressed schools desperately need native English speakers to help give the children a better chance to move the country forward.
Whether you want to volunteer in Mongolia as a teacher during your gap year, career break or during a volunteer vacation, you will have an important role to play in one of the schools and language institutes in which we work. The impact you have on your students will be obvious, but you will also be part of a much larger network of international volunteers, which is making a positive and ongoing contribution to the wider community.
You can choose to volunteer at a kindergarten, elementary school, or high school. Please let us know which type of placement you would like to teach at.
Volunteering as a Teacher in Mongolia
When you arrive at your school in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, don't be surprised if you find an old "communist-style" concrete structure with basic, clean but purely functional facilities. The stark buildings certainly don't reflect the welcoming nature of the people within.
Volunteers who have placements in junior/high schools teach children between the ages of roughly 12 and 17. Those who work in language centers during the summer vacations could be teaching groups of young teenagers and adults. The average class size in a school is between twenty and thirty and volunteers are expected to work for about four hours per day. In a language center class, classes will be much smaller, but you will still be asked to teach a similar number of hours.
Your main role as a volunteer teacher is to help the local staff by teaching the conversational elements of their lessons. Although learning the English language is the aim, many of your lessons will also be opportunities for cultural exchange. Your students are the perfect age to spend English lessons talking about soccer, current affairs, and pop music. Students will be delighted if you can develop their language skills by incorporating music, games or drama into your lessons.
Did you know? Historically, schools in Mongolia were run by Buddhist monasteries and entrance was only for monks. Non-religious schools were established in 1911.
Teenagers and young adults in Mongolia are also generally curious to find out what life is like in North America. Sandwiched between China and Russia, you will find their perception of life outside the vastness of Asia is interesting, to say the least. Answering your questions will increase their confidence, and broaden their views of the world outside of Mongolia.
As a volunteer teacher in Mongolia, you will mainly teach English, but you are more than welcome to teach extra-curricular subjects such as drama, music, and sports. Teaching these subjects will help raise your students’ self-confidence and enrich their educational experience.
There are three additional placements you can choose, depending on your skills and interests. You can choose to teach Japanese full-time at a university. You can also choose to teach disabled children between the ages of 18 and 25 at a special needs center. This is not a full-time placement, and can only be done in addition to teaching at a kindergarten or school. As a further option, you can choose to teach business professionals and government workers. Language classes are expensive and local organizations are often unable to afford English classes their staff need. This option can also only be done in addition to teaching at a kindergarten or school. Please let us know if you would like to teach at either of these placements.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Mongolia Teaching Management Plan.
Volunteering at a Teaching Placement in Mongolia with Projects Abroad
When you arrive at your placement, our Projects Abroad Mongolia staff will introduce you to a friendly supervisor, usually one of the English teachers at the school, and then to lots of enthusiastic students. They are unlikely to have had a great deal of contact with Western people in the past and you may well find yourself rapidly become something of a celebrity.
Teaching volunteers receive regular workshops from Projects Abroad to provide a greater understanding of the educational system in Mongolia and to assist volunteers at their placements. We also organize regular community based outreaches for volunteers to be involved with.
If you would like to work with younger children, please ask us about the Care placements we have available.
During the summer vacation in July and August Projects Abroad organizes a summer camp at a school in Ulaanbaatar. Volunteers are responsible for planning and leading fun, interactive classes. There may also be the opportunity to spend time at a summer camp in the countryside outside of Ulaanbaatar.
You can join the Teaching Project in Mongolia for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.
I had the luck to teach to extremely motivated people. I seldom had to make any discipline, and the students showed an enthusiasm and a desire to learn that I have never met in any Swiss student. They were completely aware of the importance of knowing other languages in a country where tourism is a major opening, and they all wanted to go abroad to improve their level. They worked a lot, and they always learnt the vocabulary of the previous lessons without my telling them to do it. Read more...
While you’re in Mongolia, you might also consider joining a 1 week Conservation & Environment Project. For more information, please visit our Nomad Project in Mongolia page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.
Although it is not required for you to speak Mongolian to volunteer in Mongolia, learning a few basics is always helpful. You can also choose to do the Mongolian Language Course before or during your placement.