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Tickling Tongues and Tackling Numbers: Reflecting on a Year of English Empowerment

As we gear up for the commencement of another year of English programs in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the past year. We want to express our huge appreciation to the community of Santiago and our donors for their support, and to our amazing volunteers who enabled us to deliver our programs and make positive impacts.


A glance at our key achievements in 2023


Reach and number of schools involved


Spreading English like confetti, we dazzled the minds of 300 kids across 5 public schools! Grades 4, 5, and 6 were our fearless language adventurers, and together, we created a symphony of verbs, nouns, and a lot of ‘Aha!’ moments.


Benefited students


We’ve had a blast teaching English to almost 160 students at our Learning Center too. Across two semesters, we rolled out 10 English programs to kids and adults. And to keep things interesting, we sprinkled in some one-on-one conversation classes. Because, who says language learning can’t be a VIP experience?


We also teamed up with the crafty women of Cojolya in Santiago. From translating lessons on the art of weaving to orchestrating English activities, we were there.


Training of local teachers and their impact on the community


We tapped into our English-teaching super powers to help upskill community members, and voila! One has now secured a job as an English teacher in Santiago! We are very proud to have contributed to the empowerment of a Santiagüeña.


A big thank you to our Volunteers


A big shoutout to our volunteers! We had 21 awesome humans supporting our project last year – 6 of them brought the Santiago vibe, and the rest? Well, they joined the party from all corners of the globe! From Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, the USA, Portugal, the Netherlands, to Australia—talk about a diverse and collaborative squad making things happen!


Check out our 2023 wrap-up video for a sneak peak of our volunteers in action in Santiago!

Educational programs and innovative methodologies implemented


Techniques and teaching methods used


Active learning strategies are the backbone of our methodology. Scaffolding, problem-solving activities, hands-on work, peer teaching… you name it! Teaching is a partnership, a dynamic two-way street, so not only do we share our “power” with our students, we also create scenarios where they can’t resist using their English.


We always kick off our lesson by having a lively discussion about what the students remember from our last session. We like to get them engaged and excited about the learning journey we’re on together. As we wrap things up, we sprinkle in a cheerful summary of the day’s discoveries. This way, we’re creating a chain of lessons that sparks their memory and keeps them eager for more.


We also want to make sure our students grasp the concepts without relying on Spanish. In fact, we don’t speak Spanish in class at all! We make use of your own resources, like mimicking, drawing, gesturing… The goal is for them to understand the concept first, and then the translation will naturally follow in their minds. We want to keep those brains flexible and agile! We also try to make ourselves understood by modulating our voice, using Latin words and our body language.


Looking to the future: our programs in 2024


Expanding our reach across public schools and the Learning Center


We’re riding a wave of enthusiasm because there’s an incoming tsunami of volunteers! With their help, we’re set to partner with six schools this year, where we will again be teaching English to kids in grades 4, 5 and 6!  The anticipation is building up, and on February 15th , the public schools will come alive with learning and excitement.


The Learning Center is clearly a hot spot for eager adult learners and our one-to-one lessons are always a sought-after gem, so we’ll continue to meet that demand. Our classes at the Learning Center will kick-off on 19 February and we are pumped to have new cohorts of kids and adults join our English programs.


Exploring collaborations and partnerships


We are eager to strengthen our connections within the community by seeking new collaboration opportunities and supporting local initiatives. On top of that, we’re also actively exploring partnership opportunities with educational institutions and beyond to boost our volunteer network and in turn broaden our impact.


If you would like to partner with us, or have ideas for collaboration don’t hesitate to contact us !


How you can participate: volunteering and support in 2024


Embarking on a volunteering journey with One, Two… Tree! is a wonderful choice, and we’re excited to welcome enthusiastic volunteer English teachers to join us in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.


To kickstart your journey with us, reaching out is easy. You can express your interest by sending an email to our team in Guatemala , completing the volunteer contact form on our website, or connecting with us through Instagram.


Once we receive your inquiry, our team will promptly get in touch, providing you with all the details about our project. Our volunteer coordinator will arrange an interview, giving us the chance to get to know you better and address any queries you may have. Following the interview, we’ll guide you through the necessary steps to prepare for your trip, including the submission of required documentation such as a criminal record check, photo ID, and an insurance policy.


As your volunteering journey with us approaches, we’ll share a comprehensive introduction package a month before your arrival. This package includes valuable information on our work processes, tips for living in Santiago Atitlán, and training materials to help you prepare for your teaching role.


During your stay, you will be supported by our awesome coordinators and your fellow volunteers and no doubt, you will make some great friends within the community.


Can’t make it to Guatemala? Reach out to explore how your talents can be used remotely or head on over to our donations page to check out how you can contribute.


We look forward to connecting with you and sharing this meaningful experience!


What Are the Main Pros and Cons of Volunteering?

What Are the Main Pros and Cons of Volunteering?


Are you interested on community service? Learn about the positive effects of volunteering and some of the challenges you may face during your volunteer journey!


What motivates people to volunteer?

Volunteering brings people together like a dance floor at a wedding. You’re part of a gang with the same mission. There’s something heart-warming about fighting the good fight side by side.

Some people treat volunteering as a personal training ground. You’re out there, learning stuff that might just come in handy beyond the volunteer party. Others use volunteering as a break from the snooze-fest of regular life. It’s a chance to inject a bit of excitement and purpose into the routine.

So, why should you volunteer? Because it’s not just about giving; it’s about receiving a lot in return – joy, connections, growth, and that awesome sense of making the world a bit brighter.


Pros of Volunteering:

Volunteering is like this secret party, but everyone’s invited. It’s this wild, unpredictable journey where you end up discovering more about the world and yourself than you ever imagined. Let’s look at some of the benefits of doing community service.


You can learn new skills


Embarking on different projects opens doors to diverse skills. Dive into tech, and you could master mobile app development, coding, and digital solutions. Event promotion or cause championing might transform you into a marketing whiz, handling social media, campaign development, and content creation. If storytelling is your forte, documenting experiences or project impacts turns you into a narrative ninja. From the comfort of your couch, you could become a remote work superhero and excel in precise communication, time management and seamless collaboration. For those in education, virtual volunteering can morph you into an online teaching and tutoring wizard.


You can volunteer abroad


When you volunteer abroad, as our One, Two…Tree! volunteers do, you’re basically diving headfirst into local customs, traditions, and the real deal of everyday life. Chatting it up with the locals day in and day out will have you throwing around colloquialisms in no time.

And let’s talk about worldview expansion. Volunteering abroad is about getting a front-row seat to diverse perspectives and global issues. Flexibility and adaptability become your middle names. You’re navigating through all sorts of cultural twists and turns, and these skills become second nature.

One, Two…Tree! volunteers connect with diverse communities and cultures.

You could meet new people and expand your network


Don’t be a wallflower; jump into events, workshops, and all the cool training sessions your volunteering crew throws together. And hey, don’t limit your networking game to just volunteering stuff. Step out of your volunteer comfort zone and dive into the local scene. Social media? Most volunteer organizations have their own groups or pages. Spill the tea on the ups and downs, and stay in the loop about what’s on the horizon. Check out our Instagram page to see what our One, Two…Tree! volunteers have been up to!


Personal Growth


Volunteering is your door to self-discovery. You might stumble upon hidden talents, passions, or parts of yourself you didn’t know existed. It also often means connecting with people facing tough times. You become an emotional intelligence wizard, learning empathy, compassion, and how to ride the emotional rollercoaster. And, as you assess situations, identify needs, and whip up solutions. Your critical thinking skills will help you make smart decisions.


You improve your soft skills and CV


Volunteering can lead you to CV glory and a soft skills upgrade. Time to show the professional world what you’re made of!

Lots of volunteer gigs let you take charge of projects, events, or campaigns. Slap those on your CV! Employers dig those who bring a bit of a worldview and can handle different cultures. And when the drama unfolds in group settings, and conflicts are on the menu, volunteering teaches you to navigate that terrain.


Cons of Volunteering:

It’s not always rainbows and sunshine in the volunteering world. Let’s talk about the flip side, the negative effects of community service, that sometimes sneak up on you when you’re knee-deep in good intentions.


Emotional involvement and impact


One big emotional curveball is burnout. You’re all in, giving your time and energy, and suddenly, it hits you like a ton of bricks – exhaustion, fatigue, you name it. When you’re dealing with heavy stuff, there’s this thing called compassion fatigue. You absorb so many emotions that you’re left feeling numb, detached, or just less empathetic.

Setting boundaries can be a real challenge, especially when you’re dealing with personal stories and struggles. So, where do you draw the line? Witnessing suffering, dealing with personal safety concerns, or just being overwhelmed by the enormity of social issues – that’s the emotional weight that can come with certain volunteer posts.




Picture this: you’re trying to tackle an issue, but the impact isn’t as great as you expected. Maybe the challenges are way more stubborn than you expected. Then there’s the lack of recognition. You’re pouring your effort, but it feels like nobody’s noticing. No pat on the back, no acknowledgment. Sometimes, frustration kicks in when you’ve got these big expectations. You think you’re going to rock it, change lives, and leave your mark. But reality hits, and it’s not as glamorous or impactful as you imagined.


You put in the time and the money


So, let’s spill the tea on why overseas volunteering is a bit of a time and money whirlwind. Visas, flights, where the heck you’ll bunk – it’s a pre-departure puzzle that takes time to solve. It can also mean shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Picture this: you find this amazing volunteer opportunity, but it’s halfway across the globe. Exciting, right? Until you realize you’ve got to dip into your savings for that flight ticket and let’s not forget about accommodation or food!

Volunteering overseas isn’t a pop-in, pop-out situation. You might be in it for weeks or months. That’s time away from your job, family, and your usual routine. Plus, some volunteering gigs might need you to undergo training or obtain certain qualifications, adding more time and cost.


Confrontation with other people’s reality


Alright, let’s talk about one of the real and tough parts of volunteering – the confrontation with other people’s reality. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions – empathy, compassion, frustration, and maybe even a bit of guilt for having a different reality. It can be messy, emotional, and sometimes uncomfortable.

Picture this: you’re in a community, maybe halfway across the globe. You see first-hand the challenges people are facing – perhaps it’s poverty, lack of access to education, or health issues. It’s a reality check that hits you square in the face.

You might also find yourself in situations where you can’t fix everything. You want to, you really do, but the reality is, some problems are deeply rooted and complex. It’s a humbling experience, realizing that your efforts, while meaningful, might not be the solution you envisioned.



What are some key benefits of volunteering?


  1. Dive into Learning:

You’re out there, getting your hands dirty. Social issues, community dynamics – you’re right in the thick of it, applying the stuff you’ve read about. Some posts even throw you into this mix of different fields, like a knowledge buffet. It’s not just learning; it’s applying, doing, and looking at problems from all angles.

  1. Feel the Feels and build resilience:

You’re dealing with all sorts of people, navigating through the ups and downs of community life. It’s like a crash course in understanding emotions – yours and others’. And guess what? You’re not just learning to deal with it; you’re building up your emotional strength.

  1. Reputation Boost:

Volunteering isn’t just good for the soul; it’s a reputation booster. Whether you’re rocking it in your personal life or hustling in the professional world, people notice when you’re out there making a difference.


Volunteers in action at our Learning Centre in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.

Does volunteering reduce stress?


Volunteer work is a game-changer, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and worries that often run on a loop in our heads. Now, here’s the science behind it – acts of kindness trigger the release of neurotransmitters, the feel-good chemicals. We’re talking serotonin and oxytocin, the brain’s own happiness cocktail.

But it’s not just about the brain; it’s a full-body experience. Depending on the kind of volunteering you’re into, you might find yourself getting active. Physical activity is a known stress-buster, releasing endorphins – your body’s natural mood lifters.

And here’s a bonus – volunteering nudges you towards mindfulness. It’s this sneaky way of encouraging you to be present, fully engaged in the task at hand. Instead of stressing about what’s coming next, you’re right there in the moment.


Is volunteer work good for mental health?


From a psychological perspective, volunteering is a powerhouse for mental well-being. When you engage in volunteer work, you’re essentially rewiring your brain in ways that contribute to positive mental health. It is a cognitive workout too. Learning new tasks, problem-solving, and engaging in meaningful activities contribute to cognitive flexibility and mental agility. Your brain becomes more adept at handling diverse situations, and this cognitive stimulation is a buffer against mental health hurdles.

Volunteering also challenges your comfort zone. You might find yourself in situations you never thought you’d be in, dealing with people from all walks of life. Stepping outside your bubble not only broadens your perspective but also makes you more adaptable. And guess what? An adaptive mind is a resilient mind, a key ingredient for good mental health.


What skills do you need for volunteering?


One thing that stands out is the need for clear and effective communication. You will have to collaborate with a bunch of people, each bringing their A-game toward a common goal, and being able to express ideas clearly and listen actively is crucial.

And let’s talk about the human side of volunteering. You’re likely to interact with people facing all sorts of challenges. This is where empathy and compassion come into play – understanding others’ perspectives and offering support. That’s why having self-care skills is non-negotiable. It’s about balancing the scale between giving to others and taking care of your own well-being.

And as you’re navigating this volunteer journey, recognizing and valuing the contributions of your fellow volunteers is key. Openness to feedback, understanding your own limitations, and being receptive to constructive criticism – it’s what makes you a useful team player.


What is the toughest aspect of volunteering?


Volunteering can be a bit of a tightrope walk, especially when you’re dealing with organizations that operate on shoestring budgets. The constraints on time, funding, or manpower can make it tough for volunteers to hit their goals or create a significant impact.

You may also encounter resistance. Introducing new ideas or initiatives can face pushback, both from within the organization and the community. Changing the game might mean shaking up the status quo, and not everyone is on board with that. Navigating this resistance becomes a challenge that volunteers often have to dance around to bring about positive change.

Last but not least, ethical dilemmas. You can find yourself in situations where values ​​clash or decisions become morally complicated. Manoevering in this ethical maze requires a solid framework and critical thinking. It’s not just about doing the right thing, but figuring out what that right thing is in the first place.


Weighing it up!

So, yes, burnout and compassion fatigue can be a part of the emotional rollercoaster of volunteering. Boundaries blur when dealing with personal struggles. Confronting others’ realities might be uncomfortable, realizing that your efforts might not be the envisioned solution. Expectations collide with reality. And overseas volunteering? A money and time whirlwind. Visas, flights, food, accommodation…

But we mustn’t forget that volunteering can be a skill booster, enhancing social media, storytelling, and teaching prowess. Plus, it’s CV gold, it expands your social circle and reveals hidden talents. Abroad, interactions enrich language skills and cultural adaptability. It’s also a mental health powerhouse, releasing feel-good chemicals, and rewiring your brain for cognitive flexibility and resilience.

Well then, are you in?

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!

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!

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


Informative interview with our amazing English volunteer: Kelly!

In this #InterviewSeries post, we interview Kelly, a volunteer from Greece who joined us in January. She shares all of the details about her time and experience as an English Teacher Volunteer with One, Two… Tree! in Guatemala. Let’s get started!


Question (One, Two… Tree!): Hi Kelly! Thank you for joining us for this interview.

Answer (Kelly): Hello! Thank you for inviting me to share my experience!


QCould you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

A: For as long as I can remember I have loved traveling, meeting people, and being a (non-formal) teacher :). I am a youth worker back in Greece and manage many global education projects. So, I thought, “what could be better than some action in the field with One, Two…Tree!?”

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

English Teacher Volunteer in Guatemala

Q: Could you provide some details about when and where you volunteered with us, and for how long?

A: I volunteered with One, Two…Tree! in rural Guatemala (I recommend always going to rural areas for such projects), in the village Santiago Atitlan on the Lake. I was there for 1 month; the first month of 2022 (wish it could have been for longer) for the best start to the year!


QCould you tell us a bit about what your daily life was like as an English volunteer?

A: My daily life was more than exciting. You are always doing so many different things with different people and with so many stimuli that you take with you back home. You are busy with the classes in the mornings, then have lunch with your host family or explore the colorful market and prepare your own food. Then, you prepare for class materials, grade, complete worksheets, participate in team meetings – you know… the teacher’s life!


Team activities on the weekends range from day trips around the lake to hiking and Mayan ceremonies, interactions with the locals- students or others – exploring the rich culture of Guatemala, and enjoying the warm hearts of the people. The list is as endless as your imagination!

English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

QWhere did you stay in Santiago, Guatemala?

A: I stayed with a lovely local family, in a private room with a nice balance of autonomy and blending at the same time. Maritza, the host mom, was cooking for me and helped me practice Spanish in the most efficient way. Pedro, the host dad, was caring and also explained a lot about the institutions and situation in Guatemala. Azul, the sweet girl, was one of my students and it was amazing to see her at home and at school. The stay was very comfortable and very interactive. I really miss them!


Q: Did you feel that your volunteering work had an impact on the community?

A: Absolutely, from day 1. The engagement with the students in the English classes and beyond is so direct, and much needed. The classes are helping them to improve their lives, increase their employability and have a dignified future. It is much more than that though, as it is a very enriching intercultural engagement, a beneficial way for both sides (volunteer and community) to gain more self-confidence, more ideas, self-esteem, deep connections, and life satisfaction.

One, Two… Tree! Volunteering

Q: Did you have an opportunity to learn any Spanish?

A: ¡Absolutely! This was one of the highlights of the experience. Staying together with a family is the best way to learn the basics and beyond and become proud of it. Knocking down the language barrier also opens up the heart and makes the connections and your impact even deeper. You can also have a language exchange with your new Guatemalteco friends to boost your language skills!


QWhat is something you wish you knew before coming to Guatemala to volunteer?

A: I wish I knew how much you can do, give and learn – I would have scheduled to stay longer!


QWhat is the best memory you have from your experience?

A: It is impossible to pick just one, I have so many precious moments, connections, activities, smiles, and hugs. I think if I had to choose, it would be the first opening day of the One, Two…Tree! learning center that took place in February, thanks to the amazing teamwork by the volunteers. The reward of the emotions felt when the kids, teens, and adults were coming to learn English cannot be put into words.

Teaching English to Children in Guatemala

Teaching English to Children in Guatemala

Q: Do you have any advice for future volunteers who want to start this adventure?

A: Come live this life-changing experience, serve a community really in need, and receive more than you will give! Come with an open mind and an open heart leaving every fear from the Western world behind!


One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Kelly!

Kelly: You’re welcome!


If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at:

One, Two… Tree! English Teacher Volunteer

Our first English Learning Center in Santiago, Guatemala!

Our English Learning Center opened in Santiago Atitlan in February to provide more English classes to more students, both children, and adults of all levels.


Our Learning Center Brings More English Classes to More Students!


At the beginning of February, the doors to our new Learning Center opened in Santiago, Atitlán. Since our work was affected by the pandemic due to the constantly changing rules around classes and restrictions in public schools, we decided to open our own center in order to bring more English classes to more students! We will still be bringing our English teachers and curriculum to schools, additionally offering these classes to the community.

English Teacher Volunteers at our Learning Center

English Teacher Volunteers at our Learning Center

We found the space in a central location, close to the schools we work with. With the help of our current volunteers, we painted the building and cleaned it up in order to open our doors quickly because we were receiving lots of inquiries from families in the community. We have already begun teaching our English curriculum to both children and adults in the center.

Volunteers Painting Our Learning Center

Volunteers Painting Our Learning Center

How the English Learning Center Works

The Learning Center is open every day and classes are available for students during after-school hours. Classes for children are available between 4:00-5:00 pm, and teens and adults can join us for classes between 6:00-7:00 pm. There are three classrooms in the center, meaning that multiple groups can study simultaneously. We currently have two classes for each age group; one is for students at the beginner level, and the other is for more advanced levels.

English Classes in our Learning Center

English Classes in our Learning Center

We are using the same curriculum as we have been using in public schools. This curriculum focuses on introducing our students to English with a special focus on developing listening and speaking as well as the acquisition of basic vocabulary to provide a foundation on which to continue learning English. We include worksheets, activities, games and short quizzes. Some of the materials, such as books, that we are using in the Learning Center are provided by Puerta Abierta, a nonprofit organization that we partner with here in Santiago. These materials help to enrich our English classes and enhance the experience of the students.


What Does This Mean for Our English Teacher Volunteers?

One Two…Tree! volunteers will still work with us for approximately 16 hours per week, however, now those hours will be divided between working in public school classrooms and teaching at the Learning Center. These hours will vary depending on the current government restrictions for public schools, as well as the demand for classes at the Learning Center.

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

English Teacher Volunteers in Santiago

The Learning Center will provide our English teacher volunteers with a home base that they can help develop and contribute to. So far, our volunteers have helped us set up the space and ensure the classrooms are optimized for learning at all levels.


The Space Will Be Open to the Community

Our Learning Center will also be open to other local programs and organizations. The intention behind the Learning Center is to create a safe learning space for everyone in the community. For example, Instituto Tzanjuyú, the secondary school that we partner with, has lent us chairs, tables, and whiteboards, and in exchange, they will use the space to host a chess club and guitar lessons for their students and anyone who wants to join.


The Learning Center will also be a recycling point for the community. Our friends at Amigos del Lago will come every Monday to pick up everyone’s recycling. Currently, the community throws everything out together in the garbage, so not only are we providing a space for recycling to be easily dropped off and picked up, but we are also educating the community on the importance of recycling and what items can be recycled in our programming.

Adult English Classes in Santiago Atitlan

We are excited to continue to develop our Learning Center to ensure it is an open space for the whole community to come together and learn.


If you are interested in learning more about our Learning Center or volunteering with us in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: 

Informative interview with one of our English volunteers: Dani!

In this #InterviewSeries post, we interview Dani, a volunteer who joined us last year. He shares all of the details about his time and experience as an English Teacher Volunteer with One Two… Tree! in Guatemala. Let’s dive right in!


Question (One Two… Tree!): Hi Dani! Thank you for joining us for this interview. 

Answer (Dani): Thanks for inviting me.


Q: Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background? 

A: I am Dani Thomas and I live in Pontypridd in Wales. I have been a Computer Programmer for many years and I have an interest in music and politics. I also have a great interest in Spanish and Latin American issues. One of my ambitions was to spend some time in Central or South America possibly doing voluntary work.


Q: Wow – sounds like you achieved that ambition! Can you give some details about when and where you volunteered with us, and for how long? 

A: I started volunteering with One, Two…Tree! Guatemala in August 2021. This was the first opportunity for a while, as foreign travel was blocked by the pandemic. I stayed for three months and I was based in Santiago Atitlan.

English class in Santiago, Guatemala

English class in Santiago, Guatemala

Q: Could you tell us a bit about what your daily life was like as an English volunteer?

A: As the pandemic was still affecting things, we were not able to do as much teaching in the schools as was originally envisaged. It was limited to explaining and retrieving the homework, and the classes were split in order to keep the classroom numbers down. However, we did start a twice-a-week adult class which included a number of workers from the local coffee cooperative. This had to go online as the Covid rules changed. We also got involved with Friends of Lake Atitlan helping with their recycling efforts.

Volunteers at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Q: Sounds like you were able to pivot successfully! Where did you stay in Santiago, Guatemala? 

A: I stayed in the house of Señora Argentina. This was great as she was always very helpful and welcoming and knows everyone in Santiago, pretty much.

*Argentina is one of the hosts One Two…Tree! collaborates with. She is a retired teacher from Guatemala City and is respected and appreciated by the community for her work with local projects. 


Q: Did you feel that your volunteering work had an impact on the community?

A: Yes. Despite the difficulties due to the pandemic, I believe that both the children and adults made real progress during the time I was there.

Volunteers in Guatemala

Q: Did you have an opportunity to learn any Spanish? 

A: I was already fairly fluent in Spanish but it was great to get the chance to use the language daily. However, since Tz’utujil is the main language spoken in the area, I decided to start having lessons in that language which I found very interesting and fulfilling and gave me a great insight into Mayan culture. After coming home I wrote a song about Santiago in the Tz’utujil language which mentions a number of places and people I met there. This can be seen here.

English teacher volunteer Dani in Guatemala

English teacher volunteer Dani in Guatemala

Q: Wow – that is incredible! What a lovely song, Dani, thank you for sharing. What is something you wish you knew before coming to Guatemala to volunteer? 

A: Nothing starts on time!


Q: What is the best memory you have from your experience? 

A: It is difficult to think of one in particular. I really enjoyed preparing for the adult classes and was able to use some ancient Welsh myths and legends as part of the comprehension. Exploring the various towns and villages around the lake which all have their own characters was great. Visiting the ruins of the prehispanic Tz’utujil capital Chuitinamit. Also just the friendship and companionship with the other volunteers.

English teacher volunteers in Guatemala

Q: Do you have any advice for future volunteers who want to start this adventure?

A: I would say it is absolutely worth doing. Definitely go for it.


One, Two…Tree!: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Dani! 

Dani: My pleasure! 


If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: 


What does teaching English in Guatemala look like in 2022?

Our objective in 2022 is to provide more English lessons in Guatemala


English teacher volunteer in classroom with children in Guatemala

Teacher Pauline with students

You may be wondering what our programs and teaching English in Guatemala will look like in 2022, entering a new year with the pandemic still ongoing. 


Our objective remains the same: to introduce English lessons in public schools in Santiago Atitlán, one of the Maya indigenous communities on Lake Atitlán, as a tool for the future of kids and teenagers.


At this moment, we are still collaborating with elementary schools in Santiago, and we have also established a relationship with our first secondary school, where our volunteers will teach English to teenagers of various ages in 2022. Through these lessons, we are preparing the students for their English classes in school in the following years. They can also use this knowledge in their future professional lives, as English is soon becoming more and more important in Central America.


How does the pandemic affect volunteer teachers?


English lessons in Santiago Atitlan

English lessons in Santiago Atitlan

The pandemic impacted our work greatly, however, we did reactivate our programs in 2021, and we are looking to expand our work again to maximize our impact in Central America as soon as possible.


Currently, our teaching schedule in public schools is subject to the local authorities’ decisions regarding covid restrictions and safety measures. Due to this, we have part-time opportunities available, which gives you, the volunteer, more flexibility to work on personal projects or part-time work. We also have full-time opportunities available for those who want to immerse themselves completely in our work and help out where restrictions allow.





Enhance your volunteering experience in Guatemala


Volunteers participating in local projects in Santiago, Guatemala

Volunteers participating in local projects in Santiago, Guatemala

Although classroom time in schools may be restricted due to changing safety protocols, we also teach English to adults and teenagers through collaborations with local projects and encourage volunteers to participate in community-building activities in other ways as well.


There are multiple chances to help the community grow and to immerse yourself in local culture by getting involved in local projects, such as taking care of the environment, helping at a local community farm, coffee cooperative, or artisan cooperative.


We have collaborations with Cojolyá, a collective of women artisans; CoAtitlán, a coffee cooperative; Amigos del Lago, an environment preservation program; and ADECCAP, a local community farm, and organic waste management program.


Become an English teacher volunteer with One Two…Tree! in 2022


Although the situation on the ground in Guatemala is constantly changing, there are many opportunities for volunteers to join us in 2022.


In the communities in which we work there continues to be a large number of projects with which to collaborate. Your volunteer experience with us will not go to waste. Whether you are teaching in classrooms or helping with local projects, we are dedicated to the development of Santiago Atitlán.

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in Guatemala this year, please contact us at: 

Volunteers in Guatemala

Volunteers in Guatemala