TEFL Teacher Trainer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) project in Costa Rica is a joint effort between Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education. TEFL Volunteers work with elementary, (Kindergarten through 6th grade) secondary schools (grades 7-12) and technical centers throughout the country collaborating with local teachers and supporting students in and out of the classroom. As a TEFL Volunteer, you will help the TEFL project meet its two primary goals: 1) Improve teachers' English competencies and teaching methodologies and 2) Increase students' success and confidence in English.

Volunteers will participate in a rigorous TEFL training program which provides you with a Peace Corps TEFL Certificate upon your successful completion of service. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching along with two years of supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events facilitated by post staff. This training is designed to respond to the goals of TEFL Volunteers. The Certificate program is validated by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. The US State Department and the English language learning sector worldwide have touted Peace Corps’ TEFL Certificate program as a high-quality, game-changing credential.

Your primary project is based on capacity building through a unique one-on-one relationship with local teachers in a variety of classroom settings. Collaboration with teacher partners includes, but is not limited to, co-teaching, co-planning, material design and English support. TEFL Volunteers also design and implement conversation clubs, exam preparatory courses and other teaching workshops. You can expect to have a minimum of 18-20 teaching hours per week during the school year (February-December). Volunteers will also support teachers in the implementation of a new national English curriculum, which was launched in 2017.

Additionally, TEFL Volunteers focus on improving students' English competencies and confidence through a variety of engaging activities both inside and outside of a formal classroom setting. You will have the opportunity to support students in extracurricular activities by designing and implementing after school activities, local and regional English festivals, tutorials for exams, English clubs and summer camps.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:

• 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
• Master of Education (M.Ed.) with graduate or undergraduate concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary education state certification in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language
• 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
• 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

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:

• Experience conducting literacy activities with elementary/middle/high school students or adults

• Demonstrated community organizing experience within the past four years

• Teacher training and curriculum development experience is strongly preferred

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).

Volunteers in Costa Rica are expected to use Spanish for their work and day-to-day activities. Trainees must achieve “intermediate-mid” level oral Spanish proficiency after the 11.5-week Pre-Service Training program to swear-in as a Volunteer.

To a large extent, interactions with your partner teachers and Costa Rican counterparts may need to be done in Spanish. Additionally, coordination and work with school administrators and ministry officials (including writing letters to request support and authorization for activities) must be done in Spanish. While you are encouraged to speak English with your partner teachers to assist with their language competence, you may find that their proficiency levels are quite low. Peace Corps/Costa Rica encourages applicants to continue actively studying Spanish in order to best prepare them for their service and for the intensive language training they will receive in Costa Rica.

Living Conditions

Housing
All Volunteers are required to live with a host family for the first nine months in country (3 months during pre-service training and 6 months in their community of assignment). Although living with a family can have certain challenges (lack of privacy, limited control and choice over diet, noise, etc.), it also has multiple rewards: community integration, increased language skills, friendship, sharing, and gaining a unique understanding of Costa Rican culture. It is important that applicants think carefully about the commitment to live with a Costa Rican host family in basic, and sometimes cramped, living conditions with limited privacy. After an initial six months in your assigned community, volunteers are eligible to live independently if they receive approval by Program Managers and can identify a living situation in the community that meets Peace Corps’ housing criteria. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and Volunteers must be open to the possibility to living with a host family during their entire course of service.

Professional Appearance
Frequent coordination with government agencies, schools and other professionals require that Volunteers demonstrate a professional attitude and appearance at all times.

Site Location & Physical Hardship
Volunteers are placed in a variety of communities’ that vary in size and geographical characteristics, from remote, rural indigenous communities to semi-rural resource-poor and access-limited towns or regional hub communities Most Volunteers will be working in rural communities or small towns with limited resources, and local populations may have limited formal education. Some of the more remote areas can be physically challenging, i.e., mountainous terrain, rocky unpaved roads, extensive mud in the rainy season and some sites have extreme heat/humidity. Most Volunteer sites are accessible to the capital within two to eight hours by public transportation.

Communications & Telephone
Land line phone services cover the majority of the country and most PCVs have access to a phone in their community or host family home. However, internet service is NOT available in all sites, and cellular phone service may be limited. Peace Corps does not purchase cell phones for Volunteers. Some PCVs purchase a local number and use unlocked cell phones brought from the U.S., while others purchase cell phones in Costa Rica.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Costa Rica: 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

Costa Rica is happy to accommodate couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both volunteers. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:
• TEFL English Teacher
• TEFL English Teacher Trainer

During the 12 weeks of Pre-Serving Training couples that come into the program with different levels of Spanish may be separated during the week for Spanish classes, but will live with the same host family.

After Pre-Serving Training, couples will live together at their permanent site. Couples may work at the same school. As with all Volunteers couples are required to live with a host family for the first nine months in country (3 months during pre-service training and 6 months in their community of assignment).

After an initial six months in your assigned community, volunteers are eligible to live independently if they receive approval by Program Managers and can identify a living situation in the community that meets Peace Corps’ housing criteria. Some communities do not have a live-alone option and all Volunteers, including couples, must be open to the possibility to living with a host family during their entire course of service.

Medical Considerations in Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten.
  • After arrival in Costa Rica, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and 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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