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University English Co-Teacher

Project description

Mexico has strong cultural, political, and economic ties with the United States. Given the economic relations between Mexico and the United States, strengthening the English-language capacities of its economically active population is a national priority for the Mexican Government. English is a key that can open doors to knowledge and to economic, scientific, and technical exchange, as well as to employment, commerce, and social mobility.

University English Co-Teachers in Mexico serve as linguistic and cultural ambassadors, collaborating to increase mutual understanding and professional opportunities for Mexican students and teachers. University English Co-Teachers are assigned to small or medium-sized public universities that specialize in science, technology, engineering, design, and/or mathematics. Most students at these universities commute to campus from under-resourced communities, and many are on scholarship. University English Co-Teachers serve as on-site support for English teachers and learners, as well as a link to professional and academic opportunities through strategic partners such as the Regional English Language Office (RELO), English Fellows Program, Fulbright, and EducationUSA.

Successful Volunteers support English language learning through teaching, co-planning, co-teaching, teacher training, student mentoring, and on or off-campus extracurricular activities with students and faculty. Co-planning and co-teaching take place mainly with part-time university English teachers and other faculty members who deliver technical courses in English.

Volunteers are expected to work at least 32-40 hours per week on campus. The following time distribution is recommended: 45% dedicated to (co)-teaching and Communities of Practice; 25% for tutoring students, planning and co-planning; and the remaining time in extracurricular activities and other institutional projects.

Additionally, University English Co-Teachers promote and participate in Communities of Practice (CoP), where teachers and Volunteers come together in a non-formal way to learn and grow professionally. A CoP emerges when two or more people share an interest in a topic and partner to fulfill common learning goals. These CoPs contribute to a teacher’s professional development and constitute a sustainable approach to English education in Mexico.

As a University English Co-Teacher, you will contribute to the strategic objective of Mexican students attaining communication skills in English that are necessary for them to access academic and/or professional opportunities. The activities you will carry out at your university may include:

• Co-planning and co-teaching English language classes.

• Establishing and facilitating one or more Communities of Practice.

• Facilitating or co-facilitating extracurricular activities for English language learning, such as conversation clubs, cross-cultural events, or English-language lunches.

• Delivering talks, workshops, or presentations in English for faculty members and students that increase their awareness or knowledge about cultural or social topics while improving their English language skills.

• Supporting institutional projects such as: youth development, cultural awareness instruction for mobility program students, setting up language laboratories with open-source resources, etc.

• Mentoring and providing career counseling to students, including reviewing English-language resumes, practicing English-language job interviews, and helping to edit and proofread student papers and presentations in a way that empowers them to improve their own English.

• Providing information about academic and professional development opportunities for school staff, faculty, and students through our network of strategic partners.

Volunteers mainly co-teach, but may occasionally be asked to substitute teach to take the place of a university English teacher who is sick or who must attend a conference or required training event.

Peace Corps Mexico’s public universities are located mainly in central Mexico and are often established on the outskirts of medium to large size cities, and the communities to which Volunteers are assigned have populations that range from 15,000 to 1,500,000 people. Some universities are near industrial parks where students have internships or are adjacent to networks of small communities that provide access for students from rural areas. Others are in small towns tucked away in the mountains. Whether in a large city or a mountainous rural community, Education Volunteers in Mexico have found meaningful opportunities to support language-learning and for cultural exchange.

Climate change activities

As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental conditions faced by local communities will become increasingly problematic, particularly for vulnerable households in low-lying areas and historically marginalized communities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be trained to use a participatory approach and tools to identify locally determined priorities and conditions, including those related to the impacts of climate change. The types of interventions undertaken will be guided by national and local priorities for climate change adaptation as identified in your country’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and those environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14 & 15) that have been identified for local action. As an Environment Volunteer, you will be trained to use this knowledge to work with government, local, and community stakeholders to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of climate change while promoting resiliency, and engaging in projects and activities that:

• strengthen the ability of vulnerable households and communities to respond to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons;
• enhance local and community capacities for effective implementation of NAP and SDG priorities;
• reduce greenhouse gas emissions through promoting the expansion of renewable energy technologies;
• support the development of sustainable mechanisms that incorporate the “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of effective solid waste management practices; and
• work with Volunteers in other sectors to integrate climate change adaptation practices into their activities (e.g., work with Health Volunteers to reduce respiratory health issues of women and girls through use of improved cook stoves; work with Education Volunteers to mitigate the impact of heat waves on local teaching or establishing tree nurseries and planting trees to reduce the time that students use in collecting firewood).

Required skills

Competitive candidates have:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline.
AND
• At least 3 months at 10 hours/month, or 30 hours, of English as a Foreign Language teaching or tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students, university students, or adults.

Desired skills

Competitive candidates have at least one or more of the following:

• Master of Arts (MA) in English, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Teaching English as a second language (TESL), or Linguistics.
• MA/MAT in any foreign language.
• Co-planning/co-teaching experience.
• Teacher training experience.
• Experience teaching high school, university, or adult students.
• Effective classroom management techniques.
• Knowledge of teaching techniques such as: collaborative learning, project-based learning (PBL), or case method.
• Experience with Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).
• Experience providing written and/or verbal feedback, mentoring, and support to address challenges faced by students and faculty.
• Academic or work experience in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or business administration.
• Experience working at the community level.
• Monitoring and evaluation, including the use of data collection and reporting tools.

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). Candidates must meet the minimum language requirements to be considered for an invitation.

Spanish is essential for a successful and satisfying service. Candidates who have more than the minimum Spanish required are better able to integrate into their communities and work environment. There is high-quality, but limited, in-person language instruction during Pre-Service Training. Trainees are expected to integrate as much as possible within their host-families, maximizing exposure to Spanish throughout the ten-week training program. Every Trainee will take a Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) exam at the end of Pre-Service Training and must achieve an ACTFL-certified level of Intermediate Mid in order to swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. For that reason, candidates are strongly encouraged to work on improving their language skills before departing for Peace Corps Mexico.

Living conditions

Mexico has regional differences. Some cities or towns may be more progressive, while rural areas and small towns may tend to have more traditional and conservative values; this could be quite different from what most Volunteers are accustomed to and require significant adaptation.

A Volunteer’s assigned community could be located 8 or more hours from the Peace Corps Mexico Office. From where they live, Volunteers may need to commute up to one hour each way on public transportation to reach their universities, although such a long commute is not common. Limited bus schedules could make it necessary for some Volunteers to stay on campus longer than others.

All Volunteer communities have some form of communication, whether landline or cell phones, telephone booths, satellite phones, or internet access. However, due to the isolation of certain communities or adverse weather conditions, service can be weak or intermittent, and may even be inactive for several days. Nevertheless, there is always a larger community within a two-hour distance where communication systems are more reliable. In most of Central Mexico, especially in mountainous areas, it can be cold in the evening throughout much of the year. Daytime highs can be very hot, but a jacket and hat can be useful in the evening. Temperatures can range from freezing to the upper 90s. Layering is a good strategy year-round, and Volunteers should be prepared for rainy weather.

To promote community integration and language learning, host family stays are required during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the first three months of service. A host family could be a two-parent family with children, a grandmother living alone, a single parent who works all day, or any other type of family. After living with a host family for the first three months, some Volunteers decide to live independently in apartments or small houses, if suitable and affordable housing is available. Other Volunteers continue to live with a host family. Additional information on living conditions can be found at: https://www.peacecorps.gov/mexico/preparing-to-volunteer/living-conditions/

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to locally defined priorities in Mexico. Additionally, ensuring diversity among staff and Volunteers enriches interpersonal relations and communications for the staff work environment, the Volunteer experience, and the communities in which Volunteers serve. Our definition of diversity can include, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, religion, education, ability. During PST, multiple sessions and guidance will be provided to discuss diversity and inclusion. For more specific information about serving as a diverse Volunteer in Mexico, please visit https://www.peacecorps.gov/mexico/preparing-to-volunteer/diversity-and-inclusion/

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are either dual citizens of Mexico and the U.S., or who were born in Mexico and became U.S. citizens after 1998, are not eligible to serve with Peace Corps Mexico. Volunteer safety is of paramount importance, and the protections of U.S. citizenship promote Volunteer safety. Under Mexican law, anyone born in Mexico who became a U.S. citizen after 1998, or anyone holding dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship, is considered a citizen of Mexico and not of the United States. If such an individual were to face a legal, safety, or other emergency situation in Mexico, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit either of these categories, we encourage you to look for other opportunities with Peace Corps.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Mexico: 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

Couples can have a very positive and productive experience serving in Mexico.

Peace Corps Mexico can accommodate couples who will serve together as University English Co-Teachers. Both partners must apply and qualify for this position. Peace Corps Mexico can also accept same-sex couples if both are University English Co-Teachers.

During the 10-week Pre-Service Training, couples have the option of living with the same host family or living separately to maximize Spanish language learning.

For the first three months of service in their host community, couples live together with the same host family. After this time, they may choose to stay with the host family, or rent an apartment or small house. Although couples live in the same town, they are normally assigned to different universities to have a greater impact. However, depending on the circumstances, they could be assigned to the same university.

Some couples may encounter challenging situations such as being asked questions about having children or they may be the subject of comments or jokes about being monogamous. During Pre-Service Training, staff and Volunteers address these issues, and Volunteers develop their own strategies for resilience and to adapt to such realities.

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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