Peace Corps has been in Thailand for 60 years. Our projects have evolved to meet the needs of our partners. Volunteers should expect to work in under-privileged, rural communities, not in big cities or sunny beaches. Every day will be an adventure and the more you are able to let go of your expectations, the more you will be able to contribute to Thai communities in the spirit of service to others
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 one to three Thai English teachers, spending approximately 20 hours/week co-teaching at schools focusing on grades 1-9 in medium to small sized towns or villages. Volunteers are expected to be in school on Monday-Friday from around 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
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, classroom resources and classroom management. Being seen as part of the staff, volunteers will respect all rules and regulations of the school. Furthermore, volunteers will attend/support all activities arranged by the school like other school staff such as the morning assembly, gate duties, events, and other duties assigned.
While classroom teaching is the primary work of TESS Volunteers, they will occasionally provide teacher trainings 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 expected to empower community members with projects the community has identified as needed. These may include clubs, camps, extracurricular activities, or other community development projects.
All Volunteers who accept an invitation to serve as a TESS 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, D.C. 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 TESS Volunteers; even those who already hold a TEFL certificate will be required to participate.
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.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline AND
• A strong desire to teach English
• A strong desire to work with children
• Master of Arts in Teaching 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 with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• Bachelor of Arts in Teaching 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 or higher
• Bachelor of Education with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language or higher
• 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
Volunteers typically live in a basic, three-room house. The bathroom will have a squat toilet and cold-water shower. The kitchen area is partially open-air. Volunteers who stay with host families have their own room and share common space in the house. All Volunteers in Thailand have electricity and some form of running water. Some Volunteers cook for themselves while others eat with their family or at local street vendors or restaurants.
Public transportation is sometimes inconsistent, so you will need to be patient and flexible. 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 six 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 adapting to the cultural norms of their communities.
Thais take great personal pride in appearance 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 clean neat shoes. For women, collared blouses, slacks and skirts or dresses reaching below the knees are appropriate. Some schools where Volunteers work may only prefer skirts or dresses be worn. Volunteers should understand that many Thai schools and offices ask their staff to conform to certain norms of dress and appearance. 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. 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. 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.
Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share American values, and deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans.
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.
• English Co-Teacher
• Youth in Development Volunteer
Couples live and serve together throughout their service. This includes living with a homestay family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training, as well as in a village for the two years of service. Housing requirements stipulated by Peace Corps for couples are the same as those for single Volunteers because it would be unusual to find houses that are much larger than the standard small house.
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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