Skip to main content
US Flag An official website of the United States government

Connect with the Peace Corps

If you're ready for something bigger, we have a place where you belong.

Follow us

Apply to the Peace Corps

The application process begins by selecting a service model and finding an open position.

Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
Log in/check status
Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
Log in/check status
Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
Log in/check status

Let us help you find the right position.

If you are flexible in where you serve for the two-year Peace Corps Volunteer program, our experts can match you with a position and country based on your experience and preferences.

Serve where you’re needed most

English Education Teaching

Project description

Timor-Leste is a vibrant and youthful democracy that achieved independence in 2002, following over 400 years of Portuguese colonization and 25 years of Indonesian occupation. The nation's rich cultural diversity is reflected in its variety of languages, including Tetun (the most widely spoken among the 30+ local languages), Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesian, and English, which is a strategic priority for the government.

English Education Teachers and Trainers play essential roles in enhancing English education in Timor-Leste. Volunteers are placed in rural middle and high schools, working closely with local teachers and school directors to improve the quality of English education within the classrooms. Volunteers typically collaborate with up to four English teachers, engaging in co-teaching to develop English proficiency, student-centered teaching methods, lesson planning, classroom management, and student assessment through a collaborative, side-by-side approach.

Volunteers may encounter unique challenges in Timorese schools, such as limited classroom resources, occasional teacher shortages, and difficulties faced by students in accessing schools. However, Volunteers are instrumental in setting positive examples through their classroom teaching and in building strong, supportive relationships with local colleagues. Through active collaboration, Volunteers can help schools address these challenges and contribute to creating an improved learning environment. Embracing these differences and partnering with the local community can lead to enriching experiences and enduring positive changes in Timorese schools.

Beyond co-teaching, Volunteers are encouraged to seek opportunities to co-lead supplementary training activities for local teachers, participate in youth development initiatives like clubs and camps, and respond to community requests for both formal and informal English lessons. Past Volunteers have organized a wide range of activities, from cooking classes to Zumba sessions, translated children's books into Tetun, and established libraries in their respective schools. Furthermore, English Education Volunteers receive training on nutrition and climate change issues in Timor-Leste, which may open up additional avenues for service within their assigned sites.

Required skills

Qualified 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 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 1 academic year classroom teaching experience at the secondary level in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL and TESL, or foreign language.
• Demonstrated experience and motivation in planning and organizing activities for youth.
• 3 months or 30 hours of English, foreign language, or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. During pre-service training, Volunteers will learn Tetun, the country's official language, and are expected to demonstrate intermediate proficiency after ten weeks of training. Tetun is not grammatically complex and utilizes the Latin alphabet, making it relatively easy for Volunteers to attain the required Intermediate-Mid proficiency. Many Volunteers go on to achieve an Advanced level with further experience at their site. In addition to Tetun, many Volunteers also choose to learn a local language or dialect spoken in their district. If you have a background in Portuguese or Spanish, you'll find that your knowledge of these languages can be advantageous in your Tetun studies, as many Tetun words have been incorporated from Portuguese. Many Timorese speak Bahasa Indonesian, which is another language some Volunteers learn.

Living conditions

Peace Corps Timor-Leste requires Volunteers to reside with a host family during Pre-Service Training and for their entire two years of service at their permanent site. This connection with a respected family in the community serves as a cornerstone for Volunteers to establish meaningful relationships with other community members, laying the groundwork for effective service. Homestays align with the intercultural goals of the Peace Corps, and host families generously offer contextually secure and supportive living environments, fostering continued opportunities for language practice, learning, and intercultural exchange. Volunteers consistently highlight their host family relationships, during both pre-service training and at their permanent sites, as one of the most enriching aspects of their service.

Host families in Timor-Leste are typically large and multi-generational, often including four or more children. In towns with larger and better schools, school-aged relatives may also reside with the family during the school year. The Timorese population is predominantly Catholic, with church attendance being a vital community activity.

Smoking cigarettes is prevalent, and some elders in the family may chew betelnut. Although alcohol is occasionally offered at weddings and specific community gatherings, it is generally discouraged, especially for women. Public intoxication can have adverse effects on one's reputation and credibility.

Timor-Leste comprises 13 municipalities, each with populations ranging from 50,000 to 120,000 residents. Most Volunteers are placed in rural areas, often at the village (suco) or sub-village (aldeia) level, where populations typically number fewer than 2,000 people. A few Volunteers may be assigned to district capitals (vila). Except for third-year extendees, all Volunteers live outside of Dili, the capital city.

During the rainy season from December to April, roads may become impassable, necessitating Volunteers to walk or cycle up to an hour over rugged terrain to access public transportation (small trucks or minibuses) to larger cities. Road reconstruction is frequent, potentially affecting travel times.

The availability of amenities like electricity, running water, and cell phone reception varies between sites. There may be times when electricity is not accessible, and although cell phone coverage is improving, there are still areas with limited reception. In the municipalities, Volunteers often rely on their cell phones for internet access, occasionally using two different SIM cards to access various data packages and better coverage.

Volunteers may face unwanted attention when outside their host communities, on public transportation, or in Dili. Although such experiences can be uncomfortable and distressing, Post offers training and strategies to equip Volunteers with the skills to handle these situations effectively.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Timor-Leste: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Peace Corps Timor-Leste welcomes married couples, particularly those who can serve in different sectors, such as one spouse in Community Economic Development (CED) and the other in English Education (ED). It's important to note that currently, Peace Corps Timor-Leste can only place male and female couples. During the 10-week pre-service training, couples should be prepared to live separately. Once in the field, all Volunteers, including couples, are required to live with a host family for their entire two-year service. While couples will have their own room within the household, they will share common living spaces with their host family, which may require some adjustment in terms of privacy expectations.

Couples serving in Timor-Leste may encounter societal expectations to conform to traditional gender roles. Timorese might inquire about the number of children a married couple has or encourage them to have children if they don't already. Couples who have served in Timor-Leste have found that they can navigate these situations with politeness. Generally, they report receiving more respect compared to their unmarried colleagues. Overall, couples have had positive experiences and are content with their service in Timor-Leste.

In Timor-Leste, most couples have church weddings. However, some are considered fully married after an engagement ceremony involving the bride and groom's families. This is especially common when a church wedding is impractical or when the associated celebrations are financially burdensome at the time of engagement.

Does this sound like the opportunity for you?
Get started on your journey.
#LI-PeaceCorpsOnLinkedIn
Learn what it's like to serve in Timor-Leste
Get detailed information on the Volunteer experience.