English Language Teaching Specialist – TEFL
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education (MoE) which currently requires that English be taught as a foreign language beginning in Grade 1. From around Grade 7 onward, English is the sole language of instruction.
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.
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 Teaching Specialist in Ethiopia, you will be assigned to a rural primary school and be responsible for up to two classes each of Grade 5 or Grade 6 English daily. This includes everything from creating lesson plans to assessing your students. You are also encouraged to facilitate extracurricular activities to improve your students’ English, leadership and life skills abilities.
In addition to teaching at the local primary school, you will also use your more advanced skills to provide direct training to your local colleagues both inside and outside of your school of assignment. The exact work will depend on what your school and area need, but could include creating/supporting a community of practice, collaborating with the District Education Office on teacher trainings, developing TEFL materials, helping with baseline and evaluation work, promoting child-friendly teaching techniques and introducing new resources and more. Efforts as simple as showing your colleagues how to track their students’ grades in Excel can have a large impact. You will also be asked to assist other education Volunteers, many of whom have not taught before, both during training and in service.
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 you need to accomplish these tasks during pre-service training (PST), a 12-week-long 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 to help you adjust to the new setting. Once you have demonstrated your proficiency in these areas, you will be sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Serving as an English Language Teaching Specialist in rural Ethiopia is an incredible experience and an excellent opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience in youth development, leadership, meeting facilitation, inter-cultural communication, problem solving, behavior change, field research 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.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• 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
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary education state certification 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 level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language
The most competitive candidates will have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Experience in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) to a range of primary to high school students or adults (certificate not required)
• Teacher training
• Administering classroom-based skills assessments
• Developing libraries and/or reading programs
• Developing teaching resources appropriate to primary school teaching
• Coordinating after-school and summer youth programs focused on English proficiency
• Using technology in the classroom to enhance English proficiency
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
During pre-service training, you will receive twelve weeks of intensive instruction in either Afan Oromo/Oromo, Amharic or a Southern regional language. You must attain an intermediate level of spoken proficiency before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language resources to help you manage your classrooms and improve your general fluency will be offered to you at Peace Corps training events during service and through an independent tutoring program.
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. Such 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.
Ethiopia’s climates and cultures vary widely with more than 80 separate ethnic groups inhabiting areas from the Ethiopian Highlands to the Great Rift Valley. Your living conditions will depend on where you are assigned to work; however, most Volunteers are assigned to a small town in the Amhara, Oromia, Sidama or Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region.
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.
Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:
• 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 medical clearance process.
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