Primary and Secondary Education English Teacher
Cambodia, known as the Kingdom of Wonder, is a warm and welcoming place to serve. Cambodia has a long and rich history reflected in its hundreds of ancient temples, floating villages along the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, and vibrant cultural hubs of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in Cambodia work in public schools across the country. We have an exciting partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport who welcome PCVs as they work to enhance education throughout the country with an emphasis on improving English language teaching and learning. In many ways, schools are the center of communities in Cambodia and working there opens opportunities for many community development projects beyond the classroom.
Volunteers teach English at primary (grades 4-6) or secondary schools (grades 7 -12). All Volunteers co-teach with local Cambodian teachers to integrate effective teaching strategies and improve English proficiency. In secondary schools, it is common for there to be 1 or 2 English teachers who teach an average of 20 hours per week. In primary schools there may not be a designated English teacher and many teachers will share classes. Therefore, Volunteers can expect to work with up to 10 different teachers depending on their school’s structure. Volunteers will co-teach English classes for 16-20 hours per week. In Cambodia, English is an in-demand subject and English teachers often teach more hours than other teachers because the country lacks a sufficient number of qualified English teachers.
In addition to teaching in the classroom, 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 and other school-related activities. Additionally, there are often opportunities for Volunteers to lead trainings for teachers in their schools on best practices in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Volunteers are encouraged to lead or co-lead extracurricular activities such as afterschool clubs and programs to enrich learning experiences for their students.
Volunteers are also trained in community development and project design to meet local needs outside the classroom. Many secondary projects focus on health education, water, hygiene, community gardens, and life skills training. For example, recent projects include:
• Installing hand washing stations in key locations around the school campus.
• Hosting a workshop on community gardening.
• Setting up a model vegetable garden on the school campus with other teachers.
• Starting an environmental club for high school students.
• Implementing community composting and planting new trees.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
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 a strong desire to teach English and meet one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline.
• Minimum of 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults.
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).
While it is not required, competitive candidates will have classroom teaching experience at the primary or secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL or a foreign language.
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. Language classes are a significant component of Pre-Service Training. In small groups of no more than 10, Trainees work with our experienced Language and Cultural Facilitators to learn basic conversation skills as well as language on topics relevant to Volunteers’ working and living experiences. Trainees who do not reach novice-high proficiency at the end of Pre-Service Training are required to continue studying with a tutor in their community. Most Volunteers choose to work with a tutor throughout their service to continue to enhance their language skills. Tutors are trained and compensated by the Peace Corps.
Traditionally, Volunteers live with host families through the duration of their service; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Peace Corps Cambodia has transitioned to a more flexible housing model where Volunteers have the option to find independent housing after 6 months of living with a host family in the community provided the Volunteer and identified housing meet certain requirements. Housing will reflect what is typical in your communities and will include space for sleeping, cooking and eating, and bathing. All housing is near other community members to provide a strong connection to the community and promote community integration. Volunteers live in communities where indoor plumbing may not be available and bucket showers and squat toilets are typical. Drinking water must either be boiled or purchased but is readily available. Volunteers use electric fans for cooling their living space.
For Volunteers (including couples) who choose to live with host families for the duration of their service, the host family makeup will vary from home-to-home. Some families have several generations living together while others may be a couple with grown children who have left the community. While Volunteers have their own room in the home, they often share common living and dining spaces as well as a bathroom. This can create an opportunity for a strong bonding experience with a host family; it also may be a change in the amount of attention and privacy you may be used to in the U.S.
Volunteers are required to live according to local cultural norms, which include sharing at least one meal with the host family each day. Even if you’re living independently, sharing meals with members of your community or neighbors is a great way to integrate into your community. It will be difficult to maintain a vegetarian diet as soups are made with chicken, pork, fish and beef stock, and vegetables may be a minor part of your family’s diet. Fresh produce is available in markets year-round, but the selection may be limited. Typical Cambodian meals include rice, noodles, fish, pork, and chicken. If you must maintain a vegetarian diet, you may find that cooking for yourself is the only option.
Volunteers have reliable access to the internet as most towns have internet cafés, and schools and offices are likely to have internet service as well. For this reason, Volunteers often bring their own laptops and tablets.
Volunteers work and live in semi-rural areas of Cambodia where local transportation options may be limited. Travel by bicycle is required of all Volunteers. Accordingly, Volunteers should be prepared to ride on gravel or paved roads that can be muddy in the rainy season and dusty in the dry season. Volunteers ride a bicycle up to 5 miles in Cambodia’s hot climate for everyday living such as commuting to school and visiting the market or an internet café. As a Volunteer, you may enjoy beautiful rides through rice fields, under palmetto trees, as well on as on busier thoroughfares with fast traffic.
Volunteers of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority Buddhist Khmer population may experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. This can be uncomfortable, but Volunteers are encouraged to use these moments as opportunities to deepen local community members’ understanding of U.S. diversity by sharing their values and experiences. Peace Corps Cambodia is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for Volunteers of all backgrounds. Staff will address these topics during Pre-Service Training (the first 3 months of living in Cambodia) and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.
Serving in Cambodia
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cambodia: 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.
Peace Corps Cambodia accepts couples of the opposite and same sex. Primary and Secondary Education English Teachers may serve with another Primary and Secondary Education English Teacher or a Secondary Education English Teacher Trainer. Couples live together through training and in their community of service. Housing requirements stipulated by Peace Corps for couples are the same as those for single Volunteers because it would be unusual to find houses that are much larger than the standard small house.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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