Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Teacher

Project Description

Strong English language skills increase educational and professional opportunities for people in Benin. English is taught as a foreign language starting in middle school and through high school in Benin, and schools in Benin are seeking Peace Corps Volunteers to serve as Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) to support teachers in improving the quality of English teaching in their schools. As a Volunteer, you will co-teach middle or high school English classes with two local counterpart teachers. You will support teachers in their implementation of student-centered teaching techniques. You will also collaborate with your colleagues to promote the value of English language skills, and encourage parents and community members to support students' learning of English.

As a TEFL Volunteer, you and your colleagues will collaborate to achieve the following goals of your school and community:
1. Building counterpart teacher capacity by co-teaching classes and facilitating teacher Communities of Practice.
2. Improving student achievement in English.
3. Encouraging community engagement in school improvement and student learning.

You do not need to be an experienced teacher to succeed in this role, as you will be enrolled in the Peace Corps TEFL Certificate Program and you will co-teach with a Beninese teacher. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching along with 2 years of supervised teaching experience, and upon successful completion of program requirements, you will earn a Peace Corps TEFL Certificate. The Certificate program is validated by SupportEd in Washington, DC, and is a recognized TEFL credential for teaching both in the U.S. and abroad.

Primary Duties:
• Co-teaching 4-5 middle school English classes per year, with class sizes ranging from 40-70 students, using student-centered teaching methods to encourage critical thinking and prepare students for national examinations. This amounts to approximately 25 – 30 hours of work each week, including some secondary activities.
• Collaborating with your local co-teachers to co-plan your lessons, quizzes, and exams.
• Motivating students to learn English by integrating relevant themes such as gender equity, malaria prevention, food security, and hygiene & sanitation.
• Attending weekly faculty meetings, grading, and supervising exams.
• Participating in six online discussion modules for TEFL certification.
• Working with Parent/Teacher Association members to increase their awareness of education and their connection to the school.
• Co-facilitating an English club.

Secondary Activities
Many Volunteers initiate secondary projects in addition to their primary assignment to meet community identified priorities. Some examples from previous Volunteers are planting gardens, painting educational murals, and giving health lessons.

Gender Activities
Peace Corps Benin promotes gender awareness, girls’ education and empowerment, and efforts to end Gender Based Violence. You will receive training throughout your service on the cultural context of gender in Benin, and you will model gender awareness in teaching and will have the opportunity to implement appropriate gender related activities such as clubs and sports teams for girls or boys.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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 Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have teaching, tutoring, or mentoring experience with middle school or high school aged students, or have done general youth development programming. Canidates must be willing to complete the Peace Corps TEFL Certificate program.

Required Language Skills

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

Benin is a fascinating country for language lovers. You will leave Benin with proficiency in both French, as well as skills in one of Benin’s local languages.

French is the official language of the Beninese educational and governmental system, and most Beninese people who speak French also speak one or more of Benin’s 50+ local languages, such as Fon, Mina, Adja, Bariba, Yoruba, Idaatcha, Tchabe, Fulani, Mahi, Nago, and Dendi.

Learning French is essential for successful Volunteer service in this linguistically diverse country. In order to work successfully and culturally integrate in a rural community. local language acquisition will help you connect more directly with community members, particularly with women, who may not have finished school and may not speak French. You will likely also need to reach a certain proficiency level in a local language, as local languages are used more than French in many rural communities where not everyone speaks French.

Candidates with no or low-level French language skills are strongly encouraged to take a French course or make a commitment to self‐study prior to arrival in Benin in order to prepare for living and working there.

Benin has dedicated Language and Cross-Culture Facilitators (LCFs) to teach French and local languages during the 12-week Pre-Service Training (PST), and you will likely also live with a host family during PST, an experience which will immerse you in an authentic language and culture learning environment. In addition, you will be supported throughout your service by a full-time Language & Culture Coordinator who will support your progress in French and local language. Peace Corps Benin will provide you with resources for your continued language learning throughout your first year of service, including identifying and training a language tutor in the community where you will live and work during your service.

Living Conditions

Volunteers in Benin live in villages, semi-urban centers, and rural towns. Housing is provided by the host organization and may vary in size and amenities. Houses are normally located in a compound with other families. A typical house for a Volunteer has one main room, a bedroom, a kitchen area, and a private bathing area and latrine. In more rural areas, you may not have running water or electricity.

Access to Western foods may be limited and Volunteers adapt their diet to local foods such as rice and corn "pâte", with various leaf and peanut sauces, local vegetables such as okra, eggplant, tomatoes, and various kinds of meat. Other protein sources are local cheese, beans, and soy products. Peanuts and tree nuts are part of the staple diet. Couscous, pasta, and bread are readily available. Access to fruits, vegetables, and proteins vary by region and season.

Public buses, car taxis or motorcycle taxis are used as the main transportation for many people in Benin including Peace Corps Volunteers. Many roads in the country are dirt, and their condition varies with the seasons, and even paved roads are of varying condition. Many Volunteers ride a bicycle for transportation within and near their communities. If you want a bicycle, Peace Corps will provide one or the means to purchase one. To bike in Benin you will need to be in decent physical shape.

If you have a laptop you are encouraged to bring it to complete required reports and assignments. Many Volunteers also bring unlocked smartphones. Both will be made available if you do not bring one. At site, Internet is generally through a cellphone (or phone hotspot to computer), and connection quality varies in rural areas. There are two regional workstations with computers and Wi-Fi access for Volunteers.

Your behavior and dress will be judged according to Benin’s conservative cultural norms. Long pants, blouses/shirts, skirts and dresses below the knee, and nice sandals or shoes are appropriate for work. Dressing inappropriately (shorts, halter tops, short skirts, tight or low-cut blouses, spaghetti straps, dirty or torn clothing), will make it difficult to be accepted in your community, while appropriate dress will earn you respect, facilitate integration, increase professional effectiveness, and decrease unwanted attention.

In Benin, long hair, braids (including cornrows), locs, and long beards on men are unusual. All men are encouraged to adjust to the local style for hair and facial hair (low cut/short/well-trimmed). Many male Volunteers have chosen to shave or trim their facial hair and cut their hair to facilitate integration. Many female Volunteers wear their hair back in a ponytail or bun, short, or in braids or locs. Regardless of gender, Volunteers should keep their hair clean, neat and well-groomed.

Religious tolerance is respected in Benin. There are three main religions in Benin: Islam is primarily in the north, Christianity is primarily in the south, and the religious and cultural practice of Animism (Vodoun) is common throughout the country. Many Beninese maintain a strong belief in both Vodoun and another major religion. Vodoun in Benin is very different from how “voodoo” is represented by Hollywood.

While people in Benin may be generally tolerant, values and norms concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in some parts of the U.S. There are laws in Benin that target certain acts with individuals of the same sex. People in the LGBTQIA+ community in Benin continue to face widespread persecution and are rarely open about their sexuality. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and laws and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff and current Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and will identify support mechanisms for Volunteers.

Serving in Benin

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Benin: 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

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized or where the laws are ambiguous, like Benin. Because of this, same-sex couples’ placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process, recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Benin is able to accommodate heterosexual couples, as long as each person is in a different sector program. If you are applying as a couple, your partner must qualify and apply for either:

Sustainable Agricultural Systems Volunteer
Rural Community Health Volunteer

During the 12-week Pre-Service Training, couples will live and train in separate villages. Couples will see each other once a week during core curriculum days (joint sector training days) where all trainees will participate in full group training sessions. Once at their permanent site, couples will live in the same house and will work in the same community.

Going through the Peace Corps experience as a couple poses unique opportunities and challenges, and success will require trust, confidence, and communication. There will be times when you will both need each other’s support. Understand that you will need to put in an extra effort to be an ally to your partner. Although you will not be able to eliminate many of these challenges for each other, they can be coped with and overcome with time, patience, and most importantly, a good sense of humor.

Medical Considerations

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

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