Imagine your students greeting you in the local market while asking about their next English lesson. Can you see yourself co-leading a conversation club for community members who are eager to improve their English skills? Can you envision co-facilitating youth development programs with local teens that emphasize self-esteem, communications, and goal setting? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps wants you to share your passion, flexibility, and resiliency to strengthen English language learning in Colombia.
The goal of the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program is to support teachers and students in Colombian public schools and community members to develop the English communication skills necessary to access academic, professional, and personal development opportunities.
Colombia TEFL Volunteers collaborate on locally prioritized projects to increase:
• Local teachers’ English teaching skills and English language proficiency and promote gender equity in the classroom.
• Local students’ achievement in English.
Volunteer activities include the following:
• Co-facilitate teacher communities of practice to share strategies and tips for effective teaching.
• Co-plan and co-teach high school English classes with Colombian teachers.
• Co-facilitate workshops on strategies for English teaching and technology use for teachers at their school and neighboring schools.
• Work with teachers to promote gender equity in the classroom.
• Conduct English conversation sessions with teachers.
• Co-organize and facilitate extracurricular English clubs, tutoring groups or other activities for students.
• Teach community English classes.
TEFL Volunteers work with two national counterparts: the Colombian Ministry of Education (MEN) and SENA, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje. SENA is a public institution that offers social and technical training to increase employment opportunities.
In public schools, Volunteers collaborate with Colombian teachers to apply and adapt the national English language curriculum and/or textbooks in secondary classrooms (6th-11th grades.) At SENA Volunteers collaborate with Colombian English instructors in a community-college like setting.
While Colombian secondary school teachers have at minimum a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and the language requirement for teachers is an intermediate level of English, many teachers want support to enhance their English-speaking skills.
Volunteers do not teach classes independently, rather they connect with counterparts to co-plan and co-teach. Volunteers are trained on different methods and strategies for working alongside Colombian teachers. Volunteers’ greatest impact is often increasing students’ motivation to learn English and participate in class.
Volunteers also work on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and Gender Equity initiatives. For example, many schools have technology such as interactive TVs, tablets, and computer equipment. Volunteers can support youth and teachers in learning how to use this equipment in a way to make English learning more dynamic.
The communities where our partner schools are located have diverse needs, which gives Volunteers the opportunity to draw upon personal knowledge, skills and interests to serve the needs of the community. Teaching English can be incorporated into many activities, such as:
• Promoting and participating in sports or arts activities such as theater, drama and summer camps
• Facilitating health or environmental education projects such as nutrition education, HIV/AIDS prevention, and water system initiatives
• Training community members or working with NGOs on computer and science classes or service-learning projects.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
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.
Qualified candidates will have a strong desire to teach English, and the following criteria:
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with at least 3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following qualifications:
• 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
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary education state certification in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language with 6 months classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
•Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 academic year classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language
• Experience in public speaking and presentation
• Experience co-planning and co-teaching
• Experience training trainers or experience teaching or training adults
All work sites are in small and medium-sized rural communities, usually no more than six hours from a major city in the Caribbean or Andean regions. In the Caribbean region communities are hot and humid throughout the year with frequent electricity outages and water shortages. Seasons are divided into dry months with no rainfall and months of frequent rain and high humidity. The Andean climate is cooler, especially at night with rainfall throughout the year and fluctuating temperatures (45 -75 degrees Fahrenheit) depending upon the time of year.
Volunteers commute by public bus to attend training/working activities. Some Volunteers also use bicycles. Significant walking may be required when implementing projects in nearby rural communities.
Volunteers live with Colombian host families for the entire 27-month service to promote community integration and effectiveness. The host family stay is often one of the more rewarding components of Peace Corps service and an important means of cultural integration. As such, we ask Volunteers to be flexible and committed to building strong relationships with host families. Married couples will be placed with separate host families during training but will live together in independent housing during service.
Volunteers are expected to spend most of their time in the communities where they live and work. Because of this commitment to integrating into their communities, Volunteer travel and vacations are limited to when local schools are closed and/or organizations are not functioning.
Volunteers may be challenged by unequal gender norms, including that women perform most of the domestic labor (cooking, cleaning, and childcare) and have limited economic opportunities. Colombia is a predominantly male-dominated culture, especially in rural areas. Female Volunteers can expect to receive overt expressions of unwanted attention including catcalling and sexist remarks. Male Volunteers may also receive unwanted attention in more subtle ways, for example catcalling and standing out in their community/being the focus of attention. Peace Corps will provide various strategies and training on how to adjust.
Peace Corps Colombia is an open, non-judgmental place for Volunteers. However, values and mindsets about diversity (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.) in rural communities may vary significantly from those in the U.S. Volunteers need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine the appropriate way to approach diversity issues in their communities. We ask Volunteers to be open to Colombian diversity, including approaching others’ cultural values and views on different aspects of life with curiosity. Volunteers who are noticeably different may receive unwanted attention and in some cases face discrimination by community members based on their identity. Peace Corps will address these issues in training and provide support during service. Volunteers will also have access to affinity groups for diverse identities.
The Colombian diet primarily consists of corn, rice, potatoes, yucca and other carbohydrates. However, there is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It is not very common to find vegetarians in rural communities. Volunteers may need to be flexible.
SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are dual citizens of Colombia and the U.S. or who were born in Colombia and became U.S. citizens after July 4, 1991 are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Colombia. Under Colombian law, anyone born in Colombia who became a U.S. citizen after 1991 or anyone holding dual U.S. and Colombia citizenship is considered a citizen of Colombia, and not of the United States. If an individual faced a legal, safety or emergency situation in Colombia, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit one of these categories, we encourage you to look at Peace Corps Volunteer assignments in other countries.
Serving in Colombia
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Colombia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Colombia encourages couples to apply. Partners that qualify for Peace Corps service in Colombia will be assigned to the same community but will have distinct projects during their two-year service. Your partner must qualify and apply as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Volunteer.
During the 11-week Pre-Service Training, couples will each live with a different host family in separate homes to promote maximum language acquisition and cultural integration. During their 24 months of service, couples will live together in their own housing.
Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couples’ placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process, Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
Does this sound like the position for you?
Get started on your journey.