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Secondary Education English Teacher

Project description

Can you imagine yourself in a lively rural classroom, teaching English to high school students? Or working with your fellow teachers to design more interactive teaching and learning materials? If so, Peace Corps is seeking applicants like you who have the passion to join the ranks of nearly 4,000 volunteers who have served in Cameroon since 1962.

Speaking English in Cameroon is a great asset for the individual and for the country. It increases academic and professional opportunities for Cameroonian youth and it helps forge the socio-cultural unity of Cameroon as a bilingual country. The government of Cameroon transitioning to a more interactive, competency-based system which places the learner at the center of the education experience. This new model gives students the opportunity to decide what material they learn and how they learn it, engaging students as leaders and decision-makers in their own learning. Peace Corps Cameroon’s English Teaching as a Foreign Language [TEFL] Program is making important contributions to this transition.

The goal of the TEFL program is for students to attain communication skills in English necessary to access academic and/or professional opportunities. The key objectives of the program include:
• increasing teachers’ general teaching skills, their English language capacity, and their gender-equitable practices in the classroom;
• increasing student achievement in English; and
• increasing community members’ ability to support students’ access to learning.

Secondary Education English Teachers work in middle/high school level settings in rural and semi-rural areas in the French speaking regions of Cameroon. The schools range in size from 100 to over 1,000 students, and class sizes range from 15 to 50 students. The largest part of Volunteer work is with students, teaching a minimum of 14 hours per week. To create opportunities to practice English outside of the classroom, Volunteers collaborate with colleagues to organize various events including games, language contests, theater, music, English clubs, tutoring sessions and camps.

Volunteers work collaboratively with fellow teachers in communities of practice, sharing strategies and tips for effective teaching through activities such as peer observation, teacher workshops, designing teaching materials, and implementation of techniques for gender equity in the classroom. Volunteers, fellow teachers, and engaged parent teacher association members also collaborate in organizing activities that involve community members in student learning. These activities include essay competitions, spelling bees, and workshops on techniques that increase student access to learning, such as menstrual hygiene management, positive masculinity, and safe latrines.

Education Volunteers work with their fellow English teachers to better integrate a variety of topics through classroom lessons or in extracurricular activities. Some of these topics include life skills, reproductive health, prevention of HIV, and school gardens to promote the cultivation and consumption of nutritious crops. Education Volunteers often collaborate with community members with expertise in these topics, as well as fellow Agriculture and Community Health Volunteers.

During Pre-Service Training, you will receive technical training in TEFL, and practice their teaching skills in a model school setting. Once you arrive at your site, you’ll work with your counterpart (typically a fellow teacher in your school) and community members to perform an initial needs assessment to identify the community's assets, needs and priorities using Peace Corps-developed tools. Among the keys to success will be integrating as much as possible into the life of your community.

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

The most successful candidates will have the following relevant qualifications and qualities:

• Bachelor or MA/MS Degree in Education, English, TEFL or TESOL, or Applied Linguistics
• Experience in teaching, co-teaching, or tutoring of primary, middle, high school or adult students in English, TEFL, TESOL, ESL, TESL, or foreign language.
• Experience organizing extracurricular activities
• Experience leading or co-leading professional development workshops for teachers on the topics of curriculum development, assessments and editing
• Demonstrated experience in planning and organizing activities for children and young adults.
• Demonstrated independence, self-initiative, flexibility, open-mindedness, resilience, and a commitment to serve.
• A strong willingness to learn French and a local language of Cameroon.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. While many people in Cameroon speak English, in the regions where Peace Corps operates, French is the predominate language and necessary to travel safely and interact effectively with colleagues, neighbors and others. Trainees will receive over 100 hours of French language training and all Trainees will be required to attain a functional French level (“Intermediate-Mid”) by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST). Volunteers posted in the Adamawa Region will also be expected to learn some Fulfulde during PST. No benchmark is set for Fulfulde, but Volunteers are encouraged to leave training with at least survival communication skills.

For Education volunteers, the language of instruction is English; however, some of your students will have few or no skills in English, making interactions challenging. Having a good level in French will ease communication with other faculty members, students and parents.

Indigenous languages in Cameroon are quite localized. For easy integration and a successful service, Volunteers will be expected to learn basic communication skills in the local language of their site during the first year of service and will be provided with resources to do so. Volunteers are also provided with additional learning opportunities to continue improving their French skills and after they go to their sites.

Living conditions

Volunteer assignments are in the French-speaking regions of Cameroon. Host communities range from approximately 300 to 40,000 inhabitants. Cameroon’s climate has a dry season and two rainy seasons; it can be hot and muggy or more temperate or cool at higher elevations. Volunteer housing is modest and varies from site to site and region to region. Houses are usually built with cement blocks and zinc. Houses may have inside toilet and shower areas, but most have nearby or attached access to a private pit latrine and bathing area. Many houses do not have electricity or running water. Volunteers may need to use solar lamps for lighting. Water may have to be collected from nearby water sources. All water must be filtered before drinking and filters will be provided. While most Volunteers may have limited or no access to the internet or cell phone coverage at their house, all Volunteer houses are within a 30-minute walk of cell phone coverage. A basic cell phone can be purchased by Volunteers using their Settling-in Allowance, but it is recommended that Volunteers bring their own tablet or laptop for use at site or in a larger town or city. Settling-in allowance also allows Volunteers to buy furniture and set up their houses. Volunteers must be flexible, resilient, and prepared to adapt to the above-mentioned living conditions.

Your diet will include foods such as rice, or various pastes made of cassava, cornmeal, plantains. This is often served with a sauce made of tomato or greens and meat or fish. In most communities, there are markets where you can buy basic household items, food staples and fresh vegetables and fruits. Some may need to travel to another town to buy supplies. Vegetarians will face some challenges but should be able to maintain their diet.

Transportation to and from your site may be challenging at times, especially during the rainy season. Depending on the location of your site, You’ll likely travel by foot, motorbikes (as a passenger only), “bush taxis”, buses or train.. You may request a bicycle from Peace Corps. Volunteers quickly observe that personal appearance is important to people in Cameroon. During Pre-Service Training (PST), the standard professional dress code is business casual. Following PST, when you are placed in the community, you will need to dress appropriately for socializing in the community and for work. Respecting Cameroonian culture and tradition by dressing appropriately helps you gain respect in your host community. It will also facilitate integration and increase your credibility and effectiveness.

Religion plays a central role in the lives of most Cameroonians. You may be assigned to a majority Christian or majority Muslim community. You may be asked to participate in religious or other traditional ceremonies. During PST you’ll have the opportunity to explore how you might respond to such situations.

Because of limited exposure to the diversity of the U.S., some Cameroonians may expect all U.S. citizens to be white. For Volunteers, the range of responses to their skin color may vary greatly: from being mistaken for a Cameroonian to being questioned about their citizenship. These encounters can be turned into teachable moments for the Volunteer and the Cameroonian.

Though people in Cameroon are generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are conservative and there are restrictive laws that target certain sexual behaviors. 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 topic during PST and identify some potential support mechanisms for Trainees and Volunteers.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cameroon: 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

During pre-service training, we will try to accommodate couples living with the same host family, but we cannot guarantee that you will be housed in the same location. However, you will be able to live with your spouse during your service. Cameroon cannot accommodate couples within the same sector, and sector-specific technical training may be in different locations (but all trainees will come together for core training sessions). The exception to this rule is that we can accommodate a limited number of Math/Science and English Volunteers serving in the same site. Your partner must qualify and apply for:

Agriculture Extension
Community Health Educator; Community Health Specialist
Secondary Education Math or Science Teacher

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. At this time, Peace Corps Cameroon is only able to accept heterosexual couples. 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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