Secondary Education English Teacher-TEFL Certificate

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

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

The Rural Education Development (RED) project in Zambia started in 2004 and in 2018 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 classrooms for grades 5 to 7, where they can best support pupils and teachers in this critical transition from local language to English as the medium of instruction and in lower secondary classrooms (grades 8 to 9).

RED Volunteers participate in Peace Corps’ TEFL training program, which allows them 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 2 years of supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events facilitated by post staff. Four online assignments are also due prior to your 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.

NOTE: Social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures imposed by the Peace Corps, Government of Zambia, and/or host country partners may result in education and other protocols that would not allow Volunteers to complete all requirements for the TEFL certificate during their term of service. Therefore, the Peace Corps cannot guarantee that Volunteers will have the opportunity to obtain the TEFL certificate. More information about your Certificate program will be made available pre-departure.

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.

Peace Corps Zambia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.

Required Skills

Qualified applicants 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 your Zambian work permit.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
-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 a Peace Corps TEFL certificate

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

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 are required 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 or tinned roof, cement floors, without plumbing or electricity. Water will be collected from a nearby bore hole, 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 their reliability and safety.

Transportation from your site to the provincial capital may take one or two days and will generally be by crowded and dusty forms of public transportation. After transiting at the Provincial Resource Center, it usually takes one day to reach the capital city Lusaka and transportation is normally more comfortable, with better roads and nicer commercial vehicles such as buses.

In each province where Volunteers serve, PC/Zambia operates a Provincial Resource Center, 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. Many Volunteers choose to bring a laptop, as internet is available at both Peace Corps’ Provincial Resource Centers 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. RED Volunteers spend much of their time in schools, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable, professional, 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.

Serving in Zambia

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Zambia: 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.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Zambia welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must apply and qualify 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 medical clearance process.


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