Secondary Education English Teacher - TEFL Certificate

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Volunteers who have served in Zambia consider it to be the “quintessential Peace Corps experience.” This is due to the rural nature of their site placements, the warmth of the local people, and the urgent need for their technical skills. In addition to technical skills, Volunteer attitudes can have a great impact on their experience. The most successful Volunteers in Zambia display patience, flexibility, and have a passion for inspiring others.

The Rural Education Development (RED) project in Zambia started in 2004. In 2018 the RED project expanded to offer a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate. RED Volunteers work in the classroom at basic and community schools as co-teachers and focus on improving access and quality of basic education through continuing teacher professional development.

The RED project’s overarching goal is for students to gain the English communication skills necessary to access better academic and professional opportunities. With English as the official language of Zambia, English literacy plays a key role in building a future for young people; yet only 2% of the population speaks English as a first language. Some Zambians, especially in rural areas, never acquire any proficiency in English. The Ministry of Education’s current curriculum prioritizes literacy and learning in local languages in grades 1 through 4. Therefore, students often reach grade 5 with minimal English grammar or literacy skills. English then becomes the medium of instruction from grade 5 on, so English language skills are critical for student success.

The RED project places Volunteers as English teachers in rural upper primary schools in grades 5-9, where they can best support pupils and teachers in this critical transition from local language to English as the medium of instruction.

As a RED Volunteer, you will participate in Peace Corps’ Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) training program, which allows you to earn a TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements, 3 months of pre-service training, and 24 months of service. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching, along with two years of supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events facilitated by post staff. Four online assignments are also due prior to arrival in Zambia, so staying close to internet connectivity is key during your last 90 days prior to departure.

The TEFL Certificate is validated by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. The U.S. State Department and the English language learning sector worldwide have touted Peace Corps’ TEFL Certificate program as a highly marketable credential.

The primary goals of Volunteers in TEFL Certificate programs are typically: (1) building counterpart teacher capacity by facilitating teaching Communities of Practice and in some cases co-teaching classes; (2) improving student achievement in English; and (3) encouraging community engagement in school improvement and student learning.

Volunteers build teacher capacity with opportunities for school-based continuing professional development to improve English instructional practice and in using gender equitable teaching practices. Volunteers improve student achievement in English by using interactive, learner-centered methods and organizing extra-curricular activities, such as after school clubs. Finally, Volunteers support community members in increasing their participation in school activities and student learning by teaching adult literacy and raising awareness on the importance of education.

In addition to helping students achieve in English, Volunteers are expected to engage in activities that address HIV/AIDS prevention and gender inequity. Volunteers may also teach a number of other relevant topics, such as health, nutrition, and malaria prevention.

Required Skills

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

Please Note: A Bachelor’s degree is mandatory for all candidates as a requirement for Zambian work permits.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

-Bachelor or Master of Arts or Science degree in any discipline
-Classroom teaching experience at the primary or secondary level in English, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign language (TESL/TEFL) or teaching a foreign language.
-Motivation to obtain formal TEFL certificate

Required Language Skills

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

While English is the official language of Zambia, most Volunteers find that community integration is enhanced with their ability to hold basic conversations in the local Zambian language used at their sites. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English, however most will not. Therefore, Volunteers are most effective when conversing and working in the local language and all trainees must come prepared to learn a local Zambian language.

Trainees are offered a comprehensive language immersion program during Pre-Service Training (PST). They will have three months of language learning from native speakers in the predominant language spoken at the site in which they will be placed. They will be required to attain an intermediate level score in this language and will receive a language survival kit. Once at site, Volunteers are encouraged to engage the services of a language tutor (paid for by Peace Corps) to continue building their language skills.

Living Conditions

Serving as a Volunteer in Zambia requires commitment to working in rural areas that may be mentally and physically challenging. Volunteers typically live in villages in traditional houses made of local materials, such as mud bricks and a grass thatch roof, without plumbing or electricity. Water will be collected from a nearby well or stream, which is then filtered through a Peace Corps-issued water filter. Volunteers typically live on a large housing compound, but have their own living structure, cooking area, private bathing area, and latrine. Volunteers may choose to share meals with their host neighbors and family or cook on their own.

Schools where Volunteers teach are usually nearby, but others may need to bike long distances to work. Bicycles will be provided and you will receive riding and maintenance training to ensure its reliability and safety.

Transportation from your site to the provincial capital may take up to a full day and will generally be by crowded and dusty forms of public transportation. It may take two days to reach the capital city, Lusaka. Some Volunteers walk or ride bikes up to 30 kilometers to catch a ride at a main road.

In each province where Volunteers serve, PC/Zambia operates a Provincial Resource Centre (PRC), which is staffed year-round and is used for work collaboration and training. Having Peace Corps Staff and resources nearby allows for more comprehensive and timely support of Volunteers’ programming and administrative needs, along with their health and safety - which are Peace Corps’ top priorities.

Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be completely reliable in all communities, but all Volunteers report having enough coverage for at least text messaging. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop, which not only increases options for internet access, but also enables Volunteers to complete required assignments off-line and upload them at a later date. Tablets, Chromebooks, and smart phones are not effective alternatives. Internet is available at the PRC and through cell phone providers. Please note that Peace Corps cannot accept responsibility if electronics are lost, damaged, or stolen. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to get insurance for them before arrival.

Zambians regard dress and appearance as demonstrating respect for one another. As a Volunteer, you are expected to dress appropriately, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. CHEP Volunteers spend much of their time in the field, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable and modest. Footwear appropriate for considerable standing, walking, and biking is also a necessity.

For women, dresses and skirts should fall below the knee and spaghetti straps are not appropriate unless covered with a sleeved shirt, coat, or jacket. Skintight sports shorts or leggings/yoga pants worn alone are also inappropriate, but may be worn under a skirt or dress, especially when riding bicycles. Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work where Zambian counterparts are also wearing them.

Hair should be clean and combed, and beards should be neatly trimmed. Long hair for men, tattoos, and some piercings may not be culturally accepted and may impede community integration, especially throughout your first few months at site. Facial piercings are considered inappropriate and should not be worn during Volunteer service. Large tattoos should be covered with clothing as much as possible.

Food availability and variety will depend on your site location. The staple food in Zambia is nshima (shee-muh), which is made from maize meal and cooked into soft lumps that are eaten with cooked vegetables, fish, meat, beans, or chicken, typically by hand. Vegetarians should have little trouble maintaining a healthy diet, though vegetarianism is relatively uncommon. A few words of polite explanation usually suffice to be excused from eating meat in any situation.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Zambia: 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 Zambia welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following projects:

- Maternal & Child Health and HIV/AIDS Educator
- Secondary Education English Teacher - TEFL Certificate

The pre-service training sites for Health and Education Volunteers are in two different locations in Zambia. Cross-sector couples should note that they will not be living together during the three months of pre-service training. Couples also need to be aware that additional but compulsory trainings such as In-Service Training and Mid-Service Training will be held at different times. However, they will then live together at their permanent site.

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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