Secondary Education English Teacher Trainer

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

Imagine enjoying a fresh brewed cup of coffee while catching up with a neighbor in her back garden. Now envision yourself biking to the local market to buy seasonal produce, hearing the voices of your students’ greet you while inquiring about your next English lesson? Could you see yourself leading a conversation club for community members who are eager to improve their English skills? Envision facilitating youth development programs with teens on self-esteem building, communication, or goal-setting? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps wants you to share your passion, creativity, flexibility, and resiliency to strengthen its English Education program in incredible Colombia.
Peace Corps Colombia’s TEFL program helps teachers and students in Colombian public schools and community members develop communications skills in English necessary to access academic, professional and/or personal development opportunities.

Colombia TEFL Volunteers:
• Facilitate teacher communities of practice to share strategies and tips for effective teaching.
• Co-plan and co-teach high school English classes with Colombian teachers.
• Facilitate workshops on strategies for English teaching and technology use for teachers at their school and neighboring schools.
• Work with teachers to promote gender equity in the classroom.
• Conduct English conversation sessions with teachers in person or virtually.
• Organize and facilitate extracurricular English clubs, tutoring groups or other activities for students.
• Teach community English classes.

TEFL Volunteers work with two national counterparts: the Colombian Ministry of Education (MEN) and SENA, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, a public institution that offers social and technical training for employment opportunities. The MEN oversees regional Secretariats of Education who in turn administer public schools and teachers.

In public schools, Volunteers will work with Colombian teachers to apply and adapt the national English language curriculum and/or textbooks in secondary classrooms (6th-11th grades.)

It should be noted that Colombian secondary school teachers have at minimum a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education. The language requirement for teachers is an intermediate level, though many teachers lack strong speaking skills.

Volunteers should not expect to teach classes independently, rather work with their counterparts to co-plan and co-teach. Volunteers will be trained on different methods and strategies for working alongside Colombian teachers. Volunteers’ greatest impact is often increasing students’ motivation to learn English and participation in class.

All Volunteers are expected to work on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and gender equity initiatives through TEFL project activities. For example, many schools have technology such as interactive TVs, tablets, and computer equipment. Volunteers can help train youth and teachers in the use of this equipment and use it in a way to make English learning more dynamic.

Volunteers should be prepared to work in unique conditions in the COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 era. Schools may be operating on a hybrid model or schedule, alternating virtual or remote activities with in-person meetings. Social distancing protocols are expected in facilities and around the community.

The communities where our partner schools are located have diverse needs. This will give you the opportunity to draw upon your personal knowledge, skills and interests to serve the needs of your community. Teaching English can be incorporated into many activities, such as:
• Promoting and participating in sports or arts activities such as theater, drama and summer camps.
• Facilitating health or environmental education projects such as nutrition education. HIV/AIDS prevention and water system initiatives.
• Training community members or working with NGOs on computer and science classes or service learning projects.

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

Competitive candidates will have a strong desire to teach English, and the following criteria:
•BA/BS in any discipline with at least 3 months or 30 hours of teaching or tutoring experience, preferably TESOL/TEFL, with primary, middle or high school students or adults.

Desired Skills

The following qualifications will also make candidates more competitive:

•Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in English, Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English as a Second Language (ESL),

Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), foreign language, or Applied Linguistics; OR
• Master of Education (M.Ed.) with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language; OR

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language; OR

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary education state certification in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language; OR

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language with 6 months classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language; OR

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language

• One or more years of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)/Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) in secondary school classrooms

• Experience living and working abroad
• High level of self-initiative and self-direction and leadership skills

• Willingness to live in small towns or small cities
• Co-planning and co-teaching experience
• Effective group management techniques
• Training of trainers experience or experience teaching or training adults
• Experience or knowledge in virtual education, education technology and/or distance or hybrid learning

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position. A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

TEFL Volunteers in Colombia are expected to use English in the classroom and with their co-teachers, and Spanish will be necessary to interact with parents, school officials, and other teachers and for other day-to-day activities in the community. To successfully swear in as a Volunteer, Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of oral proficiency in Spanish at the end of the 10-week Pre-Service Training. Peace Corps Trainees receive a significant amount of training and support in the acquisition of Spanish. Trainees who arrive in country with low levels of Spanish find it more challenging to reach intermediate oral proficiency. Post highly encourages all applicants to begin working on their Spanish as early as possible prior to departing the U.S. for Colombia.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to speak only English with their students and co-teachers so as to maximize English language learning.

Living Conditions

All work sites are in small- and medium-sized communities that are typically no more than six hours from a major city in the Caribbean or Andean regions. In the Caribbean region all communities are hot and humid throughout the year. Seasons are divided into dry months with limited rainfall and rainy months with high humidity. Electricity outages and water shortages can be frequent.
In the Andean region the climate is cooler, especially at night. There is more consistent rainfall throughout the year and the temperature fluctuates depending upon the time of year and varied weather conditions. Andean region communities are at higher altitudes.

Volunteers who commute further than walking distance take transportation to get around and to attend training or work activities. Some Volunteers use bicycles.

Volunteers live in homestays for all 27 months of service in order to promote community integration and maximize Volunteer security. The host family stay can be one of the more rewarding components of Peace Corps service and an important resource for cultural understanding. As such, applicants should be flexible and committed to building strong relationships with the family they are assigned to. Furthermore, Volunteers are expected to spend the majority of their time in the communities where they live and work.

Volunteers may be challenged to understand, adapt to and respect gender norms whereby women perform the majority of the domestic labor (cooking, cleaning, and childcare) and have fewer economic opportunities. Male privilege is often predominant in Colombian culture, especially in rural areas. Female Volunteers in particular can expect to receive overt expressions of unwanted attention including catcalling and sexist remarks or behaviors. Peace Corps will provide various strategies and training on how to manage these situations.

Colombians are generally tolerant but very conservative, especially in rural area. Peace Corps/Colombia is an open, non-judgmental place for Volunteers, values and mores concerning diversity (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.) may vary from those in the U.S. Volunteers need to be mindful of cultural norms and use judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity issues in their communities and host countries. We encourage Volunteers to be open to Colombian diversity as well, including approaching other’s cultural values and views on different aspects of life with curiosity.

The Colombian diet primarily consists of rice, corn, potatoes, yucca and other carbohydrates in addition to meat. There is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available. It is not very common to find vegetarians or vegans in rural communities. You will need to be flexible and explain to your host family any dietary restrictions or preferences.

Volunteers in the TEFL Program have found that bringing a laptop or a tablet is extremely useful during service. Internet access continues to expand in Colombia, and a personal device makes it easier for Volunteers to access and share technical resources in support of their service and to complete training assignments and other programmatic tasks. There are Volunteer work stations with computers available at the two Peace Corps Colombia offices (Barranquilla and Tunja), but they may not be convenient for regular access.

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are dual citizens of Colombia and the U.S. or who were born in Colombia and became U.S. citizens after July 4, 1991 are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Colombia. Under Colombian law, anyone born in Colombia who became a U.S. citizen after 1991 or anyone holding dual U.S. and Colombia citizenship is considered a citizen of Colombia, and not of the United States. If an individual faced a legal, safety or other emergency situation in Colombia, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit one of these categories, we encourage you to look at other assignments.

Serving in Colombia

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Colombia: 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

Post encourages couples to apply and will be assigned to the same community but have distinct work plans. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for the following positions: Secondary Education English Teacher Trainer, TEFL/English Teacher Trainer, or Community Economic Development Connector.

Couples will have to live apart with a host family during the 10 week Pre-Service Training (PST). After PST, couples live in apartments independently and are not required to live with a host family.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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