English Teacher and Teacher Trainer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

English Teacher and Teacher Trainers play a critical role in supporting the Ministry of Education’s strategic priority of improving English education in Timor-Leste. Volunteers will work hand in hand with their teachers, directors, students, parents and the larger community, modeling Peace Corps’ approach to development with Timorese people.

Volunteers will co-teach English at the middle and high school levels and / or in vocational schools in small towns and villages in Timor-Leste. Volunteers will partner with local English language teachers in a co-teaching environment and focus on the capacity building of co-teachers in the areas of English language proficiency, teaching student-centered methodologies, lesson planning, classroom management and assessment.

Volunteers will also be expected to conduct and participate in teacher training activities for local teachers, develop youth development activities like clubs and camps, and respond to community interests in formal and informal English lessons for community members. While Volunteers should anticipate working full-time in a school setting, their involvement in a wide range of community-led activities is also likely.

Timor-Leste is a young and vibrant democracy. Volunteers will have a rare opportunity to be working among the nation’s heroes and freedom fighters that are still active in leading the nation. Most communities have experience with development projects sponsored by large international donor organizations, yet they are seeking a different kind of partnership with the Peace Corps.

Community members expect Peace Corps Volunteers to speak the local language, respect and value the Timorese culture, and find ways to transfer skills. They appreciate when Volunteers work to create change through education, role modeling, demonstration, inspiration, and motivation.

Schools in Timor-Leste operate under distinctly different cultural norms than those with which many Americans are accustomed. Cultural differences include power distance (the degree to which a culture accepts unequal distribution of power), direct and indirect communication styles, and pace of events. For example, work-related events appear to lack urgency and absenteeism may be common. These cultural differences as well as others will require that you learn to observe the behavior of host country nationals at work and change your behavior to conform.

There has been a steady investment in the reconstruction of school facilities since independence and a new English language curricula has been rolled out. English is a required subject in schools, beginning in the 7th grade. Student access, attendance, teacher training, and material availability are common problems leading to poor outcomes. In addition, teachers’ English language proficiency is a challenge as many have not had many opportunities to use English or have had very little 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 in order to help schools address these challenges. The language of instruction in Timor-Leste schools is Portuguese, yet students and teachers are likely more comfortable communicating in Tetun and local languages.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have the following:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English
• Experience teaching English, TEFL or ESL

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates may possess the following:
• 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
• Strong desire to teach English as demonstrated by past teaching or tutoring experience, and / or working with youth and adult learners (with strong preference given to those who have taught for a minimum of one to two years)
• Ability to work in a potentially unstructured environment with limited resources
• Demonstrated experience and motivation in planning and organizing activities for youth

Required Language Skills

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

Volunteers will learn the country’s official language, Tetun, during Pre-Service Training and must demonstrate intermediate proficiency after 9-10 weeks of training. Many Volunteers will also learn a local language or dialect spoken in their district.

Since Portuguese is the National language and many words have been incorporated into Tetun, Portuguese and Spanish speakers will find that helpful in Timor-Leste. Many Timorese also speak Bahasa Indonesian and Volunteers will be taught some of the common words that are used by Timorese.

Living Conditions

Roads are in poor condition and may be washed out and impassable during the rainy season. You may have to walk or cycle as much as one hour over rugged terrain to the main road to catch public transportation, such as a 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 will vary from site to site. There may be periods of time without electricity. Cell phone coverage is improving but there are still some areas without coverage. Internet connectivity is slow and expensive, although most Volunteers can access internet at least once a week. 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 offerings.

Volunteers are required to live with a host family during Pre-Service Training and another host family at their permanent site during their full two years of service. Building relationships starts from the host family during training and then continues at the permanent site. Host families in Timor-Leste are large and multi-generational, including many children. It is common for many members of the host family to smoke cigarettes.

Volunteers may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals on public transportation and in the capital city of Dili.

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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Timor-Leste can accommodate couples serving together in different sectors. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

Community Economic Development Facilitator

Couples should be prepared to live apart during Pre-Service Training. Once the couple moves to their site, they will live with a host family for their full two years of service. This means you may not have as much privacy as you are accustomed to.

Couples serving in Timor-Leste get pressure to adhere to more traditional gender roles. They are likely to be asked about 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 as a couple in Timor-Leste.

In Timor-Leste, couples are married by the church or simply by parents mutually agreeing that their adult children are married.

Medical Considerations

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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