Trellis FAQ Page

Does Trellis offer TEFL certification?

Currently Trellis does not offer any TEFL certification. Our programs are designed to compliment TEFL certification, although having a TEFL certificate is by no means a requirement for volunteering with Trellis. While obtaining a TEFL certificate can positively contribute to your development as a foreign language educator, the vast majority of TEFL certification programs offer minimal in-class teaching experience. Here at Trellis we are taking a different approach. Our 3-month volunteer programs are divided into two sections: the first being a 2-week preparatory training period with the second being a 10-week in-classroom work experience module. We feel that the best way to become a great teacher is to teach and that is why we’ve designed our programs so that they offer our volunteers as much in-classroom teaching experience as possible.

Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach in Japan?

No, Japan does not require its foreign language teachers to hold valid TEFL certification. However, to teach English as a foreign language in Japan you must either hold citizenship in a country that considers English to be one of its official languages or hold citizenship from a selection of countries that are eligible to obtain a Working Holiday Visa in Japan (Austria, Denmark, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Hong Kong (SAR), Ireland, Slovakia, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom).

Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach in Vietnam?

While securing a job in Vietnam as an English teacher without a TEFL certificate isn’t unheard of, in order to work legally and obtain a work visa in Vietnam you are required to have completed an online or in-classroom TEFL certification course.

When are job placements offered?

Job placements are offered upon completion of our Volunteer and Work Experience Program.

How long are the job placements?

This depends on the country. In Japan, you’ll generally sign a 1-year contract with your employer. In Vietnam things are a bit more flexible. Trellis will help you negotiate your contract and make everything easy for you. If you choose to work in Japan we’ll reimburse your transportation costs from Vietnam to Japan.

Why should someone wanting to volunteer to teach English in a foreign country pay Trellis $1,800 to do it?

Very good question! The vast majority of volunteering initiatives globally require their volunteers to pay program fees. These fees play a large role in helping non-profits and social enterprises cover their costs and remain operational. The $1,800 program fee that Trellis charges its volunteers covers the volunteer’s accommodation costs for three months as well as a number of other things. For specific details please view our program details page. If you do some research on other volunteering initiatives you’ll discover that Trellis’ program fees are actually quite competitive and affordable! 

Does Trellis retain money even though it is a non-profit organization?

All non-profits retain money. However, at the end of the fiscal year all revenue must be spent and reinvested into the organization and its operations. This is what it means to be a non-profit. Yes, we generate revenue but we do not generate ‘profits’ in the traditional sense. To operate as a non-profit all your finances must be transparent and reported. In our case, we report our finances to the Japanese government. They ensure that all our money is productively spent and accounted for.

How does Trellis partner with a for-profit company and how does that benefit Trellis? 

Hybrid partnerships (when a for-profit entity partners with a non-profit entity) are not new but they have been gaining popularity in recent years. Trellis has partnered with a Japanese for-profit company in order to increase its effectiveness and sustainability as an organization.

Our partner and benefactor in Japan has been successfully operating a collection of English language schools in Japan for over a decade. We are connected with them via a selection of contracts. Here’s a link to their website: Over the years Lesson4U has created its own unique and highly effective curriculum, teaching and training strategies, classroom materials, and more. Trellis is extracting these materials and techniques for use in its non-profit operations in Vietnam. This enables us to provide exceptional and high-quality foreign language education. Most educational volunteering initiatives struggle with curriculum implementation, training strategies, etc. Trellis does not because all of our methods have already been developed, tested, and refined.

In exchange for access to these materials and techniques Lesson4U receives the following from Trellis:

1. A cost-effective and efficient medium for sourcing high-quality foreign language teachers for use in its schools in Japan. Finding good teachers is hard, especially when you’re doing it internationally and working around language barriers and cultural differences. Trellis eliminates many of the risks associated with hiring teachers from abroad for its partners. 

2. Trellis grants Lesson4U the license to leverage Trellis’ database of teachers within the Japanese foreign language acquisition market. Lesson4U will profit from sending teachers that have completed Trellis’ volunteer program in Vietnam to other schools in Japan. This is at no cost to the volunteer and only occurs if the volunteer actively chooses to work at a school in Japan that isn’t Lesson4U. 

3. A way to further develop Lesson4U’s curriculum, teaching strategies, classroom materials, etc. (i.e. a research and development branch).

This pretty much sums up Trellis’ relationship with its for-profit partner, Lesson4U. 

How much does Lesson4U pay to Trellis?

Lesson4U is providing Trellis the capital necessary to develop its foundation. Our goal is eventually make Trellis financially independent. One of the biggest issues with the international non-profit paradigm is that there are thousands of non-profits competing for a finite amount of donation dollars. Our hybrid partnership results in a situation where Trellis is able to avoid that; a portion of our core financial needs are currently being provided for by our for-profit partner. This means that Trellis doesn’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for donations (you’d be surprised at how much time, effort, and money are spent by non-profits seeking out donation dollars just so they can remain operational). It also means that all the time, effort, and money that would have been spent looking for donations can instead be used to further expand and develop our educational initiatives. 

Does Trellis provide any financial support to Lesson4U?

100% of all program fees and revenue generated by Trellis remain with Trellis. Trellis provides no direct financial support to Lesson4U. Lesson4U only benefits from the growth of Trellis as an independent organization. 

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