Conversations With Foreigners

CWF is an English school that was founded at the same time as VIC in 2006. It has been licensed by Cambodian Ministry of Commerce being run as a business and recognized by Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS). This model enable CWF to provide meaningful English courses to local students and able to generate sustainable income to operate both VIC and CWF. Additionally, some of its profits is also used to donate to Local NGOs working for livelihood development and environmental conservation in rural Cambodia. VIC and CWF is governed by a Board of Directors where the majority are cambodian.
Many local NGOs rely on project-by-project funding, which can be problematic, so CWF was set up a social business to offer affordable conversational English language courses for local students in Phnom Penh in order to help raise regular funding for the important work of local NGOs but also to teach English to students, workers and entrepreneurs as it is the international bridge language. This project is an attempt to create a more sustainable source of funding through an activity which contributes positively to the community. 60% of the profits from the school are given directly to Local NGOs when the rest is to maintain the activity of CWF and VIC but also to improve the facilities.

Business Model

Our students pay US$110 per semester – that’s for 11 weeks (70 contact hours) of classes and costs about one-third the cost of similar courses in Phnom Penh with foreign teachers. Every semester, we offer scholarships to 5% of our enrollment, ranging from 100% of fees to 20%, based on financial hardship, disability, access to education, and family situation.
Students who study at our school are aware that they are directly funding development projects in rural areas and volunteers not only contribute directly to students in Phnom Penh, but also indirectly to the long-term sustainability of NGOs’ work. As rural communities make up 80% of Cambodia’s population, this model of fundraising will hopefully prove more sustainable for rural communities and for Cambodia as a whole. As part of the experience, volunteers will visit and learn from NGO’s projects in the provinces to gain an insight into rural life.

The team






Operations Manager



Education Manager


Education Manager


Marketing and Recruitment Officer


Volunteer Support



Srey Kaow



Graphic Designer











Phsar Toul Tom Poung

The market

The “Toul Tom Poung” Market (also known as the Russian Market) is definitely a place worth visiting for both tourists and locals alike! It’s a busy and vibrant market where you will find ingredients to cook with; fabrics, clothing and gifts; or homewares for your apartment! You can find almost anything here, you just need to explore!. The central area almost feels like an Arabian souk with people yelling to sell their wares and bargaining with each other! Although the Russian Market is already quite cheap, it’s customary in Cambodia to bargain and try to get an even lower price! And after all of that shopping there is a food area where you can get cheap, yet tasty food made by friendly and smiling Khmer people!

A little word of warning though, protect yourself against pickpockets and thieves by keeping everything in a money pouch under your clothes or by wearing your backpack in front of you. And then be ready to come back again and again to explore more and find new treasures!


(Coming soon!)
  • The foreigners shops and restaurants
  • The traditional khmer shops
  • The 24 hours shops
  • The night life
  • The gyms
  • …And enjoy your free time oustide Phnom Penh !


Why is it rewarding ?

Our volunteers teach conversational English courses designed to create an informal learning environment, with small groups (approximately 14 students per class) and fun, relevant topics. Although students often ask for advice on correct usage of grammar, it is not the primary focus of our courses. We do not focus on grammar, reading or writing, but rather on putting English to work in real life contexts through role-play, activities and discussion.
CWF school is open Monday to Friday, 6.30am to 8.00pm. You will teach up :

To 4.5 hours per day from Monday to Friday
Busiest periods in the early morning and evening
We encourage our volunteers to spend time preparing for their classes so the students get the most benefit from classes.

Depending on student demand and the number of volunteers we have in a given semester, we sometimes offer one-to-one conversation classes. Our one-to-one students pay more, but benefit from their teacher’s undivided attention during their class.

Our students often study at high school, or work and study at university 6 days per week, and have various family commitments on top of their CWF classes, so our schedule reflects the best times for our students to study English.

Our volunteers teach up to 4.5 hours per day, with a reserved class for back up and new student testing at the end of the semester. Our Academic Coordinator assigns your classes, and you will most likely teach from 6:30am to 8:00am, then have a break during the day before teaching two hours between 3:30pm and 8:00pm.

Should a volunteer fall ill or be otherwise unable to teach their class on a particular day, each volunteer is assigned a back up hour, and is asked to cover that class.

If we have a high number of volunteers, teaching hours may be reduced, but the back up hours increased. For example, if we have enough volunteers to schedule only 3 hours teaching per day, then everyone will be scheduled 2 back up hours.

Course Curriculum
CWF’s teaching approach is designed to address the challenge of teaching English in a development context. We aim to make English a real –life communication tool and our students confident users of English. In the context of regional integration, where English is the sole language of ASEAN, and set to become the region’s language of the workplace by 2015, this is vital.CWF’s curriculum draws on our student’s desire to share their traditions and uphold their cultural identity. So the course reflects the realities of Cambodian life by incorporating Khmer food, celebrities, travel destinations and ceremonies.

We teach only conversational English in a fun and informal setting. This results in a cross-cultural dialogue between our students and their teachers, who come from across the world. This is effective not only in motivating students to speak and practice English, but also to promote a balanced exchange of ideas. Students are empowered to express their pride in Cambodia.

As it’s common in Cambodian culture, activities are best done as a team, together like a family does! In Asia, young people have many responsibilities including caring for the elderly and being involved in all family, cultural and religious activities. This is the Asian way. You will get to be a part of this during your time here.

You will see that Khmer people love helping each other and sharing a laugh. Foreigners are sometimes put off as it may seem as if the Cambodians are mocking them, but this is not so. They are simply a fun-loving people who love to smile, and best of all, to laugh! Understanding this will be especially important when you are in the classroom with your Khmer students.

Earning your students’ trust and forging relationships with them will be your biggest task at CWF. This will become a part of your everyday. Keep in mind that Cambodians are usually very respectful towards their teacher, but they do need some nurturing and encouragement as well! Enjoy every interaction with your students. Encourage them to speak as much as possible. Create a feeling of support, where every student feels included.

And when you see that smile on their face, you know it’s all worth it!

Why do they think this way? Why are they using that word? Why are they behaving like that? Regardless of what type of culture you come from, there is always something to learn when spending time in a new community. However you will need to break down all of your barriers and preconceived ideas first, in order to understand and adapt to this new way of life, which you might find challenging at times. Different food, different routine, different rhythm.

When you get to know the people of Cambodia, you will discover a respectful people, devoted to their religion. You will begin to understand how their beliefs and their faith have helped them to recover from their past.

Give it some time – you will start to notice that there are more similarities than you think!

Testing the Waters & Giving Back
CWF provide a supportive environment for test-driving a career in ESL. Many volunteers used the teaching practice obtained through the CWF program as a springboard into their ESL careers. More than 20 still live in Cambodia – up to 4 years after their semester – and many past volunteers have gone on to complete TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA certificates, and Bachelors in education. Many past volunteers are around the globe right now, teaching ESL in South America, Europe, and throughout Asia. The CWF program is ideal for getting out into the world and making a difference while still reaping rewards of learning and personal development.

Practical Skills, Capacity Development & Motivation

As a teacher, you become a role model and leader for your students. Supervision, classroom management, and decision-making skills are all honed through teaching, and these practical skills can transfer to your own life and career. The pursuit of personal growth and self-initiated capacity development indicates to employers your personality, commitment, and desire to understand and make a positive impact on the community. The CWF experience also provides an opportunity for graduates to prove their dependability, flexibility, and capacity for responsibility and maturity.

Cultural understanding & Networking

An immersive program like CWF’s can expose you to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and opportunity for self-reflection. The challenges of living in a new culture and country and experiences things you wouldn’t normally experience at home. Volunteering, whether at home or abroad, is a great way to network. The CWF program will help you make new friendships and connections with people from all over the world, widen your global perspective and understanding, and provide a valuable insight into the challenges, successes, and failures of international development work.

We’re proud of the positive impact we’re making,

and we’re continually striving to improve our program for both volunteers and student outcomes. However, there is an increasing number of volunteer programs where the impact is low, or even negative.

If you are considering travel and volunteerism anywhere in the world, be sure to understand the consequences of your impact. Volunteering with the wrong organisation can cause more harm than good.

Child Protection

Children from poor families in Cambodia are highly vulnerable, often facing daily threats to their health, education, safety and overall development. Every day in Cambodia, children are exposed to abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect. These issues are often exacerbated by gender inequity, marginalization of urban and rural poor, and negative attitudes and discrimination towards ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

The justice system in Cambodia is still emerging and illequipped to respond to the needs of children who come
into contact with the law whether as victims, witnesses or offenders. Inadequate judicial and law-enforcement contribute to the problem of violence, exploitation and abuse of both boys and girls in Cambodia.

Every child has the right to be protected from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. CWF works with The Code, and other local partners, to implement Child Protection policies and procedures in support of a safer future for Cambodian youth.

“Responsible Volunteering”

There is currently a lively debate about the voluntary sector about the actual impact volunteers make on the communities and people they aim to help. The term Voluntourism has come to define the growing number of volunteer projects which have little value to beneficiaries. Instead these projects provide little other than warm fuzzy feelings and photo opportunities for the volunteer, and possibly lasting negative effects on children and communities. These projects are often short term, and cost the volunteer significant amount of money – far more than the actual cost of running such projects.
CWF’s Volunteer in Cambodia program was established to have a positive impact for everyone involved. The passion and hard work of our volunteers allows us to provide a valuable service to students at an affordable price, but our impact reaches beyond the CWF program:

Benefits to students

Increased vocabulary
Improved pronunciation
Increased confidence when speaking English
Increased job opportunities
Greater understanding of other cultures
Exposure to an international world view
Benefits to Cambodia

Increased understanding of modern Cambodia and Khmer culture
Positive impact on the local economy
Give a hand to NGOs
The students pays to improve their country
Food security
Income generation (from overproduction food security)
Improve communities’ health
Energy (solar)
Environment (conservation, eco-tourism)
Benefits to Partners

Regular, sustainable funding that can be used to improve capacity.
Increased awareness of their work
Increased awareness of development issues in Cambodia
Benefits to CWF Staff

Running a social business provides employment for 16 local staff.
Capacity development and training opportunities
CWF provides numerous other staff benefits such as:
50% scholarships for university Bachelor or Master’s degrees;
Free English lessons at CWF for themselves and another member of their family
A managed Providence Fund to support staff financial security
Accident and medical insurance

Benefits to Volunteers

Practical teaching experience
Immersive cultural experience and understanding
Free Khmer language lessons
Certificate of appreciation and recommendation letter

An Adventurous Spirit

A 3-month adventure in Cambodia is a big deal! Of course this doesn’t mean surviving in a jungle full of poisonous snakes and big, hungry tigers (except on the weekends if you’re looking for some extra fun!) However, travelling to a hot country, getting by in a language that is difficult to understand and navigating your way around a chaotic city looking for the best bargains is all part of the adventure! And this is just in your first week! And then after awhile, you will start to recognise the streets; you will have found a place that makes your coffee just the way you like it; your new daily routine will start to feel more familiar; and you will realise that your perspective on life in Cambodia has started to become more realistic.
Visit the monuments, the museums and other places of history and culture. Get out of your comfort zone and expand your point of view!

Not only visiting monuments, historical museums and official places, getting out of your comfort zone will make your mind stronger and bring your point of view to your next organization !

Develop your network

You will meet so many new people, build relationships with new colleagues and even make new friends . You might even meet people from your own country and realise just how small the world is! Increase your contacts and develop your network – it will help you professionally and socially, as well as open up so many more opportunities for you! Plus one day, when you travel back to Cambodia, you will already have friends here!

Be part of something bigger

You are travelling thousands of miles away from your home, you are meeting new people and you are contributing to the development of a country. It takes courage and commitment! You are becoming part of a bigger objective : you are helping to make the world a better place and this is awesome!