English Language Teacher - TEFL
There are many challenges to teaching and learning English in Ethiopia, including large class sizes, teachers with massive workloads and a lack of basic resources. At the request of the MoE, Peace Corps developed the Promoting English Language Learning in Ethiopia, Stairway to English Proficiency (PELLE STEP) program and provides Volunteers to carry it out. This is where you come in.
Volunteers will participate in Peace Corps’ TEFL training program which allows them to earn a Peace Corps TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching along with two years of supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events facilitated by post staff. This training is designed to respond to the goals of TEFL Volunteers. The Certificate program is validated by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. The US State Department and the English language learning sector worldwide have touted Peace Corps’ TEFL Certificate program as a high-quality, game-changing credential.
As an English Language Teacher, you will be assigned to a rural primary school where you will work with both the students and teachers. To help the students improve their English skills, you will be teaching at least two classes of Grade 5 or Grade 6. This includes preparing lesson plans, procuring/creating teaching aids, delivering lessons, grading assignments and more. Bringing new and innovative ideas to the classroom is highly encouraged. Additionally, you are expected to lead extracurricular programs designed to help local students increase their English comprehension, leadership, and life skills abilities.
You will also work to assist the other teachers at your school. You have experiences that your Ethiopian colleagues may not have, and they have experiences you may not have. You can provide a new way to look at local challenges. Working together, you will plan and conduct formal and informal professional development opportunities such as advanced English classes, teaching methodology demonstrations and even computer literacy workshops. Befriending the local teachers and participating in the daily life of the school is a great entry point into the local culture.
Peace Corps Ethiopia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.
You will learn skills and knowledge to accomplish these tasks during pre-service training (PST). This is a 12 week intensive training period where you will live with a local family and be trained on technical, cross-cultural, language, medical, and safety and security aspects within the rural Ethiopian context. This includes up to four weeks of practical teaching experience during which you will receive feedback and coaching. Once you have satisfactorily completed training, you will be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Serving as an English Language Teacher in rural Ethiopia is an incredible experience and an excellent opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience in a variety of areas including youth development, leadership, inter-cultural communication, problem solving, behavior change, monitoring and evaluation and international development. Using the skills you have, and the ones you develop in country, you will not only change the lives of the people you work with, you will also change your own.
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.
• 3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults
• Developing libraries and/or reading programs
• Developing teaching resources appropriate to primary school teaching
• Participating in after-school and summer youth programs focused on English proficiency
• Using technology in the classroom to enhance English proficiency
• Working with teachers on professional development activities
Required Language Skills
Many of your students will speak English at a very minimal level, if at all, which makes the ability to communicate in the local language while also encouraging them to practice their English extremely important for Education Volunteers. Volunteers are strongly advised to work hard to boost the communicative use of English as well as learn the local language as it will make both classroom instruction and management much easier.
As a Volunteer, you are expected to live at the same level as your local counterparts. Volunteer housing is commonly a mud house with a dirt floor and a corrugated metal roof, located on a compound with a landlord. A pit latrine is shared with the host family. Water will likely come from a well or protected spring that may be a 20-minute walk away. Peace Corps will provide you money to purchase modest furniture and household items. Within the community, cell phone service is fairly reliable, but electricity and internet are unreliable or non-existent. Internet can be found in larger towns, generally within a day’s trip. Pre-service training (PST) will help you adapt to this lifestyle through sessions that cover topics from bucket bathing to storing food without electricity. Many Volunteers grow to love this simple lifestyle.
Your diet will be local foods such as injera, a spongy pancake-like bread eaten with sauces, vegetables and meat. Vegetables and fruit are available with seasonal and regional variability. Vegetarians will find that it is generally easy to maintain their diet. The closest shopping town may be 30 miles away, though basic food will be available in your community.
Transportation will be by foot, bicycle or public transportation. Public transportation will be available near your site and, in most cases, goes several times a week to and from the nearest town. Public transportation is likely to be crowded and uncomfortable. Travelling around your community may require walking 30 minutes or more each way or riding a bike for 5 to 10 miles. Due to safety risks, Peace Corps Ethiopia prohibits the operation of motorcycles or vehicles by Volunteers. Many sites are above 8,000 feet in elevation and a good level of physical fitness will make some activities easier.
Ethiopians are conservative in professional and casual attire. Volunteers are looked upon as role models, and their appearance and clothes need to be clean and neat.
Ethiopia has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during PST, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.
Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening local community members’ understanding of Americans. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address identity-related concerns during pre-service training. There are also multiple support networks within Peace Corps Ethiopia including specially trained staff and Volunteer led initiatives such as a Peer Support Network for general support, an LGBTQ+ support group and a racial/ethnic identity support group.
Serving in Ethiopia
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ethiopia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
• English Language Teacher – TEFL
• English Language Teaching Specialist – TEFL
• Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Worker
• Health Extension Worker
Couples with one Community Health Educator and one Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Worker and/or Education Teacher/Specialist Volunteer will be separated during the 12 weeks of pre-service training and may live with separate host families. Peace Corps staff will ensure the opportunity to visit with each other periodically; however, couples should be prepared to spend most of the pre-service training time apart.
After pre-service training, couples will live together at their permanent site. Usually, couples are provided 2 small rooms at their site so that they can have enough space for living and cooking.
Both Volunteers could be placed in the same primary school or at different schools in the same town. Depending on the size of their host school and school population, you and your partner may teach the same grade level, but where possible, you will teach different grade levels.
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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