English Education Teacher

Project Description

The Eastern Caribbean islands draw heavily on two assets—their natural resources and their remarkably resilient communities. The St. Lucian poet, Derek Walcott said, "What makes our islands special are their complexity. Part of it is the diverse landscape—the mountains, valleys, and culture of the sea. Part of it is in its bilingualism; people intertwine Creole with English in a magical, remarkable way. And then there are the customs and the African mythology that one finds here.”

The Ministries of Education in Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada are committed to building its citizens out of a post-colonial culture into one that celebrates its heritage and language and positions its youth towards the 21st Century. These four island nations recognize English as the language of academic study, international communication, and a foundation for success. Since their independence in the 1970s, these islands have been devoted to nation building, preparing for an interconnected and virtual world, and developing a competitive world economy rooted in their culture.

Peace Corps works alongside the Ministries of Education to support the development of English acquisition and literacy for youth in rural communities. Peace Corps partners with rural primary schools to develop English reading and writing skills for primary school children. Peace Corps Volunteers and local teachers and principals work together to assess students and collaborate in the design and delivery of English lessons tailored to each student’s abilities. English literacy is a pressing need and is often overwhelmed by existential issues—identity and equity, environmental threats, inclusive leadership, social media literacy, etc. Peace Corps promotes the interests and creativity of the Volunteer to address these issues in collaboration with the local schools and community.

As a literacy resource in the school, Peace Corps Volunteers co-teach with local teachers in the classroom and conduct one-on-one and small group lessons with students. Volunteers also support the management of libraries, co-lead after-school programs, guide service-learning projects, develop instructional technology, and conduct family outreach. After-school programs include book clubs and readers’ theater, technology workshops for teachers and students, and literacy events for families in the late afternoon/evening. Engaging families and the community is of great benefit to the students and the school and is a direct result of the Volunteer’s effort in integrating into the school and community.

Volunteers coordinate with community leaders to generate interest in a variety of clubs and camps that address sports, environment, computer literacy, science and/or leadership skill development. Environment clubs, kitchen gardens, boy scouts, and girls dance and cheerleading are a few secondary projects led by Peace Corps Volunteers. With literacy instruction as a foundation, our Volunteers’ passions for social and global justice create projects and learning environments that are just as important as reading and writing.

In preparation for the assignment, all Volunteers must complete Pre-Service Training (PST) which is an intensive training period focused on key technical, intercultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects of service specific to the Eastern Caribbean. Peace Corps Trainees will live in St. Lucia for the first 4 weeks of PST. Afterwards, Trainees will move to their country of service for the remainder of PST to develop skills and knowledge specific to their assigned country.

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.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a strong desire to teach English
AND
3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of tutoring experience in literacy, English or TEFL with elementary, middle, or high school students or adults.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Preschool, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with one or more years classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable

The most competitive candidates will have:
• A demonstrated record of volunteer and/or professional experience focused on improving literacy skills of primary school children
• Learning/Instructional Design experience—session design; online module design; curriculum design
• Experience establishing and co-leading clubs or informal learning in music, theater, academics, sports, or life-skills
• Experience with Learning Management System(s) and online learning
• Experience in outreach and building networks in communities (especially with the aim to engage parents in their children's education)
• Ability & motivation to integrate current, relevant issues like climate change, environmental protection, social media literacy, etc in and outside of the classroom (identifying resources, service-learning, and after-school clubs/activities)
• Experience facilitating professional development workshops

Required Language Skills

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

English is the official language in all four of the countries we serve. Volunteers will find, however, that Caribbean English significantly differs from American English, and must learn the pronunciation and semantic differences between the two.

Creole has only recently been recognized and valued as a language in the Eastern Caribbean. What was viewed as a dialect, or a broken version of a “proper language”, is now valued as an important aspect of the nation’s heritage and culture. Each island has a unique Creole. Grenada and St Vincent & the Grenadines speak English-based creoles, each with its unique rhythm and idioms. Dominica and Saint Lucia share a French-based Creole (“Kwéyòl”) in addition to an English-based Creole.

Volunteers will experience a greater integration and acceptance when speaking the indigenous language although they can manage daily life comfortably enough speaking standard American and British English. To speak Creole is more than just a sign of respect and an ability to navigate the marketplace cost-effectively. To speak Creole is to support the preservation and elevation of a once undervalued culture. Moreover, as Grade K-3 students primarily speak a creole, Volunteers are far more effective teachers being able to communicate in the student’s mother tongue.

Volunteers will learn Saint Lucian Kwéyòl in the first weeks of Pre-Service Training to better integrate with the community. Once assigned to their country of service, Trainees receive additional language training specific to that country. There are also self-directed online learning modules available to Trainees. Volunteers are required to demonstrate a strategy to continue language learning in the first six months of service and encouraged to continue developing their language skills.

Living Conditions

The Eastern Caribbean is composed of small nations, Black leadership, vulnerable economies, and fragile eco-systems. The islands have a lush forested volcanic terrain surrounded by a turquoise sea. While the islands might appear isolated, the Eastern Caribbean community is well-informed, with international ties and fierce cultural pride.

Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean requires a commitment to education and social equity. Community and purpose are necessary to sustain the Volunteer throughout their service and it will take time and effort to integrate and build trust among their host communities. Eastern Caribbean people are direct, engaging, and supportive in ways wonderfully different from North America.

During the first four to five weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST), Volunteers live with a host family who will guide and support them as they settle into the Caribbean. Volunteers will have a private room, and share bathrooms, common spaces, and meals with the family. Once Peace Corps Volunteers move to their assigned site placement, they will live independently in an apartment or small house supplied with essential appliances and furniture and kitchen utensils. The communities hosting Volunteers will most likely be in a rural isolated village whose roads are steep, narrow, and winding. Heat and humidity can be intense. Hot water is rare. There may be a fan.

Cellphone service is accessible in the region. Electricity and water are available, though storms can interrupt service. Internet is available, though connectivity may be unstable.

Travel between islands is expensive. Traveling on an island is by minibus is priced for the average local person. Bikes and recreational jogging are rare; walking is common.

Tourism is the economic engine of the Eastern Caribbean, and Volunteers are often mistaken for tourists and thus subject to unwanted attention. Volunteers who respond to this attention by applying their cultural knowledge and Creole language skills gained in PST are better able to cope with these challenges.

Volunteers may find they experience a high degree of curiosity and unwanted attention. American concepts of personal space and appropriate behavior are not universal. The Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean Staff and Volunteers will provide support, training, and guidance to Volunteers as they navigate the culture.

Peace Corps is committed to creating a supportive, inclusive environment for Volunteers of all backgrounds. Volunteers have turned challenging encounters into learning experiences that deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans and deepens the Volunteer’s understanding of the local community members.

Christianity plays a prominent role in personal and professional settings. Prayers are offered daily in school assemblies and at official events. Laws related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and reproductive rights are influenced by the Church. While Volunteers may feel pressure to participate or conform to religious beliefs and practices, Peace Corps only expects Volunteers to respect the host country’s religious beliefs, practices, and values.

The Eastern Caribbean region is generally tolerant and welcoming. Still, anti-sodomy laws are in place but typically not enforced and homosexuality is not culturally acceptable. Gay, lesbian, and non-binary Volunteers must exercise discretion when it comes to revealing their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Women often experience unwanted attention, including cat-calling or sexual comments that they find unsettling or insulting. Volunteer’s safety is very important to the Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean staff. In Pre-Service Training, staff and currently serving Volunteers will offer strategies for living safely and comfortably, and identify support systems that can be utilized throughout service. Host families and counterparts can serve as resources to offer insight in how to manage unwanted attention.

Serving in Eastern Caribbean

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Eastern Caribbean: 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

Couples will serve as Primary School English Literacy Resource Volunteers but will not work in the same school. Partners must apply and qualify to serve as a Primary School English Literacy Resource Volunteer.

During Pre-Service Training and the two years of Peace Corps service, the living conditions of couples will be similar to single Volunteers. Couples will live together with their host family during Pre-Service Training. During service, because couples do not work at the same school, one partner may have to travel by bus to a nearby school to teach. The school is generally located no more than 30 minutes away from the Volunteer’s home community.

The 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. For safety reasons, the Eastern Caribbean cannot accept same-sex couples. 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/.”

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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