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Meet the new Volunteer Coordinator Team in Guatemala

Introducing our new Volunteer Country Coordinators in Guatemala – Candy, Toño and Nina!


One, Two… Tree! extends a warm welcome to our new Country Coordinators for our project in Guatemala –Candy, Toño and Nina!


Candy and Toño are natural from Lake Atitlan and both call Santiago, the beautiful lake town where One, Two… Tree! Guatemala is based, home. Having grown up in Santiago, Toño and Candy are always eager to get involved with projects that support their community. So, when the prospect of joining the One, Two… Tree! team as Volunteer Coordinators presented itself, they were more than happy to come onboard!


Nina is from Germany and ventured to Santiago to volunteer with One, Two… Tree! as an English teacher in early 2023. She quickly came to love Santiago, as was keen to join the Volunteer Coordinator team to continue to support the project.




Meet Candy, Toño and Nina! (from left to right)

Introducing Candy:  Volunteer recruitment admin and support

Candy is our very talented local volunteer who’s been working with us for a while now. She started off as a student  at our learning centre and six months later started volunteering as an English teacher. She’ll be managing volunteer recruitment, engaging with prospective volunteers to share information about the project, answer questions and arrange interviews.


Candy will also arrange your accommodation and transportation, ensuring details are up to date and quality is provided. Because she has grown up in Santiago, she knows almost everyone! 


Since she’s done fab work as a teacher, she’ll be assisting with the organization of group and team-building activities outside of teaching time, so that you experience different facets of  your stay in Santiago Atitlan. 


What excited you about joining the One Two Tree team?


As an indigenous Mayan woman, I want to set a good example for my community. Because of this, I am committed to supporting initiatives that empower people, improve access to education and that encourage and enable people to pursue opportunities. Being part of the One Two… Tree! team will enable me to contribute to such impacts within Santiago.

I also love to learn from and about other cultures. The One, Two… Tree! team is diverse, and when volunteers talk about the places they come from, it is a very emotive experience for me as I can travel through them. One of my greatest pleasures is making friends from all around the world, as I firmly believe that once you truly get to know and appreciate other cultures, barriers and stereotypes start to be challenged. Cultural exchange holds tremendous significance in combatting racism, and that’s another aspect of why I’m so passionate about being a part of One, Two… Tree!


Introducing Toño: Financial admin and learning Centre management

Toño worked for many years in Guatemala City and is now back in his hometown. We also met Toño as a student last year and he was very keen to join the One, Two… Tree! team this school year. He’ll be managing the budget and reporting to One, Two… Tree! which is paramount to keep the organisation afloat!


He will also be the point of contact with school headteachers, coordinating to understand the grading system, school timeframes and schedules, ways of working through the year and specific topics to teach, keeping regular contact with schools throughout the year to understand progress and solve any issues as they arise.


Taking advantage of his former training as a teacher, Toño will coordinate classes at our learning centre aimed at children, teenagers and adults within the community. He will also  identify and establish collaboration opportunities with other local NGOs and community projects. The perfect man for the job!


What excited you about joining the One Two Tree team?


I was a student with One, Two… Tree! last year and saw first-hand the real-life impacts the organization had in Santiago and was impressed by what students were able to achieve by improving their English. Joining the Volunteer Coordinator team provides me with a unique opportunity to support my community in a meaningful and practical way. I’m looking forward to  helping One, Two…Tree! grow and working with the community to provide people with opportunities to learn English and improve things.   


Introducing Nina: Volunteer induction and training/support, curriculums

Nina was looking to volunteer teaching English abroad and she found us! She has been doing a wonderful job as a teacher over the past 3 months so has great first hand experience of what life “on the ground” is like as a volunteer. Once you have arrived in Santiago, Nina will be carrying out the induction, helping you settle in, explaining roles and responsibilities, providing background information, showing available teaching materials and talking you through the methodology followed in our classes. To ensure that everything goes according to plan, Nina will keep the induction material up to date, embedding feedback from past volunteers.


We all want your experience as a volunteer in Guatemala to be memorable, so Nina will oversee the preparation of teaching material and supervise teaching quality in the classroom, offering mentoring to ensure that you flourish in your English teacher role. If you think you’ll be a little anxious when you start teaching, don’t worry! Nina will support you to allow you to develop confidence and learn by example. She will also coordinate more experienced volunteers to co-teach with as necessary for large classes  As you can see, we will go hand in hand with you until you are ready to fly! 


What excited you about joining the One Two Tree team?


I have taught German for several years, and I learned to speak English as a young adult. I’m also currently learning Spanish. These experiences have ingrained in me a deep appreciation for the worlds and possibilities that languages can unlock. I’m eager to use my skills and love of developing connections and community to help One, Two… Tree! build on its achievements of 2022 and deliver positive outcomes in Santiago.

What’s in store for One Two Tree and Santiago for 2023?

This year, we will endeavor to boost the positive impacts of 2022 and we will do this in 5 keys ways:

–    Support 5 public schools to deliver English language programs to students in grades 4th to 6th;

–    Deliver kids, teens and adults English language programs at our dedicated learning centre;

–    Collaborate with and local cooperatives and organizations to promote and support their work;

–    Increase the number of volunteers and the length of the stay. This includes recruiting and upskilling volunteers from within the community, and

–    Continuous review and improvement of the curriculums we use to deliver our programs.



What’s something you would say to someone who is thinking of joining our free volunteer program?

One of the most beautiful things you can do is empower people with knowledge. Same way someone shared that knowledge with you, keep the ball rolling. There is a saying that goes, “We are more powerful when we empower each other”. We promise you will feel pretty empowered too and you will learn way more than you teach. While not without its challenges, everyone who volunteers with One, Two… Tree! has the capacity to positively contribute here in Santiago and further away as we all take with us the beauty of volunteering and building together wherever we go.


What you do, even if it seems small, can have such a big effect. So, we encourage everyone thinking about free volunteering teaching English in Latin America or abroad, to take the leap and apply to join us!

How to become a volunteer teacher? Guide for beginners

How to become a volunteer teacher? Guide for beginners


“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” 


You might be wondering what the importance of volunteering is. We believe that we all have the opportunity to vote for the kind of world we want to live in, every day. When you volunteer as a teacher, you play an essential role in a child’s life. Education is power, so as a volunteer teacher, you are allowing and enabling children to learn and grow. Many people have that one special teacher that they will remember forever because they touched their life in some way and helped them grow into the person they are today.


The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4 is about ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in many children losing 2-3 years of academic learning, which inevitably harshly affected already economically challenged communities. When you volunteer as a teacher, you are helping to develop this worldwide goal of access to quality education for all, especially after a difficult period of time due to the pandemic. 



How to become a volunteer teacher?

If you have a deep appreciation for education and the power it has to transform societies, and you have a strong commitment to supporting local or foreign communities, then volunteer teaching might be your calling! You will find this to be an enriching experience both for yourself and the students.


When volunteering as a teacher, usual requirements are:


  • A criminal record check since most projects involve working with children
  • To be 18+, although there might be some projects looking to promote youth leadership where those under 18 might be welcome. This would normally be the case with local volunteering where no traveling is required.
  • Have basic knowledge and passion for the teachable subject matter
  • Be proactive, creative, flexible, and self-motivated
  • Be full of energy and enthusiasm to make a difference
  • Have a passion for education, openness to new experiences, and a drive to learn new skills
  • Have an understanding that you will learn more than you teach during your time volunteering



What does a volunteer teacher do?


Volunteer teachers generally commit up to 16 hours per week to teaching, and most projects require at least a one-month commitment, since building relationships with the students is key to any learning process. Generally, we have found that three months is ideal to start seeing changes and progress among students.


When you are a teacher, you will be engaging with children of various ages and abilities. It’s important to have a patient, calm, and accepting demeanor and attitude when interacting with students. Volunteering as a teacher requires flexibility to adapt to different ways of learning to ensure the best experience for the students. 


The project that you choose to be a part of might have a well-defined curriculum to follow, or you might need to find resources and prepare materials. Either way, you will always need to prepare the classes in advance and adjust the content to your particular students. In English Teaching Programs specifically, your main focus should be on helping the students to learn the vocabulary and the common phrases, while for other types of programs, you may take up any subject, including math, general knowledge, geography, history, etc! 


Some duties and responsibilities of a volunteer teacher might involve correcting exercises and exams, organising events, preparing materials, helping with classroom setup, cleaning up after an activity, or onboarding other volunteers. All of these tasks are often the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks that make a project succeed. You might even get the opportunity to support field trips and help with the extra-curricular activities of students. This is another way to enhance the children’s learning and life experiences, and your relationship with them as well.


In addition to teaching hard skills such as the actual subject matter and topics, it is important to teach children soft skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, teamwork and responsibility. These are key pillars and values that should be continuously taught and emphasized across all subjects and levels of education.



Volunteer teaching English abroad for free 


Teaching English is a popular volunteering opportunity across the world, as more and more, English is becoming a skill for life which opens up new opportunities for students to get their studies to the next level and have access to a wider range of jobs in the future. Teaching English is becoming a way to empower communities and individuals. In many non-English speaking countries, fluent English teachers are scarce, hence the numerous teaching English volunteering opportunities. This is normally part of community projects, where, by local demand, English support has been requested.


To volunteer as an English Teacher, it is important to have a fluent level of speaking and writing, since teaching 100% in English is the most effective way to expose students to the language and develop their listening and speaking skills which are the foundation of learning a language.



Volunteer teaching opportunities

There are many volunteer teaching opportunities around the world that you can be a part of, from local projects to projects abroad.


Volunteer teaching opportunities abroad


If you’d like to volunteer with nonprofits in a specific country, you can search for “teaching volunteering opportunities in Guatemala”, for example, and dozens of opportunities will show up. 


Volunteer World is one of the many platforms you can use to look for opportunities across the world.


In most countries, unless engaging professionally with an NGO, you will volunteer as a tourist and your visa requirements will be those asked for tourists from your country of nationality.


Online teaching volunteer opportunities


Remote support can be very useful too, especially for conversational practice, and 1:1 support on any given subject. It is a good way to gain experience and to get to know other people, cultures and realities.



How to volunteer in Central America?

If you are interested in volunteering in Central America specifically, here are two resources that may be helpful for you: 


This platform links you directly to many volunteer opportunities across Latin America:


If you are interested in working specifically with nonprofits in Guatemala, this is a directory of nonprofits in Guatemala, most of whom have volunteer opportunities:


How to apply as a volunteer teacher?


Once you have found the volunteer teaching program you would like to volunteer for, there should be an email or contact form to apply. Most application processes would ask for availability, time of commitment, motivation and CV to understand how to make the most of relevant skills and experience.


Here at One, Two… Tree! we are always looking for enthusiastic English teacher volunteers to come to join us in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, where we teach children and adults.


If you are interested in volunteering with us, there are a few ways to get in touch. You can either send us an email to, complete the form on our website, or contact us through Instagram


Once we receive your inquiry, we will be in touch with you and share information about the project. Our volunteer coordinator will set up an interview to get to know you and answer any questions.  After the interview, we will share information to prepare your trip  and ask for the required documentation: criminal record check, a picture ID, and an insurance policy.  A month before arriving, we will share an introduction package with everything you need to know about how we work, tips for living in Santiago Atitlán, as well as training material that you can use to start preparing for teaching. 




Here are some of the most frequent questions people have when thinking about teaching volunteering: 


How to get volunteer teaching experience?


Start tutoring your friends or neighbors, look out for local opportunities, and ask at local schools before looking into volunteering abroad. That way you will have a taste of what it is like and if it is something you enjoy doing before commiting to a full experience abroad. 


Can you teach abroad with no experience?


Yes, you can! As long as you have basic knowledge and passion of the teachable subject matter, and are passionate about working with people of various ages to facilitate, motivate and increase their knowledge and skills then you will be able to make the most of the opportunity. 


Humility and an attitude to learn are key, as you will be learning how to teach with the support of fellow volunteers and project coordinators who will train and mentor you. It is important to volunteer with organisations who have similar values to yours. Have you ever thought about this? 


Proactiveness, autonomy and independence are paramount for volunteers while being ready to make a difference. These qualities may even be more important than having prior teaching experience. 


Does a volunteer teacher get paid?


Volunteer work means working without monetary compensation. There are other non-monetary types of compensation involved with volunteering, such as gaining human connection, feeling useful to others, enriching your view of the world, gaining life experience, becoming confident with public speaking, making new friends, and many more. 


Most projects will cover the cost of teaching supplies and traveling such as public transportation if needed to reach a remote community. Some projects might offer food and accommodation as compensation, but this generally requires a long-term commitment and specific background to support the project like teaching training or prior experience.


Is it possible to volunteer abroad for free?


Even though it is normal for projects to charge a fee per week of volunteering there are many projects, like ours, that don’t charge any fee and will only ask volunteers to cover for their own expenses.

A look at our work in 2022, a year full of connections and impacts


On 5th December we celebrated International Volunteer Day (IVD). 2022 celebrates the theme of solidarity through volunteering. This campaign highlights the power of our collective humanity to drive positive change through volunteerism.


At One, Two… Tree! we are all volunteers. It is a project made by people from all around the world who want to share and connect with others. 


This year, we have had the privilege of working with 29 English teacher volunteers (27 onsite plus 2 online) from 12 different countries and two young professionals who carried out internships related to their field of studies with us, supporting us in the administrative area. Each volunteer has collaborated in their own unique way, allowing for everything that has happened throughout the year.

Meet our volunteers from 2022


After the isolation that the pandemic brought, 2022 has been all about making up for the time when we all had to stay home: sharing and making connections, bringing back face-to-face learning, spending time together, exploring, and participating in new activities.


Thanks to our volunteers this year we:


  • Taught over 400 students across 5 public schools, a community school and one secondary school. 
  • Delivered two 4-month English programs to kids, teenagers and adults at our dedicated learning centre, supporting 125 children and 90 adults from Santiago on their English learning journey. 
  • Delivered 1:1 and group conversation classes in person and online so we could help our students reach their learning goals.
  • Created a mini English library at our learning centre from where our students can borrow books to keep practicing in their own time.
  • Supported coffee cooperative CoAtitlán practicing their coffee tour in English and learned loads in the process!
  • Collaborated with Cojolya, a collective of mother artisans, tutoring and organising English activities for their kids, translating weaving classes and supporting with fundraising and social media posts in English.
  • Participated in beach cleans, tree planting and at a local tree nursery producing compost from the coffee pulp. We called these activities our green gym!
  • Organised cultural events and workshops to share and learn from each other.
  • Reviewed and updated our curriculum at schools while creating a whole new curriculum for adult lessons.
  • Participated in an NGO networking event organised by El Directorio de Guatemala, where we could connect and share with other Guatemalan NGOs.


Have a look at our end-of-the-year video for 2022 and what it has been like studying and volunteering at One, Two… Tree! this year



A big thank you to all volunteers who have made this year possible and so special. Let us share with you some thoughts and reflections from some of our volunteers.




Volunteer interviews 


Toño (23, local to Santiago) 


Toño teaching at our learning centre in Santiago Atitlán his hometown 


Toño first met One, Two… Tree! as an English student himself. His confidence, cheerful attitude and fluent English made him want to volunteer as an English teacher to the children attending our Learning Centre.



What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?

I liked teaching and helping students who have the enthusiasm to learn, spending time with people from different parts of the world and sharing our different cultures


What do you like most about Santiago?

I love the nature, the magic and the beauty, and that includes the people. It’s a very welcoming place. 


What do you like about your country in general?

The sites you can visit, and how friendly people are no matter which part of Guatemala you visit. I especially like the beautiful lake Atitlán and the villages around it. 


Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

To be able to help my community and be a person of change for my country.


What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

That you should take the opportunity to volunteer because no matter what you do, you will leave a mark wherever you go.




Sonia (52, Spain) 


Sonia enjoying a secret garden in Antigua


Sonia came for three months to share her extensive knowledge of teaching English which she has done for over 20 years! She helped us develop our current methodology, volunteers’ training and created content for our children and adults curriculum. We can’t thank her enough for all her energy and support.



What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?

I took pleasure in many things, like discovering hidden places and diving in the “pacas” (second-hand shops). But I especially enjoyed trying to work out how to implement my knowledge and experience in a context that posed many challenges.


How was your experience living in Santiago?

Life in Santiago is very lively, noisy and friendly. You’ll never get bored.


What about Guatemala in general?

The country is simply beautiful. The small villages around the lake and the volcanoes are stunning. Tikal is out of this world.


Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

They were looking for a profile that happened to match mine. I also thought they had a very interesting project going on, so I didn’t think about it twice. Off I went!


What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

I would suggest being open-minded and receptive. And to bring a pair of wellies!




Carmela (31, Spain – our current volunteer coordinator!)




Carmela at Cafe Sabor Cruceño in Santa Cruz


Carmela arrived as a volunteer early in the year and fell in love with the town and the project. She was keen to get involved in everything she could connecting other local projects in Santiago with One, Two… Tree! fostering collaborations across the different organisations.



What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience/ experience as a coordinator?

I loved meeting people from Guatemala and all parts of the world. I also liked how many local projects there are to get involved in. Everyone I’ve met has been very welcoming and I’ve felt very useful and fulfilled throughout my time.


How was your experience living in Santiago?

I’ve never lived in a village before, so I enjoyed the community vibe for example walking everywhere, saying hi to people I know in the market and buying things from my neighbours. People have also offered lots of opportunities for cultural experiences. I’ve been surprised and grateful throughout my time here. 


What about Guatemala in general?

It is a surprising country; it is so rich in culture and colour. The people I’ve met have been kind, welcoming and polite. There are many breathtaking sites to explore and have an amazing diversity of nature and culture. There is also so much history here that I discovered more and more of throughout my time. 


Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

I was changing careers from the corporate world into working with NGOs. I came here first as a volunteer and I felt it was a place I could stay for the whole year. When the last coordinator was thinking of finishing her time at the organisation she helped me to step up and continue with the project as a coordinator.


What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

I would say reflect on why you’d like to join, be mindful of your expectations and be prepared to be surprised and have a different way of life here. 




Lauranne (26, Belgium)    



Lauranne in Santiago Atitlán


Lauranne arrived in September, eager to contribute to the project. She led classes at the school of Pachichaj which we were able to incorporate into the program late in the year as the number of volunteers increased.                                                                            


What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience? 

I loved living with other volunteers throughout the experience, and with a local host family. 


How was your experience living in Santiago?

It’s been an authentic and real Guatemalan experience. Living by the lake is breathtaking. I had breakfast with a view of a volcano every day and I could never get enough. 


What about Guatemala in general?

It’s such a beautiful country yet I didn’t know much about it before coming. In every part of the country, you will find different cultures, landscapes and experiences.


Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

Because it is a real volunteer experience, not like the many ‘voluntourism’ organisations out there. You live with a local host family and your rent goes directly to them.


What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

What you do, even if it seems small, can have such a big effect. Like the butterfly effect.




Rueben (19, the Netherlands)



Rueben at Mirador Kiaq’Aiswaan in San Juan la Laguna


Rueben decided to take a gap year to travel and volunteer before getting into university. From being our Social Media manager to designing infographics, preparing movie afternoons, role plays for his students in school and developing the content of our teenage course he is definitely a resourceful person! All with a smile always on his face, wishing you the best of luck Rueben!



What did you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?

I liked how we have the freedom to explore Guatemala. We don’t have full working days and we have 3-day weekends so there’s plenty of time for trips together.


How was your experience living in Santiago?

The location of Santiago is amazing. I also felt like we had many opportunities to connect with the culture here.


What about Guatemala in general?

Guatemala is an amazing country. During our time here, we’ve been able to explore a lot of different parts. Some of them include: Xela, Antigua, Chichicastenango and surfing in el Paradón!


Why did you decide to join the organisation? 

For a new experience, I could tell that it was an authentic organisation and that I would be valued. It’s also accessible to everyone because you don’t need to be a qualified teacher to join the team as long as you are keen to learn and have a passion for education. 


What is one thing you would say to someone who is thinking of joining?

Just do it, you won’t regret it. This type of volunteering can suit many different types of people. There are so many things to do and explore and you’re always with the other volunteers so you never feel alone. 




Would you like to volunteer with us in 2023?


We are always looking for passionate and proactive volunteers, full of energy and enthusiasm to make a difference. 


Do you have a passion for education, openness to new cultures, and a drive to learn new skills? Do you have experience teaching, tutoring, or engaging with children and have a fluent level of English? 


Would you like to be part of a proactive and supportive team where your ideas and thoughts will be heard and important in the day-to-day of the project?


Volunteering abroad with One, Two… Tree! is FREE, our English teacher volunteers only pay for their own expenses which go directly to the local families and businesses volunteers interact with. You can either send us an email at, complete the form on our website, or contact us through Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.


We can’t wait to meet you!




Would you like to collaborate with us in 2023?


Are you a public or non-profit educational institution, cooperative, NGO, or local association seeking English support and volunteer work? Are you located in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, for onsite support or in Central America for online support?


Are you another type of organisation or located elsewhere but feel we could collaborate to make English accessible in Central America?


Get in touch with us by either sending us an email at,  or contacting us through Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.


We can’t wait to know more about your project!

The students of One, Two…Tree! speak up!

The students of One, Two, Tree! tell us about their English classes!  


We interviewed two One, Two…Tree! students to hear about their experiences learning English with our English teacher volunteers in Santiago, Guatemala.


Here’s what they had to say:

(Their answers are translated from Spanish)


Q: Hello! Thanks for doing this interview with us today! Could you introduce yourselves?

A: Hello! My name is Manuel Ixbalán. I am twelve years old. I have English lessons 2 times per week with One, Two…Tree!  

A: Hello, my name is Silvia Saquid. I am twelve years old. I have lessons 2 times a week.

Teaching English in Guatemala

Students Learning English in Guatemala


What is your favorite English lesson so far? Why?

Manuel: I like all the classes because we learn about many different topics.

Silvia: I think all the classes are my favorite because the activities are fun and we learn about many interesting topics. We learn how to talk about our family, what we like to do, and talk about nature.


What is your favorite English word? Why? How did you learn it?

Manuel: “Great”, because I use it to say that things are always great, like when I say something is great or stupendous. I heard it in some videos, and then I asked Gracia (my teacher) what it meant, and I liked to start to use it.  

Silvia: “Happy”, because everyone is happy when we come to English classes! We learned it in the class about emotions and colors. Happiness is represented by the color yellow.


Teaching English in Guatemala

Teaching English in Guatemala



Do you like learning from English teacher volunteers from other countries? What have you learned from them?

Manuel: Yes, I like it! Teacher Lily told me her house is next to Queen Elizabeth’s.

Silvia: I like it, because they talk to us about different things that we didn’t know, and also some of them are interested about the things that we do too.


What kind of games or activities do you enjoy playing in the classroom to help you learn English?

Manuel: I like all the activities. I really like to write on the worksheets and mime.

Silvia:  I really like it when they give us homework and explain it well so that we learn to do it ourselves, and that way we can remember the topics when we are at home alone. I also like when we spend time taking care of the plants after class.


English Class Students

English Class Students


What is your favorite part of studying with One, Two…Tree!?

Manuel:  Learning more English! And doing exercises in front of the class, because it helps us lose the fear of speaking in English and participating in public.

Silvia:  When we go to write on the board or participate in front of everyone. Because it helps me lose my fear of speaking in public in English


Would you like to say anything to your One, Two…Tree! teachers?

Manuel: That they keep doing their work! I’m really happy to participate in the classes.

Silvia:  I would tell them thanks for creating this English course, and they are helping us a lot to learn the English language. They are giving us an incredible opportunity because not many think about teaching English to children because in schools we do not have many English teachers. And here we learn and have fun too.


Learning English in Guatemala

Learning English in Guatemala


Thank you so much Manuel and Silvia for these thoughtful and insightful answers!

We are so proud of all of our students for studying hard and learning more and more English with our dedicated English Teacher Volunteers here in Santiago.

If you’re interested in having an impact in the community of Santiago, or would like to learn more about volunteering with us, please send us an email to: 

Collaborating and learning together at our new Learning Centre

Our Learning Centre as a collaborative space 


Our English Learning Centre opened in Santiago Atitlán in February with the intention to provide more English classes to more students, both children and adults of all levels. Now, we also use the space for various community development and learning opportunities. 


There are currently not many available spaces for workshops and cultural activities in the area, so we wanted to open our doors for various events where the people of Santiago can come and enjoy a safe learning space. 


Our main values are collaboration, initiative, adaptability and respect. We follow these values in every thing we do from teaching, to meeting new people, to hosting workshops and working with local families. Our ultimate goal is to support community empowerment and to provide a platform for intercultural exchanges in Santiago.


English Learning Center Workshop

English Learning Centre Workshop


Contributing to the community’s empowerment  


When we are looking to collaborate on an event or workshop, we aim to focus on the community’s empowerment first and foremost.


In May, we collaborated with a local writer, Vincent Stanzione, who has devoted his life to writing about Santiago’s culture and traditions.


Over the span of two days, Vincent encouraged the audience to write their stories, since he believes that we all have a story to share. He shared mindset tips, and writing habits, and he explained character roles in stories, such as the character of the hero as a role to be inspired by when writing. He shared some literary resources and engaged the audience through various writing exercises.


Writing Workshop in Santiago

Writing Workshop in Santiago


The audience was full of people of various ages from the community. Some of our teen and adult students from the Centre attended, as well as a large group of students from a nearby high school. Some other local writers also attended to get to know and collaborate with other passionate writers.

A few of the special guests that attended were local writer Alexwho shared a beautiful poem during the event; Señora Argentina, who is one of the hosts for our volunteers and was a teacher in the village for many years; Isaías, who is the librarian of Puerta Abierta and is publishing his very first children’s book this year called Matz, focusing on Tz’utujil culture. All of our English teacher volunteers also attended and participated in the workshop, as they are an integral part of the development of our Learning Centre, and they were also able to take the opportunity to learn from the talented people of Santiago.


English Teacher Volunteers at Workshop

English Teacher Volunteers at Workshop


Building an inclusive space for the community

Overall, the feedback after the event was very positive, and a few participants asked to be part of further workshops. We encouraged them to come up with a few ideas to lead potential workshops with the support of our English teacher volunteers who will assist with the organization of the events.

Currently, we have another event being planned to introduce participants to the art of mural painting run by a local artist, Bárbara Sosof.

These events are a great opportunity for our volunteers and our teachers, as we get to know even more people in the community, acquire new skills (as teachers we love to learn too!) and are able to have an even bigger impact in Santiago.

If you would like to be part of our Learning Centre, please email us here: 

All you need to know about how to teach English to kids

How to teach English to kids – 11 useful tips


Being fluent in English is one thing, but being able to teach it is a completely different game. If you learned English as a second language, it will be easier for you to empathise with the process and understand your students’ struggles, yet it is important to have some strategies in place to avoid falling down the route of copying and filling out grammar worksheets all day long.


Here we give you some tips on how to teach English to children. 


11 useful tips to teach English to kids

If you have never taught English before, do not worry; we have some tips for you so you can start on the right foot teaching English to kids. 


Note: Even though it is best to have some variety in your classes, you don’t have to constantly come up with new activities to teach English as it can be pretty exhausting as a teacher! If you find your students respond well and enjoy a set of games, go ahead and continue to use them, adjusting the difficulty level accordingly.


1. English only


Our first and most important tip is to speak English only throughout the class.


It is normal that children won’t understand at first, but don’t try to translate. Instead, use all the resources available to you to make yourself understood (mimicking, drawing, using flashcards…). Make it a game!


This will expose children to English and their brain will start assimilating words as concepts, as opposed to the exact translation. We are looking to develop their flexibility to understand the context of a sentence even when they only understand one or two words. Constantly translating brings rigidity to the brain and slows down the process of learning a language, stopping them from communicating when they don’t have the exact word they are looking for. 


2. Encourage speaking – Eliminate pressure


From day one, encourage children to speak without the pressure of having to create perfect sentences. Create situations of need where children need to speak English, for example asking to go to the toilet, to come in when they are late, and keeping crayons and other resources with you so children need to ask to use them.


Don’t be afraid to write down the pronunciation of the word or sentence so they learn it right from the beginning (for example, the word ‘please’ would be pronounced as ‘pliis’ for a Spanish speaker). Always positively reinforce their speaking attempts; give a thumbs up, smile, and reply back accordingly. If possible, use token economy to encourage speaking, for example, during a class, a point or token is given for every correct intervention. The student that ends up with the highest number of tokens, wins.


3. Creating a routine


Since the whole lesson should be in English, creating routines helps children understand what comes next and facilitates the process of explaining activities and methodology. Start with greetings, perhaps write the date on the board depending on the age, and a quick review of what you learned in the previous class. Then, introduce the new topic, do an activity together followed by individual activity, summarise learnings and say goodbye.


4. Keep it fun and simple!


Scaffold concepts, from easiest to hardest. Break down the target of the lesson into simple concepts and use lots of repetition so that the students’ brain assimilates new words in different contexts.


Make sure activities are linked and increase in difficulty while using the same vocabulary, so the concepts within the lessons are assimilated. Don’t try to cover more than one target per lesson (i.e. vocabulary, grammar, speaking, etc) to avoid confusion.


5. Use visual support


Make use of flashcards and posters hung on the walls for students to visualise and repeat the new words targeted. To teach the colours, we have a poster hung on the wall so children need to go to the poster, read the colour they want, and come to where we keep the crayons to ask for that specific colour. Normally, the children love coming back and forth to the poster since they take it as a game.



                                              Visual resources at our Learning Centre


6. Incorporate your students’ interests into lessons


Make it culturally relevant and age-appropriate. In our Guatemalan project, we are currently looking to teach all content with a Guatemalan perspective, which includes local animals, fruits and vegetables, or family flashcards representing Tz’utujil people with their traditional clothing.


Also, keep in mind their age and what is exciting for them at that age. For example, animals and fruits are a favourite amongst 8-year-olds, whereas describing famous people is engaging for teenagers (you will just need to do a bit of research on who is ‘cool’ for your audience!).  


“Tortillas are round”, a book used to teach the shapes


7. Teaching English to kids? Use technology too!


As part of the routine, you can introduce vocabulary using videos in an engaging way. If Whatsapp is available, make sure you share the resources used in class afterward so they can review them at home. Depending on the size of the class, there is a myriad of digital activities to make learning fun. 


8. Using music to learn English


Music is magic for children. It captivates their attention and makes them remember complex sentences. Use movement while you sing so they can identify the meaning of each sentence.


We usually sing a welcome song with the younger students (up to 10 years old) and sing a song related to the topic seen in class at the end of the lesson as a prize for good behaviour and a fun way to finish the class. Play with the speed of the song, start slowly and sing it faster and then slower so it is a game to keep the pace. 


9. Use mnemonics strategies


Mnemonics are memory-enhancing strategies and are highly effective to help students learn and remember new vocabulary. Examples of these strategies are providing a picture or situation to relate to a new word, Pictionary, charades, or memory games with pair cards. This could be used to learn 8-10 words per lesson. Learning new words while reading a book will help recall the meaning of those words and associate them with the book.


Placing flashcards across the classroom will help with visualising and memorising new words as well, if possible try to place them in a logical way so it is easier for the brain to come up with a pattern. Another way is to draw the vocabulary by categories, for example, what’s in my bag? (notebook, book, ruler, pencil case…) What’s in my pencil case? (pen, pencil, crayons, eraser….)


Rhymes are another powerful way to remember new words and phrases. That is why songs are so effective. Head and shoulders or the alphabet songs are classics that help them learn in an easy way.


Using acronyms is useful too when the student needs to remember a particular combination of words, for example for older children there is the famous “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles” to remember the order of the planets.


10. Games to learn English for kids


Everyone loves games, even adults. Use them to your advantage to practice your lesson target, whether that is pronunciation, learning vocabulary, or reviewing grammar.  Adjust the game to practice the area you are working on.

A children’s English lesson at our Learning Centre


Role-play games!


Role-play games are a great way to practice speaking, for example, greetings, shopping in the market, giving directions, describing people and so on. We love mimicking and playing taboo to review vocabulary.



Play “Simon Says” to teach English


Simon says, Teacher says is very versatile and children from all over the world quickly understand the game. We use it to review the parts of the body but also movement actions like sit down, stand up, jump, run, clap your hands.  It is a great game that combines learning and movement.


Do you need a bit more inspiration? Have a look at the list our English teacher volunteers have put together to teach English to kids.


11. Outdoor activities to learn English


Using outdoor spaces is another way to make learning fun and engaging for children. There are many activities that can be done outdoors from telling a story in the garden, to writing words on the ground, to running games like “Steal the Flingsock”. Just make sure you have your target clear.



What is the best way for kids to learn English?

Learning a language is in itself a game that requires logic and many internal resources to decipher what the other person is saying and make yourself understood. Try to look at it this way so in every lesson you provide opportunities for your students to practice their detective and problem-solving skills.


Use visuals to provide cues, be engaging to create interest in what you are talking about and the need to use English, always trying to cater to their interests in the activities planned. Body language is one of your best resources to be engaging and to help scaffold your classes at the same time. 


Play with your pace; a slower pace helps students understand complex concepts while a faster pace makes it fun once they have understood the goal of the activity. Use cooperative learning; offer peers to lead the activity, choose who is next in the game or the next word to guess. Use healthy competition as a way to lift the class’s energy and increase the pace of the activity. 



An English Lesson Example 

Find below a little example of one of our lessons at One, Two… Tree!


I’m Teacher Gracia. I’ve been volunteering with One Two… Tree! for a year, and this was a lesson I planned for our teen group at the Center (kids between 10-14 years old) to learn about the Natural Wonders of the World. 

Teaching English in Santiago Guatemala

Teaching English in Santiago Guatemala


Every day, we start by taking attendance during the first 5 minutes which is a good excuse to practice greetings and common courtesy like “Hello, Good afternoon, How are you today?”. 


Then, I like to start with an activity or something interactive to get the students engaged right away. 


We had previously learned a song in our Countries and Continents lesson which went well, so before the class, I searched for a few new songs on YouTube and I found one that I thought the students would love. I brought my phone to class, then I played the song a few times and asked the students to write down the lyrics in their notebooks. They absolutely loved it! 


After that, for each new lesson in the Wonders of the World module, we would sing together to start the class: They are Asia and Africa, North and South America, Antarctica and Europe, finally Australia.   


After this activity, I handed them a worksheet about the “Natural Wonders of the World” (a free worksheet I downloaded from an educational website We read the new words, practicing the pronunciation and learned the meaning. Then the students had time to complete the worksheet, matching the pictures with words such as forest, cave, river, and more. 



English Lesson Planning

English lesson planning


For this lesson, I also needed a computer to show the students a video about the 8 wonders of the world, so I brought my laptop. I put subtitles in English and after each place was featured in the video, I paused it to give the students time to match each place like Niagara Falls, Mount Everest, and the Amazon River, with the country they are located in on their corresponding worksheet. This helped the students practice the new vocabulary in different ways and solidified their understanding of the concepts through interactive methods. 


Teaching English in Guatemala

Teaching English in Guatemala


We always finish the class talking about the topic we learned or playing a game and having a good time. Once the hour is finished, we say goodbye and see you next time! 



Does this sound fun and interesting to you?  

Volunteer with us this year!   


We are seeking more English teacher volunteers to come to Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, to help us expand our programs, reach, and impact on the community.  


If you would like to learn more about volunteering with us, please send us an email at:, complete the form on our website, or contact us through Instagram @onetwotreengo.


FAQs as an English teacher volunteer

Here are some of the most frequent questions people have when thinking about teaching volunteering: 


What causes poor performance in English?


There might be different causes for poor performance, one that is key to address early on is lack of interest, boredom and motivation. Learning English requires effort and being able to master it it’s a long journey, students need to want to learn to go through the effort. With children, you will achieve this by using games that they want to play. As they grow up it is important to identify their interests and goals to relate them to their English practice.  


Lack of repetition and practice to fully assimilate one topic, not scaffolding concepts correctly or lack of English foundation background when working with more complex structures and activities, can make students think it is impossible to learn English and switch off. Trying to teach too much at once and focusing too much on grammar with little practice will likely overwhelm your students. 


If you identify students with a much lower level than the rest of the class you can either bring extension activities for the more able students while you reinforce the basics or create a small tutoring group (no more than 5 students)  to bring them up to speed.


Another common cause for poor performance is fear of making mistakes especially when practicing speaking. Having enough vocabulary helps you feel a bit more confident as well as a reinforcing environment where speaking is encouraged and mistakes are normalised as part of the learning process. 


Lastly, a very common cause in non-English speaking countries is the lack of exposure to English-only classes and interactions. Having an English lesson mostly taught in the students’ mother tongue will only slow down the learning journey as there is no opportunity nor motivation to put the language skills into practice.



What are the difficulties in learning English?


Here are some of the most common difficulties when learning English:

  • Spelling. Many words that are otherwise unrelated and are spelled differently sound the same when spoken (for instance, “pair” vs “pear”)
  • Pronunciation. Especially for students whose native language is pronounced as written, like Spanish. English pronunciation doesn’t always follow the same rules like different vowel pronunciations “island vs igloo”
  • Idioms and slang.
  • Variations of the language and different accents. Chips or fries? Movie or film? Lift or elevator? Colour or color?
  • Feeling Embarrassed and lack of confidence
  • No interaction with native speakers


In addition, it is important to explain to your students that learning English, and any other language, is not linear. In the beginning, they will see their progress as they start assimilating different topics. However, there is a point where the brain is trying to speak without consciously preparing each sentence that the student will feel like going backward. It is a signal of progress! That is the time to increase speaking practice and be involved in situations requiring English.



How can I convince my students to speak English?


Generally speaking, there are two factors that affect students’ speaking English in class. One is they fail to find suitable words to express themselves and the other is they are afraid of making mistakes. A friendly, fun and relaxed environment helps the students to speak actively and correctly.


Some tips to get your students to speak in English:

  • Give clear goals and instructions
  • Be firm in a gentle way as some students will only dare to speak if asked to. It is important to spot those more shy students to ensure the class includes everyone. Yet be mindful to give plenty of time and support so they don’t feel put on the spot.
  • Positively reinforce any attempt at speaking.
  • Do small talk every day to keep practicing
  • Always add unexpected factors so they need to think and respond to the stimulus instead of replying mechanically 
  • Make use of competition.
  • Relate the practice to real-life situations. If possible make your students interact with native speakers or simulate the situation. For example, set up an exchange with a school in another country so they have to use English to get to know other students. Take your students to an activity where all the participants only speak English for example having a picnic, going to the market, or visiting an exhibition. 


How do you help students who can’t speak English?


Eventually, all students will end up speaking English, it is just a matter of time. In the meantime:

  • Be patient
  • Praise any attempt to communicate in English and answer/act accordingly so they can see their progress and not wait to have the perfect sentence to speak. 
  • Leverage background knowledge. Identify early on any gaps
  • Provide visual support and use loads of body language 
  • Model comprehensible language
  • Purposefully pair peers of varying English proficiency to increase chances to practice their language skills, working together to support each other while English-proficient students can model language and provide personalized feedback.


What should I teach a child first in English?


Remember when teaching English to children that for them it is the start of their English journey hence it is important to break it down into manageable chunks that they can put together as they grow up. 

In order to know where to start or what activities to plan, be mindful of your student’s age so you can adapt to their learning capacity. 

  • From preschool, until they learn how to read and write, it is all about learning vocabulary, commands and songs so they can develop their listening skills, and assimilate new words and simple sentences to repeat and use in their day to day. Useful topics at this age are:
    • numbers (1–10; 10–20; 20–100)
    • colours and shapes
    • adjectives (e.g. big, small, tall, happy, sad, tired)
    • the body
    • toys
    • clothes
    • animals (e.g. pets, farm animals, wild animals)
    • food
    • emotions


  • From 7 to 10 years old you can start practicing a bit of writing and reading but keep it simple. Encourage loads of role play and little dialogues at this stage to get them a bit more confident in their speaking. Here you can expand the above topics to:
    • family
    • house rooms and furniture
    • classroom items
    • months and seasons
    • nature


  • From 10 to 14 years old you can incorporate more complex sentences in all areas of English. There is no need to explicitly teach grammar rules, but instead get them used to hearing and using different grammatical structures in context. Hearing the grammar being used in context from an early age will help children to use it naturally and correctly when they are older. Useful topics at this stage are:
    • daily routine
    • self-description and describing others
    • hobbies and interests
    • jobs
    • festive holidays and traditions


A day in the life of an English teacher volunteer

Are you wondering what a typical day in the life of an English teacher volunteer with One, Two…Tree! looks like?


Join us as we follow the footsteps of a current volunteer on a typical weekday.




It is a beautiful Monday morning and the alarm goes off at 7:00am. We get up, take a shower, get dressed and head downstairs to enjoy a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. Once we finish eating, we pack our bags and head out on foot to the school where we will teach our first English class of the day.


Santiago Guatemala

Mornings in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala



The classes usually start between 7:30 and 8:00am, and each volunteer teaches in two different public schools during the week. Today, we are teaching a group of 9-10 year olds vocabulary about farm animals. We sing Old McDonald Had A Farm to keep them engaged and have some fun while learning – the kids love this song! 


Teaching English in Guatemala

Teaching English in Guatemala


Lunch time 


After the morning classes, we go to the market to grab some food for our lunch and head home, where we meet the other volunteers to eat together on the terrace with beautiful views of the volcanos. We have a bit of time to chat, relax, and review the classes for the afternoon.


 Lesson Planning in Guatemala

Lesson Planning in Guatemala



At 4pm, we go to the One, Two…Tree! Learning Center, which is about a 10 minute walk from the house, to start the classes with the kids. There are three different groups: the 6-7 year old kids, the 8-9 year old kids, and the teenagers. Today we are teaching the 6 year olds and we have some fun games and visuals to engage them in learning the names of family members.


After an hour, the kids’ classes end and we have an hour break where we discuss the lessons with the other teachers, share some ideas, and plan for the next day. Then, we go for a walk to get a chocofruta, a delicious frozen fruit stick covered with chocolate and nuts – a typical Guatemalan snack! 


Classes at One, Two… Tree! learning centre




At 6pm, we welcome the adults to the Learning Center for the evening classes, which are divided into the Beginners group and the Advanced group. Today is Grammar Day, so we are teaching them about modal verbs and the simple past tense. The adult learners are always so interested in soaking up as much knowledge as they can, and are asking us lots of questions to ensure their understanding.


It is now 7pm and all the classes for the day are finished. We walk back home to see our host family, Lolita and Chonita, and we enter by saying ‘Ixcola’ (ix k’ola), which is used to say hello when you enter a place with more people. It generally means ‘I’m home, how are you?’ in Tzutujil, the Mayan language spoken in Santiago. Other towns speak Kaqchikel, but Santiago, San Pedro and San Juan speak Tz’utujil. 


We have dinner with the host family today, but some other days we can cook and eat alone, or enjoy a meal with the other volunteers on the terrace or out in the town. 


Eating with the host family in Santiago

Eating with the host family in Santiago


In the evening, we chat in the courtyard with Lolita and Chonita, as they always ask us about our day and it’s also really nice to spend the evening outside because it feels like a forever summer night. 


We start to get sleepy after a long day of hard work teaching English to all the amazing students in Santiago! We head to bed to get some rest for the next day’s wake up call bright and early! 


Volunteer with us this year! 


We are currently seeking more English Teacher Volunteers to join us this year to support our growing Learning Center and English programs in Santiago. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at:  



Things to do in Santiago & around Lake Atitlán

You may be wondering…
What activities can you do during your free time in Santiago? 


Over the years, our English Teacher Volunteers have gotten involved in many different types of activities in Santiago and around Lake Atitlán. Some activities include weaving classes to learn the traditional Mayan methods of weaving, or if you prefer something more active, there are multiple hiking trails with stunning views of the lake and the volcanos (you can even hike the volcanos too!) On the lake, many people enjoy going kayaking or paddle boarding. You can get involved with the local community and learn Tz’utujil, one of the Mayan languages spoken in the area. You can even try cacao and participate in a Mayan cacao ceremony.


There are tons of different activities to get involved in and fill up your spare time while soaking up the culture and the stunning nature in the area. 


Here are some of the activities that you can look forward to: 


Weaving classes: 


There are many different organizations you can take classes with and support their weavers:

  • 13 Batz’ Weaving Co-op  
  • Cojolya Association of Maya Women.
  • Maria, Cojolya’s master weaver, has a store near Parque Central where you can learn all about traditional costumes
  • Embroidery lessons with Mujeres de Maiz
  • Trama Textiles (Women’s Weaving Co-Op in San Juan)



Volunteers Learning Guatemalan Weaving

Volunteers learning Guatemalan weaving


Hiking/Active experiences: 


If you like the outdoors and physical activity, then these activities are for you! From hiking volcanoes to paragliding, to camping, here are some of the best options and tours to choose from.


  • Climb Volcano San Pedro, Toliman or Atitlán
  • Do a bird-watching tour around Mirador Tepepul to spot the quetzal, the national bird
  • Visit the tulares of Santiago Atitlán in a cayuco with el tour del tul. You will get closer to ancestral culture, learn about the process of looking after the tul and the aquatic ecosystems as well as the process of making handicrafts out of it.
  • Experience the Canopy in San Pedro
  • Go paragliding in Panajachel 
  • Go horseback riding 
  • Do the beautiful Rostro Maya sunrise hike 
  • Hike from San Marcos or Tzununa to Santa Cruz de la Laguna, ending the hike at Cafe Sabor Cruceno (it has amazing views!)
  • Explore Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve in San Marcos, Atitlan Nature Reserve with its hanging bridges and monkeys in Panajachel or Los Tarrales Nature Reserve in Patulul, close to San Lucas Tolimán.
  • Explore Cerro de Oro, source of inspiration for Saint-Exupéry author of the famous book The Little Prince
  • Experience a traditional Temazcal (sauna)
  • Go to the solar pools in San Pedro
  • Camp in the woods and watch the sunrise at Chuitnamit – we have local friends who are guides and can take you on this tour – simply ask us about it when you’re here! 
  • Go to Mirador Kaqa Siwaan in San Juan la Laguna (a beautiful lookout point)


Outdoor activities in Lake Atitlan


Water activities: 


Since you’ll be living on this beautiful lake, you might as well take advantage of it! These are a few popular water sports that you can participate in. 


  • Kayaking 
  • Cayuco-ing – Paddle as a local to see the sunrise from the other side of the lake
  • Scuba Diving – The only dive shop on the lake, ATi Divers, is located in Santa Cruz, and it is linked with La Iguana Perdida
  • SUP –  Some of our volunteers have enjoyed the SUP experience at Free Cerveza Hostel in Santa Cruz la Laguna or at La Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito. Both hotels rent their equipment at affordable rates so you can explore the surrounding areas. 



Kayaking on Lake Atitlan

Kayaking on Lake Atitlan

Culture/ Local life


Immerse yourself in the culture and local communities surrounding the lake to gain a deeper connection to and understanding of Guatemala and the Mayan culture. 


  • Visit Chichicastenango, Central America’s largest outdoor market. 
  • Do a Coffee Tasting Tour at CoAtitlán
  • Visit the local market of Santiago. It is a vibrant place full of fresh vegetables and fruit. Most of what’s available is locally grown, so you can enjoy seasonal produce, try new flavors, and support the local economy. Do not forget to try jocotes, zapote and pitaya when they are in season.
  • Visit Santiago Central Park. Besides being a nice spot with a 3D map of the lake in the middle of the park, it’s surrounded by street food which is very popular amongst locals, and worth trying. You can try tostadas, dobladas, chuchitos, tamales, rellenitos, atol & patín (traditional food from Santiago Atitlán made with tomato sauce and spices). 
  • Visit the Catholic Church built in the XVI century and Parque de la Paz in Santiago to learn about recent history. ANADESA a community NGO based in Santiago offers walking tours on Santiago’s recent history. Have a look at their website for more cultural activities.
  • Walk down “Ruta de los murales” an alley filled with street art made by various local, national and international artists reflecting on origin and identity of Santiago Atitlán.
  • Visit Casa Museo Concepción Ramírez in Santiago, dedicated to the Tz’utujil woman appearing on the Guatemalan 25-cent coin
  • Try a chocofruta (frozen fruit dipped in chocolate). They are sold across the Lake, just ask the locals
  • Have a coffee at Space Coffee and let Diego, the best barista in all of Santiago, talk you through the different coffee varieties.
  • Eat at Le Antigua, Maria Chula, or Germinaciones, all of them are cosy places to try creative cuisine and hang out with friends. 
  • Have ceviche in one of the many cevicherias in Santiago
  • Enjoy a picnic of barbeque and tacos at the local parks (Xechivoy and Pachichaj). Everyone loves going to hang out and eat at the picnic tables with lake views and surrounded by nature. 
  • Visit Hotel Bambú and its beautiful garden or La Posada and its magnificent views towards the lake (ask for their terrace!)
  • Play basketball or soccer with local friends and students from our Learning Center. 



Volunteers enjoying local life in Santiago Atitlan

Volunteers enjoying local life in Santiago Atitlan


Classes/ Workshops: 


Learn a new skill such as pottery, Tz’utujil, or painting while gaining even more knowledge of the local culture. 


  • Learn Spanish & Tz’utujil – our host families have recommendations for excellent local teachers, some of our volunteers have taken Spanish classes and were happy with their progress, and some have taken Tz’utujil classes, which is an amazing opportunity to understand other cultural aspects from daily life in this Mayan community. 
  • Visit local artists from Santiago – Galeria Iglesia de Arte, Diego y Gherardi Mesia or Galeria de Arte Juan Sisay
  • Visit art galleries and take painting classes – La Galeria in Panajachel, Galeria de Arte Chiya or Galleria Imox in San Juan
  • Try Pottery workshops and Shopping in San Antonio
  • Learn about artisanal chocolate at Liccor Marron Chocolate in San Juan and at Ruk’ux Ulew at Bosque Encantado in San Marcos
  • Participate in permaculture and ancestral Mayan wisdom workshops at IMAP (Mesoamerican Institute of Permaculture) in San Lucas Tolimán
  • Learn the traditional recipes from local friends and host families. As part of their services ANADESA offers traditional cooking classes and Tz’utujil  cultural heritage workshops in Santiago Atitlán.
  • Do you like mushrooms? Visit the Fungi Academy in Tzununa



Workshops and classes in Lake Atitlan


Support the community 


If you are interested in sustainable and ethical tourism during your stay here, there are a few options for you to have an impact in the community, beyond the work you are doing with One, Two…Tree! 




Volunteers supporting Guatemala

Volunteers participating in sustainable and community projects


There are so many ways to get involved in the local community, immerse yourself in the Guatemalan culture, and soak up the nature of beautiful Lake Atitlán. 


When you are in Guatemala, we can help direct you to any of the organizations or companies we mentioned above to ensure that you feel comfortable, safe, and happy during your entire time with us! 


Volunteer with us this year! 


We are currently seeking more English Teacher Volunteers to join us this year to support our growing Learning Center and English programs in Santiago. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at:  


Interview with the coordinator: Our educational work during the pandemic

Having impact as an English teacher volunteer


Our passionate, hardworking English teacher volunteer coordinator, Gracia, answers our questions after working with us for a year. Read about her experience with us and get an insider look into our work with volunteers from around the world who are all contributing to our overall impact on the community of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.


Gracia with English Students in Santiago

Gracia with English students in Santiago


Q&A with Gracia: 


One, Two…Tree!: Thanks for speaking with us, Gracia! To give our readers some context, can you explain a bit more about your role with us as Volunteer Coordinator? 


Gracia: Yes! I’d love to share my experience with you. I worked with One, Two… Tree! for a year as the volunteer coordinator, which meant that I was introducing people to the organization and recruiting them to come to Santiago Atitlán as teachers. 


The challenging part about restarting the project in the middle of the pandemic was finding ways to adapt to changing schedules and other situations that were limiting our normal work in public schools. Besides recruiting volunteers, I was also a teacher, and since I am an ESL teacher, I helped build the curriculum for our adults’ beginner level. I also helped develop the Coffee Terminology course we created for our friends at CoAtitlán. As coordinator, I was also consistently searching for opportunities to expand our impact and reach through connections with other initiatives in the community. 


English Class Graduation Day

English class graduation day


One, Two…Tree!: What impact have you seen One, Two…Tree! have in the community of Santiago Atitlán? 


Gracia: I have seen our work positively impact the students in their return to school after more than 2 years of distance learning. Public schools just recently  started gradually returning to teach in person this year, and both students and teachers have told us how motivating it is to receive classes on a new subject that is difficult and taught in a different way, since we plan our lessons with dynamic activities and hand out fun worksheets as homework, which is not the usual methodology for other subjects. 


I’ve also seen our impact on our young and adult students. Some of them were telling me stories of how they started learning English years ago with teachers Gary and Gergana (previous One, Two… Tree! teachers), and when they saw the posters I was handing out around town about the reopening of our lessons last year, they felt happy and immediately decided they were joining again. I am proud to see them now going from beginner to intermediate level, being able to have better job opportunities, connect with other people, and hopefully even teach English to children or share what they know with their peers.


One, Two…Tree!: What was your biggest accomplishment during your time with One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: I feel really proud about how we approached the challenges of working with irregular schedules from the public school system due to the changing restrictions and limited human resources. This year, opening our Learning Center in Santiago has been an amazing learning bridge, as it gave us a closer approach to the community, which helped us solidify our classes for adults with a better retention rate than previous groups. It is a nice way for volunteers to connect with other young people and make local friends. In the future, we may be able to go back to full work focused in public school  and may not need the center, but for now, this was my biggest achievement because it was the best way to maximize our impact despite the limitations we were facing. Our students and friends from the community are beyond happy with this project and they openly have told us so. 


Teacher Volunteers in Santiago Guatemala

Teacher volunteers in Santiago Guatemala


One, Two…Tree!: What would you like people to know about One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: That it is a rewarding experience, you learn a lot and have the opportunity to join a team where you can share your ideas, work with your heart, and contribute to education. Seeing children motivated about school again and happy about English classes makes you feel inspired. That’s our driving force; that’s why we feel excited about planning creative lessons and looking for ways to improve. 


One, Two…Tree!: What would you like volunteers to know about working with One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: This is the perfect program for committed people who want to invest some of their time, energy, and creativity in education. It is a great way to gain new skills, train to be a future tutor or teacher, and improve your Spanish! We work for about 20 hours every week, but we also know of many different fun activities around the lake, and have connections with projects where you can can learn about nature and the local culture. 


One, Two…Tree!: What is your hope for the future of the organization? 


Gracia: I hope to see One, Two… Tree! replicating the projects we did this year, expanding our collaboration locally, strengthening the team through local teachers (our students who could hopefully join our volunteer force in the future by teaching for a few hours), and growing in Central America and Mexico. 


Community development in Santiago Atitlan

Community development in Santiago Atitlan


One, Two…Tree!: What was your favorite part of working with One, Two…Tree!? 


Gracia: Doing what I love: teaching. Also, working to make English more accessible through creative teaching methods, working with other motivated and knowledgeable volunteers like Dani, Gersom and Carmela, amongst others, who were committed and passionate in their contributions to our work in Santiago. I’m going back to Guatemala City after a year, to continue my studies and get more experience in my field, which is Psychology, but in the future, I certainly want to volunteer with One, Two… Tree! again. 


One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for all of your hard work, passion, and commitment, Gracia! 


If you would like to join our team as an English Teacher Volunteer, please email us here: 


One Two Tree Volunteers Guatemala

One, Two… Tree! volunteers Guatemala

How our partnership with Cojolyá empowers our community

Who is Cojolyá and what is their impact? 


Cojolyá is a non-profit organisation in Santiago Atitlán that began during the Civil War in 1983. It has developed into an association of artisans who create Fair Trade products for sale locally and internationally. Cojolyá has a holistic approach that, includes providing educational programs for the children of the community, as well as personal and professional development for the artisans. 


Cojolyá programs currently support ten children and adolescents by providing school supplies and scholarships. Lately, because of the restrictions in public schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic, assistance programs have provided the students with a tutor in addition to regular educational supports.


Cojolyá is having a direct impact on the lives of the artisans, their families and the general community of Santiago, and it is also supporting Fair Trade efforts.

nglish Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago


How does our partnership work?  


One, Two…Tree! has partnered with Cojolyá to ensure that both organizations are able to have double the impact in Santiago. 


Beginning last year,  One, Two… Tree! teamed up with Cojolyá to provide students with English lessons. It was immediately apparent that the collaboration was having a positive impact. The in-person classes were a success and the students enjoyed them. Now, with our very own Learning Center, the students will be able to attend lessons and take advantage of more opportunities to learn and practice English. 


Similarly, Don Antonio, Cojolyá’s artisan founder, and Carina, the administrator, both attend adult classes at the center as well. 


Learning English in Guatemala

Learning English in Guatemala


This year, One, Two… Tree! is collaborating on various activities with the students of Cojolyá every month, which provides them with different ways to learn and practice English that are outside the traditional methods of education. For example, every month One, Two… Tree! hosts a cultural celebration in English featuring a different theme each time so that the students can learn new vocabulary in a fun and unique way. 


One of the volunteers, Kelly from Greece, was also a part-time volunteer with Cojolyá when she was here earlier this year. Some of our other volunteers have collaborated with Cojolyá’s partner artisans by taking weaving classes and buying Cololyá’s products, since Cojolyá is a weaving association part of the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization). Doña María, one of the partner artisans, really enjoyed the visit from the One, Two… Tree! volunteers, so she dressed them all in traditional clothes! 


English Teachers in Guatemala

English Teachers in Guatemala


What is your role as an English teacher volunteer? 


Apart from in-person teaching and activities in the classroom, it is exciting to watch volunteers get creative and find new ways to present English materials to the students.


For example, this year, volunteers Elinor from Belgium, Alizée from France, Kelly from Greece, Carmela from Spain, and Gersom from Guatemala have all been helping us plan the cultural activities and curriculum for the students. Through the use of fun activities, these volunteers ensure that each student receives equal amounts of attention and opportunities to practice their English. Carmela is also a part-time volunteer math tutor with Cojolyá.

One, Two… Tree! is proud to be partnering with Cojolyá to provide students with the opportunity to learn English to increase the overall impact of education and development in Santiago Atitlán. 


Teach English in Guatemala

Teach English in Guatemala


Volunteer with us this year! 


One, Two… Tree! is seeking more English teacher volunteers to come to Santiago, Guatemala to help expand the programs and reach of the organisation, and boost impact on the community. 


If you would like to learn more about volunteering with One, Two… Tree! and Cojolyá, please send us an email to:  


Nonprofit partnership in Guatemala

Nonprofit partnership in Guatemala