English Education Teaching
English Education (ED) Volunteers play a critical role in supporting the Ministry of Education’s strategic priority of improving English education in Timor-Leste. Volunteers work hand in hand with teachers, school directors, students, parents, and the larger community, modeling Peace Corps’ approach to development with the Timorese. Volunteers will co-teach English at rural middle and high schools and/or in vocational schools to build capacity in English language proficiency, student-centered teaching methodologies, lesson planning, and classroom management and assessment. Volunteers will also be expected to conduct and/or participate in teacher training activities for local teachers, spearhead youth development activities such as clubs and camps, and respond to community requests for formal and non-formal English lessons. While Volunteers should anticipate working full-time in a school setting, their involvement in a range of community-based activities is also likely.
Timorese Schools operate under distinctly different cultural norms than those with which many Volunteers are accustomed. Cultural differences include power distance (degree to which a culture accepts unequal distribution of power), direct and indirect communication styles, and pace of events (work-related events may appear to lack urgency, and absenteeism may be common). These cultural differences require Volunteers to observe the work culture and adapt accordingly.
The government has invested steadily in the reconstruction of school facilities since independence, and a new English language curricula for the first years of English language instruction, grades seven through nine, is in development. Student access, attendance, teacher training, and material availability are common problems that lead to poor outcomes. Moreover, many teachers have low English language proficiency as they have not had opportunities to use English or the training to teach English. Corporal punishment is still used in schools. Volunteers will be expected to model quality classroom teaching and establish strong relationships with local colleagues to help schools address these challenges. The language of instruction in schools is Portuguese, yet students and teachers are likely more comfortable communicating in Tetun and local languages.
Volunteers will need to exhibit flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity as the Peace Corps Timor-Leste program re-establishes itself post COVID-19 evacuation and strives to address the Government of Timor-Leste’s dynamic needs.
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; and/or
• 3 months or 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults.
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Primary/Middle or Secondary Education, or in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL or Linguistics, or a foreign language;
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a TEFL, TESOL, ESL or TESL certification;
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language;
• Demonstrated experience and motivation in planning and organizing activities for youth.
Required Language Skills
Timor-Leste has 13 municipalities, which are subdivided into districts. Municipalities range in population from 50,000 to 120,000. Most Volunteers will be placed at the village (suco) or sub-village (aldeia) level while a few may be placed in a district capital (vila). Volunteers are not placed in the capital city and it can take more than four to eight hours by public transportation to get to the capital.
Roads are in poor condition and may be washed out and impassable during the rainy season, December-April. Volunteers may have to walk or cycle as much as one hour over rugged terrain to the main road to catch public transportation (small truck or mini-bus) to a larger city. In addition, there has been a growth in road construction throughout the country so travel can be affected by this.
Amenities such as electricity, running water, and cell phone reception vary from site to site. There may be periods of time without electricity. Cell phone coverage is improving but there are still some “dead” zones. Accessing internet through data usage is very common in the districts. Some Volunteers have more than one SIM card from different providers to take advantage of different data packages and coverage.
Volunteers report frequent episodes of unwanted attention on public transportation and in Dili. This can be uncomfortable and stressful. Post provides training and mitigation strategies to prepare Volunteers for these situations and to understand how to manage them.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Timor-Leste: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Timor-Leste can accommodate couples serving together in different sectors. Therefore, their partner must apply and qualify for the following position:
Community Development Facilitator
Couples should consist of a male and a female. Couples should be prepared to live apart during Pre-Service Training. Once couples moves to their sites, they will live with a host family for their full two years of service in their own room in the household. This means they may not have as much privacy to which they are accustomed.
Couples serving in Timor-Leste will receive pressure to adhere to more traditional gender roles. They will likely be asked how many kids they have and may experience pressure to have children if they do not have any. However, in general, couples have done well and are happy serving in Timor-Leste.
In Timor-Leste, couples are married by the church or simply by parents mutually agreeing that their adult children are married.
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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