English Education Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

English and Critical Skills Co-Facilitators will be part of the Teaching English, Leadership and Life Skills (TELLS) program. TELLS Volunteers aim to help Panamanians gain skills and promote individual and collective efforts at improving their quality of life through capacity-building opportunities.

TELLS Volunteers work in public primary and secondary schools as well as universities to co-facilitate English language learning initiatives. One way this is done is by supporting the English department through a variety of possible activities such as: conversation hours, communities of practice, co-planning and co-teaching, English clubs, materials development and teacher trainings. Volunteers also help students, community members, youth, teachers and partner agencies develop better communication skills and co-plan and co-facilitate extra-curricular activities to learn and practice English through camps, clubs or English classes.

TELLS Volunteers also work with school counselors, social workers, teachers, health promoters, Host Country Agencies and community members to co-plan and co-facilitate leadership and life skills activities like: in-school workshops, camps, sports groups, clubs and courses. Volunteers will be seen as a role model and will have the opportunity to coach/mentor children, youth and adults in different contexts. Volunteers will divide their time between school and community activities. They are responsible for organizing their calendar based on input from school staff and community members and effectively communicating their responsibilities to the various stakeholders.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have:

• BA/BS in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:

• BA/BS in English, TEFL or Linguistics
• BA/BS in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL or a foreign language
• BA/BS in any discipline with state teaching certification at the secondary level in any discipline (English, TEFL, Foreign Language, Art, or Social Science)
• 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
• 30 hours of TESOL/TEFL tutoring experience with primary school, middle or high school students or adults
• Willingness to live in urban, semi-urban, rural or indigenous area
• Experience working with children/youth in formal/non-formal educational settings (camps, clubs, extra-curricular activities, etc.)
• High level of initiative and self-direction
• Experience co-teaching in formal classroom settings
• Experience coaching/mentoring children, youth or adults
• Conversational Spanish language skills
• Public speaking skills

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 communities. Some Volunteers may be placed in indigenous communities. All TELLS communities will be Spanish-speaking but in some cases, community members 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 soup prepared with root 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, pork 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 chain 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, Phone 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 the school. Peace Corps Panama does not provide volunteers with a cellular phone or data but Panama offers many cheap data plans. Almost all Volunteers bring a computer from the United States to use in Panama. Many Volunteers also bring an unlocked cellular phone from the United States or buy one in country. 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 and Critical Skills Co-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

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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