Secondary Education English Teacher
Sierra Leone is known for its welcoming culture. Many Volunteers find the opportunity to adapt and adjust to new ways of living and working to be both a challenging and rewarding experience. Peace Corps staff work in partnership with Volunteers, host families and counterparts to ensure Volunteers and all partners have language and intercultural strategies to integrate and adapt effectively and appropriately in this cultural exchange. An open mind and patience will be helpful, and you are likely to find your creativity, flexibility, and a sense of humor among your strongest assets.
The English Education Project in Sierra Leone aims to partner with teachers and community stakeholders inside and outside of the classroom to strengthen students’ English language skills. The goal of the project is to aid students in attaining oral and written communicative skills in English to effectively access academic and/or professional opportunities.
In prioritizing English language learning, the government of Sierra Leone supports shifting from traditional lecture-based, call and response, and rote memorization learning to collaborative student-centered approaches in classrooms with limited resources and typically large class sizes. This context provides Volunteers flexibility for creativity in teaching. The Peace Corps provides training in co-teaching and behavior change techniques for effectively engaging students through small group activities that help foster the development of self-study and critical thinking.
Volunteers may work closely with teachers and students in informal settings to build and practice teaching techniques and facilitate student-centered approaches.
In schools with grades similar to US grades 7-10, Volunteers partner to:
1. Co-develop, co-implement and support promising English teaching strategies, including, critical thinking, resource development, and student-centered activities with English teachers.
2. Collaborate with teachers on the use of culturally appropriate gender-equitable practices.
3. Engage English teachers in dialogue and interaction that contribute to increased confidence in English language usage and proficiency.
4. Increase the achievement of students in English.
Volunteers collaborate teaching and supporting English classes, focusing on improving English communication and composition skills, grammar usage and literature, increasing vocabulary, integrating literacy in content, preparing students for national tests, and enhancing positive reading culture, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Outside of the classroom, Volunteers are encouraged and empowered to co-lead afterschool programs supporting students in continuing to improve their English skills. Volunteers are also encouraged to use participatory analysis to understand and support project priorities their community identifies to address their needs, which in the past, has included:
• Gardening and nutrition
• Youth empowerment camps
• Malaria prevention education
The Peace Corps partners to co-promote culturally grounded gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender context and issues in Sierra Leone and will have the opportunity to co-develop and implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During their service, Volunteers are encouraged to find opportunities to partner with community members to co-promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact.
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 Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.
Additionally, Sierra Leone prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Paid or unpaid teaching experience
• Major or Minor degree in education or other relevant field
• Experience working with limited resources to provide high-quality instruction, tutoring, and extracurricular activities
• Paid or unpaid experience working with school-age children in an educational setting, i.e., in after school programs, camps, or mentoring programs
• Experience coaching peers and/or coworkers for improved performance
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
English is the official language used in schools and government administration. However, Krio is the most widely spoken language. Volunteers will learn Krio, a widely spoken dialect with some similarities to English, to ensure safe and productive work throughout the community and travel. Volunteers will also learn traditional local languages spoken in their communities, where applicable, to improve collaboration, work with community members and integration in their community.
HOUSING: Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) will live independently during service in housing that consists of two rooms and a parlor with an individual outdoor or indoor bathroom. Houses are located within a neighborhood, and it is at most a 15-minute walk to a potable water source. Many homes may not have electricity or running water. Some communities may have access to generators that can provide electricity/battery recharges, but this is not standard. During Pre-Service Training (PST) Trainees will live with a host family and have their own room.
COMMUNICATION: Trainees will receive a phone soon after arrival in the country to use throughout their service. Please be aware that communication options are limited in Sierra Leone as internet access is not widely available. Texting is the most common way to communicate, but cell phone signals in Sierra Leone are often weak in many areas. Each Volunteer will have network coverage within their community or within walking distance. The Peace Corps receives mail for PCVs from the main post office and delivers it to PCVs. Please be aware and inform friends and family that communication options are much more limited than in the States.
TRANSPORTATION: The Peace Corps will assist with providing bicycles for PCVs who want one for their daily routines. All sites are easily accessible, and PCVs are able to travel to city centers using public transportation. However, access to and frequency of transportation varies from daily to weekly. PCVs are prohibited from riding as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle taxi (okada).
FOOD: Prices for food and other basic items may vary by location and time of year and can be relatively expensive due to seasonality. PCVs will have access to a marketplace close to site. It is common to have “looma” days where community members will bring and sell different items in a central location. Rice is the staple food. Other foods include eggs and fish, which are the most affordable sources of protein, while meats such as beef, goat, or chicken are more expensive. Plantains, cassava, potato, beans, onions, peppers, eggplant, okra, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, and carrots are also typically available. Peanuts and sesame seed cakes are popular snacks. Fruits such as pineapple, banana, papaya, coconut, avocado, orange, watermelon, and mango are seasonal. Based on available foods, vegetarians can find ways to balance a diet. However, vegetarians and vegans will be challenged, especially while living with a host family during PST.
HEALTH & SAFETY: The health, safety, and security of PCVs are the Peace Corps' top priorities. During PST, PCVs are trained on awareness and prevention activities such as handwashing, food safety, and other hygienic practices in the Sierra Leone context. PCVs are also given information on Emergency Action Plans and ways to keep themselves safe during service. We also provide extensive training and information on personal safety and security best practices and available resources throughout the Volunteer’s service. The Sierra Leone team includes two dedicated Medical Officers, a Safety and Security Manager, and other designated staff at Post and at Peace Corps’ headquarters, who are always available to support and respond to Volunteer health, safety, and security needs.
SOCIAL CLIMATE: Sierra Leoneans are known for their hospitality and are welcoming. Americans from diverse backgrounds, however, may experience additional challenges. Individuals that identify as LGBTQIA+ in Sierra Leone face restrictive laws and legal challenges. Gender roles are distinct, especially in rural areas. PCVs 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. Staff and currently serving PCVs will address these topics during PST and will provide and identify other support mechanisms for incoming Trainees.
Serving in Sierra Leone
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Sierra Leone: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Sierra Leone values the contribution that couples make to the overall program. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Sierra Leone:
- Community Health Promoter
- Secondary Education Math Teacher
- Secondary Education Science Teacher
- Primary Education English Teacher
Couples will be placed with the same host family for Pre-Service Training (PST) and in the same home during their service. However, during PST, couples working in different sectors will attend separate technical training sessions, potentially in different locations.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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