Primary and Secondary Education English Teacher

Before You Apply

You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

This assignment requires Volunteers to teach English to students at primary (4th through 6th grades) or secondary levels (7th through 12th grades), including mixed ability at the primary and secondary level. All Volunteers co-teach in classrooms with Cambodian counterpart teachers. Volunteers will teach in primary or secondary schools.

The typical Khmer teacher at these levels teaches between 16 and 25 hours per week. English teachers often teach more hours since it is an in-demand subject and because there are not a lot of skilled teachers.

In addition to classroom teaching at least 20 hours a week, Volunteers spend time preparing lesson plans, developing and/or adapting educational materials (visual aids, lesson or activity books, games, etc.), and participating in teacher meetings or other school-related activities. Volunteers will also lead extracurricular activities such as after-school clubs and programs to enrich learning opportunities for their students. Many of the secondary activities will focus on health education and life skills training.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English, as well as meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Minimum of 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults
• Classroom teaching experience at the primary or secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL or a foreign language

The ability to ride a bike is required as Volunteers' primary mode of transportation in Cambodia is a Peace Corps provided bicycle. Volunteers should be comfortable riding a bicycle for short to moderate distances (1 to 5 miles per day).

Desired Skills

While it is not required, the most competitive candidates will meet 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), teaching a 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 Education with concentration 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

• State teaching certification in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language

• Literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students

Required Language Skills

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

Desire to learn Khmer is essential. Khmer language skills are necessary to achieve the goals of this assignment. Trainees who do not reach Novice High at the end of Pre-Service Training are required to continue studying with a tutor at site.

Living Conditions

Given the communal nature of Cambodian culture, host families and community integration are fundamental to the Peace Corps program and require Volunteers to be flexible, accommodating, and to use all of their cross cultural and language skills.

All Volunteers (including couples) live with host families for the duration of their service. The host family makeup will vary from home to home. Some families will have several generations living together while others may be a couple with grown children who have left the community – and many in between! While Volunteers will have their own room in the home, they are typically accommodated less privacy than they are accustomed to and will not be able to control how little or much attention they receive from family members during service. Volunteers will work to manage this attention and understand that it will likely be a large change to the attention they are used to receiving in the US.

Volunteers are required to live according to local cultural norms, which include sharing at least one meal with the host family each day. It will be difficult to maintain a strict vegetarian diet as soups are made with chicken, pork or beef stock and vegetables may be a minor part of your family’s diet.

Host family experiences vary in Cambodia. Many families will welcome you with open arms. You will see children grow, be asked to join weddings, or celebrate special holidays together. Some Volunteers find their relationship with their host family the most profound experience of their Peace Corps service. Some families have a business or farm that keeps them busy, must tend to small children, or other characteristics that may keep the relationship more distant. What Peace Corps Cambodia ensures is that you have a safe environment with a family from the community because this is a starting block for you to transition from being a visiting foreigner to a member of the community. Peace Corps thoroughly assesses the families and provides training for them before they host Volunteers.

All sites in this project are in rural or semi-rural areas of Cambodia, where transportation options may be limited. Some Volunteer sites are a day's travel from the Peace Corps office in Phnom Penh and may be several hours from another Peace Corps Volunteer. Some sites do not have internet service and may experience frequent power outages.

Travel by bicycle is required of all Volunteers. Volunteers should be prepared to ride on different types of roads – muddy roads, gravel or pavement during rainy season and dusty roads during dry season. As a Volunteer, you may enjoy beautiful rides through rice fields, under palmetto trees, as well as busier main thoroughfares with fast traffic.

In Cambodia cultural sensitivity is essential, including an awareness of the recent genocide and the effect it continues to have on the population. The effect of the genocide reaches every corner of life in Cambodia. Everyone over the age of 40 remembers the genocide firsthand. Our Peace Corps staff will work during training to share this part of Cambodia’s history with you.

The tropical climate Volunteers enjoy in the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia means lush flowers, delicious tropical fruits and brilliant rice paddies. It also means working and living in extreme heat and humidity. Most Volunteers have an electric fan in their room. You will not have access to air conditioning where you work or live. Becoming comfortable with a lot of sweat and cold bucket baths will be part of the Peace Corps Cambodia experience.

Cambodians are tolerant people yet it is best for you to build relationships in your community before revealing too much about aspects of your life which may not be common in rural Cambodia. While small, discreet tattoos may be acceptable, tattoos and body piercings will bring unwanted attention and people may develop a negative perception of you. Tattoos should be covered, and piercings removed.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cambodia: 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 Cambodia can accept couples and TEFL/English Teaching Volunteers can serve with another TEFL/English Teaching Volunteer or an English Teacher Training Volunteer.

All couples will live with a host family for the full 27 months of service. Couples will have one room within the family's home. Spouses will live in separate housing during nine weeks of Pre-Service Training so that each individual can focus on language acquisition during the initial training period.

Medical Considerations in Cambodia

  • Cambodia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood asthma;  cardiology; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; 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: peanuts and shellfish. 
  • After arrival in Cambodia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot,  to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive 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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