Fun day organised by volunteers. You are welcome to suggest and help organise special events.
Volunteers at the school on a tuk tuk. £6 each way but can be shared by up to 6 passengers
How can I prepare for teaching before I go?
If you are staying more than two weeks and would like to teach, take a look at the Headway course materials on the Oxford University Press website where you can find sample pages online for selected books to get an idea of what is involved in teaching English. It is also worth looking in the English teaching section of your local book shop. In the UK the larger Waterstones book shops often have a copy or two to glance through. A larger library may also have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) section. There is no need to buy any TEFL books but by looking at samples, you can give you a good idea of what the programme is like if you are new to TEFL.
If after your stay you would like to take up TEFL as a career, it is a good idea to get a qualification. The only ones worth having are the CELTA or CertTESOL and you only need one of these. The CELTA certificate is endorsed by Cambridge (having Cambridge on the certificate will look good to foreign employers!) and the CertTESOL qualification provided by Trinity College London. They both cover the same content and offer the same supervised teaching and can be studied at centres around the world.
CELTA and TESOL are genuinely the only two genuinely recognised international qualifications, despite what some other providers of TEFL may claim.
If you would like advice on teaching in Cambodia and what to expect fill in a call back request form and we’ll get right back!
What do I need to take if I am teaching in Cambodia?
Lesson plans and resources from the OUP (Oxford University Press) series are being used. The content is outstanding and widely regarded by language centres around the world but the style is more geared towards adults so if you are staying more than a couple of weeks and will be teaching you may want to bring any additional fun games suited to young learners. You may want to search online for TEFL activities and games for young learners. Here is a site which has been running a long time dedicated to teachers of young learners.
Black or coloured marker pens are a good investment for creating flashcards that the children at the back of the class can see. They can dry up quickly and run out so if you are staying a while you may want to bring a few.
Although there is usually a blackboard, it can be quicker to prepare in advance on A4 paper and avoids having to turn your back all the time to write/draw on the board. Some teachers only ever hold up A4 sheets and never use the board except for Hangman at the end of a class.
Informal clothes are acceptable for teaching although as with any teaching avoid strappy vests.
For building, repair work or working alongside local people and anyone staying longer term bring sturdy footwear/strong trainers, breathable d.i.y./gardening gloves, a super wide rimmed sun hat and breathable lightweight summer clothes which can get dirty.
Volunteers built a road to prevent muddy feet in the rainy season.
Some children don’t want to go home after classes!
What happens on arrival?
8 in 10 volunteers to Cambodia fly to Phnom Penh, are met on arrival by the regular driver or the coordinator and transferred straight to the project. As for all projects we recommend arriving on a Monday or Tuesday to settle in to the routine and make friends before your first weekend when many volunteers will explore further afield in their free time.
Arriving at the weekend can mean you miss out on a trip and things are a bit quieter whilst you wait for everyone to return. If you are coming overland from elsewhere we will put you in touch with the local support team closer to travel to make arrangements. Some volunteers make their own way from Phnom Penh by bus, taxi and even speedboat!
What is a typical day like as a volunteer in Cambodia?
08:00 – 09:00 Wake up, get ready, daily project maintenance tasks
09:00 – 11:30 Maintenance, free time, visiting the market to top up personal supplies.
11:30 – 12:30 Planning together : lessons and other activities
13:00 – 18:30 English teaching, arts, sports and social activities according to children’s abilities
19:00 – 20:00 Communal meal and informal group discussion
20:00 – 22:00 Volunteer group activities : Quiz nights, card games, movie nights etc
Are meals provided?
Cambodia volunteers can take advantage of the resident cook’s delicious evening dinners between Monday and Friday for approx. £4-£5 a day. Healthy eaters should not be concerned about the quantity of food. There are usually leftovers for a second plate if needed.
Drinking water is provided and included in the weekly dinner payment.
Breakfast and lunch is not provided but at the start of the day the cook is happy to prepare omelette or chips or something you have bought. Previous requests have included hot dogs and roast dinners!
Are there any shops?
A house close to the project maintains a little supply of cold soft drinks (Sprite etc), noodles, Cambodian crisps and cigarettes if you run short. For additional snacks morning trips into the market by tuk tuk are made to buy fresh bread, jam, milk and fruit. If you are busy in the morning, there is usually someone going to market who will be happy to pick up things for you.
There is a fridge on site but it can get quite full and fridges in Cambodia struggle in the extreme temperatures. Volunteers generally only use the fridge to store milk. Fresh food bought in the market in the morning which does not require a fridge can still struggle to stay fresh in the heat and is best eaten same day.
Tea drinkers may want to invest in bringing their favourite tea bags from home, the international brand Lipton found in Cambodia is not very strong.
Longer stay volunteers may like to bring some favourite snacks for a treat and cooking ingredients for the cook to create brunches for you. Avoid bringing anything which requires a fridge or will melt in the heat. For example, breakfast cereal bars or a tasty cooking sauce sachet which could be combined with rice/noodles.
What do I need to take to make my stay comfortable?
Volunteer accommodation is provided on site with dorm style beds divided between (mostly) single sex dormitories. Between October and Spring there are enough western soft beds for everyone. During the summer months between June and August when volunteer numbers are higher it is a good idea to bring a sleeping mat or Thermarest or similar product as Cambodians typically sleep on wooden benches which can take some getting used to.
You will need to bring your own bedding. Ideally you will want to bring a pillow and single duvet cover (not the actual duvet – too bulky and too hot!) to sleep inside which will be more comfortable and less sticky in the heat than a sleeping bag. This will also be easier to wash than a sleeping bag if you’re a long stay volunteer.
A mosquito net is essential although if you would rather not buy one, you may get lucky and find a volunteer has left one behind. If you are buying a net, take the largest single bed one you can, there is nothing worse than a small net which rips when you tuck it in. There is usually way to hook up all the different types of nets. Nets can also be bought locally cheaply if you need to get one.
A hard lockable trolley case is practical item to keep your belongings tidy as there is not enough furniture to store everything away. Longer stay volunteers may find the novelty of everything squashed in a rucksack and strewn over the floor wears off quickly.
You may also want to bring some guide or history books on Cambodia for yourself or some board or group games to do in the evenings with the other volunteers. Although the volunteer group is very sociable, sometimes it is possible to run out of conversation and there is little to do locally away from the project itself.
Not sure what to bring? Perhaps if you will be travelling around beforehand and can’t carry lots? Request a call back using the form and we’ll help you prioritise what to take.
A Cambodia volunteer visits a family. The area is one of the poorest in South east Asia with most people still living off the land. English can lift children out of poverty by winning scholarships and entering higher education.
Stay long enough and you may have an opportunity to visit a state run orphanage but the poorest and most vulnerable children will be those you work with at the rural school
Is Cambodia safe?
Considering the country’s poverty compared to it’s neighbour Thailand, Cambodia is surprisingly safe. The people are on the whole extremely friendly and genuine. Cambodia is still relatively untouched by the aggressive commercialisation of other tourist destinations. Come and enjoy the country before it gets too busy!
Like any country, capital cities attract undesirable petty crime and in Phnom Penh, a city of motorbikes it is a good idea to keep your valuables tucked away so they can’t be grabbed.
Care should be taken in your free time when visiting Sihanoukville which is a popular destination (known to backpackers as Snooky). Although it’s still a fairly tame new resort compared to other places it’s still a good idea to avoid drinking there after dark if you are a long walk from your hostel.
What support is provided?
A friendly English speaking coordinator directs the Cambodia volunteer programme and can be contacted at any time throughout your stay. They will be your first point of contact should you have any questions or queries during your trip. Local project staff and long stay volunteers also provide support from arrival and meals to help with organising your classes, free time and any additional help you may need to make your stay more comfortable.
Effective volunteering requires great support and organisation for volunteers to be able to concentrate on making a difference, without support in Cambodia, the programme simply would not be possible! In addition support comes from within the volunteer group itself, everyone supporting each other pro-actively to create the very atmosphere and experience.
Can I travel with other volunteers?
We will Buddy you up with another volunteer so you can fly out together, just let us know at the time of booking. Even if you do travel alone, and about 7 in 10 do, it is extremely unlikely you will be on your own on this popular project. There can be upwards of 30 volunteers on one day in the summer months. You can also:
- Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
- Join the volunteer community on Facebook and like the page to connect with other volunteers, receive recent pictures, stories and updates.
Mealtimes are a special time when everyone comes together. A resident cook provides delicious between meals Monday to Friday
Volunteers in Cambodia often share classes. In your first week it is more usual to shadow and assist until you find your feet and get to know the level of the children.
Can I choose where to volunteer in Cambodia?
All volunteers start at the rural village school which has been the main volunteer base since the start of the project. Here you are well looked after by your volunteer coordinator and the assisting staff and cook.
You may like to move to other projects which may be running at the time of your stay, these are generally only recommended after settling in and your coordinator will help you with this.
Occasionally visits are made to a local orphanage, ask your coordinator about a visit if you are interested. The emphasis of most orphanage visits is play rather than direct care and support. Contrary to the children who come to the English classes, looked-after children can be in receipt of more of the basic essentials such as food and resources due to state or private funding. Many local children’s families work in the rice fields for £2 a day which can make providing for the children a serious challenge.
What if I travel with my friend?
All friends are met on arrival and transferred to the rural school together where 9 in 10 volunteers stay. Let us know at the time of booking that you are travelling with a friend so your support team can organise schedules and plan accordingly.
Will I be safe on the project?
You will be perfectly safe whilst volunteering in Cambodia. This is an area where there are few tourists so few opportunities for people to move into the area to take advantage of their foreign visitors.
Volunteer visits are hassle-free with any incidents occurring likely to be when away on trips and to a certain degree self-inflicted; sunbathing in the heat of the day, too much alcohol or accidents on mopeds (nearly everyone has an accident story to tell – avoid mopeds to stay safe, take a tuk tuk instead!).
It is an extremely friendly and welcoming place where locals are still genuinely pleased to see you. Many families still rely on what little work they can get in the rice fields so if you are invited for a meal, take a little offering (bag of rice or other staple) with you just in case it is a poorer family or else you might inadvertently be eating tomorrow’s dinner in order that they can welcome you as their guest!
Will I need a visa?
British passport holders do not require a visa before travel with only one exception. One volunteer in 2017 flying from the UK with a Chinese airline via China was not permitted to board without their Cambodia visa in their passport. We recommend contacting your chosen airline for advice before travel. For all other travellers to date, all types of visa for all durations have been obtained on arrival at the airport or point of entry.
Will I need any jabs?
Our travel health section has all the information on jabs and keeping yourself healthy and safe abroad.
Volunteers take in local landscape from nearby hilltop.
Some of the younger children are happy simply to be creative with materials volunteers bring.
How will I get around when I’m not volunteering?
Most volunteers stay at the village school stay on site during the week. When the project is busy with volunteers there is usually a lot more happening at the school than in the local local town! You can still get into the local town if you want to by tuk tuk for approx. £6 return (this can be shared by up to 6 passengers so works out cheaper if a group travel together).
Fast facts – Project information
Project Duration: Min 1 week if not teaching – 12 weeks. 2 weeks recommended for teaching.
Volunteer options: English teaching, outdoor games or hands on work at the village school.
Accommodation: Shared volunteer accommodation
Food: Village school: Meals provided on site due to location.
Working Hours: Teaching is part time Mon to Fri only, other work may be part or full time 5 days a week. Weekends always free.
Volunteers usually stay: 2 – 3 weeks or considerably longer. Two weeks is recommended for anyone wanting to have a go at teaching.
Project operates: All year with short breaks during the following periods when the classes officially take a break: Friday November 9th Independence Day, November 19th – December 2nd 2018 (Water Festival, project closed), 22nd December – 7th January (Christmas and New Year), April 9th – April 23rd 2018 (Cambodian New Year Celebrations). It is sometimes possible to stay on site at the project during these periods although it may feel eerily quiet with minimal staff and the project pets for company, although these times are often popular with super long stay volunteers wanting a little extended peace and quiet!
When to apply: Contact us asap to check dates and help advise as this project fills fast.
Requirements: Minimum age 18 on arrival unless travelling with a responsible adult.
How will I get back to the airport?
Your in-country support team will help you to organise the return transfer to Phnom Penh airport. For early morning flights you may like to travel to Phnom Penh the day before and stay at the volunteer guesthouse which can be pre-booked for you.
Can I leave my things at the project if I travel?
Yes you can leave your things at the project to collect before your return home. Just let one of the staff know and make sure your case is locked securely and in a safe place. You may like to contact the school team just before you return so they can make sure someone is there.
What are the costs after I have registered and booked my space?
After you have booked your space and registered with us,(registered volunteers travelling within 12 months of their first project abroad do not need to pay the registration fee again) there is only one one-off programme contribution of £150. This covers a visit of up to 12 weeks. This includes on-site accommodation at the school. One large hot meal is provided Monday to Friday for approx. £4 a day, payable at the project.
All volunteers purchase a return flight to Cambodia (some volunteers fly to Bangkok in Thailand followed by independent travel overland to Cambodia to save on flight costs); Phnom Penh is the nearest Cambodian airport to the project. It is approximately 2.5 hours from the project which is halfway between the capital city and the souther coast. If you are not sure how to buy a flight or what are the ones to look for get in touch.
If you fly to Phnom Penh in the morning during the week an airport pick up and transfer will be organised automatically for you for approx. £30, payable on arrival.
Travel insurance is strongly advised, make sure the one you purchase covers all medical bills. You can expect to pay between £40 – £80 for a short stay. Without insurance private medical bills for the simplest of treatments can range from £100 – £300 a day if you are required to stay in.
A visa is not needed before travel if you have a British/European passport and will stay for less than 30 days, a tourist visa is obtained on arrival. If you stay longer, a longer stay visa for approx £20 – £30 can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh airport on request which can then be extended regularly throughout your long stay.
Allow about £200 extra for anything you would like to do in your free time and for your weekend/day trips to the beaches. We strongly recommend taking as much as you can extra, as you may want to buy some materials for the children, the school or poorer local families.
If you have any questions regarding flights or visas, ask us! We’ll be happy to advise.
How and when do I need to pay for my project?
An invoice for the Cambodia school project contribution will be sent by email which you can pay online, this is usually sent after we have received your flights. This is the easiest way to pay.
What does the Cambodia project contribution cover?
The Cambodia programme contribution covers accommodation throughout your stay, general project bills (electricity), maintenance, and basic project management resources. A substantial part of the programme fee covers the required advertising by OV to recruit volunteers to the project. When advertising was lessened in previous years this had a dramatic impact on volunteer numbers which in turn affected the project’s growth. Although we are aware many will find this project from previous volunteers, there are not enough word of mouth referrals to make this project viable throughout the year. Many will only be able to stumble across the project through traditional forms online for which there is usually an advertising and marketing cost at some stage.
If you would like to provide additional help small donations or resources bought locally are warmly welcomed, speak to your local project manager about what is needed at the time of your visit.
UPDATE It is envisaged that the programme fee of £150 will increase shortly. Volunteers registering for the first time (or reserving a place if already registered) before the increase will not be charged extra providing they registered or reserved before the increase.