English and Life Skills Educational Facilitator

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

English and Life Skills Educational facilitation will be part of the Teaching English, Leadership and Life Skills (TELLS) program. TELLS Volunteers promote individual and collective efforts at improving Panamanians’ quality of life through community-identified priorities in the areas of English proficiency and soft skills.

TELLS Volunteers work in public primary and secondary schools to co-facilitate English language-learning initiatives. One way this is done is by supporting the English department through a variety of possible activities such as: conversation hours, communities of practice, co-planning and co-teaching, English clubs, materials development, and teacher trainings. Volunteers are also available to help interested students, community members, youth, teachers, and partner agencies develop better English communication skills. Volunteers may do this by co-planning and co-facilitating extra-curricular activities such as camps, clubs, or English classes while practicing preventative Covid-19 measures and following the Panama Ministry of Health policies.

TELLS Volunteers also work with school counselors, social workers, teachers, health promoters, Host Country Agencies, and community members to co-plan and co-facilitate leadership and life skills activities like in-school workshops, camps, sports groups, clubs, and courses. Volunteers will be seen as a role model and will have the opportunity to coach/mentor children, youth, and adults in different contexts. Volunteers will divide their time between school and community activities. They are responsible for organizing their calendar based on input from school staff and community members and effectively communicating their responsibilities to various stakeholders.
Below are activities that may be identified by the community as part of your role:

• Co-organize a conversation hour with local English teachers to gain greater confidence, accuracy, and fluency in using and teaching English
• Co-plan and co-teach English language classes with teachers in formal classroom settings
• Co-train students to improve listening, reading, writing, and English speaking skills in after-school English clubs.
• Co-teach English to adult community members in non-formal classroom settings
• Co-facilitate leadership courses for students or community members
• Promote leadership and life skills among children and youth through extra-curricular activities like summer camps, organized sports groups, and clubs
• Develop professional skills like résumé writing, interview skills, and technology workshops for community members
• Co-organize and co-facilitate workshops on healthy decision making, goal setting, and sexual health
• Mentor/coach individual community members and/or co-train a group of students, teachers or parents to be mentors

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have:

• BA/BS in any discipline and a strong desire to facilitate English and promote life skills

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:

• BA/BS in English, TEFL or Linguistics
• BA/BS in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL or a foreign language
• BA/BS in any discipline with state teaching certification at the secondary level in any discipline (English, TEFL, Foreign Language, Art, or Social Science)
• Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in English, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English as a Second Language (ESL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), foreign language, or Applied Linguistics
• Master of Education (M.Ed.) with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• 30 hours of TESOL/TEFL tutoring experience with primary school, middle or high school students or adults
• Experience co-teaching in formal and online classroom settings
• Experience working with children/youth in formal/non-formal educational settings (camps, clubs, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
• Experience coaching/mentoring children, youth or adults
• Computer skills Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc)
• Experience with public speaking or facilitating classes/workshops/presentations
• Willingness to live in urban, semi-urban, or rural communities
• High level of initiative and self-direction

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Volunteers need to demonstrate an Intermediate-mid level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for community placement by the end of Pre-Service Training.

Living Conditions

TELLS Volunteers are placed in urban, semi-urban, and rural communities. All TELLS communities will be Spanish-speaking. Volunteers typically live in a common Panamanian-style home made of simple concrete block and cement floors. Other housing possibilities include stilted wood houses, adobe structures with mud floors, and furnished apartments. Most communities for TELLS Volunteers have regular to semi-regular electricity, cell phone signal, and potable water. Some communities will not have electricity but solar panels can be purchased in Panama or a community member/the local store may offer charging at a price.

Peace Corps/Panama examines each community before selection to ensure that basic health and safety criteria are met. Volunteers will be required to live with a host family during their first three months of service. After these three months, they may opt to live in pre-approved local housing that meets Peace Corps/Panama’s housing criteria.

Food and Diet:
The Panamanian diet varies according to the region and the ethnic makeup of the population. Most often the diet consists of rice, beans, bananas or plantains, yucca (cassava), and corn. Rice and beans (kidney beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas) is a staple dish. Corn is served in many guises but is usually ground, boiled, or fried. Sancocho is a traditional soup prepared with root vegetables and chicken. Most rural areas have an array of fruits available; including mangos, papayas, pineapples, avocados, oranges, and guanábanas (soursops). The availability of garden vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, and cucumbers, varies according to the region and the season. The most common meats are chicken, pork, and beef, which are often deep-fried or stewed. Fish is available sporadically in coastal regions and riverside communities. Larger towns and cities have at least one chain restaurant that will be familiar, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, or Dairy Queen.

Some Volunteers are vegetarians, but few Panamanians follow these diets. Many Volunteers start a garden in their community, and sometimes buy food in Panama City or a provincial capital. Most have supermarkets where you can buy a wide variety of foods and imported goods.

Computer, Phone and Internet Access:
Internet access in Panama is spreading. All provincial capitals and other large towns have internet cafes. Connection speeds tend to be slow, but the service is reasonably priced and otherwise reliable. Internet access for Volunteers is available at the Peace Corps/Panama office and potentially at the school. Peace Corps Panama does not provide volunteers with a cellular phone or data but Panama offers many cheap data plans. Many Volunteers bring an unlocked cellular phone from the United States or buy one in country. Should you choose to bring electronics, it is your responsibility to maintain and insure them.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Panama: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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