Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (University or College)

Before You Apply

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Project Description

In support of the People’s Republic of China’s development initiatives concerning access to quality English education, intercultural communication opportunities, and increasing economic opportunities for its citizens in developing Western China, Peace Corps China sends TEFL Volunteers to institutions of tertiary education in Sichuan, Guizhou, and Gansu provinces and Chongqing municipality. These institutions include traditional universities and colleges, as well as institutions of vocational education. Volunteers will teach college-level English to students whose major’s range from English education (i.e. preparing to teach English on the primary to high-school levels) to fields such as tourism, hospitality, business, medicine, and science. Student English levels and needs range from lower-intermediate to beginning. Much of a Volunteer's efforts will be towards improving and strengthening the fundamental English language skills of their students through the teaching of oral English. However, TEFL Volunteers in China may also be asked to teach listening, writing, reading and content-based classes. Secondarily, TEFL Volunteers also provide additional study and cultural opportunities for students and local community members through secondary activities.

Volunteers who have succeeded here demonstrate a commitment to meeting challenging educational goals as well as building relationships in several, sometimes disparate, communities. The areas where Peace Corps Volunteers serve in China are changing rapidly, and we strive to change with them, providing opportunities for Volunteers to live and work in some of the most interesting and unexpected parts of China.

Due to legal restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, applicants to the People’s
Republic of China Peace Corps program must conclude their service prior to the age of 65.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English, learn/share culture, and represent the people of the United States with respect and fidelity. Additionally, the following skills are required:

• Ability to demonstrate professionalism in a cross-cultural work environment
• Ability to tolerate ambiguity
• Patience & flexibility
• Ability to initiate and carry communication with people of diverse backgrounds and positions
• Cross-cultural awareness (e.g. awareness of one’s own cultural beliefs and assumptions)
• Ability to accept and incorporate feedback
• Understanding of and motivation to conduct service according to Peace Corps principles and Core Expectations
• Ability to practice appropriate and reasonable self-care in a stressful environment
• Persistence and resiliency in the face of setbacks and lack of understanding
• Passion for continuous learning

Desired Skills

Post desires that trainees have experience with:

• Lesson planning
• Semester development/planning
• Teaching (as opposed to co-teaching or tutoring)
• Student evaluation and assessment
• Working in large classrooms (>45 students) with multi-level students
• Developing projects & activities based on student & school need
• Working with young people in professional and social contexts
• Inter-cultural communication

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

All Trainees will receive eight weeks of intensive language & culture training during Pre-Service Training and be supported in their continued learning throughout service.

Trainees are expected to demonstrate Novice High level oral proficiency in Mandarin according the standards of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI). Ability to read and write Chinese characters (Hanzi) is not required for service. However, Volunteers are highly encouraged to learn some basic characters, as this will help with travel, eating out, and shopping, in addition to providing cultural insights. Volunteers are expected to continue language learning at site by finding a local tutor and taking advantage of language study resources provided by Peace Corps China.

English is the major working language for most TEFL Volunteers’ service. As such, a Volunteer’s colleagues and students will generally have a working English level, that when combined with a Volunteer’s Novice High or better Mandarin level, will help facilitate the development of good working relationships and integration opportunities. However, most local people outside Volunteers’ students and colleagues may only speak local dialect(s) and Mandarin. In order to facilitate integration and cultural exchange with members of Volunteers’ communities with little to no English speaking background, continued study of Mandarin is a must.

Living Conditions

Volunteers living conditions during service align with Peace Corps mission of promoting understanding between Americans and host country nationals by placing Volunteers in communities where they can live like a local person.

Volunteers generally live in urban centers of smaller districts in on-campus apartments. Accommodations vary according to the resources of schools, which provide Volunteers accommodations, but all meet a reasonable standard relative to the standards of the communities they are in. Additionally, the availability of resources, such as 24/7 access to Internet, water, and electricity varies from region to region that Volunteers are placed in. However, schools will provide a reasonable level of access to such resources relative to the standards of the communities they are in.

Volunteers are required to teach 12-16 hours per week, as well as participate in and initiate secondary activities that promote English learning and/or cultural exchange, such as English Corner, office hours, campus clubs, and/or assist on projects for their schools.

In accordance with local expectations for teachers, Volunteers are expected to maintain professional appearance and behavior at all times.

Volunteers of diverse backgrounds, including Volunteers of Color and LGBTQIA+ Volunteers, may experience challenges in service due to their local communities’ lack of experience with and/or awareness of their backgrounds. Peace Corps China respects and appreciates diversity and strives to support all Volunteers to be successful in their service. It is imperative that Volunteers work with Peace Corps China staff to develop culturally-appropriate strategies and plans to address challenges in service.

Areas where Volunteers are placed have access to local public transportation. However, availability of transportation for travel outside of sites of services varies by from site to site. Climate varies by region.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in China: 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

PC China is able to accept 3-4 couples per training class, dependent on the availability of accommodations for couples at sites of service. Couples are generally placed at sites where they will be able to serve together.

Public Facing message: Peace Corps China is able to accommodate couples who wish to serve together. During Pre-Service Training couples generally live together. However, in cases where the couples’ language levels coming into Pre-Service Training vary by a great degree, the couple may be placed at different trainings sites for training that will better meet their individual language learning needs. At permanent sites, couples are, generally, placed together. However, there are some instances in which couples may be placed at different schools that are close to each other. In these cases, couples are still able to live together.

Medical Considerations in China

  • China may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood asthma; dermatology; gastroenterology; insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications supportt; seizure disorder; urology; ongoing counseling. Note: applicants departing for China have additional medical screening requirements.
  • 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: peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in China, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot 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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