Volunteer teaching English in Cambodia to Buddhist monks inside the pagoda

  • A unique project teaching English in Cambodia to monks in a beautiful pagoda
  • Teach English to the monks as part of an amazing cultural exchange
  • Visit local communities with the monks as part of their own outreach work
  • Suitable for those with prior experience in teaching English
  • teaching english in Cambodia 1
  • teaching english in Cambodia 3

Project summary

Teaching English in Cambodia, working in the Bu Tum pagoda, a peaceful complex of Buddhist buildings including a stupa, temple and residential quarters. The orange clad monks are held in high esteem. The project provides a fascinating opportunity to work closely alongside them and become involved in both their mystical and spiritual ways that have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years.

The monks have approached Outreach International directly through our local contacts because they wish to be taught English by a native English speaker. Many of the older monks have some English and the younger ones may learn some at college in the evening, but all feel their English is generally poor quality and they are keen to improve it.

Teaching English in Cambodia in this project will be a memorable and fantastic challenge. The the monks are extremely courteous, polite, culturally astute and eager to have the English support that volunteers could provide. A volunteer would also have the support of Nimol, our local coordinator who has strong connections with the pagoda.

The lessons would take place in a room more usually used by the monks as a community common room. There is an internet connection, fans, electricity, an old white board and a collection of English language books. You would however need to be proactive and sufficiently imaginative to create your own lessons and your own mini curriculum, based on the level of English of the monks in each group.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

Teaching English in Cambodia is a new project and there is every opportunity for individuals to be proactive and create their own curriculum and teaching methods, whether through books, dialogue or activities.

The monks who opt in for these extra lessons are keen to learn English and you would help them with this for four hours a day.

The monks are busy with prayers and temple duties in the morning, and have classes in the evening, so the English lessons would be from 12 noon until 4pm. Volunteers will use the morning to plan the lessons.

The monks will divide themselves into a beginners and a more advanced group each consisting of  between 10 and 20 (male) monks. The beginners have limited English but some of the advanced group are of a conversational standard.  Monks tend to be more educated than their ley peers and are keen to learn.

Once a week, normally on a Saturday the monks travel to local and rural communities assisting the poor and needy.  You would have the opportunity to accompany them on these visits.

How you can make a difference

By volunteering to teach English to the monks you are most definitely participating in a unique cultural exchange project. They will learn a great deal about you and your perspectives, as you will learn about life as a buddhist monk.

Improving their English will enable the monks to engage more in an increasingly cosmopolitan Phnom Penh and hopefully give them the freedom to share their wisdom with more people.

What is distinctive about this project

This is a unique opportunity to work with the monks in the pagoda complex, sharing time with them in their own residence and helping them learn from you. You will become a part of their community for the time you are there, in what will undoubtedly be a fascinating cultural experience.

Blue tiger Features

You will work teaching English in the quiet and peaceful pagoda, well located near to your own volunteer accommodation.

Volunteers will need to be able to act independently, as you will lead the lessons that you have planned yourself. You will have a very patient, interested and humorous group of men as your pupils, however, who are very keen to learn.

It is essential that the volunteers are sensitive to the setting of this project; being respectful both to the religious context and the fact that this is a place where the monks live and worship together.


There are no seasonal restrictions on this project


You will benefit from learning a little of the Khmer language to show the appropriate courtesies, but otherwise you will be teaching in English

Experience required

Volunteers are required to have some experience in teaching English, either having completed a TEFL course or having taught English before as a teacher or volunteer.

Good to know

While a level of independence is required to create and lead this volunteering opportunity, you will have the support of the senior monks and the back-up  of Nimol who has an association with the pagoda.

Price table

12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, airport transfers, in-country support throughout, welcome meal. 8 hours private tuition in Khmer.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations. Cambodia fees DO NOT include meals or the local transport costs of travelling to your project. Volunteers either cook in the Outreach apartment, or eat in the numerous street stalls, cafes and restaurants. Budget £5 a day for food. Budget £3 per day for transport, depending on your preferred mode and destination.

Things to see and do

  • Angkor Wat
  • Toul Sleng Museum
  • Sihanoukville – Beach Resort
  • Street food
Ung Veasnanimol  (Nimol)

Country co-ordinator

Ung Veasnanimol (Nimol)

Nimol has enjoyed looking after volunteers at one of our orphanage projects in Phnom Penh since 2004. In 2013 we were delighted when she accepted the position of Cambodia coordinator for volunteers on all of our projects. She is a foster mother to 6 children, retains an administrative position at the orphanage and is also studying a Bachelors Degree in International Relations.

About Cambodia