Bridge Expands English Opens Doors Program Teacher Recruitment to all Regions of Chile

After over four years of successful partnership, the Chilean Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) has invited Bridge to recruit a substantially increased number of volunteers for its English Opens Doors Program this year. MINEDUC has also opened Bridge’s recruitment area from three southern regions in Chilean Patagonia to all 15 regions of the country. This exciting development will allow Bridge to facilitate a unique teaching and working experience for a large number of volunteers, and to make an impact on even more underserved school children in Chile.

“Bridge has truly valued the partnership that has developed over the years with MINEDUC. We are very proud to have been selected to recruit volunteers for the entire country of Chile this year, and we are thrilled that we will be able to offer this exciting experience abroad to even more people,” said Lisa Rooney, Director of Teacher Training and Recruitment for Bridge.

English Opens Doors—a program developed by MINEDUC and the United Nations Development Fund in 2003—works to put qualified, native English- speaking teachers into elementary and high school classrooms across the nation. With schools and offices in both Santiago, Chile and Denver, CO, USA, Bridge is especially effective at placing high-quality volunteers and preparing them for their experience in Chile.

“Bridge has recruited qualified and motivated volunteers to participate in the English Opens Doors Program since 2006. These volunteers have dedicated their time and energy to working in public schools throughout various regions of Chile with the goal of improving the English level of these students. Bridge also has a branch of its organization here in Santiago that provides great support to its volunteer recruits. BridgeChile offers Spanish classes that no doubt are very useful during the volunteers’ service term, as well as a Chilean cultural orientation upon the volunteers' arrival. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with the team at Bridge for the past year and a half, and I look forward to seeing the relationship prosper as we move into the future,” said Katie Freeman, Volunteer Coordinator for English Opens Doors for the National Volunteer Center in Chile.

During an in-depth training session in Chile prior to their fieldwork, Bridge volunteers on the English Opens Doors Program attend an orientation to help them acclimate to the local culture, along with one week of free Spanish classes to allow them to navigate the host country. Teachers also receive a 120-hour online TEFL teacher-training course prior to going abroad.

"Bridge is thrilled about our continued relationship with the MINEDUC and the English Opens Doors Program. We have received extremely positive feedback from returned participants of the program over the past few years, and are confident that this truly is one of the best teach abroad opportunities available. The National Volunteer Center's decision to open the entire country of Chile to our volunteers makes the program even more attractive," said Matthew Clark, Bridge Program Coordinator.

EOD volunteers become an integral part of the community, living with host families and teaching or co-teaching English classes at the local school. This allows both students and local English teachers to greatly improve their English language skills through practice with native speakers. The increased number of recruits and the opportunity to send volunteers to all regions of the country will dramatically expand Bridge’s ability to contribute to the quality education of Chilean school children.“Bridge and MINEDUC have been collaborating for many years now with the goal of joining Chilean teachers and students with native speakers of English. Although one of the most important goals of the English Opens Doors program is to improve the level of English proficiency in Chile, we believe that the program produces results that go far beyond. The learning that takes place over the course of the year happens not only on the surface in terms of linguistic ability, but much deeper on a cultural level where mutual understanding develops. Students and teachers alike are transformed as they reach another level of cultural competency and global awareness,” Rooney said.

Recruiting for the 2012 school year has begun. The first teaching session will begin in January.
To learn more about the English Opens Doors Program contact Matt Clark at Bridge: mclark(at)bridge(dot)edu.