Shanghai English Teaching (SET)

Connect with migrant communities in and around Shanghai and teach English to disadvantaged children!


  • To increase students’ interest and confidence in speaking English
  • To help students improve their English test scores
  • To connect communities and promote responsible high-impact volunteering

 Key Information:

  • Teach English in Shanghai and surrounding areas
  • 10 – 30 students per class at community centers; 40 – 50 students per class at migrant schools
  • School semesters:
    • Spring: February – June; training sessions in February
    • Summer: July – August; training sessions in June/July
    • Autumn: September – December; training sessions in September
  • Classes every day (Monday to Sunday). Each class runs once a week for a full school semester (a full semester is approximately 10 – 12 weeks for Spring and Autumn semesters and 7 – 8 weeks for Summer program)
  • 35-40 minutes per lesson at migrant schools and 1 to 1.5 hours per lesson at community centers
  • Teach together with a minimum of two volunteers per teaching team


Migrant and other disadvantaged children and young adults

Location options:

Migrant schools and community centers in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province. Travel may be required, as most of the program sites are not in downtown Shanghai. Please allocate 30 minutes to 1.5-hour travel time depending on your departure point. 

Provided by Stepping Stones:

  • Orientation about Stepping Stones’ beneficiaries, background and programs
  • Training session about teaching English, lesson planning, classroom management techniques, etc. (4 hours)
  • Lesson plans and teaching resources
  • On-site workshops and feedback sessions
  • Volunteer certificates and references

Volunteer Requirement:

  • Minimum 18 years old (16 years old and above can be considered with parental consent after submitting a statement of interest and attending an interview).
  • Able to commit to teach once a week for a full school term with a minimum of 8 weeks teaching (for Spring & Autumn semester) or 4 weeks teaching (for Summer semester).
  • Able to plan personal schedule in advance and allocate sufficient time to prepare lessons and teach them.
  • Committed to the mission and vision of Stepping Stones; takes volunteering commitment seriously and responsibly.
  • Speaks English well and confidently (native-level English NOT required); enjoys interacting with children and young adults
  • Enthusiastic and passionate in making a difference in the lives of migrant children in Shanghai.
  • All backgrounds welcome.

Get involved:

  • Register as a volunteer here.
  • Complete the online orientation.
  • Submit a statement of interest and attend an interview (for high school volunteers aged 16 and above only).
  • Attend a training session.
  • Choose your volunteering site and start volunteering!

For more information and questions regarding this program, please email

Volunteer Testimonial:

It took quite a bit of encouragement from friends to get me to the volunteer orientation session at Stepping Stones two years ago. I do not have children, it has been a long time since I was in a classroom and I was terrified of the mischief that 50 children might get up to. […] The orientation session convinced me that there is an urgent need for english speakers in migrant schools and that I could positively impact the children’s results at school. Stepping Stones provide a lot of very practical resources to develop a lesson plan and prepare for the classes. I have been very impressed with the quality of support and professionalism of all the staff at Stepping Stones. The children were in fact very well behaved, they were very excited to see us each week and I saw improvements in all their abilities over the course of each term. I usually left class smiling and made lots of new friends with co-teachers from many different countries. […] Most importantly I felt like I was actually making a contribution to local peoples lives. It is easy to get caught up in an expat bubble in Shanghai. Stepping Stones provided a link for me to understand a little more about what life is really like for many local people.” – Claire, volunteer, Nanshu School, Zhejiang

 “I was volunteering at Aixin School in Minhang before it closed.  Unfortunately my involvement was short-lived as I left Shanghai very unexpectedly for personal reasons.  My experience with migrant schools inspired me to make a career change and I am now back in school to get properly certified as a ESL teacher.  You are doing excellent work and have my utmost admiration.”– Marianne Rowland, volunteer, Aixin School, Minhang, Shanghai.

“It has always been difficult for me to say, whether I have encouraged interest for the language or they have encouraged me to teach better. Ideas don’t come around in vacuum unless we have purpose to meet. So are these children being purposeful for our interests. Hats off to Stepping Stones for the initiative. It is so much pleasure to work with you all.” Vimala, volunteer, Tangsi Primary School, Shanghai.