English Co-Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The Teacher Empowerment for Student Success (TESS) project aims to build the capacity of Thai English teachers through co-teaching, collaborative planning, and periodic teacher training. Volunteers will work closely with 1-3 Thai English teachers, spending approximately 20 hours/week co-teaching at schools focusing on grades 1-6 in medium to small sized towns or villages. The project focuses on incorporating participatory learning approaches and encouraging the integration of TEFL techniques. Volunteers will be seen as school staff and will work with their co-teachers to develop lessons and classroom resources.

While classroom teaching is the primary work of TESS Volunteers, they will occasionally provide teacher training to other English teachers in neighboring communities. Volunteers will conduct community outreach activities aimed at increasing parental engagement in their children’s study of English as well as support overall English language learning in the community through teaching and tutoring interested community members. In addition, Volunteers are encouraged to initiate projects identified as needed by their students and communities. These may include clubs, camps, art or fitness activities, or other community development projects.

All Volunteers who accept an invitation to serve as an English Co-Teacher Volunteer will participate in Peace Corps’ TEFL training program which allows them to earn a Peace Corps TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching along with two years of supervised teaching experience. The Certificate program is validated by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Those that earn the certificate will find it a recognized credential for teaching both in the U.S. and abroad. Participation in this TEFL Certificate is required for all English Co-Teacher Volunteers; even those who already hold a TEFL certificate will be required to participate.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will meet the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline
AND
• A strong desire to teach English

Desired Skills

Experience in the following areas is strongly preferred:
• Degree in elementary or secondary education or another field of education
• Experience or an interest in curriculum and resource development
• Classroom teaching experience, tutoring experience, and/or teacher training experience

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Additional Language Information

All Volunteers will be provided with comprehensive and intensive Thai language training during their 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST). Trainees will dedicate four hours a day, 5-6 days a week to language learning as well as informal learning with host families and community members. Trainees will be placed in a small language class of up to 5-6 trainees who are at a similar language level to themselves for focused learning. The Peace Corps Thailand staff will assign you to a language group at the beginning of PST taking your skills and knowledge in your primary assignment area into consideration. Trainees must demonstrate intermediate proficiency in Thai by the end of PST. Language learning is critical to your success as a Volunteer as there will be very few English speakers in your community and speaking Thai facilitates your successful integration. Showing that you are making an effort to learn the language shows respect and goes a long way towards earning respect in your community.

Living Conditions

Nearly all Volunteer will be working and living in rural Thailand. Some communities will be quite isolated and others closer to larger towns. All Volunteers live with a Thai host family during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for the first month in their community after PST. After the first month of service, Volunteers may rent a house on their own or continue living with a host family, depending on what is locally available. Volunteers’ houses typically are small 3 room homes in a compound near other community members. Volunteers' housing conditions will vary depending on the site and availability. Volunteers will live in communities where electricity and indoor plumbing (bucket showers and squat toilets at a minimum) are available. Drinking water must either be boiled or purchased but is readily available. Most towns have internet cafes and schools and offices are very likely to have regular internet service. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop to complete required TEFL assignments off-line and upload them at a later date. While Volunteers may also complete the assignments through local internet cafes or other access points, having a laptop will facilitate successful participation in training. Please note that tablets and smart phones are not an effective alternative.

The primary mode of transport within and around communities is by bicycle. All invitees must be willing and able to ride a bicycle for at least 3 miles in very hot conditions. Be aware that some individuals will find the heat and humidity in Thailand to be a difficult adjustment, especially during the first few months in country.

While it is possible to maintain a vegetarian diet, strict vegetarians may find it difficult to maintain diets that don’t allow for flexibility, especially within some social contexts. The most successful Volunteers are those who are flexible and open to accepting the culture where they will be living.

Thais take great personal pride in appearances so dressing professionally as a Volunteer will increase your effectiveness and credibility. Volunteers will be seen as a community leader and role model for youth. Appropriate professional dress for men includes slacks, collared short-sleeved shirts and neat shoes. For women, collared blouses, slacks and skirts or dresses reaching below the knees are appropriate. Some schools where Volunteers work may prefer skirts or dresses only be worn. Volunteers should understand that many Thai schools and offices ask their staff to conform to certain norms of dress and appearance. For example, for both men and women, often tattoos are required to be covered and body piercings besides in the ear lobe must be removed. Also they may prefer that males not have long hair, beards, or earrings. As one of Peace Corps Thailand’s core expectations is to respect Thai culture, it is important that you are willing to learn about and follow the norms of your work place. You may find that these norms differ from community to community so you will need to learn the particulars of your work situation and adjust accordingly.

Thailand is known as "The Land of Smiles" and Thai people are generally patient, tolerant, warm and friendly. Social norms promote harmony and the preservation of Thai values. Importance is placed on hierarchy, status and position, and respect for those who are older or have seniority. Concepts of time, punctuality, and communication styles may be different from American cultural perspectives and norms but with patience and flexibility, Volunteers find they are able to adjust and work successfully with their communities.

Regardless of where they live and work, as a foreigner in a small community, Volunteers will get a lot of attention. This attention is often seen in both a positive and negative light. It is usually the result of genuine and positive interest, but it can be taxing and challenging to manage on a daily basis.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Thailand: 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 in Thailand

  • Thailand may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.  
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten, peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Thailand, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also 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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