Primary Assignment: TEFL Teacher Trainers
We were in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Program in Nicaragua 64. Specifically we were TEFL Teacher Trainers. We arrived for training on August 13, 2014, swore in as official volunteers on November 7, 2014, and our Close of Service date (originally October 31, 2016) was extended until March 1, 2017.
Together we co-planned and co-taught with 7 counterpart Nicaraguan English teachers in two schools in the department of Estelí. We strove to increase our counterparts use of English in the classroom, increase the use of student-centered and communicative activities (read make class more fun while helping students learn more), as well as improve their overall teaching methodologies and techniques. We learned a lot from our counterparts, too, as Peace Corps is all about the interchanging of ideas and experiences.
We often reflect and write about our work as TEFL Teacher Trainers. Here are a few highlights:
- May We Set Healthy Expectations for Ourselves – Andrew’s thoughts on how our expectations guided our progress, successes, and struggles.
- May Our Hearts Remain Open and Our Minds Curious, Even in the Midst of Confusion and Struggle – A look into what co-planning and co-teaching looks like.
- Teaching Thoughts – Emily reflections on the challenges faced in the education world (both in Nicaragua and in the States) and her enduring passion for the work.
- First Weeks of School – Andrew’s summary of our initial dive into the teaching world of Nicaragua in February 2015.
- Unsure of what TEFL really means, check out TEFL Defined, watch this short video about the TEFL Project in Nicaragua, or check out Emily’s piece on the TEFL Certification project on the official Peace Corps Stories blog.
- Things I Never Knew about School – some school insights from a cultural lens.
We’re only half of the story though. You can also read about our primary project work through the lens of our Counterparts:
In addition to our to our main assignment, each volunteer is responsible for secondary projects in their area or other areas of interest.
- We facilitated teacher trainings and a Community of Practice for the 30+ English teachers in the municipality of Estelí. We met monthly to share teaching practices and foster the passion for teaching and working with youth we all share.
- We ran a weekly English Conversation Group that met to do just what the name suggests, practice talking in English. It may sound silly, but it was often a highlight of our week. English nerds and wanna-be speakers, unite!
- Emily was the coordinator of the Volunteer Newsletter/ Website/ Podcast VaPué. As you may have noticed from this website, she rather likes designing and writing.
- Andrew put his data and computer skills to work on the TEFL Drive – a digital collection of materials for Nicaragua TEFL volunteers to use throughout their service.
- Emily was co-chair of the Gender and Development (GAD) committee. They promote sustainable gender equality, both for Nicaraguans and Peace Corps Volunteers by providing camps, technical trainings, and resources. The committee envisions a world where “Power, respect, and opportunity are no longer gendered.” Camp GLOW and Camp CHACA are planned and run by the committee.
- Andrew was a member of the Peer Support Network (PSN) who looks out for volunteers and hosts get-togethers and retreats for current PCVs.
- We loved ACCESS Camp so much in 2015, that we couldn’t help but be a part of making future ACCESS Camps a success! We co-coordinated ACCESS Camp 2016 with a few other Volunteers and CCNN and we were back in action at ACCESS Camp 2017 minus 1 month.
- In February 2016, we started STEP Estelí – a department-wide program to teach English to the English teachers. We were co-coordinators for the program, devoting every Saturday to working directly with 50+ English teachers in the department of Estelí.
Our Peace Corps Service was not one of those sit-around-and-read-a-million-books kinds. We accomplished a lot, and we LOVED it.
Have a question about Peace Corps or Nicaragua, we’re happy to provide our perspective. Ask away.