Spanish Literacy Promoter- Primary School

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The quality of the Dominican education system is consistently ranked as one of the poorest globally. Spanish Literacy Promoters provide critical support to address challenges within the Dominican education system. Volunteers work in Spanish to support childhood literacy in the native language of the Dominican Republic. By strengthening childhood literacy programs, Volunteers strive to decrease the number of children who are over-age for their grade, repeat grades, or who drop out of school. The work of Volunteers helps to lay a foundation for lifelong learning and improve communities’ development opportunities through access to quality education and effective reading and writing skills.

Your primary assignment will be to serve as a resource for the school director, teachers, librarian, counselor, parents, students, and other groups in your community. Specifically, Volunteers and project partners help teachers to integrate innovative teaching practices in the classroom, work with students to improve their reading skills and overall success in education, and involve families and the community in literacy and education promotion. Work will involve modeling and/or co-teaching literacy strategies, improving classroom management, sharing teaching strategies, developing teaching materials, tutoring students, involving families in literacy and becoming involved in community and school based projects.

Volunteers will work in regions with the highest need for literacy promotion and those that have expressed interest in collaborating on this initiative. You will support the Ministry of Education in achieving its goal of having more students reading and writing well when they leave the third grade. In addition, Volunteers often collaborate with local organizations working in education to help to institutionalize the Volunteer’s efforts to promote Spanish literacy.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach literacy.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet or exceed the following:
• Previous experience working with elementary school students
• Previous experience in literacy tutoring or teaching (previous Spanish literacy teaching a plus)
• Previous teaching experience and working with teachers/school personnel
• Experience working with community based organizations

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).

Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish skills at the time they apply and will commit to continuing their language learning while awaiting departure. Peace Corps provides intensive language training during the 10 weeks of Pre-Service Training. At the end of training, Peace Corps Dominican Republic requires an intermediate level of oral proficiency in order to be sworn in as a Volunteer. Trainees that arrive with conversational Spanish skills are likely to reach this level.

Living Conditions

Volunteers will live with two families during the 10 week pre-service training (one family in Santo Domingo and the other in a smaller community during community-based training). Volunteers will live with a third host family for the first 4-6 months of service in their assigned community to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers are able to move out on their own after an obligatory 4-6 month homestay (in addition to the training homestays), there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.

Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and towns. Living conditions and transportation problems can be physically demanding. You will have to use the available transportation existing in your community (in most cases this includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis). In some cases you may have to walk long distances to work engagements. Houses usually have corrugated steel roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities such as running water, electricity, or reliable phone service. Most communities have phone service within the community, although there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access service. Although some communities have electricity, a great many do not, and in all cases, power outages are common. Many of these communities are located along the Dominican-Haitian border, with more challenging living conditions.

Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies, particularly the Dominican Ministry of Education. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator about a person, and a Volunteer’s appearance will influence his/her relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers.

Peace Corps Dominican Republic provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Volunteers use their experiences as members of different underrepresented groups to help other volunteers navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQ Support Group. Some considerations are:

Sexual Orientation: Intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQ community are still held by many people. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Dominican Republic, most Dominican communities only accept heterosexual relationships. However, LGBTQ volunteers find safe spaces within the PCDR network and when visiting larger metropolitan areas.

Ethnicity: Different ethnic, racial or national minority American identities are often not viewed as “American.” Volunteers may thus experience negation of their American identity due to local assumptions of what an American looks like. While some Black/African American volunteers may blend in with the local Dominican population, others including those who choose to wear their hair in its natural state or braided hairstyles, or have darker skin tones, may be perceived as Haitian. While this may lead to one’s citizenship being questioned and ultimately differential treatment. Volunteers find support and representation within active Dominican natural hair movements in large cities. Despite these challenges, many volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences on the diversity of American culture and successfully complete their services with support from the PCDR network and certain community members.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Dominican Republic: 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

The Dominican Republic is able to accommodate couples within the Education sector as well as cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:

Spanish Literacy Promoter- Primary School
Community Economic Volunteer

All Trainees are required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training. Couples will live together with a host family during training in Santo Domingo. If requested, staff will try to accommodate separate host family placements, however this cannot be guaranteed. If you and your partner are assigned to different sectors, you will live apart for the community-based portion of Pre-Service Training. Couples who are in different sectors are usually allowed to visit one weekend during community-based training.

After swearing-in, Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their assigned community for a minimum of 4 months. For couples, this requirement is reduced to 6 weeks.

While serving, couples in different sectors will attend separate In-Service Training workshops.

Medical Considerations in Dominican Republic

  • Dominican Rep. may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Dominican Republic, 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 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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