Mentor Future English Teachers in Timor-Leste


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

Many local languages are spoken across Timor-Leste, and Tetun, Portuguese, and Bahasa Indonesian are considered the national languages. In addition, English has been declared a priority language for the country, and is taught from 7-12 grade. English Teachers in Timor-Leste are learning to use more student-centered approaches to teaching, but have limited resources once they are assigned to schools. Teachers are challenged by translating the textbooks into lesson plans, and often request assistance and supplementary materials to make the classes more engaging and effective. In-service training opportunities are limited, therefore reinforcing their skills during their university studies is an optimal time to reach them.

Universidade Oriental Timor Lorosa’e (UNITAL) is one of a small handful of private universities in Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste. The Science and Education faculty enrolls approximately 350 students a year, with around 20-30 students graduating each year with the qualifications to become English teachers for middle and secondary schools.

In the sixth semester of their curriculum, English teacher candidates cover learning strategies and methods, classroom management, TEFL, applied linguistics, and introduction to the country’s English textbooks. This is an optimal time to help them process these topics before they begin their practicums in classrooms across Timor-Leste.

The VSPP will provide online training and coaching of teacher candidates in their sixth semester to develop and deliver teaching methods and apply a student-centered approach. While UNITAL has not previously hosted a two-year Volunteer, the organizations understands that the role of a VSPP is very different and think they can add a unique value to their efforts.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Counterpart:
-Co-develop a technological capacity assessment (i.e. Zoom, WhatsApp, and email) with Counterpart to determine the ideal method of communication;
-Co-design and co-facilitate three sessions on classroom management, focusing on techniques for large class sizes;
-Co-design and co-facilitate four sessions on learning strategies and supplemental resources, based around the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills;
-Co-design and co-facilitate three sessions on lesson planning, using the students’ English Textbook as a resource.
-Co-facilitate the 1.5 hour virtual teaching sessions with Counterpart.

This engagement is expected to be approximately 12 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week. This is likely one meeting with the Language Center Coordinator and one online session with students per week, as well as biweekly check-ins with the Peace Corps team.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during morning office hours (8:00 am-12:00 pm) Timor-Leste time, which is 7:00 pm-11:00 pm EST. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Zoom, WhatsApp, and email for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s degree in any field

Experience: 1 year experience of teaching English as a foreign language

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

-Bachelor’s degree in education
-Master’s degree in education
-Degree or Certificate in TESOL / TEFL

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

Language: Basic level of Tetun, Portuguese, or Bahasa Indonesian

-4 years English teaching or English club experience in a foreign country or with TEFL students
-Experience training, coaching, or mentoring teachers to improve their teaching skills
-Experience living or working in Asia

Partner background

Name: Universidade Oriental Timor Lorosa’e (UNITAL)

Type of entity: Private Organization

Mission and goals:

The mission of Universidade Oriental Timor Lorosa’e (UNITAL) is to prepare students to compete in global technology and to develop Timor-Leste. Within UNITAL, the Language Center aims to develop and enhance students’ abilities to communicate in written English, encouraging students to view themselves as engaged, creative, and relevant producers of knowledge, and to provide English courses with the aim of uplifting basic levels in English languages to medium and advanced levels for academic, professional, and personal purposes.

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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