English Co-Teaching and Critical Skills Facilitator

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

English Teaching and Critical Skills Facilitators will be part of the Teaching English Leadership & Life Skills (TELLS) program. These Volunteers will work in public elementary and secondary schools with Panamanian English teachers to develop their English language skills and teaching methodologies through co-planning and co-teaching, observation and feedback, materials development, and teacher trainings. Volunteers will prepare students and community members for better communication skills and offer extra-curricular activities to learn and practice English through camps, clubs, or community English classes.

In addition, Volunteers can work with school counselors and at the community level (potentially with Host Country Agencies or outside organizations) to facilitate leadership and life skills through camps, sports groups, clubs and courses. Volunteers may also support initiatives at nearby universities. Volunteers will spend 2/3 of their time on school-based activities and 1/3 of their time on community-based activities. Volunteers will be seen as a role model to youth and teachers. Experience as a mentor is a plus.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a strong desire to teach English, and:

• BA/BS in any discipline with 3 months at 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of TESOL/TEFL tutoring experience with primary school, middle or high school students, or adults

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will demonstrate the following skills:

• BA/BS in English, TEFL or Linguistics; or
• BA/BS in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL or a foreign language; or
• BA/BS in any discipline with state teaching certification at the secondary level in any discipline (English, TEFL, Foreign Language, Art, or Social Science)
• Experience co-teaching in formal classroom settings and respecting the education system rules and protocols
• Experience working with youth in non-formal educational settings (camps, clubs, extra-curricular activities)
• Conversational Spanish Language Skills
• Public speaking and presentation skills
• Willingness to live in urban, semi- urban, rural or indigenous area
• High level of self-initiative and self-direction, mixed with a good sense of humor

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 Latino communities. A limited number of Volunteers (3-4) may be placed in indigenous communities. The majority of TELLS communities will be Spanish-speaking but some will also speak indigenous languages. 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. Some communities will not have potable water but volunteers will receive training on how to treat their water.

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 the staple dish. Corn is served in many guises but is usually ground, boiled, or fried. Sancocho is a traditional dish (somewhere between a soup and a stew) prepared with a variety of 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 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 restaurant that will be familiar, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, or Dairy Queen. Indigenous communities may have a more limited diet. Chicken feet, chicken neck, spam and hot dogs make up a large portion of the protein that is consumed. Some community members may have a finca, an area where they cultivate and harvest certain crops like plantains, pifa (a red starchy fruit found on trees), heart of palm and taro.

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 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 their school. Almost all volunteers have a computer or tablet. 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.

Couples Information

Panama is happy to accommodate cross-sector couples, as well as same-sector couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both volunteers. Your partner can apply and must qualify for:

English Language Higher Education Facilitator, or
Environmental Education Volunteer

During Pre-Service Training, couples will live in separate homes, which will help improve language learning as well as cultural integration. During their service, they will live together first with a host family and then on their own. Couples will be placed in medium to large communities, to ensure sufficient work is available for both volunteers. Same-sector couples would be placed in larger communities while cross-sector couples would be placed in more rural communities.

Medical Considerations in Panama

  • Panama 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: none identified.
  • After arrival in Panama, 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 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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