Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter
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.
Peace Corps Dominican Republic is the only Peace Corps program focusing on literacy in Spanish. The quality of education in the Dominican Republic is consistently ranked as one of the poorest globally according to the Global Information Technology Report 2016. Spanish Primary School 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 improves 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 school staff (including the principal, teachers, librarian, counselor, and academic coordinator), students and families. Specifically, Volunteers will work with teachers to integrate innovative teaching practices into the classroom, with students to improve their reading skills, and with families to strengthen their involvement in literacy education. Work will involve modeling and/or co-teaching literacy strategies, improving classroom management skills, sharing basic teaching practices, developing teaching materials, tutoring students, involving families in literacy, and promoting a culture of reading.
Volunteers will work in regions with the highest need for literacy promotion and those that have expressed interest in collaborating on this initiative. Volunteers will support the Ministry of Education in achieving its goal of having students reading and writing well by third grade.
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.
Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• Experience working with elementary school students
• Experience in literacy tutoring (previous Spanish literacy teaching a plus)
• Teaching experience and experience working with teachers and/or school personnel
• Experience working with Spanish speaking populations
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. Volunteers will be teaching in Spanish therefore the need for advanced Spanish/fluent speakers is very important and different than other Education programs.
Volunteers will live with two host 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 the obligatory 4- to 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 limitations can be physically demanding. Volunteers will have to use the available transportation in their assigned community. Generally, local transportation includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis. In some cases, Volunteers 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 cell service. Most communities have cell service within the community, however, there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access service. Although most communities have electricity, 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 their relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers, which is at minimum a clean polo shirt, dress pants or skirt and closed toed shoes.
Peace Corps Dominican Republic (PC/DR) provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Volunteers use their experiences as members of different underrepresented groups to help their peers navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Board, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQ Support Group. Please see below for additional considerations.
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 Peace Corps Dominican Republic 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 who have darker skin tones, may be perceived as Haitian. 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 larger cities. Similarly, with an increased focus on migration issues around the world, Volunteers of Latin American decent may also have their identity questioned and/or mistaken for Central and South American migrants. 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 PC/DR network and certain community members.
Serving in Dominican Republic
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.
The Dominican Republic is able to accommodate couples serving together within the Education sector as well as cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:
• Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter
• Youth Development 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 each other for one weekend during the five week long 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.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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