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English Language Teacher

Project description

The Dominican Republic’s economy benefits from the hospitality and tourism industry, making English speakers highly attractive in the labor market. Many Dominicans dream of travelling abroad and participating in international academic exchange programs. Speaking English enables Dominicans to diversify their future opportunities for better salaries, which in turn will improve the quality of life of young people and their families.

The Ministry of Education is promoting a new educational model called “English for a Better Life” (“Inglés para Vivir Mejor”) as part of its national strategic plan and hopes to ensure that young people at the pre-university level leave public schools with mastery of two languages, both English and Spanish. The first step is to “strengthen the teaching staff in the linguistic skills and pedagogical skills necessary to provide quality education in English.”

The goal of this program is to support the Ministry of Education by working with middle school teachers, students, and community members to develop their English communication skills and thus, improve their access academic, professional, and personal development opportunities. The Dominican school week is Monday through Friday and Volunteers are expected to be in their assigned school 20-30 hours per week with their co-teachers planning and facilitating classes and supporting classroom management. The schools where Volunteers will work have multiple and varying needs which offers Volunteers the ability to use their diverse skills and interests to teach and serve the overall community through extracurricular and non-formal activities such as English clubs, after-schools sports, theatre, or art clubs.

The Volunteer’s primary assignment will be to serve as a resource for school staff (including the principal, teachers, librarian, counselor, and/or academic coordinator), students and families. Specifically, Volunteers will work with English teachers to integrate innovative teaching practices into the classroom, with students to improve their English speaking and reading skills, and with families to strengthen their involvement in education. Work will involve modeling and/or co-teaching strategies, improving classroom management skills, sharing teaching practices, developing teaching materials, tutoring students, and involving families in English language learning.

Required skills

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

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field.

• 5 years’ professional work experience.

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

•Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Education
•Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience
•Experience working with upper elementary and middle school students
•Teaching experience and experience working with teachers and/or school personnel
•Teaching English experience or literacy tutoring
•Experience working with Spanish speaking populations

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Peace Corps Dominican Republic recommends candidates meet one of the following criteria but there are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework
C. Proficiency in another romance language (e.g. French, Portuguese, Italian)

It is important to maintain an engaged attitude about language learning throughout the experience. Volunteers in the Dominican Republic live, learn, and work in Spanish. Spanish is necessary for day-to-day activities in the community, and over the course of the initial 10-week training period, Peace Corps Trainees receive a significant amount of training and support in the learning of Spanish. Volunteers will also need to dedicate substantial time to learning and practicing language in day-to-day life. Trainees must demonstrate an intermediate level of oral proficiency at the end of the training program in order to continue their service.

Peace Corps Dominican Republic highly encourages all Invitees to begin working on their Spanish by taking classes or tutoring sessions prior to departing for the Dominican Republic. Trainees who arrive in country with low levels of Spanish sometimes find reaching proficiency challenging within the 10-week training period.

Living conditions

Volunteers will live with a host family during the 11-week Pre-Service Training in a community near Santo Domingo. After Pre-Service Training, Volunteers will live with a second host family for the first 4-6 months of service in their assigned community to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers can move out on their own after the obligatory 4- to 6-month homestay, there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.

Transportation
Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and towns. Living conditions and transportation limitations can be physically demanding. Volunteers will have to use the available transportation in their assigned community. Generally, local transportation includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis. In some cases, Volunteers may have to walk long distances to work activities.

Housing
Houses usually have corrugated steel or cement roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities such as running water, electricity, or reliable cell service. Most communities have cell service within the community, however, there are situations where Volunteers must travel up to an hour to access reliable service. Although most communities have electricity, power outages are common.

Appearance
Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies, particularly the Dominican Ministry of Education. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator about a person, and a Volunteer’s appearance will influence their relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers, which is at minimum a clean polo shirt, dress pants or skirt and closed toed shoes.

Social Identity and Diversity
Peace Corps Dominican Republic (PCDR) provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Volunteers use their experiences as members of different underrepresented groups to support their peers as they may navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Board, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQI+ Support Group . Please see below for additional considerations.

Sexual Orientation: The country has a Roman Catholic constitution, and a large portion of the population is either Catholic or Evangelical Christian. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Dominican Republic, many people reject homosexual relationships. However, LGBTQI+ Volunteers find safe spaces within the Peace Corps Dominican Republic network and when visiting larger metropolitan areas.

Ethnicity: Different ethnic, racial or national minority American identities are often not viewed as “American.” Volunteers may thus experience negation of their American identity due to local assumptions of what an American looks like. While some Black/African American Volunteers may blend in with the local Dominican population, others including those who choose to wear their hair in its natural state or braided hairstyles, or who have darker skin tones, may be perceived as Haitian. This may lead to one’s citizenship being questioned and ultimately may lead to differential treatment. Volunteers find support and representation within active Dominican natural hair movements in larger cities. Similarly, with an increased focus on migration issues around the world, Volunteers of Latin American decent may also have their identity questioned and/or mistaken for Central and South American migrants. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences on the diversity of American culture and successfully complete their services with support from the PCDR network and certain community members.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Dominican Republic: 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

The Dominican Republic can accommodate couples serving together within the Education sector as well as cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:

English Language Teacher or Community Economic Development Facilitator

All Trainees are required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training. If you and your partner are assigned to different sectors, you will live apart for most of Pre-Service Training. Couples who are in different sectors are usually allowed to visit each other for two weekends during the training.

After swearing-in, Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their assigned community for a minimum of 4 months. For couples, this requirement is reduced to 6 weeks.

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. Because of this, same-sex couple 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/.

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