TEFL/English Language Teaching Specialist

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Project Description

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education recognizes the unparalleled role that education plays in growth and development. English language education plays an especially important role in building a skilled and competent workforce that can compete on a global scale. For Ethiopian students, especially girls, education is essential to their future prospects. Currently, English is the medium of instruction in all secondary schools; however, this comes with numerous challenges. Outdated methods of instruction coupled with low levels of English proficiency have left many teachers resorting to translation in the classroom rather than interactive, skills-focused lessons. Teachers are often unable to provide individual student attention due to class size (60+ students), insufficient lesson time, frequent class interruptions, and the high volume of material to cover. Teachers do not have regular opportunities for professional development (PD) and lack incentives to participate in ad hoc PD sessions.

In an effort to improve its English education program, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education requested Peace Corps’ assistance to help with improving classroom instruction and teacher support programs. In response to this request, Peace Corps Ethiopia developed the Promoting English Language Learning in Ethiopia STEP (PELLE STEP) program with one goal in mind:
• Students attain communication skills in English necessary to access academic and/or professional opportunities.
English Language Teacher Specialists will serve in rural secondary schools as English teachers. They are responsible for up to two classes each of grade 5 and grade 6 and engage in tutorial and extra-curricular programs for their students. These extra sessions will be designed to focus on reading, speaking, fundamental communication, leadership, and life skills programs.

As a Specialist, you will also be expected to provide direct training to your colleagues in the English department, support a community of practice, collaborate with the Regional Education Offices on teacher trainings, develop TEFL materials, help with baseline and evaluation work, and mentor Volunteers in their area. You will also work with primary schools on clubs, camps, and gender activities.

This is an exceptional opportunity for anyone who wants to connect with hardworking, under privileged students, especially girls. In the classroom and through the extra-curricular activities, Volunteers will have the opportunity to promote English language learning and much more. Peace Corps Ethiopia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in your country and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Education Volunteers will participate in Peace Corps' TEFL Certificate program. This is a 30-month program of training and professional development that begins with online pre-departure modules and continues throughout Volunteer service. Staff will observe and evaluate Volunteers throughout the process to give feedback for improvement and make sure certificate benchmarks are being met. If expectations are met at the end of service, Volunteers will receive a TEFL teaching certificate, which is validated by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC. Volunteers coming to Ethiopia must be ready to complete the requirements of the TEFL Certificate program even if they already have a TESOL Certificate or academic credential.

Required Skills

Competitive 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 qualifications:

• Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) to high school students or adults
• Teacher Training
• Developing classroom-based skills assessments
• Developing libraries and/or reading programs
• Developing teaching resources appropriate to primary school teaching
• Developing after-school and summer youth programs focused on English proficiency
• Using technology in the classroom to enhance English proficiency

Required Language Skills

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

Learning the local language is the key to integration and a successful service. Volunteers need to arrive with a strong commitment to learning the local language of the region to which they will be assigned. Some Volunteers may also need to learn a second language or the local dialect being used in the community they live in. Volunteers will receive 12 weeks of language (Amharic, Afan Oromo, or Tigrinya) training during PST and must attain an intermediate level of spoken proficiency before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Additional language resources will be offered at Peace Corps training events and through independent tutoring during service. Although members of the educational community will have basic levels of English, most of the people Volunteers will work with will not speak English, so it is extremely important to understand and be able to communicate in the local language. Local language can be helpful in classroom instruction and class management, especially in the early days of service, until a good level of English communication is established with the students.

Living Conditions

English Language Teacher Specialists live in rural villages in the Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and SNNP regions, with populations ranging from 2,000-6,000 people. The climate ranges from cold mountains and temperate highlands, to hot deserts, with much in between. Volunteer housing is commonly a mud house with a dirt floor and a corrugated iron roof. Peace Corps provides a settling-in allowance to enable Volunteers to purchase modest furniture and household items. Volunteer housing is on a compound with a landlord and a pit latrine is shared with the compound family. Water is commonly from a piped source, well, or protected spring that may be a 15-20 minute walk away.

Within the community, cell phone service is fairly reliable but electricity and internet services are not. Internet may be present in larger towns, generally within a day’s trip. Where available, sporadic but slow connection is gotten through data on smart phones. The closest shopping town may be 20-30 miles away, though basic foodstuffs will be available in your community. Volunteers must be prepared to accept their assigned living conditions as they will be living under the same conditions as the people with whom they work. Pre-service training (PST) will help you adapt to the lifestyle.

Your diet will be local foods such as locally produced injera, a spongy pancake made from the grain, Tef, and eaten with sauces, spinach, beets, carrots, and various meats. Vegetables and fruit may be seasonal.

Your transportation will be by foot, bicycle, or local public transportation. Public transportation is available at most Volunteers’ sites and usually runs several times a week to and from the nearest shopping town. Public transportation is likely to be crowded, uncomfortable and unreliable. Many sites are at high altitudes, over 8,000 feet. As such, the position requires a level of physical fitness that will enable the Volunteer to successfully fulfill the job requirements. Peace Corps can provide you with a bike and a helmet which must be worn at all times. Due to safety risks, Peace Corps Ethiopia prohibits the use of motorcycles or vehicles by Volunteers.

Ethiopians are varied in their business attire, and respect professional appearance at all times. Although Volunteers’ counterparts' resources are limited, they will present themselves in a professional way. You will be expected to dress professionally and maintain a neat appearance. Volunteers are looked upon as role models, and as such their appearance and their clothes need to be neat, clean and mended.

Sexual norms in Ethiopia are conservative and strict, and volunteers are expected to respect them. Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex are not generally socially acceptable. Ethiopia also has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this during PST and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share their American values, and deepen local community members understanding of Americans.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ethiopia: 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

Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:
• TEFL/English Language Teacher

Couples in the Education program will live together during the 12 week Pre-Service Training with the same host family. During the homestay, couples will only have one room to themselves.

After Pre-Service Training, couples will live together at their permanent site. Usually couples are provided 2 small rooms at their site so that they can have their own space.

Both could be placed in the same primary school or different or adjacent schools in the same town. Depending on the size of their host school and school population, each partner might teach in same grade level, but where possible, each partner will teach at different grade levels.

Medical Considerations in Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild and childhood; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons:  Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve:  none identified. 
  • After arrival in Ethiopia, 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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