English Literacy Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

English Literacy Facilitator Volunteers will play multiple roles as (1) co-teachers (with Tongan counterparts) of English in predominantly rural (and some urban) primary schools where they will adapt, develop, and field test effective English lessons that flesh out the Ministry's curriculum framework; (2) resource persons who help Tongan co-workers develop their ability to use student- centered practices through mentoring, co-teaching, facilitating of workshops, and co-creation of curriculum materials; and (3) community educators who work with parents and other community members to increase their support for education and, where appropriate, increase youth and adult access to literacy development opportunities for their own growth. Counterparts are an important part of Volunteers’ projects, but Volunteers should also be aware that there are times where they may be working alone in the classroom or community.

In support of the Tongan government's emphasis on "healthy lifestyles" activities for students, Volunteers will be encouraged to model healthy practices and integrate them with their English teaching activities. Volunteers are expected to help schools develop their uses of books and school libraries, as well as computers and other electronic technologies (e.g., radio, video). Volunteers also help schools and communities deal with environmental challenges through education and other activities.

This project has great implications for Tongan children and communities and for the reform of Tongan education. It is also a great professional and personal development opportunity for an American interested in education, language, and related fields.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English and 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.

Desired Skills

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

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-school, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education

• Undergraduate training and/or professional certification in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

Applicants should demonstrate significant skills and experience (which can be acquired through basic training and work experience as well as more-formal academic training and professional experience) related to primary English instruction, particularly through the use of participatory, student-centered methods. Creativity, flexibility, humility, patience, and a healthy sense of humor are valuable strengths to bring to Peace Corps Tonga.

The ability to swim and be comfortable in small boats is desirable as Tonga is a small island nation consisting of many small islands.

Required Language Skills

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

Volunteers will be given initial and ongoing training in the Tongan language. Basic Tongan is very helpful to enable Volunteers to understand and integrate with the communities in which they live and work. Volunteers' work counterparts and many community members will speak English, which can prove challenging to continued language use when at site. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to use Tongan even in situations where they could use English. Efforts to use the local language go a long way for integration efforts. Volunteers are responsible for continuing their language learning once they finish pre-service training either through self-study, tutors, or immersion in their communities.

Living Conditions

Trainees will live with a host family in a rural village for approximately ten weeks during Pre-Service Training (PST) when they first arrive in Tonga. Following PST, most Volunteers will live on school compounds in their own houses provided by the school to which they are assigned. Houses for individuals are usually small and simple with one or two rooms. Most Volunteers have electricity, running water, flush toilets and some basic amenities, though you should be prepared to live periodically without any of these and many other comforts to which you are accustomed. Most Volunteers are assigned to smaller, rural villages with between 300 and 700 people. Housing will be within walking distance to Volunteer’s place of work.

Transportation and communication options vary widely across the islands. All Volunteers will have mechanisms (including a mobile phone) for contacting Peace Corps in the event of an emergency. You will be able to call PC staff and other Volunteers at no charge with Peace Corps Tonga’s special mobile phone plan. Outer island Volunteers may also be issued a satellite phone or personal locator beacon with texting capabilities for emergency communication.

Internet and email services are generally available on the main island and the larger towns of the other main islands. They are also increasingly available in villages outside these regional capitals. To date, internet service is not available on many remote outer islands. During cyclone season access to running water and electricity can be more frequently intermittent or completely cut. Volunteers should be prepared for long stretches of time without electricity and limited access to water.

Local transportation usually consists of walking or using bicycles, buses, and/or taxis. Reliable and efficient bus service is only available on the main island of Tongatapu. Travel to and from the outer islands is possible using small commercial ferries and even smaller fishing boats. Domestic plane service is also available to the capital cities of the major island groups. Delays due to weather or maintenance are common and patience is required.

Volunteers are encouraged to be self-reliant, as many aspects of the work in a rural (and in some cases, isolated) primary or middle school on a Pacific island can be difficult. For a successful service Volunteers need to focus on integration into their communities. This has proven to be a significant challenge for Volunteers in Tonga and requires flexibility, humility, perseverance, and – in many cases – repeated efforts and an unabashed approach. Tonga is a collective society and Volunteers should be prepared to spend time in their communities and with community members in order to effectively integrate.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Tonga: 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

Tonga is happy to accept couples within the Education sector. Your partner must also qualify for and apply to the English Literacy Facilitator position.

During pre-service training couples are not separated. They will live together with the same host family and go together on any field visits. Site placements for couples include schools that are in close proximity. Couples will share one house provided by one of their respective schools. Couples should know that they will most likely not work at the same school, to avoid the challenges of working and living together round-the-clock. During service couples will also travel together for any in-service trainings. Depending on the situation, couples might be separated in case of medical or emergency related travel.

Medical Considerations in Tonga

  • Tonga may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ophthalmology; seizure disorder; urology; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Tonga, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

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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