Secondary Education English Teacher-TEFL Certification
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Recently, the Ministry of Education initiated two significant changes: moving from nine years of primary education and three years of secondary to a system of seven years of primary school and five years of high school; and mandating instruction in the dominant local language instead of English in grades one to four. Both have had a major impact on the education system and they are still a work in progress.
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 still only 2% of the population speaks English as a first language, and some Zambians, especially in rural areas, never acquire any proficiency in English at all. The Ministry of Education’s current curriculum prioritizes literacy and learning in local languages in grades one through four, thus, students often reach the 5th grade, with minimal English grammar or literacy skills.
The RED TEFL project places Volunteer 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.
Volunteers will participate in Peace Corps’ newly-developed Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) training program which allows them to earn a TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements 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. Two online assignments are also due prior to departure, so staying close to internet connectivity is key during your last 90 days prior to Staging.
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 also teach a number of cross-cutting topics, such as health and nutrition, with a special focus on Malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention and gender inequity, especially in the academic setting.
Motivation to obtain formal TEFL certification
Required Language Skills
Additional Language Information
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 tutor (paid for by Peace Corps) to continue building their language skills.
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 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 House, which is staffed year round and serves as a resource center for work collaboration and training. Having Peace Corps Staff and resources nearby allows for more comprehensive and timely support of volunteers, especially 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, as well as cell phone providers. Please note that Peace Corps cannot accept responsibility if electronics are lost, damaged, or stolen, so please get insurance for them before you arrive.
Zambians regard dress and appearance as part of one’s 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 modest and professional. 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 at first. 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.
Medical Considerations in Zambia
- Zambia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; gastroenterology; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder, peanut allergies; ongoing counseling.
- The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
- Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten; peanut.
- After arrival in Zambia, 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 also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.
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