English Education Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, first welcomed Volunteers in 1962 and over the years more than 500 Volunteers have served the country.

In 2020 the first cohort of Peace Corps Volunteers will arrive in Sri Lanka after a 20 year gap. Volunteers will require a “pioneer” attitude. Volunteers in this initial cohort will have a unique opportunity and responsibility to help establish the foundation of the program. Volunteers should anticipate considerable interest and attention on their work performance and cultural integration by their Sri Lankan colleagues, the Ministry of Education, and broader public. The highest degree of professionalism will be expected.

The program and training design, as well as post operations, will be brand new when Peace Corps Volunteers arrive. Patience, flexibility, good humor and resilience will be essential, as all aspects of the program design, training, and operations will be new. Trainees will receive instruction in one of two languages; either Sinhala or Tamil. Trainees must commit to learning and practicing language skills, as language is an essential element of successful Volunteer service.

The people and government of Sri Lanka value English language education as an advantageous job skill as well as a “link” language between the two national languages, Sinhala and Tamil. The Ministry of Education promotes and supports trilingual education for its students. Peace Corps’ English Language Education project will build English language capacity of teachers and students.

Volunteers will be paired with one or more Sri Lankan teachers at secondary schools in rural towns and communities. The English Language Education project will particularly focus on developing the speaking skills of students and teachers, and on building capacity for the teaching of speaking skills. Strengthening teaching methodologies, use of enrichment materials, and lesson planning are also goals of this project.

Beyond classroom teaching, Volunteers will achieve these goals through 1:1 interactions with a co-teacher through school-based teacher communities of practice, or through more formal teacher development workshops in collaboration with provincial/zonal education offices. Volunteers may also meet the demand for English language practice through after-school activities and special interest clubs, or camps held during school breaks.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline, strong desire to teach English, and 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience.

Desired Skills

• 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/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 classroom teaching experience at the secondary or University level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language
• Experience with professional development for teachers or curriculum development.
• Experience teaching at the high school level or above. Teaching English for Specific Purposes and/or non-formal teaching to adults is desired.
• Demonstrated experience in planning and organizing activities for children and young adults.
• Demonstrated independence, self-initiative, flexibility, open-mindedness, resilience and a commitment to serve.

Applicants should be sensitive to the fact that they will be the first Peace Corps Volunteers in Sri Lanka after a 20 year gap. This requires an ability to face ambiguity in their work assignments. Candidates will have the excitement and the honor of participating in the opening of a new Peace Corps program and in helping establish a foundation for future Volunteers.

Required Language Skills

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

Trainees will receive 10 weeks of intensive language learning with classes held five or six days a week, four hours per day. Additionally, they will be expected to study and practice language with host families/community members throughout training. They will be assigned to study either the Sinhala or Tamil language; both are considered difficult.

Living Conditions

Volunteers will be living with host families during pre-service training and service. While Volunteers will have their own room, they will have less privacy than what they are used to due to societal norms for communal activities. Kitchen facilities and bathrooms will be shared with host families. Communities in Sri Lanka are often conservative and close-knit. All housing will meet Peace Corps Sri Lanka’s safety and security requirements.

Volunteers will be placed in small communities where they will travel to and from their assigned workplace by foot, local bus, or bicycle. They will have access to public transportation to Colombo, a medical clinic, and local markets. Electricity, running water, phone access may not be reliable. Internet also may not be reliable and is likely to be at a slow speed.

All Volunteer placements will be in government-operated schools. There is a national curricula which must be followed in order to prepare students for national exams. Volunteers will be asked to work closely with their teaching colleagues, using a co-teaching approach in the classroom. Applicants should be prepared for rote learning as the standard teaching method and a hesitation among some teachers in adapting new methodologies. Applicants should be aware that schools have strict standards on appearance and behavior of teachers and applicants must be willing to abide by the national and local rules and norms.

Volunteers are expected to act as members of the teaching staff, arriving to work on time, attending staff meetings, and contributing a full teaching schedule 5 days a week. The Sri Lankan school year has three terms; it begins in January and ends in November. Breaks in April and August are typical though may vary by school type. Applicants should plan on adhering to the local school calendar and its holiday schedule.

Travel in Sri Lanka can be strenuous, involving long rides on crowded buses and trains. Volunteers may be required to walk or cycle long distances. In these instances Peace Corps would provide a bicycle to assist with daily routines.

As an agency, Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for staff and Volunteers. In their communities, Volunteers should anticipate attention and curiosity about their visible and invisible diversities. Staff are in the process of collecting more specific information to share prior to departure, and will welcome discussions on diversity-related concerns at any time.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Sri Lanka: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Couples may be assigned to the same school or may be assigned to different schools in the same community.

Couples will live separately during PST in order to maximize opportunities for language practice. Couples will live together at their permanent assignments in the home of a host family.

Medical Considerations in Sri Lanka

All Volunteers receive necessary and appropriate health care during service. In every post where Volunteers serve abroad, the Peace Corps maintains a health unit staffed by one or more health-care providers, called Peace Corps Medical Officers. After a 20-year hiatus, the first two groups of Volunteers to return to Sri Lanka will be subject to strict medical clearance requirements in order for staff to fully assess local healthcare resources and infrastructure. Please visit Peace Corps’ Medical Care During Service page for more information.

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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